A pregnant 19-year-old missing Chicago woman was strangled to death before her baby was cut from her womb, and police believe they’ve arrested the three people responsible.
Clarisa Figueroa, 46, and her daughter, Desiree, 24, were charged with one count each of first-degree murder and aggravated battery of a child causing permanent disability. Clarisa Figueroa’s boyfriend, Piotr Bobak, 40, was also charged with concealment of a homicide, reported the Chicago Tribune.
According to officials with the Chicago Police Department, Marlen Ochoa-Lopez was lured to the home of the elder Figueroa, who offered free baby clothes and a stroller on a Facebook page for pregnant women. In a press conference, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Ochoa-Lopez had met with Figueroa in the past for baby items.
Ochoa-Lopez was last seen leaving Latino Youth High School on April 23. Police said the mom-to-be drove to Figueroa’s house, where she was strangled with a coaxial cord and her baby was cut from her body.
Hours after Ochoa-Lopez arrived, Figueroa called 911 and claimed her newborn baby was not breathing, saying the baby boy was “pale and blue.” When first responders arrived, the infant was unresponsive and was immediately transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
At the hospital, doctors determined the child was brain dead. On May 15, he was still connected to life support, Ochoa-Lopez’s family told the Chicago Tribune.
Police did not connect Figueroa’s 911 call to the 19-year-old’s disappearance until May 7 when friends of Ochoa-Lopez sent detectives her Facebook account, which showed her communication with Figueroa.
On social media, Clarisa Figueroa shared a GoFundMe campaign for the baby. On the page, she said she was raising money for her dying baby, Sara Walker, a spokeswoman for Ochoa-Lopez’s family, told the Associated Press.
On May 7, detectives went to Figueroa’s home and questioned Desiree Figueroa, who said her 46-year-old mother had just given birth to a baby.
“She told an extremely odd story,” and officers “kind of knew where this is headed,” Brendan Deenihan, Chicago police deputy chief of detectives, told the Associated Press.
On that same day, police found Ochoa-Lopez’s car parked a few blocks away from Figueroa’s neighborhood.
That same day, investigators also questioned Figueroa at the hospital, who denied seeing Ochoa-Lopez on the day she went missing.
Police subpoenaed the baby’s hospital records and determined the child’s DNA did not match Figueroa.
On May 14, detectives searched the Figueroa home and found Ochoa-Lopez’s body and the coaxial cable used to strangle her in a garbage can. They also found evidence of blood in the hallway and bathroom as well as cleaning supplies.
Investigators believe Clarisa Figueroa wanted to raise another child after losing her adult son to natural causes two years ago.
“Words cannot express how disgusting and thoroughly disturbing these allegations are,” Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters at a May 16 news conference announcing the charges.
Ochoa-Lopez’s father, Arnulfo Ochoa, voiced frustration with the length of time it took police to find his daughter’s body and make an arrest. Ochoa-Lopez’s family told the Chicago Tribune they organized search parties and held news conferences since the day she first went missing.
Ochoa said he thinks the department didn’t give the case enough attention because of the family’s immigrant status.
“We came to this country to give a good life for my daughter,” Arnulfo Ochoa said Thursday outside the Cook County medical examiner’s office. “We just want justice for what they did for my daughter.”
When reporters asked officials why it took three weeks for detectives to find Ochoa-Lopez, Supt. Johnson said these types of investigations take time.
“Once they got that break on May 7, then things started going quickly,” Johnson said. “There was nothing to point us in that direction in the beginning.
“Remember, this is real life. This isn’t 48 Hours,” Johnson added in reference to the popular true-crime show. “It doesn’t work like that. It takes time.”
Outside the morgue where Ochoa-Lopez’s body was taken, her husband, Yiovanni Lopez, said the family is hoping their baby survives.
“We plead to God that he gives us our child because that is a blessing that my wife left for us,” Yiovanni told reporters.
(Photo: Chicago Police Department)