Remembering Maria Isabel

Trial for alleged killer of flamenco dance prodigy to begin in January

By Ed Young
Published on LatinoLA: December 18, 2002

Remembering Maria Isabel

Maria Isabel Fernandez, a straight "A" student and acclaimed flamenco dance prodigy, was brutally murdered on February 5, 1999. She was stabbed forty-six times, and, although she frantically called 911, the alleged killer, Johnny Ortiz, slipped through the hands of Pasadena City police. An international manhunt ensued.

After an extensive public relations campaign, intensive police work and publicity from "The Cristina Show," he was captured in Mexico City and eventually extradited to the United States. His trial for the murder of Maria Isabel Fernandez begins January 28, 2003, at Pasadena Superior Court, 300 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, at 8:30 AM, section E, Judge Teri Schwartz presiding.

Maria Isabel's flamenco dance teacher, the legendary Roberto Amaral, said, "She had the spark and glow necessary for greatness." At age sixteen, the Los Angeles Times proclaimed her, "Already commanding." Just a year later she was buried with her castanets in the foothills of the Bolivian Andes, the place of her nativity.

Her family, friends and fans have established a scholarship fund in the performing arts in her honor at Pasadena City College. For more information about the fund and Maria Isabel's remarkable life, please visit the Web site of The Maria Isabel Fund, Inc.:

The fund encourages her fans and friends and all flamenco aficionados as well as anyone concerned with justice in the Hispanic community to show their solidarity with Maria Isabel by attending the first day of this trial. Show your support for our desire that the accused be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

For further information regarding the trial or the Maria Isabel Fund, Inc., contact: Ed Young,, (626) 260-0982.

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