Esperanza Wells and Margarita Ruiz Murders: Where is Bill Marquardt Now?

A gruesome double homicide in Tarrytown, Florida, sent the authorities on a decade-long investigation until the killer was finally convicted. This was only possible when evidence in another case in Wisconsin was connected to the murders of Esperanza Wells and Margarita Luiz. One of the three cases featured in ‘True Conviction: Scene Of The Crime’ is that of these homicides that occurred in 2000. So, if you’re curious about what happened and how the case was solved, we’ve got you covered.

How Did Esperanza Wells and Margarita Ruiz Die?

On March 15, 2000, 42-year-old Esperanza Wells was with her mother, 72-year-old Margarita Ruiz, at a cottage in Tarrytown. At the time, Margarita was babysitting her two grandchildren, who were 1 and 3-years-old then. Later that day, Esperanza’s husband called 911 for a welfare check at the house, leading to the authorities making a horrific discovery. The screen door at the back was found open, and the police noted that the latch had been broken.

Image Credit: Find a Grave/Theresa Hernandez -White

Margarita and Esperanza were found in the bedroom in a pool of blood. The authorities believed that Margarita was shot twice in the chest while in the kitchen, with one of the bullets being lodged in the freezer of the refrigerator. After that, she was shot in the back as she ran into the bedroom. Margarita was then stabbed thrice in the neck. Esperanza was shot once in the head and then stabbed eight times in the neck. The children, who were found hiding under the dining table, were fortunately unharmed.

Who Killed Esperanza Wells and Margarita Ruiz?

The investigation into who killed the mother and daughter was connected about six years later to another murder in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. On March 13, 2000, Alfred Marquardt found his wife, 54-year-old Mary Jane, dead in their garage. Like Esperanza and Margarita, she was shot and stabbed to death. At the time, the authorities zeroed in on her son, Bill Marquardt. He was arrested a few days later and had told the police he had traveled to Florida.

A search of Bill’s cabin in Eau Claire County led to the police finding dead animals inside. Furthermore, they found boxes of ammunition and a 9mm firearm under the refrigerator during a March 29, 2000, search of the house. At the time, the gun was confirmed to be the one that killed Mary Jane. The authorities also recovered a pocket knife from Bill. Upon examination, it had Bill and Mary Jane’s DNA on it, in addition to two unidentified profiles that were confirmed to be related.

Not just that, Mary Jane’s blood was found on Bill’s shoes. But surprisingly, a jury acquitted him of murder in 2006. In the aftermath, the prosecutor looked into unsolved murders around the time Mary Jane was found dead. The idea was to match the unidentified DNA from the knife to any potential victims. This led to Esperanza and Margarita’s murders. The DNA from the murder weapon then matched the mother and daughter, and it was the same 9mm that killed them. Furthermore, Esperanza’s DNA was found on Bill’s shoe and his car, and his DNA was found at the cottage in Tarrytown.

Where is Bill Marquardt Now?

Eventually, Bill was extradited to Florida to face double murder charges. At the time, he was ordered to 75 years of psychiatric treatment for animal cruelty convictions. Bill was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. At the trial in October 2011, Bill, then 35, claimed that he was framed for the murder of his mother as well as Esperanza and Margarita. According to him, a drug-dealing father and son duo from Wisconsin arranged Mary Jane’s slaying and ordered the other two murders.

Nevertheless, a jury found Bill guilty on two counts of first-degree murder and burglary of a dwelling with a firearm. In February 2012, he was sentenced to death, a punishment that he asked for. In addition, Bill also received a life sentence for the burglary charge. Prison records indicate that he remains incarcerated at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida. While Bill awaits execution, a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling may affect that.

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