Real Name: Jonathan Ortiz
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Redwood City, California
Date: March 17, 1992
Date of Birth: May 13, 1990
Marital Status: Single
Characteristics: Hispanic male. Brown eyes, black hair.
Details: On the afternoon of March 11, 1992, paramedics were called to a toy store in Redwood City, California. Inside, one of the employees, twenty-three-year-old Gilbert Ortiz, was laying on the table of the lunch room. He was sweating profusely and experiencing severe convulsions. He told the paramedics that he had become ill after drinking a high-protein amino acid milkshake, commonly used by bodybuilders to strengthen muscle. He told them that he had gotten the shake from a friend. He began to slip in and out of consciousness and was rushed to a nearby hospital.
Doctors were baffled by his condition. His wife, Elizabeth, arrived within minutes and claimed that she had never before seen the bottle that the milkshake was in. Meanwhile, Gilbert's condition worsened; he contracted pneumonia and his kidneys began to fail. He later went under cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma.
Looking into his background, investigators learned that Gilbert had met Elizabeth in 1987 while serving in the Army. They married in 1990, shortly after the birth of their son, Jonathan. Gilbert got the job at the toy store, but he and Elizabeth frequently fought over money. However, everything seemed to change for the better when he received a promotion in March of 1992. Less than a week later, he was in the hospital, fighting for his life.
Gilbert's mother and sister, Brendha, joined Elizabeth at the hospital. While in the waiting room, Elizabeth received a strange phone call which seemed to upset her. She told them that she was going to leave to check on Jonathan. However, two hours later, she came back to the room, claiming that some guy with a mask had Jonathan. Brendha was confused because she thought he was with Elizabeth's mother. She called her and she confirmed that Jonathan was with her.
Elizabeth told a nurse that she had been approached by a small boy in the hospital parking lot who directed her to a masked man in a parked car. The man claimed that he knew what had happened to Gilbert, that he had drank the "wrong stuff". He gave her a bag which contained a bottle of liquid insecticide. The nurse contacted the poison control center and the police.
Five days later, Elizabeth was questioned by police about the alleged masked man. The investigators, of course, were suspicious of her strange story. After pointing out several inconsistencies, she confessed that she made the story up. She claimed that she found the bottle in her house and believed that he had done it to himself. The investigators asked her to take a lie detector test. She claimed that she had to go to a job interview, and that she would come back in two hours for the test. However, she never returned.
The next morning, one of the investigators spoke to her at her mother's home. She refused to come back to the police station. Eleven days later, Gilbert regained consciousness and told police what had happened. He said that Elizabeth had told him about a coworker's son who had "bulked up" by drinking amino acid milkshakes. He apparently made the drink and gave it to Elizabeth, who gave it to Gilbert at around 2 pm in the toy store parking lot. Within minutes of drinking the milkshake, he became seriously ill.
This confirmed what investigators had suspected: Elizabeth had poisoned Gilbert in an attempt to kill him. They obtained a search warrant to look in the Ortiz home, hoping to find evidence to trace the poisoning to Elizabeth. However, when they arrived, they found that Elizabeth had vanished, along with their two-year-old son, Jonathan.
Although a year has passed, Gilbert still has not fully recovered. The insecticide caused serious damage to his liver and nervous system. His right foot is numb and he has difficulty walking without assistance.
Suspects: Elizabeth Ortiz
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 25, 1992 episode. The case was also profiled on America’s Most Wanted. After the case was resolved, the case was documented on Snapped.
Results: Solved. On March 15, 2000, eight years after Gilbert was poisoned, Elizabeth was arrested by the FBI and Mexican authorities without Jonathan near Guadalajara, Mexico, mostly based on tips to America's Most Wanted. Elizabeth was brought back to California to stand trial. Believing that Elizabeth would want to see her son, an investigator had an age-progressed composite posted at the jail. Finally, on May 30, 2000, Jonathan turned up at the jail, having been brought there by his grandmother. The next day, he was reunited with his father Gilbert. Elizabeth got a life sentence plus six years for child abduction and bodily harm. Her appeal was denied in 2004. She was denied parole in 2008 and 2014. However, she has since been released.
During two separate incidents in 2010, Jonathan, then 20, brutally beat Gilbert, irrationally blaming him for his mother’s imprisonment. In January 2011, he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and inflicting great bodily injury. In 2012, he was sentenced to four years in prison.
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- Son in Milkshake Poisoning Case Sentenced