Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Revenge - Decapitation - Arson
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 6, 2001
Date of birth: February 26, 1972
Victim profile: Deborah Clay, 41 (his girlfriend)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Delaware, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on September 26, 2003

Supreme Court of the State of Delaware


opinion 494/528, 2003


Juan J. Ortiz

DOB: 02/26/1972

Race: White

Gender: Male

Offense: Murder 1st

Sentenced to Death: 09/26/2003

Date of Offense: 07/06/2001



Deborah Clay entered into a romantic relationship with Ortiz in 2001. Deborah was forty-one years old in July ofthat year. In March 2001, Ortiz moved into Deborah's home. At that time, Deborah's fifteen-year-old daughter, Ashley, was living with Deborah.

Ortiz stayed with Deborah and Ashley from March 19, 2001 to May29, 2001. During that time, Ortiz was under home confinement by the Delaware Department of Corrections. His monitoring device was located in the back bedroom of Deborah's home. Ortiz left for a few months and returned to Deborah's home on June 26, 2001. On July 4, Ashley heard Deborah tell Ortiz he had to move out of her home by that Sunday.

The next evening, July 5, Ashley tried to open the door to her mother's bedroom, but the door was locked. Ortiz was in that bedroom.When he unlocked the door, Ashley noticed Deborah's waterbed wasdeflated. Ortiz was upset and crying. He told Ashley that he tried to shoot himself but missed and shot the waterbed. Ortiz said that he was going
tohave Deborah take him to a mental institution.

Later that night, around 11:00 p.m., when Ashley returned home, Ortiz appeared normal. Ashley then called her mother to ask permission to go out with her friends. Deborah did not want Ashley to go out because Deborah feared being alone with Ortiz at her home. Deborah also requested Ashley to tell Ortiz that "he still had to be out by Sunday."

Deborah's son, Brock Prichett, who was twenty-seven years old, owned a 6mm rifle and a 12-guage bolt-action shotgun. Deborah and Ortiz stored those guns for Brock at Robert Cox's house. Brock requested possession of his guns a few days before July 6. On July 5, 2001, Ortiz obtained the guns from Cox around 7:00 a.m. When Brock asked Ortiz about his guns later that same evening, however, Ortiz told Brock that he was not able to get in touch with Cox.

The next day, July 6, 2001, Ashley found Ortiz at home around noon. He told Ashley that he and her mother had not spoken the night before and that "all hell was going to break loose when [Deborah] got home " That same afternoon, Deborah had called her friend, Amy Rust, around 2:00 or 2:30 p.m. from Mike Ratledge's house. Deborah called Rust later at 3:15p.m. from her own home and told Rust she was about to get into the shower. She requested that Rust pick her up because she was late for work.

Tonya Russell, a neighbor of Deborah's, testified that on the afternoon of July 6, she saw Ortiz leave Deborah's residence, get into his truck, and go back inside the home. According to Russell, Ortiz was inside the residence for approximately three minutes and then left very quickly. Russell noticed smoke coming from Deborah's home about fifteen to twenty minutes after Ortiz left. Russell knocked on Deborah's bedroom window and the back door. After hearing no response, Tonya called 911 at 3:32 p.m. When Amy Rust arrived at Deborah's home, it was on fire. Firefighters and fire trucks were already on the scene.

As the firefighters were extinguishing the fire, they discovered the body of a female in the bathroom. The body appeared to have been decapitated. The female body was Deborah Clay's. An autopsy revealed that Deborah had been shot in the lower right abdomen and also had sustained a fatal shot to the right side of her head above her ear.

The Delaware State Police also responded to the scene of the fire at Deborah's home. On top of the washing machine, in an alcove adjacent tothe bathroom, the police discovered three pillows that were duct-taped together. The pillows had a hole in them that corresponded to a hole found in the paneling between the hall and the shower. Inside the pillows, police found half of a Sabot slug and also located two shotgun wads in the bathroom. The police found a hole in the shower stall that was about 22inches from the top of the tub. It was estimated that Deborah was standing about 25 inches away from the wall when she was shot while standing in the shower.

The Chief Deputy Fire Marshall concluded that the fire at Deborah's home had been started intentionally by an open flame. He also determined that two fires had been set: one in the center bedroom and one in the rear bedroom. The police found a burned 12-gauge shotgun in one of the bedrooms.

The police located Ortiz near Millsboro and took him into custody without incident. Among other things, police found an orange Philadelphia Flyers cigarette lighter. Ortiz told the police that the weapon he used to shoot Deborah was in her trailer. Ortiz stated that he was angry with Deborah and fired the shotgun at her from behind the wall while she was in the shower. Ortiz claimed that he thought the gun was "on safe." He then stated that he went to the bathroom, saw Deborah holding her side, and dropped the gun which went off when he dropped it. He ran from the house and traveled to the home near Millsboro, where he was eventually arrested.



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