Creepy lover convicted of torching girlfriend’s home, killing neighbor
By KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter October 11, 2013 3:59PM
Updated: November 13, 2013 6:07AM
He stole her Barbie dolls, her Marilyn Monroe photographs, her boots and her pole-dancing videos.
He secretly filmed her, standing outside her home with his cell phone.
He jealously controlled her — telling her he didn’t want her to visit Mexico or to return to her job as a stripper.
And when Blanca Ortiz finally dumped him, Juan Adame flew into a rage and torched her Southwest Side home, killing her 60-year-old neighbor.
Now the creepy lover faces a potential life sentence after he was found guilty of the deadly arson.
Federal jurors deliberated for less than two hours Friday at the end of the 39-year-old’s week-long trial before reaching a verdict that brought relatives of the dead man, James Maca, to tears.
“All I want is for him to sit and think about what he did for the rest of his life,” Maca’s relieved brother Mike Maca said after Adame was led back into custody.
A stoney-faced Adame showed no emotion as the verdict was read, avoiding eye contact with jurors and Maca’s bereaved family by continuing to take notes.
“He was obsessed with her,” prosecutor Bethany Kaye Biesenthal said of Adame’s twisted affections for Ortiz during closing arguments. “Everything about this was malicious . . . he wanted to send a message to that woman.”
Ortiz wasn’t home when Adame doused the bed and sofa at her home in the 4200 block of West 63rd with gas before lighting the fire, but Maca — a huge Bears fan known to pals as “Boots” — was trapped in the neighboring apartment and died from smoke inhalation.
During the trial prosecutors played stalkerish home movies Adame secretly made of Ortiz, and showed jurors angry text messages detailing the couple’s final fight the night before the blaze.
But in his closing argument, defense attorney Frank Avila said security video from a gas station where Ortiz allegedly bought the fuel he used in the arson undermined the government’s case because it does not show another of his girlfriends who prosecutors say paid for the gas.
And speaking outside court after the verdict, Avila said Adame would appeal Judge Harry Leinenweber’s decision to allow an arson victim onto the jury, and the government’s use of cell phone records to place Adame near the scene of the crime — a technique he called “junk science.”
Maca’s family — who sat through every minute of the trial — declared themselves thrilled with the outcome, however.
“My brother was the most charismatic man you’d ever want to meet,” Donna Kluppelberg said. “We prayed a lot about what happened, and God sent him the justice he deserved.”
Adame is due to be sentenced Feb. 11.