After getting out of jail, Macho returned to Florida and convinced Amy to take him back. "He was clean and sober for the first time in forever, so I said yes, on one condition," says Amy. "He could stay with us and be a father to his boys, but the man-and-wife stuff, that was through." Macho agreed and was on his best behavior, taking the kids to dinner and the water park, and buying them the new Air Jordans. But it burned him to be near Amy and not have her in full, and rather than wait for her hurt to melt, he began finding solace in the street. In no time flat, he was in it hip-deep, getting high with the neighbors and disappearing for days.
One day he came home and passed out on the couch. Tyler, then 12, went into his bag and found thousands of dollars in cash. With his older brother Christian, he tore up the mall, buying iPads, sneakers, and other trifles. Macho woke up, left the house with his bag, and realized later that his cash was missing. He stormed back and confronted Tyler, grabbing him by the neck and throwing him on the floor. Amy walked in to find her house in tumult and called the cops on Macho. He left before they got there, but a warrant was filed; he turned himself in a year later. He'd see her, and their three kids, just once more: at his arraignment on child-abuse charges. "He showed up in a tux, yelling 'Amy, I love you!' and acting all crazy before the judge," she says. "He even got these hood-rat girls to cheer for him: 'It's Macho time, baby! Macho time!'"
Macho fled to San Juan, got high day and night, hung with junkies and hookers, and played dominos with the cabbies outside the El San Juan, the hotel next to his condo.
As it happens, though, disgrace is but the ground floor of stardom in Puerto Rico. The producers of a gossip show invited him on, largely to make an ass of himself. Disheveled and stoned, sweating heavily on camera, Macho so butchered his five-minute segment that they had to run a crawl under his comments. But viewers loved it and demanded more, and soon Macho had a weekly spot, 'The Macho News,' in which he dogged out celebrities – and himself. This led to other gigs: an online dating show and a tour lined up for 2013, judging the dance acts on 'Mira Quién Baila'. "I had him ready for a comeback – movies, TV; all he had to do was move home," says Angie Garcia, his booking agent, who was looking to set him up in Miami. "But he's scared he's going to jail, so he stays over there. Next thing I know, I get that call."
At the time he was shot, Macho was shacked up with a prostitute named Cynthia, who fled his apartment when his New York family flew in, arousing suspicions that she might have played a role in the events leading to his murder. She'd worked, say police, for Jamil, the pimp who was slain along with Macho. She'd also run off from a violent boyfriend, and there were rumors that Macho had slapped him and told him to stay away from the girl. But the cops didn't try to question her until weeks after the shootings, by which time she'd hired lawyers and wouldn't talk. She had plenty to say, however, at the three-ring circus that was his wake in San Juan. She strolled in, dressed in a hot pink tee that bore his picture, bent and kissed the white-suited Macho in his casket, then declaimed to the room she was his one true love, which drove the other women there loco. Plates of food were thrown and punches exchanged between Cynthia and one of Macho's sisters. Not to be outshone, Maria flung herself on his body, weeping and laughing and chanting Santeria tunes. In the meantime, Macho's killer and a second man, the driver of the car, have yet to be identified, much less detained.
Amy and her children were not in San Juan for that screechy send-off. She was in New York to beg and scrape for money to get Macho buried. He'd left neither a will nor cash on hand, and his family, having lived off his handouts for decades, put forth not a cent to put him under. Only an eleventh-hour gift from one of his friends secured the hillside plot at St. Raymond's. Hundreds showed up to say goodbye at his South Bronx graveside. Among them were old friends like Velez and Flannery, who'd written a big check to the funeral home. "I was happy to help her out," says Flannery, whose co-op in Queens is a shrine to Macho, the kid he spent 10 years saving. Hymns were spoken and blessings offered. And then, as the casket was being lowered, Maria threw a Sunday punch. "You killed him! You're the devil!" she screamed at Macho's kids. "Are you happy? You put him there!" Amy tried to restrain her boys, but Christian broke away and pounded his chest, crying, "He was my father! You're the devil!" It took some doing, but Amy calmed him down and hustled them toward the limo. Behind her, Maria was still wailing and swooning and casting invocations at Satan. Finally, someone called an ambulance. Mourners wept as she was loaded in, wearing an oxygen mask and waving bravely to her adoring public.