According to court documents Bill Marquardt would break into a home where he would murder Margarita Ruiz, 72, and her daughter Esperanza Wells, 42. The murder went unsolved for some time until DNA tied Marquardt to the murders. Marquardt previously had been found not guilty of the murder of his mother
Bill Marquardt would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
Bill Marquardt Photos
Bill Marquardt Now
|MARQUARDT, BILL P
|Initial Receipt Date:
|Current Release Date:
Bill Marquardt Case
On March 15, 2000, Ruiz and her adult daughter, Wells, were at their house in Sumter County, Florida. That morning, Ruiz’s daughter-in-law brought her one-year-old son and three-year-old daughter to the house. When Ruiz’s daughter-in-law departed, she exited through a screen door at the back of the house, which Wells then latched.
Later that day, two Sumter County deputies went to the house in response to a 911 call from Wells’s husband, who asked the sheriff’s department to attempt to make contact with anyone in the house. When the deputies arrived, they discovered that the screen door at the back of the house was open. The deputies proceeded through the house and discovered the bodies of Ruiz and Wells inside a bedroom. The children, who were hiding under the dining room table, were the only survivors.
Subsequently, the sheriff’s department requested that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) respond to the house to process the crime scene. The FDLE crime scene technician noted that the latch to the screen door at the back of the house had been broken. He also discovered fired cartridge cases on the back porch area of the house, as well as blood and a bullet hole in the freezer door. A bullet was embedded inside the freezer. The FDLE technician concluded that at least one bullet was fired into the house from outside and that the bullet found in the freezer struck a person before it lodged in the freezer.
The medical examiner reconstructed the manner in which Ruiz and Wells were killed based on their injuries and the evidence found at the house. Ruiz was shot twice while in the kitchen. The bullet that was found in the freezer had first penetrated her chest. She was shot a second time while she stood in front of the back screen door. The bullet grazed her thumb and then punctured her chest, which indicated that her arm was raised in front of her chest at the time she was shot. Ruiz then fled the kitchen, ran through the dining room and living room, and was shot a third time in the back as she fled into a bedroom. The bullet passed through her spinal cord, causing her to collapse. She was then stabbed in the neck. She died from multiple gunshot wounds, with a contributory factor of sharp force injuries to the neck.
Wells, found in the bedroom next to her mother’s body, had been shot once in the head from a distance of less than eighteen inches. The injury would have caused her to feel faint and collapse in seconds, quickly rendering her unconscious and causing her death. After Wells was shot, she was stabbed in the neck eight times.
An officer who had responded to the scene took the children outside and asked the three-year-old girl if she knew who had committed the crime. She stated that she did not know but responded, in part, that the killer left in a green car.
The FDLE collected DNA and latent palm print evidence from the house. A DNA swab taken from the living room revealed a mixed DNA profile that contained DNA from at least three individuals. Two of the three profiles matched Ruiz and Wells. The DNA of the third individual could not be identified at the time. Additionally, a latent palm print was retrieved from a countertop in the kitchen, which also could not be identified.
The investigation into the murders then became dormant until June 2006, when the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office received information regarding a separate murder investigation in the state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin law enforcement had investigated the murder of Mary Marquardt, who was killed on March 13, 2000, two days before Ruiz and Wells were murdered, and the investigation eventually led to Bill Marquardt being charged with the murder of his mother, Mary. Other than the evidence obtained from Wisconsin law enforcement during their investigation, the murder of Mary Marquardt apparently is unrelated to the murders of Ruiz and Wells.
During their investigation, Wisconsin law enforcement performed DNA testing on items obtained from Bill Marquardt. The testing revealed DNA from two individuals who they could not identify, but determined to be related females who were most likely mother and daughter. When Bill Marquardt was acquitted of the murder of Mary, a Wisconsin attorney involved in the case sought to identify the women whose DNA was discovered on the items obtained from Marquardt. His research revealed the unsolved murders of Ruiz and Wells, and he contacted Sumter County law enforcement. The previously unidentified DNA from the items obtained from Marquardt in Wisconsin matched that of Ruiz and Wells.
Bill Marquardt was subsequently indicted for the first-degree murders of Ruiz and Wells and for burglary of a dwelling with a firearm. At the time, Marquardt was incarcerated in a Wisconsin mental health facility pursuant to a guilty verdict for animal cruelty charges in Wisconsin.