CHICAGO (CBS) — Three people were charged Thursday afternoon in the death of pregnant teenager Marlen Ochoa, whose body was discovered in a garbage can and her baby cut out of her womb.
Clarisa Figueroa, 46, and her daughter Desiree Figueroa, 24, have been charged with murder, and Desiree confessed to helping her mother strangle Ochoa with a coaxial cable, according to Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
Police say Clarisa Figueroa and Ochoa knew each other from previous exchanges of baby clothes.
Clarisa Figueroa’s boyfriend, Piotr Bobak, 40, has been charged with concealment of a crime.
The Murder of Marlen Ochoa
Questions still loom about the motive and how and when the baby was removed from Ochoa’s womb. Johnson said he would not comment on how the baby was removed in consideration for the family.
“Only they know that,” Johnson said. “We assume they would raise the child as their own.”
Chicago police were originally questioning four people in Ochoa’s brutal murder. Johnson did not provide details on the fourth person police questioned.
Her body was found at a home in the Scottsdale neighborhood three weeks after she went missing.
Ochoa’s body was dumped in a garbage can at the home in the 4100 block of 77th Place early Wednesday morning. Sources said she had been led to the basement, where she was strangled, and her baby was cut out of her womb. A family spokesperson confirmed the baby is in life support and has no brain activity.
“She did nothing to them. She was a good person. I don’t know what caused them to, knowing she had a family, a 3-year-old son,” said Yovanni Lopez, Ochoa’s husband of four years.
According to family friends, Ochoa’s family has not been able to see her body. Ochoa’s mother showed up at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office on Wednesday while the office was closing.
She returned Thursday and was asked to sign a waiver to view a picture of the decomposed remains, officials said. A medical examiner office spokesperson said the office would never prevent a family from viewing a body but noted that Ochoa’s remains had to be identified with dental records.
Police took at least three people into custody at the home on 77th Place on Tuesday, three weeks after Ochoa went missing. She was nine months pregnant when she disappeared.
Family spokeswoman Cecilia Garcia said Ochoa went to that home on April 23 hoping to pick up some items for her baby but never returned.
Police say Ochoa was lured to the house under false pretenses by Figueroa, who she had met through a Facebook group called “Help A Sister Out.” The woman apparently was offering to give away extra baby clothes and a stroller that had been given to her daughter.
Ochoa had been to the home to get baby items in the past, and Ochoa and Figueroa knew each other.
“She was giving clothes away, supposedly under the pretenses that her daughter had been given clothes, and they had all these extra boy clothes, and that were the false pretenses that I believe led her to that house,” Garcia said.
Garcia said the same day Ochoa went to the house on 77th Place, someone called 911 to report a 46-year-old woman had given birth.
Police say that woman was Figeroa.
A neighbor said the woman living at the house ran outside holding a newborn and wearing a blood-smeared shirt, but she had no blood on her gray shorts.
The neighbor said the woman told her, “I just had the baby, and it’s not breathing.”
A Fire Department spokesperson confirmed a baby in distress was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center by ambulance from that address around 6:10 p.m. on April 23.
Johnson said police originally had no reason to connect Ochoa’s case with the baby.
“On that particular day there was nothing to tip us off that those two things were linked,” he said.
DNA tests later confirmed the baby is Ochoa’s. The baby is in critical condition and on life support.
Family members said Thursday night they are weighing difficult decisions, including whether to take the baby off life support. A family spokesperson said he has no brain activity. A 911 dispatcher was told on April 23 that the baby was blue and not breathing.
“It just seems surreal. You see this stuff on the movies. You never get to know someone, people actually are this evil,” Garcia said.
Garcia said the family has named the baby Yovanny Jadiel Lopez.
On May 7, Chicago police received a break in the investigation and learned Ochoa was in communication with Figueroa, according to police. One of Ochoa’s friends told detectives about the Facebook group she was in, prompting them to look into the group. Detectives met with Desiree Figueroa that day, and she told them her mother had delivered the baby.
That day detectives also went to the hospital to interview Clarisa Figueroa, who denied Ochoa came to her house but admitted knowing her.
Detectives obtained DNA from the baby and compared it to Lopez, confirming he is the father.
Detectives searched the area and found Ochoa’s car nearby May 8.
On May 14, detectives executed a search warrant and found bleach and cleaning solutions in the home and brought the people living there in for interviews. They also discovered the garbage can with Ochoa’s remains, police say. The crime lab also found burnt clothes and blood on the carpet, in the hallway and in the bathroom.
Police say it appears this is the first time the offenders did something like this, but they are going through social media to see if there were attempts to lure others.