Adam Ruiz Accused of Killing Half-Sister and Her Girlfriend, Setting Cover-Up Fire

Samantha Welch and Celia Reyes in a Facebook photo. Additional images and a video below.
Samantha Welch and Celia Reyes in a Facebook photo. Additional images and a video below.
Facebook

The deaths of girlfriends Samantha Welch and Celia Reyes didn't make much if any news in Denver back in October 2014, and that's understandable.

The bodies of the two eighteen-year-olds were found in a burning apartment in Chicago, and at the time, there was no known Colorado connection.

Now, however, the dearth of coverage is more puzzling. That's because Adam Ruiz, 22, had been living in Denver as recently as just a few weeks ago, and he reportedly delivered his confession about killing the pair to members of the Denver Police Department.

The Facebook pages of Welch and Reyes remain online at this writing, with friends of the pair turning the addresses into memorials to the young women's affection for each other — and there's no doubt that photos of the couple radiate love. In image after image, they're beaming.

Here's one example....

Adam Ruiz Accused of Killing Half-Sister and Her Girlfriend, Setting Cover-Up Fire
Facebook

...and another:

Adam Ruiz Accused of Killing Half-Sister and Her Girlfriend, Setting Cover-Up Fire
Facebook

Welch's page, listed under the name Sammie Rios, also includes a photo of her with Ruiz:

Adam Ruiz Accused of Killing Half-Sister and Her Girlfriend, Setting Cover-Up Fire
Facebook

As for Ruiz's Facebook page, his photo gallery includes numerous portraits of himself, including this one....

Adam Ruiz Accused of Killing Half-Sister and Her Girlfriend, Setting Cover-Up Fire
Facebook

...and this one featuring a Nightmare Before Christmas hat....

Adam Ruiz Accused of Killing Half-Sister and Her Girlfriend, Setting Cover-Up Fire
Facebook

...as well as a shot in which he shows off tattoos with a Christian theme:

Adam Ruiz Accused of Killing Half-Sister and Her Girlfriend, Setting Cover-Up Fire
Facebook

An incredibly prolific Facebooker, Ruiz shared hundreds upon hundreds of items over the past year or so — usually funny memes and videos, with occasional topical items, including ones celebrating the nationwide legalization of gay marriage. But his timeline is blank in October, when Welch and Rios died, and possible allusions afterward are vague.

On November 30, for instance, he wrote, "Feeling so alone and yet I'm surrounded by friends and family."

Likewise, those who loved Welch and Reyes were bereft following the events of October 11.

At around 11 p.m. on that date, according to the Chicago Tribune, firefighters responded to a report of a fire in a three-flat building on the 4500 block of West Parker Avenue.

The scene of the crime.
The scene of the crime.

Inside the apartment, the bodies of Welch and Reyes were found. (They shared the space with a third roommate, who wasn't home on that night.) 

As ABC7 in Chicago reported at the time, investigators immediately deemed the blaze suspicious, owing in part to the presence of accelerants at the scene.

Subsequent evidence suggested that the fire had been deliberately set to cover up the homicides.

The Tribune reveals that the damage to Welch's remains was too severe for the coroner's office to settle on a specific cause of death. However, the lack of soot in her airway suggested that she had died before the fire started.

Reyes, for her part, was found to have died of strangulation.

Inside the apartment building after the fire.
Inside the apartment building after the fire.

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Despite this evidence, the crime remained unsolved for months — a period during which Ruiz stayed in Illinois.

Last month, however, he returned to the Denver area. It was here, the Tribune reports, that he admitted to a pair of family friends that he had killed Welch and Reyes.

On June 29, he is said to have made the same confession to Denver police representatives and was taken into custody.

The day before, June 28, Ruiz made his final Facebook posts. Amid a typical barrage of comic items (multiple Minions pics, for instance), two items stand out.

Mourners at a vigil after the fire.
Mourners at a vigil after the fire.

One reads, "Life is all about learning how to improve ourselves through the negative that happens in our life and how we can turn it into positive."

The second is the last post on the page. It states, simply, "Bye."

Ruiz was subsequently transferred from Denver to Chicago. He has now been officially charged with two counts of first-degree murder and aggravated arson and made his initial court appearances.

Among those present at one of the hearings was Adam's former foster mom (she said he struggled with assorted rage issues) and Fatima Ruiz, who was both Welch's best friend and Ruiz's adopted sister. "I'm sad because I lost the person closest to me," she told the Tribune. "I'm also filled with so much rage, and it makes it ten times worse that it's my brother."

Our condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Samantha Welch and Celia Reyes.

Here's a look at Ruiz's booking photo, followed by ABC7's report from last October.

Adam Ruiz.
Adam Ruiz.
Chicago Police Department via the Chicago Tribune
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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