Hilmar stab victim dies of her wounds

A woman who was stabbed Thursday at a Hilmar home where methamphetamine allegedly was manufactured died from her injuries Friday, the Merced County Sheriff's Department reported.

The 36-year-old woman was critically injured during an apparent domestic dispute. She was taken by ambulance to a Modesto hospital, where officials turned off life-support machines Friday, according to deputy Tom MacKenzie, a sheriff's spokesman.

Sheriff's officials did not release her name.

Investigators believe the woman's boyfriend of 10 years, Jesus Ortega, 38, stabbed her as she tried to leave the home with her two teenage daughters after an argument with him, MacKenzie said.

On Friday evening, authorities were still looking for Ortega, who may be heading to Mexico in a 2006 white Honda Accord with California license plates 5SPE198.

A 48-year-old man related to the woman also was stabbed as he tried to intervene. He was treated at a hospital Thursday and released.

Sheriff's officials responding to a report of domestic violence at the home, in the 19000 block of First Street, found the two injured people and the meth-making operation.

Inside the home, narcotics investigators seized about $5,000 worth of meth, along with several canisters of acetone and other chemicals used for meth production.

The Hilmar case led investigators to another meth lab in the 1000 block of Mitchell Road in the Turlock area. The lab was discovered in a barn on the property. No other details about the Turlock lab were available Friday.

Investigators ask anyone with information about Ortega's whereabouts to call the Sheriff's Department at 385-7472. Calls are kept confidential, and callers can remain anonymous.