RCC student senator left in a legal mess

By Araceli Diaz / Staff Writer

By Araceli Diaz / Staff Writer

As Riverside City College students enjoy their summer break, many are still left reeling over the news of Daniel Ortiz, a RCC student senator, who was arrested on suspicion of being an accessory to murder.

Ortiz’s mother, Carmen Montelongo was arrested May 29 on suspicion of murdering and dismembering her boyfriend, 62-year-old Samuel Wiggins of Diamond Bar, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

Montelongo was arrested after pushing a container filled with Wiggins’ dismembered body parts 200 yards down residential streets, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

According to the insidesocal.com, a website that follows court cases around the Inland Empire, her arrest occurred after pleading with her nephew, Matthew Bell, to help her hide Wiggins’ body. She even offered him $5,000 to which he denied and phoned the police.

The container was missing his head and arms which were later recovered from two flower pots she had given to relatives. To date all his body parts have been collected.

According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin the autopsy report has confirmed that it is indeed Wiggins. The autopsy also confirmed that the cause of death was likely multiple stab wounds.

Authorities believe Wiggins’ murder and dismemberment occurred in his Diamond Bar home approximately a month ago stated inlandsocal.com.

Wiggins was last seen on May 1. His nephew formally filed him as a missing person on May 25.

Authorities stated in an interview with the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin that they believe the murder was financially motivated since Montelongo was seen using Wiggins’ credit cards and automobile.

On June 1, Ortiz, the newly elected senator for Associated Students of Riverside City College was arrested under suspicion of being an accessory to the murder.

His sister Chanel Ortiz, 26, was also arrested on suspicion of being an accessory to murder.

According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Daniel’s alleged involvement was that he helped deliver the flower pots to the relatives’ home.

As stated in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin both Chanel and Daniel were released on June 3 due to lack of substantial evidence. Neither sibling will be charged, unless future evidence indicates some involvement.

Montelongo has plead not guilty and is due in court July 18 after her preliminary hearing was postponed indefinitely stated inlandsocal.com.

While the siblings face a rough road ahead, the RCC community sympathizes over the difficulty and delicacy of the situation.

“What a difficult dilemma to be in,” said Cynthia Azari, RCC’s college president. “Everyone loves their mother and you want to help your mother, but when your mom is doing something illegal, ‘what do you do?'”

Many who knew Daniel personally were left in a state of denial when the news was first released.

“When the news first broke out, I was in denial,” said a personal friend of Ortiz who wishes to stay anonymous. “I was like ‘no, no, no,’ there is no way he could have possibly done this.”

“When I paused to think about it I can see how he may have aided her,” said the anonymous friend. “Over the love he had for his mom. That is if he did aid her, if he didn’t then I can see how he could have. Everyone loves their mother.”

The disbelief was widespread leaving members of student government to ponder over their comrade’s actions.

“I didn’t believe it at first, but then my opinion changed as the information was being released,” said Jonathan Flike, the newly elected president of Associated Students of Riverside City College. “Right now the prosecution said they are not going to pursue anything, he’s innocent until proven guilty.”

It is needless to say that Ortiz may be undergoing a difficult time, but it appears that the RCC community stands behind him.

“I understand that the police have released him, so why would we be demeaning someone who is innocent; who has not been indicted or charged,” Azari said. “We have to give him the benefit of the doubt and be respectful to his personal safety and respectful as a human being.”

As regards to whether or not he should be forced to resign from his newly elected senate seat the administration feels that the decision is up to Ortiz if he wishes to resign or not.

“We have to rely on our legal and judicial system to ensure that the right things are done as far as her children,” Azari said. “If there is insufficient evidence than he should be allowed to keep his senate seat.”

Flike shares the same views as well.

“Right now, I think that before we jump to any conclusions we need to just concede to what the system says and the system says he’s innocent,” Flike said. “I don’t see if there should even be a question if he should lose his Senate seat.”

“It’s times like these that our own capacities are challenged. That is our capacity to love in times of darkness and be compassionate in uncertainty,” Flike said. “These are the things I expect from myself and my Vice President Joey Reynoso and my cabinet. These are the things I call for from the student body; we need to be understanding and compassionate.”

The RCC community shares their compassion over the difficult situation Ortiz is currently placed it.

“Like I said the prosecution let him go, they didn’t have any evidence against him. At the opposite end of this argument there is a boy that may be losing his mother for the rest of his life and that is something we need to be a bit compassionate about,” Flike said.

Doug Figueroa, president of Active Minds, a new club that focuses informing students of mental health weighs in on the issue.

“I think the advice I would give to him or anyone else that is placed in this type of situation, is that you need to remove all the stigmas everyone is placing on you, you need to seek assistance and you need to get right with yourself,” Figueroa said.

“(Ortiz) needs to dig for that passion he still has and fight for his life, fight for his mental life and it isn’t going to be easy because people are going to point the finger and have this stigma about him. He needs to understand that he
needs to dedicate himself, to himself by getting professional health” he said.

RCC’s own Student Health and Psychological Services (SHPS) offers free counseling with licensed therapists for students. The therapists are there to help students deal with the various pressures of being in college and any other mental health issues they may have. Having mental health issues does not mean being insane or crazy, it may just be having someone to talk to in a difficult time.

Many are hoping that the student body treats Ortiz with the same dignity and respect that is entitled to ever student.

“They shouldn’t be quick to judge. We are all capable of doing bad just as much as we are capable of doing good.” Figueroa said. “I can only imagine he is going through so many emotions right now.”

Nonetheless, many are optimistic and believe that RCC will be welcoming if Ortiz were to return.

“I really believe in my student body. I really believe that people will really look at the facts and not go off based in assumptions,” Flike said. The prosecution doesn’t have a case at the moment so we shouldn’t be painting him any other light than an innocent person.”

Ortiz appears to have support from all around who have his best interest at heart.

“Whatever happens, he will have me and I’m sure the rest of his friends who will support him in every way that we can,” said the anonymous friend. “There is still an opportunity for him to lead a good life, regardless of this. We can’t just tell him to forget about it–is impossible, but he just has to hang in there. I think he should take some time off and wait to see what the future holds for him.