November 25, 2015
Authorities in Massachusetts have identified a person of interest in the killing of a South Jersey woman who was found gagged, bound and burned earlier this month in Bridgewater.
Ashley Bortner, 29, of Paulsboro, was found on fire nearby railroad tracks on November 3 after a report of a suspicious vehicle in the area about 25 miles south of Boston.
Authorities believe Owens killed Bortner in retaliation for the death of his son, 21-year-old Dominic Owens, earlier in the day on November 3. Investigators used cutting edge cellphone technology and "good old-fashioned police work" to determine Owens had suspicions about Bortner's role in his son's death, Cruz said in a news conference.
Shortly after Owens' death, amid a gathering of family at the scene, Fernando was reportedly seen pacing around and making frantic phone calls.
A search of Owens' apartment turned up an electrical cord and bath towel similar to those used to subdue Bortner, Cruz said.
Officials were not yet able to determine whether Bortner was connected to the death of Dominic Owens, but did say Fernando Ownes and Bortner were acquaintances.
Members of Bortner's family said Ashley had been living in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston, though it was not clear how long it had been since she left New Jersey.
During his press conference, Cruz announced upgraded charges against a couple initially charged with lying to police in connection to the Bortner case. Prosecutors allege the couple helped Owens dispose of Bortner's body and will now charge the pair with accessory to murder.
Owens, charged in July with distribution of cocaine and later released on bail, is still at large and considered armed and dangerous. Officials have urged the public to contact the State Police or Bridgewater police with any information on Owens' location.