Prosecutor Details Killing of Pregnant Teen | WBEZ
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Prosecutor Details Killing of Pregnant Teen

Update at 2 p.m.

A Cook County prosecutor detailed the brutal killing of a pregnant Chicago teen during a Friday bond hearing for three people facing charges in the slaying.

The prosecutor told Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz that 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez was strangled while being shown a photo album of the late son and brother of her attackers. Ochoa-Lopez's unborn child was then removed from her womb.

The prosecutor accused 46-year-old Clarisa Figueroa and her daughter, 24-year-old Desiree Figueroa, of strangling the teen.

Ortiz denied bond to the Figueroas, who are charged with murder, and to Clarisa Figueroa's boyfriend, 40-year-old Piotr Bobak, who is charged with concealment of a homicide.

Investigators say Clarisa Figueroa had sold baby clothes to Ochoa-Lopez, and lured her back to her house with an offer of more clothing. 

Figueroa's alleged motive was that she wanted to raise another child two years after her adult son died of natural causes, investigators said.

"Words cannot express how disgusting and thoroughly disturbing these allegations are," Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters at a news conference Thursday night.

The charges come three weeks after Ochoa-Lopez disappeared and a day after her body was discovered in a garbage can in the backyard of Figueroa's home on the city's Southwest Side, about 4 miles from her own home.

According to police, the young woman drove from her high school to Figueroa's home in response to an offer of free clothes that Clarisa Figueroa had posted on Facebook. When she arrived, police said, she was killed.

A few hours later, Figueroa frantically called 911, claiming that her newborn baby was not breathing. When first responders arrived, the child was blue. They tried to resuscitate the infant and transported the boy to a nearby hospital, where police said he remained in grave condition and was not expected to survive.

Police did not connect the woman's disappearance and the 911 call about the baby until May 7, when friends of Ochoa-Lopez directed detectives to her social media account, which showed she had communicated with Figueroa in a Facebook group for expectant mothers.

At the same time, Figueroa had started a GoFundMe campaign for the funeral of what she said was her dying baby, said Sara Walker, a spokeswoman for Ochoa-Lopez's family. Police then conducted DNA tests, which showed that Ochoa-Lopez and her husband were actually the baby’s parents, Walker said.

When police arrived to question Figueroa, her daughter told them that her mother was in the hospital with some kind of leg injury, before adding that she had just delivered a baby, said Brendan Deenihan, deputy chief of detectives.

"She told an extremely odd story," and officers "kind of knew where this is headed," Deenihan said.

Police then searched the neighborhood and found Ochoa-Lopez's car a few blocks away. On Tuesday, they returned with a search warrant, finding cleaning supplies as well as evidence of blood in the hallway and in the bathroom.

They later found the body in a trash can behind the house and recovered surveillance video that showed Ochoa-Lopez's vehicle driving through the neighborhood on the day they believed she was killed, authorities said.

Ochoa-Lopez's family had been looking for her since her disappearance on April 23, organizing search parties and holding news conferences as they pushed police for updates in the investigation.

Her father, Arnulfo Ochoa, said relatives were grateful to have found her. Now they want justice. The family was also bracing for the baby's death, while still hoping for a miracle.

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