Schenectady police identify body found Union Street basement

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Schenectady Police Department has identified the deceased female that was located inside the basement of a Union Street apartment home.

The remains of a human female were found in the basement of 1330 Union St. on September 2. Police have identified the remains as 55-year-old Valarie Washington.

Her death has been ruled a homicide. The cause and time of her death is not being released. She was a resident of the Union Street building.

Also found in the basement was a man in his 60s, who was incoherent and weak. He remains in the hospital.

Harold Ortiz (Schenectady PD)
Harold Ortiz (Schenectady PD)

Harold Michael Ortiz has been arrested for the crimes against the male victim. He was charged with Attempted Murder and Unlawful Imprisonment.

Ortiz has a frightening criminal resume, which includes a 17-year stint in prison for the kidnapping and attempted murder of a Brooklyn firefighter.

Police said he was fresh out of prison and living in the Union Street home for less than a week when he allegedly attacked a fellow resident by hitting him in the head with a shovel and buying him under a pile of rubble in the communal basement.

The male victim was found after police received a call from someone who said they were concerned for the victim’s welfare.

“They had difficulty making access to a part of the basement,” Schenectady Police Lt. Mark McCracken said. “That is where they found the male victim buried under several feet of debris.”

But there was also an overwhelming smell of something rotting. Police got a search warrant, and that is when they discovered Washington’s body.

Ortiz has not been charged in connection to Washington’s death.

Ortiz’s brother said he was released without any kind of mental health care, which he claims was a deadly mistake.

“You can’t just let someone out of jail after 17 years and just open the door and release them like that,” he said.

He said Ortiz has been mentally ill his whole life and suffers from hallucinations.

He said when Ortiz was released from prison in August, he was not given any medication or care that would keep his violent tendencies in check.

“I didn’t see nothing,” his brother said. “Just the pain medication.”

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