Just when the Ortegas were celebrating while enjoying a family Christmas dinner at their Covina, California, home, a man dressed in a Santa suit knocked on the door and shot the first person who answered, an 8-year-old little girl. The man was 45-year-old Bruce Pardo, an angry ex who wanted revenge on his former wife, Sylvia Pardo. You can see the entire story dramatized on tonight’s Homicide For The Holidays, which airs on the Oxygen Network.
Homicide For The Holidays: “A Christmas Massacre” episode on Oxygen
A frantic 911 call from a Covina, California, residence indicates that a surprise visit from Santa Claus may not have turned out the way the Ortega family expected.
Something Deadly For Christmas (129 Knollcrest Drive)
It was Christmas Eve 2008, and the Ortega family was doing what they did every year, celebrating in the form of a big dinner bash in their home in Covina. Over a dozen family members were expected to attend.
Elderly couple Joseph and Alicia Ortega had that tradition ever since they arrived to America from Mexico. They were living the American dream. But that dream turned to a Christmas nightmare when their ex son-in-law, Bruce Pardo, arrived at their home and shot them to death. Some family members were badly burned.
Police say that the first victim was an 8-year-old girl, who survived the attack. Authorities say Bruce Pardo dressed in a full Santa suit, opened up a gift-wrapped package and sprayed the home with a deadly substance that set the place ablaze.
The family dinner ended in chaos. Surviving family members fled the home any way they could, with some jumping out of windows and other seeking refuge at neighbors’ homes. By the time police arrived, the home was engulfed n flames.
Witnesses say that the killer was distraught over financial problems, the loss of his high-paying job, and the divorce from his wife, Sylvia Pardo, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
“Bruce Pardo was making $122,000 a year as an electrical engineer at ITT Electronic Systems Radar Systems. Sylvia Pardo was sleeping in another room. Two months later she told her husband she wanted a divorce. She filed court papers asking for monthly spousal support. In July, Pardo lost his job at ITT and soon was drowning in debt while scrambling to find work. He begged the court to grant him spousal support. Bruce Pardo got the house – but he also had to pay his ex-wife $10,000 and return her valuable diamond wedding ring.”
People who knew Bruce Pardo couldn’t believe that the mild-mannered former Christmas usher was capable of such a violent act. It looked like the former electrical engineer had planned the attacks months in advance, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
“Mr. Pardo was armed with four handguns. The 8-year-old girl who was shot when she answered the door suffered non-life-threatening injuries and is expected to recover, authorities said. A 16-year-old girl was treated for a gunshot wound in the back. A woman broke her leg after jumping out of the second-story window. Authorities say Pardo’s Santa suit actually melted onto his body before he fled.”
Police say that after killing the Ortega family, Bruce Pardo was headed to kill his own mother before fleeing to Canada. But he hadn’t counted on injuring and burning himself in the attack. Deciding not to face justice, he committed suicide.
The victims found dead in the Ortega family Christmas massacre are as follows, according to Murderpedia.
- 43-year-old Sylvia Ortega Pardo: the killer’s ex wife.
- 80-year-old Joseph Ortega: The father
- 70-year-old Alicia Ortega: The mother
- 49-year-old Charles Ortega and 45-year-old Cheri Ortega: Sylvia’s brother and sister-in-law
- 51-year old James Ortega and 52-year-old Teresa Ortega: Sylvia’s brother and sister-in-law
- 46-year-old Alicia Ortega Ortiz: Sylvia’s sister
- 17-year-old Michael Ortiz: Sylvia’s nephew and Alicia Ortiz’s son
The murder was partially depicted in the movie Silent Night, which aired in 2012. Watch this Christmas massacre unfold by tuning into Homicide For The Holidays tonight at 8/7 p.m. Central on the Oxygen Channel.
[Featured Image by Gene Blevins/AP Files]