MAYS LANDING — A jealous ex-boyfriend fatally stabbed Bessy Blanco and seriously wounded her new boyfriend in Atlantic City last week, Atlantic County prosecutors alleged in court Thursday.
The accused killer then phoned Blanco’s daughter and blamed his actions on the daughter, specifically for having him kicked out of the home he shared with Blanco, prosecutors said.
Jose B. Lopez, 51, of Ventnor, will remain in jail until trial, Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Bernard E. DeLury ruled Thursday.
Lopez is charged with killing Blanco, 54, of Atlantic City, and the attempted murder of 52-year-old Mark Richart, of Quakertown, Pennsylvania.
Richart remains hospitalized with multiple stab wounds to his head, neck, body and arms, Assistant Prosecutor Richard McKelvey said during a detention hearing for Lopez.
According to the affidavit, Blanco’s sister told police there was no history of domestic violence between Blanco and Lopez, and that she observed Lopez near Harrisburg Avenue 10 p.m. the night before her death driving a maroon minivan.
About 15 of Blanco’s family and friends intently watched the proceedings from one side of the courtroom.
Lopez leaned back in his chair throughout the hearing, stone-faced and wearing an orange jumpsuit. A few of his family members sat on the other side of the courtroom.
Lopez’s attorney, Stephen Funk, said Lopez has been living in Atlantic County for 32 years and works in construction. He said he has many ties to the area and that his criminal history was not “terribly recent.”
Funk said the state failed to show probable cause due to lack of eyewitness testimony except for Richart and “very little discovery” to substantiate the investigations.
DeLury noted Lopez’s past criminal convictions and connections to El Salvador, as well as his uncertain immigration status. He said Lopez has proved to be a flight risk and a danger to others.
McKelvey laid out a motive of a jealous ex-boyfriend who lived with Blanco until a week before the killing. He was since staying with his mother in Ventnor, according to testimony.
McKelvey said Atlantic City police were called to the home in the unit block of North Harrisburg Avenue at 8 p.m. Feb. 18, when they found Richart in the street with multiple stab wounds.
Richart told the officers that Blanco’s “ex-boyfriend Jose” had stabbed him and Blanco, and Blanco was “probably dead.” Police found her dead inside.
Detectives spoke with Blanco’s sister and daughter to identify Lopez and obtain a phone number, for which they were able to subpoena cellphone information.
McKelvey said the phone allegedly belonging to Lopez was used at about the time of the killing in the approximate area of the killing, according to the cell tower information.
Police recovered a 12-inch Fiskars sheath for a knife found the following day in a red car they said Lopez was borrowing. Prosecutors believe it belonged to the knife that killed Blanco, he said.
Meanwhile, friends and family mourned Blanco.
Liz Fuls, of Galloway Township, described Blanco, her friend and former co-worker, as beautiful inside and out.
“I could see anyone falling in love with her,” and perhaps becoming obsessed, Fuls told The Press of Atlantic City. “Her personality glows.”
Blanco’s niece, Rebecca Blanco, 17, of Galloway Township, said Lopez was known to the family.
“He was an ex-boyfriend. It was jealousy and obsession,” Rebecca Blanco said.
Bessy Blanco’s 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.
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/. The page raised more than $5,800 by Thursday night.
Michelle Brunetti Post contributed to this report.