Turntable Terror: A Brutal Murder Puts an End to South Florida's All-Ages Club Scene | Feature | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Turntable Terror: A Brutal Murder Puts an End to South Florida's All-Ages Club Scene

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"So I said to him: 'What, are you going to work construction with me?' " Eduardo recalls. "He said, 'No, I'm going to be famous.' "

In a city like Miami, finding success behind the decks is no easy task. "DJs in this town are a dime a dozen," says Dan Vidal, who runs a Miami nightlife website and has been a part of the scene for more than a decade. To stand out, Vidal says, you have to hustle constantly and get your name out. In that sense, Portieles was prolific. He networked with everyone in the scene, handing out fliers and CDs and trying to broker deals with printers, club owners, and other DJs.

Portieles also capitalized on an underserved market: all-ages parties. Thanks to a May 2000 ordinance that prohibited clubs in Miami Beach from allowing entry to anyone under age 21, only clubs in Miami could host parties for teenagers. Although all-ages events weren't moneymakers — the inability to sell liquor cut significantly into the profits — most of the big-name Miami clubs staged occasional events geared toward high schoolers and younger college students to develop future clientele. Downtown hot spots such as Space, Nocturnal, Karu & Y, and Allure rented to promoters, who would pay the clubs up-front. It was in this scene — DJing foam parties and overgrown homecoming dances — that Portieles got his start.

Unlike spinning in the neon glow of South Beach, DJing all-ages events provided little glitz and even less glamour. But Portieles was in his 20s, a college dropout, and living at home with no steady job, so the lure of any scene was irresistible. Every week, he would play shows for hundreds or thousands of partiers. As his profile grew, he attracted a circle of fellow DJs and promoters to do his bidding. According to Vidal, he also became popular by procuring alcohol and drugs for his teenaged crowd.

It was during those years that Portieles' substance-abuse problems spiraled out of control. Some weekends, he would drink a bottle of vodka a night and chase it with 30 or 40 hits of ecstasy. Friends remember him drunk to the point of falling over or simply standing motionless in a corner while blankly staring out into space.

"With his general behavior, he had a big sign on his back where any sensible person would be like, Hands off, stay away, do not deal with this person," Vidal says. "I know it's Miami and everyone comes across as a little shady, but Seasunz definitely was more shady than most."

Javier Cadavid, who runs Project X Printing and was a former business partner of Portieles', remembers an incident in 2007 when he and Portieles were pulled over by police in Hialeah. When the cop told Portieles that he looked like he used drugs, the DJ responded, "If you were molested as a kid, you would do drugs too, wouldn't you?" The two weren't arrested.

"He didn't really care what anybody said or about any of the rules," Cadavid says. "He was destined for disaster."

Portieles remained entrenched in the all-ages scene despite the fact that he was approaching 30 years old. "We noticed that he was taking an interest in... the younger girls," Cadavid says. "One thing is to do your business and go home, and [another] is to take an interest."

One particular focus was a girl he had met at G. Holmes Braddock High School while recruiting kids to hand out fliers for his events. Her name was Jaclyn Torrealba. She had a dancer's body, long black hair, and dimpled cheeks. She was an honors student, a cheerleader, and an aspiring lawyer. And when the 28-year-old Seasunz began wooing her in the spring of 2007, she was a month shy of her 16th birthday.

Pablo Torrealba knows why his daughter fell for a man nearly twice her age: the allure of a world she had always wanted to be a part of.

"These are impressionable kids," says the 49-year-old, who teaches biology at Braddock High. "These are kids who want to fit in, be popular, be part of a hip crowd. Imagine you meet somebody who can give you access to clubs, where you'll be next to the most popular person there, be right in the VIP sections, no line, treated like royalty. At that age, what teenager wouldn't fall for that?"

Jaclyn was an only child, and at 2 years old, her parents divorced. But Pablo and his wife, Vilma Castro, remained friendly, and their daughter spent equal time with each of them. Pablo was doting and generous. When Jaclyn was 9, the two wiled away an entire afternoon inside an arcade at the Shops of Sunset Place, playing all the games to collect tickets so they could buy her favorite thing: a Beanie Baby. With Vilma, she would go shopping and talk about the boys she liked and the classes she was taking.

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Jon Tayler
Contact: Jon Tayler

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