A 46-year-old woman and her daughter have been charged with murder in the strangling of a pregnant 19-year-old whose baby was “forcibly removed” from her womb, Chicago police announced Thursday.
The pair were charged with first-degree on Thursday after Desiree Figueroa, 24, confessed to helping her mother, Clarissa, strangle Marlen Ochoa-Lopez—a nine-months pregnant mom who was reported missing on April 23—with “a coaxial cable,” police said.
On early Wednesday morning, Ochoa-Lopez was found in a trash can behind Clarissa Figueroa’s home on the Southwest Side of Chicago, where authorities say she’d been lured with the promise of free baby clothes. There, she was strangled and her baby was “forcibly removed” from her womb, according to police.
Clarissa Figueroa’s boyfriend, 40-year-old Piotr Bobak, has also been arrested and charged with concealing Ochoa-Lopez’s death. The elder Figueroa, whose 20-something son died two years ago of natural causes, has been previously charged with two misdemeanors, one for battery in 1998 and another for marijuana possession in 2008, police said. Both cases have since been dropped.
“Words cannot really express how disgusting and disturbing these allegations are,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a Thursday press conference, offering his condolences to the family.
Authorities said officers at the scene retrieved cable used to strangle the teen in the same garbage can where her body and remnants of burned clothes were found. Chicago police did not elaborate on Thursday whether a fourth person who was taken into custody will be charged.
“She was a great person, somebody who would light up the room when she walked in,” Ochoa-Lopez’s devastated husband, 20-year-old Yovani Lopez, told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “These bad people took that light away from my family, and I don’t know why.”
“We’re going to have justice for my wife,” he added. “My family and I won’t stop until they are punished for what they did.”
Ochoa-Lopez’s baby was found on April 23—three hours after the young mom was last seen leaving her high school to pick up her 3-year-old son at day care—when Figueroa called paramedics for help, according to police. She told dispatchers she had given birth to a baby boy inside her house, but was suffering from “post-delivery issues,” authorities said.
“The caller gave birth 10 minutes ago,” a 911 dispatcher told the Chicago Fire Department, according to a spokesperson. “Forty-six years of age. The baby isn't breathing. The baby is pale and blue. They are doing CPR.”
The baby, whom Lopez named Yovani Yadiel on Wednesday, remains in “grave condition” at Christ Hospital. According to police, the baby suffered severe brain damage and is not expected to survive.
“He is not doing well,” Chicago Police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said, adding that the family has indicated they have no plans to remove the newborn from life support.
Before she went missing three weeks ago, Ochoa-Lopez was last seen leaving Latino Youth High School in a black Honda Civic. She had a quick errand to run before getting her toddler from day care: picking up free baby supplies from a woman she had connected with on the Facebook group “Help a Sister Out.” Police revealed Thursday that the teen mom knew Clarissa Figueroa from previous exchanges of baby clothes.
“She was giving clothes away, supposedly under the pretense that her daughters had been given clothes and they had all these extra boy clothes,” Cecelia Garcia, a spokeswoman for the Ochoa-Lopez family, said.
Several women in the Facebook group reached out to the Ochoa family after she was reported missing, sending along screenshots of messages between Ochoa-Lopez and the 46-year-old woman. The Facebook group has since been shut down.
“My girl has all brand new boy clothes her son never wore,” the woman told Ochoa-Lopez, according to screenshots of the conversation obtained by The Chicago Tribune.
“Yes girl that’s fine thank you so much,” Ochoa-Lopez responded.
“No problem girl,” the woman said. “I know how it is she was lucky to have two baby showers so she just loves to spread the wealth I’m fine with the help inbox me for more info ok.”
On May 7, authorities said they got a break in the case after one of the teen’s friends told police she had been chatting with the elder Figueroa. Through an anonymous tip, police also found a GoFundMe campaign the 46-year-old started to raise $9,000 for the baby’s funeral, saying he was very sick and about to die. Garcia said Thursday that police finally concluded the women was not the baby’s mother after conducting a DNA test.
“Even though we found her without a life, at least we’re grateful that we found her. And we want justice—that’s what we want,” the teen’s father, Arnulfo Ochoa, said Thursday.
All three were expected to appear in criminal court on Friday.