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Girlfriend charged for murder cover up

By Heather J. Carlson

hcarlson@postbulletin.com

MANTORVILLE — An Austin woman was charged Friday for allegedly helping her boyfriend cover up a murder by throwing away blood-stained clothes and aiding him in fleeing police.

Marissa Lynn Lane, 18, 203 15th St. S.E., was charged in Dodge District Court with felony aiding an offender, obstructing an investigation in connection with the February murder of Troy Ulrich, 42, in a Claremont apartment building. Ulrich’s body was found in the hallway of his Claremont apartment building on Feb. 16. He had been stabbed nine times.

Dodge County Assistant Prosecutor Gary ReMine said authorities knew about Lane’s potential involvement in the murder early on, but decided now was the time to file charges.

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"She was allowed to remain at liberty, because she was not considered a flight risk or a public safety risk. Circumstances behind the scenes now strongly suggest she may become a flight risk," ReMine said.

Lane is the fifth person charged in connection with Ulrich’s murder. Her boyfriend, Danny Ortega Jr., 21, and his father Danny Ortega, Sr., 42, have been charged with second-degree murder. Brothers Anthony Bermea, 23, and Eric Bermea, 20, cousins of the Ortegas, were charged with felony aiding an offender, obstructing an investigation.

According to court documents, the Bermeas and Ortega Jr. were drinking with Ulrich in an apartment building at 117 Second St. in Claremont. During the night, a fight broke out between the Bermeas and Ortega Jr. involving Ulrich. While in the apartment, Ortega Jr. threatened Ulrich with a baseball bat and a machete. Lane was in the apartment and watched the fight.

The Bermeas took Ulrich to a garage attached to the apartment building. Meanwhile, Ortega Jr. used Lane’s cell phone to call his father and tell him about the fight, the complaint says. The father and son entered the garage and began fighting with the victim. Both are accused of stabbing Ulrich and hitting him with a bolt cutter.

The father and son returned to the apartment where Lane was waiting. She told authorities she saw Ortega Sr. covered in blood. The two men told her what happened. She helped clean a cut Ortega Sr. got during the fight. She then agreed to throw away a white plastic bag filled with blood-stained clothing and a bloody towel, putting it in the apartment’s garbage bin. During the evening she also held the door open to the garage apartment while Ortega Jr. dragged the victim’s body in the apartment hallway, the complaint says.

The next morning she and Ortega Jr. drove to Austin to avoid the police. They stayed at the home of an acquaintance and Lane told authorities she knew her boyfriend’s mother had bought him a bus ticket to Florida. Police received a tip Ortega Jr. might be in the home. When they arrived, Lane told authorities her boyfriend was not there. Shortly thereafter, Ortega Jr. waked out of another room in the house and was arrested.

"The defendant took numerous and substantial steps intended to obstruct the investigation and avoid apprehension of someone she knew to be the primary suspect," ReMine said.

Lane is being held in the Steele County Detention Center in Owatonna. Conditional bail has been set at $50,000.

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Dodge County Sheriff Gary Thompson said more arrests could still be made in connection with the murder.

He added, "I wouldn’t be surprised to see another arrest or two."

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