Fresno County murder suspect arrested for killing former boss

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif.

Homicide detectives arrested 21-year-old /*Rafael Apolinar*/ late Wednesday night. /*James Blanco*/ gave Apolinar a job, but later fired him. Blanco's family believes his murder was Apolinar's revenge.

Blanco was a manager at a mattress business and used his position to hire a lot of parolees, former gang members and others who were turning their lives around. But detectives believe his good deeds cost him his life.

Blanco found his calling at Pleasant Mattress. The 29-year-old started on the ground floor and worked his way into a management position. He used his position of power to grant second chances.

"The list can probably very well go into the hundreds of opportunities he's given," said his brother, Ricardo Garcia.

Among the people he hired to work at the company was Apolinar. But the 21-year-old didn't last long and Blanco fired him in March.

Three months later, detectives say Apolinar went to his former boss' Fresno County house and shot him in the shower. Investigators interviewed Apolinar shortly after the murder, but let him go. A month later, they convinced him to come downtown for a second interview.

"At the conclusion of the interview, he was arrested for the murder," said Fresno County Sheriff's Office public information officer /*Chris Curtice*/.

Blanco's family is still struggling with the emotional hole left behind by the youngest of his mother's six children.

"I can feel the heaviness in my soul and this never can be repaired," said his mother, Hortencia Miranda.

The burden weighs heaviest, perhaps, on his brother Harvey Blanco. James gave his older brother a second chance as well, and Harvey worked alongside his brother and Apolinar. Harvey says he had a feeling Apolinar was behind his brother's murder.

"I had a sense because he was grumbled," Harvey Blanco said. "He was really upset."

But like the rest of his family, Harvey is holding onto the memory of his brother, and hoping to help fill the gap by making sure others get opportunities they might not normally get.

"I can still hear him saying, 'You can do it. You can do it. You can do it,'" Harvey Blanco said. "So that keeps me going and gives me strength."

Apolinar is in the /*Fresno County*/ jail. He was friendly with Blanco's family -- even talking to a brother-in-law just hours before the murder.

Detectives are still collecting evidence in the case, and hoping more witnesses come forward.

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