By Michael E. Miller
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By Jake Rossen
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It was a potentially dangerous time to be out and about in Miami. In 2009, the year Jaclyn died, nearly a dozen people were killed in or outside the city's clubs. In March, three people were shot outside Space, a club Portieles regularly played. In September, a young woman was shot in her car in the same area. There was a rash of shootings and stabbings in Miami Beach that summer and a shooting outside a Miami Gardens club in March that wounded five people. That violence has decreased in the years since.
But Jaclyn's parents hoped she would stay safe if they kept an eye on her and trusted her judgment. "She wasn't doing anything a million other kids didn't do," her father says. "One of the most difficult things for any parent is that you teach them the best you can, and then you have to let them go. You can't supervise them every single minute."
Jaclyn never suspected anything was wrong with her boyfriend. She would regularly text him declarations of love, which he would unfailingly return. The two talked constantly. In September 2009, they placed nearly 250 calls to one another, court records show. Jaclyn's friends didn't see anything troubling. To them, Portieles was the gregarious and generous Seasunz, who would drive them around the city and get them into clubs.
But as Portieles' relationship with Jaclyn progressed, his career stalled. After 2006, he struggled to get work because clubs became less interested in all-ages parties. Police and parents, wary of kids being exposed to alcohol and possibly worse, paid more attention to the events.
"Early part of the last decade, it was easy [to do an all-ages party]," says Vidal, the club scene veteran. "But as the legal situation changed, it became more of a risk."
Portieles attempted to break into the 21-and-up crowd, promoting events at Nocturnal in downtown Miami and Voodoo Lounge in Fort Lauderdale, but his efforts frequently went nowhere. "He got himself pigeonholed as the guy who threw all the underage parties," Vidal says. "Some people did give him chances, but he didn't produce for the adult market, so he fell back to what he knew."
Still, Portieles eked out enough work — an opening slot for the Crystal Method, a popular electronic group, in May 2009, or a promoter job with Ultra Music Festival — to keep things going. And he scored a gig in summer 2009 that he believed would make his career: an opening spot for Tiësto, a superstar DJ in the electronic dance music world, for an October 17 show in Fort Lauderdale at the Don Taft University Center Arena at Nova Southeastern University. At 30 years old and known for little else but DJing parties for high schoolers, Portieles must have felt like it was his last chance.
But a week before it was scheduled to go on, the show was canceled due to poor ticket sales. Tiësto was already slated for a second show that night at Liv in South Beach; Portieles wasn't added to the bill for that.
Just as Portieles' life in music was coming to a grinding halt, his relationship with Jaclyn was also deteriorating. After graduating from Braddock in June 2009, she enrolled at FIU. The two were on and off throughout that year. They fought frequently via text message, and friends warned her to be wary. Still, she wanted to spend time with him. Portieles had even asked her to be a choreographer for the Tiësto show. On October 10, the two made plans to see Mark Knight, a DJ, at Space.
That night, Jaclyn dressed for a night out and then told her father she was leaving.
"I was sitting right here," Pablo Torrealba says, leaning back slightly in a beige leather chair in his living room. "We talked. She bent down and hugged me and kissed me. I told her to call me when she got there, to be safe. She said, 'Bye, Papi, and good night.' "
That was the last time he would see his daughter alive.
Around 6:30 p.m. on October 11, Portieles walked into the Miami-Dade Police Department's Midwest District Station in Doral and told the officer on duty, Oscar Perez, that he wanted to turn himself in. When Perez asked why, Portieles' response was simple.
"He says, 'Well, I've been driving around for the past three hours with my girlfriend, dead, in the car, and I don't know what else to do,' " Perez recalls.
A few hours earlier, Pablo Torrealba had contacted police to report his daughter missing. All morning, her friends and family had been trying unsuccessfully to call her. After two Miami-Dade officers met with Pablo, they issued an all-points bulletin for the last person Jaclyn's friends had seen her with: Juan Carlos Portieles.
When the DJ stumbled into the station and told Perez there was a dead girl in his car, the cop asked for his name. He responded, "Juan Carlos." The police had their man.
Police hurried outside to the car and found a girl with curly black hair, dressed in jeans pulled slightly down her hips and a black tank top, face-down on the front seat, kneeling on the floorboard. Bruises covered the left side of her body; bite marks dotted her left arm and shoulder. There were promotional fliers, coins, and blood everywhere — on the passenger seat, rear seats, and the right rear door handle, even on a copy of New Times. They also found pieces of Jaclyn's red acrylic nails, broken off in her fight with Portieles, littering the back seat.