Wife-Beating Suspect Takes His Own Life : Crime: Donald Ortiz apparently drove his car off a cliff. A suicide note referred to marital problems and the assault.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Ventura man wanted by police for questioning in an attack on his wife committed suicide by driving his car off a cliff, the county coroner's office said Tuesday.

Donald Edward Ortiz, 37, was found dead in his car Tuesday afternoon at the bottom of an embankment off California 33 above Ojai, said Chief Deputy Coroner Jim Wingate.

Ortiz died of multiple injuries after his 1988 BMW plunged 200 feet into the ravine late Monday, Wingate said.

Tuesday morning, a Los Padres National Park ranger found a five-page handwritten suicide note signed by Ortiz in the visitor center of Wheeler Gorge campground, Wingate said. The letter "indicated that he was taking his life because of marital problems and the fact that he assaulted his wife," Wingate said.

The ravine where Ortiz died is about four miles north of Wheeler Gorge campground.

Ventura police started searching for Ortiz on Monday. He fled his home before officers, responding to a 911 call shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, found Debra Veronica Ortiz, 37, seriously injured from multiple blows with what investigators believe was a baseball bat, police said.

Ortiz described himself as a baseball instructor on a printed business card found on him, Wingate said.

Debra Ortiz, who suffered bruises and head lacerations, was listed in serious condition at Ventura County Medical Center, a nursing supervisor said.

The couple's three children, ages 10, 8 and 5, are staying with his family in the Ventura area, Wingate said.

Times correspondent Jeff McDonald contributed to this story.

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