Ortega’s public defender, Christopher Brown, declined comment after his first court hearing in Pennsylvania. Ortega’s mother has said he has no history of mental illness, though when authorities were looking for him, they reported he had “mental health issues.”
In Idaho Falls, where Ortega is from, a computer consultant told The Associated Press that the two met July 8 after Ortega asked for help editing a 30-minute infomercial. Monte McCall said that during the meeting at Ortega’s family’s Mexican restaurant, Ortega pulled out worn sheets of yellow paper with handwritten notes and started to talk about his predictions that the world would end in 2012.
“He said, ‘Well, you know the president is getting ready to make an announcement that they’re going to put GPS chips in all the children, so they’re safe,’” McCall said. “... And then he said, ‘That’s just what the Antichrist is going to do to mark everybody.’”
Kimberly Allen, the mother of Ortega’s former fiancée, said he had been well-mannered and kind in the four years she had known him. But he recently began making statements to her daughter that were out of character, including that he believed he was Jesus. Allen said the family was worried when he went to Utah recently, where he said he had business, and didn’t come back. Ortega’s family reported him missing Oct. 31.
Allen said they were flabbergasted to hear he was wanted in Washington.
“I believe that the boy needs help,” said Allen, of Shelley, Idaho.
Her daughter, Jessica Galbraith, was engaged to Ortega and is the mother of their 2-year-old son. She declined to comment Thursday except to say: “I love him, and I’m here for him.”
It was unclear why or when they split.
Reached by the AP on Thursday, Ortega’s mother said she didn’t have anything to say. She earlier told the Post Register in Idaho Falls her son has no history of mental illness.
“He has different ideas than other people, just like everyone, but he was perfectly fine the last time I saw him,” Maria Hernandez told the newspaper. “He might be saying weird stuff that sounds crazy, but that doesn’t mean (he) is crazy. He might be confused and scared.”
At his first appearance in court in Pennsylvania, Ortega sat quietly, his hands free but his feet shackled. He said only, “Yes, ma’am” when he was asked if he understood that he would be going back to Washington to face the charge.