Popular Teen Shot in Face by First Love
Life changed in an instant for high school senior Johanna Orozco.
Nov. 11, 2009— -- It seemed like the perfect romance between Cleveland high school seniors Johanna Orozco and Juan Ruiz Jr. "He was funny, he was a great listener, and he was there for me when I needed him to be" Orozco, now 20, said.
She seemed to have it all. Then one day Orozco's luck changed in a way she could never have imagined, when Ruiz -- once the love of her life -- fired a shotgun at her face, sending her through a medical marathon of reconstructive surgery and recovery.
Before their relationship took its dark turn, the attractive and popular couple was the envy of their classmates at Lincoln West High School.
"They were gorgeous...gorgeous and they looked good on each other's arms. They were the ideal couple," said drama teacher Catherine Zak. "Everyone wanted to be like Johanna and Juan. They were outgoing, personable and very much in love."
After a year and a half their happy relationship turned tumultuous, as Ruiz became irrationally possessive and violent, Orozco says.
"I loved him and I thought if I was able to help him, he'll be able to change," she told "20/20's" Elizabeth Vargas. "I guess I was just in denial."
Orozco began documenting her emotions in her journal. "Dear Journal," she wrote in April 2006, "My heart is really sad now. Today, Juan had pushed me and called me a bitch. It hurt me so much inside. I don't understand why he turned out to be this way...he never was like that towards me before."
With her Prince Charming long gone, Orozco tried to end things with Ruiz, but he refused.
"He would either threaten to kill me or hurt me or himself if I didn't take him back, or he'll beat me until I said, 'Okay, we're back together,'" she told "20/20." "I was just scared."
In a final attempt to break up, Orozco removed Ruiz's photos from her My Space page in Feb. 2007. That's when Ruiz came to her home in the middle of the night and raped her at knifepoint. Before he left, he threatened her, saying that he'd kill her, if she told anyone.
CLICK HERE to see photos of Johanna and Juan through the years.
But Orozco refused to be silenced and notified a teacher the next day. Authorities were called and Ruiz was arrested.
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