CHICAGO (CBS) – A former Chicago Police officer is due in court later Tuesday to face charges that he murdered his estranged wife.
Norberto Rodriguez, 51, of Oak Forest, is charged with first-degree murder in the June 1, 2009, death of Irma Rodriguez, 45.
He is being held on $5 million bond.
The body of Irma Rodriguez was found with multiple gunshot wounds in the trunk of her 2002 Pontiac Grand Am at 148th Street and Kilpatrick Avenue. She was days away from finalizing a divorce from Norberto Rodriguez.
Prosecutors said Irma Rodriguez disappeared from her home in May 2009.
Neighbors reported hearing “popping sounds” from the home the evening she disappeared, and told police the couple had argued repeatedly. Several calls to police for domestic violence complaints were made against Norberto Rodriguez, a release from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said.
Telephone records placed Irma Rodriguez at her home and Norberto Rodriguez near the home within the timeframe she was shot and killed in her garage, where bullet fragments and other forensic evidence was recovered, a release said.
Prosecutors alleged in court that bank records show Irma Rodriguez had withdrawn the majority of the funds in the family bank account and Norberto Rodriguez had learned of the withdrawal shortly before the murder, the release said.
The two had a tumultuous and sometimes-violent 15-year marriage. In 1997, Norberto Rodriguez was charged with attempted murder after an argument in which he was accused of shooting his wife in the hand. He was acquitted but lost his police job in December 1998.
In 2001, Irma Rodriguez filed an order of protection, saying he physically abused her during an altercation, and also sought protection for her daughter from a previous marriage and her son with Norberto Rodriguez. A judge granted the order, but she terminated it three weeks later, court records show.
In April 2002, Norberto Rodriguez was charged in a scheme to transport heroin from Los Angeles to Chicago for distribution. He pleaded guilty to possession with intent to sell and was sentenced to 52 months in federal prison.
Irma Rodrguez’s family said she kept the family together as best she could while he was in prison and frequently visited him.
When he was released in January 2007, family members said he proclaimed himself a changed man. But soon afterward, he became violent again, they said, prompting his wife to file for divorce in September 2007.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.