ATLANTIC CITY — Bessy Blanco, 54, was beautiful inside and out, said friend and former co-worker Liz Fuls, of Galloway Township.
"I could see anyone falling in love with her," and perhaps becoming obsessed, said Fuls. "Her personality glows."
Blanco's niece Rebecca Blanco, 17, of Galloway Township, said the man arrested in her death was known to the family.
"He was an ex-boyfriend. It was jealousy and obsession," said Rebecca Blanco.
Blanco and 52-year-old Mark Richart, of Quakertown, Pennsylvania, were stabbed in Blanco’s home Saturday night. Richart remains in AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s City Campus, according to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
Jose B. Lopez, 51, of North Oakland Avenue in Ventnor, was arrested Sunday in Galloway Township and charged with murder, attempted murder and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes after a Galloway police officer recognized the car Lopez was driving as belonging to Richart.
Lopez is scheduled for a detention hearing today at 1:30 p.m. in the County Courthouse in Mays Landing.
Rebecca Blanco said the family is still struggling to accept the extreme violence of the end of her aunt's life.
The funeral will be Tuesday at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Atlantic City, and burial will be in the Atlantic City Cemetery in Pleasantville, her niece said.
Blanco had experienced a string of tragedies earlier in her life.
She was in her 30s when she stepped in to raise two of her sister’s children after their parents and a sibling were killed in a horrific car crash on Route 30 in Egg Harbor City a week before Christmas 2000, according to Press of Atlantic City accounts at the time.
Then, just weeks from buying a home in 2001 with the help of people who rallied around her family, her husband, Arnoldo, died, and the real estate closing could not go forward.
But with continued support from the community, the Unite Here Local 54 union and four casinos that had employed Blanco, her husband, her sister and her brother-in-law, she eventually was able to buy a home on North Harrisburg Avenue, said state Sen. Jim Whelan, who was involved in helping the family years ago.
"She never remarried," said Rebecca Blanco, and financial challenges were constant.
"It was definitely rough on her, she tried her best and was always pushing to do better," she said. "I never heard her say anything negative."
Rebecca Blanco said Bessy's adult daughter Ana, who could not be reached for comment, helped Bessy as much as she could.
Fuls said Blanco had accepted an invitation to her birthday party next Friday, where she was looking forward to catching up with her.
"I'm still very much in shock and very much upset about it," said Fuls.
The two became close in the last few years working at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City. Fuls worked in communications and dispatch, and Blanco was an assistant manager in housekeeping, Fuls said.
But Fuls left her job a while back, and missed seeing her regularly, she said.
"My mom had a heart attack and Bessy went to the hospital with flowers and a card," said Fuls. "Some of my family didn't even do that."
While she is devastated, "I'm glad they got the man," she said. "It's never going to bring back her life, but I'm glad they got him, that's all."
Rebecca Blanco has set up a fundraising page to help the family with Bessy Blanco's funeral costs. To donate, visit youcaring.com/anitablancofuneralcost-760636/.