Man gets life sentence for killing mother, 4-year-old daughter; case closed on tragic 2005 firebombing in Joliet

January 31

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a Joliet man has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in a firebombing that killed a mother and her 4-year-old daughter.

Ignacio Jacobo, 21, is the third and final defendant to be sentenced in connection with the tragic firebombing that shocked Joliet’s St. Patrick’s Neighborhood in April 2005. Jacobo is the second defendant to receive a life sentence with no possibility for release in this case.

Circuit Judge Richard Schoenstedt sentenced Jacobo on Thursday.

Jacobo was convicted in September on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated arson. He threw a rock through the first-floor window of a house at 419 Madeline St. in the early-morning hours of April 9, 2005. A second defendant, Juan Santana, 28, threw a firebomb through the broken window.

A fire spread quickly through the two-story house. Maria DeLourdes Nunez, 35, and her young daughter, Merary Nunez, died from smoke inhalation in an upstairs bedroom.

Firefighters found Nunez lying on top of Merary in what they believe was a desperate attempt to protect her daughter from the smoke and fire that engulfed the house. Both Nunez and her daughter were dead by the time rescuers reached them.

In 2006, Santana was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the murders. In December, Sergio Anguiano, 24, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for driving Santana and Jacobo to the St. Patrick’s Neighborhood on the night of the firebombing.

Anguiano, who testified for the state against the two codefendants, was not aware of his codefendants’ plans and did not see the firebombing. In exchange for his truthful testimony, Anguiano was allowed to enter a blind plead of guilty to a charge of aggravated arson.

Testimony during Jacobo’s trial revealed that the two men firebombed the house because they believed one of Merary’s older brothers belonged to a rival gang. The brother, who was 14 at the time of the firebombing, testified he was a “pretend” gang member.

“Ignacio Jacobo is going to prison for the rest of his life for an irrational act of lethal brutality that was aimed at a 14-year-old boy but claimed the lives of an innocent little girl and her mother instead,” Glasgow said.

The state’s attorney grew up in the St. Patrick’s Neighborhood. He visited the site of the firebombing in 2005 and met with neighborhood residents. As a youth, he played in the house next door. 

“Gang violence tragically altered this once safe haven,” Glasgow said. “However, we fought back hard as a community. Hopefully, this sentence will bring closure to the victims’ family and return a sense of peace and order to the entire St. Patrick’s Neighborhood.”

Glasgow praised the Joliet Police Department for a brilliant and dogged investigation that ultimately brought these cold-blooded killers to justice. The department tracked one of the fleeing suspects in this case all the way to Colorado.

He also credited two of his top prosecutors, First Assistant State’s Attorney Greg DeBord and Criminal Division Chief Lea Norbut, for top-notch trial work that secured life sentences for Santana and Jacobo along with a guilty plea and a 20-year sentence for Anguiano.