James Blanco Murder: Where is Rafael Apolinar Now?

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Vengeance: Killer Coworkers: Body in the Bathtub’ follows the tragic tale of James Blanco of Fresno, California, who tried to make the world a better place with his whole-heartedness. By employing parolees and gangsters in his work place, he gave them a second chance at a decent life. His kindness was repaid in June 2011 with bullets. His family had to wait five years before their killer was finally arrested. If you want to know the identity and the current whereabouts of the killer, we’ve your back. Let’s find out then, shall we?

How Did James Blanco Die?

James Blanco was born on December 14, 1981, in Fresno, California, to Modesto Blanco and Hortencia Miranda. He was 29 years old and worked as Pleasant Mattress’s manager. He started at the bottom but worked his way up to the top. James was a manager who hired many parolees and members of gangs to improve their lives. James’ brother, Ricardo Garcia reminisced, “The list can probably very well go into the hundreds of opportunities he’s given.”

Image Credit: Legacy

It could have been this completeheartedness that cost him his own life. James was in his bathroom when he was attacked and killed. Cynthia, one of his friends was staying at his place, and was sleeping in the next room. She was awakened by the gunshots and discovered James’ body in the bathroom. Police arrived on the scene to discover 8 shell casings in the bathroom window, and that the screen had four bullet holes.

One spent shell casing was also located under the victim’s body indicating that the killer might have put their hand through the window to shoot him. James’ autopsy report stated that he had 2 bullet wounds – one on his left back passing vertically upwards, while another one on the back of the left shoulder above his armpit. The medical examiner had also found “stippling, burned and unburned gunpowder,” indicating that James had been shot from close quarters with the muzzle of the gun within proximity to the skin.

Who Killed James Blanco

Rafael Apolinar was an ex-employee of Pleasant Mattress James had fired Rafael in 2010 due to incompetency and disrespect for his supervisors. Rafael had gone on to another position, but was said to have a grudge toward James. On June 30, 2011, he met James’ brother, Harvey Blanco, and tangled into a verbal spat with him and even allegedly threatened to physically assault James. Rafael was naturally named as a suspect in the homicide.

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Image credit: ABC30/YouTube

Investigators went around the neighborhood looking for the truck the neighbors had seen following the gunshots. After a pretext check of Rafael’s vehicle on July 2, 2011, the police found that the description was consistent with Rafael’s. He was then interviewed. He voluntarily came to the Fresno Sheriff’s Department headquarters on August 3, 2011, for further questioning. Rafael denied that Andrew Macias had seen him shoot James and claimed he was lying when confronted.

He was arrested and he subsequently confessed that he had intended to shoot James but not “necessarily kill” him. Andrew was the one who had shot James, he claimed. He also stressed that he was always in his truck. On August 10, 2011, the police searched Rafael’s home and discovered a pair of gloves that tested positive for gunshot residue, indicating that they were “in the vicinity of the discharge of a firearm.”

Where is Apolinar today?

Rafael testified that he was under the influence of alcohol during the incident in April 2016. He testified, “To an extent, yes. I was quite intoxicated. I did not know what I was doing at all times.” He repeated his testimony, claiming that he had intended to shoot his former boss but it was his friend who killed him. He emphasized, “I didn’t want to kill him.”

Rafael was charged with first-degree murder as well as the discharge of firearms. Although Rafael was convicted by the jury of murder, the gun enhancement charge was dropped. Rafael was sentenced to 25 years to life imprisonment in June 2016. In January 2020, he appealed against the sentence but it was dismissed. According to official court records, the 32 year-old is currently serving his sentence at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, Blythe, California. His earliest date for parole eligibility is August 2029.

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