UPDATE: A new timeline, with additional details from Assistant States Attorney James Murphy, has been published here.
Laying out a horrific narrative, Chicago police detailed their investigation into the murder of 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa, who was strangled to death after she went missing in late April.
Police believe that Ochoa, who was nine months pregnant at the time of her disappearance, was lured to a South Side home to buy baby supplies, and that two women at the home strangled her to death and cut her fetus out of her body before taking it to a local hospital and claiming that one of the women had given birth to the child.
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Deputy Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan then detailed a timeline of events that ultimately led to the arrest of three suspects in the case:
April 23: Marlen Ochoa was last seen on this date after leaving Latino Youth High School, where she was a student.
April 24: Ochoa’s husband reported her missing on this date after she didn’t pick up the couple’s son from daycare.
April 25: Ochoa’s husband began cooperating with detectives in the case, and the search intensified on that date. From April 25 to May 7, detectives searched for leads in the case, but police didn’t get any big leads in the investigation until May 7.
May 7: Working with one of Marlen’s friends, detectives discovered that Ochoa was on a Facebook group called “Help a Sister Out,” trying to secure items for the baby she was due to give birth to in early May.
Detectives discovered that a woman had allegedly taken her up on that offer: 46-year-old Clarisa Figueroa. The pair had arranged for Ochoa to pick up items at a home near the intersection of 77th and Pulaski on April 23, the date that the expecting mother was last seen.
Detectives then arrived at the home and encountered Figueroa’s daughter, identified as 24-year-old Desiree Figueroa. When asked about where her mother was, the woman said that her mother was in the hospital having her legs looked at, but later said that her mother had recently given birth.
Detectives also discovered Ochoa’s vehicle nearby on the same date, casting further doubt on Desiree’s story.
Later that day, detectives went to an area hospital to interview Clarisa Figueroa. She denied that she had set up a meeting on April 23 with Ochoa, but acknowledged that she knew her and that they had met in the past.
May 8-13: Detectives subpoenaed hospital records from the birth of the child and found that the baby had been brought to an area hospital, with Figueroa telling hospital employees that she had given birth to the child and that the baby wasn’t breathing.
Detectives also collected DNA samples from Ochoa’s husband, the baby, and Figueroa. The DNA samples later revealed that Figueroa was not the baby’s mother, and that Ochoa’s husband was indeed the father of the child.
“We were getting all the evidence in place to confront Clarisa,” Deenihan said.
May 14: Detectives get a search warrant and execute it at the home. Bleach and cleaning solutions were discovered inside the home, along with blood stains in the hallway and on the carpeting. Burned clothing was also discovered at the scene.
Four people were brought to police stations to be questioned in the case.
Detectives also found a garbage can on the premises, and discovered remains that were later identified as those of Marlen Ochoa.
May 15: The Medical Examiner determined that Ochoa’s cause of death was strangulation, and that a coaxial cable had been used to kill the woman. Police searching the home found the cable, along with other evidence in the case.
May 16: After a long interrogation session, Desiree Figueroa confessed to police that she had helped her mother in strangling Marlen Ochoa. After that, detectives arrested Figueroa and her mother, along with a third individual, and murder charges will be filed against the pair.
A third suspect, 40-year-old Piotr Bobak, was arrested and charged with multiple felony counts for his alleged role in concealing the crime.