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Prosecutor: Mom led plot to kill pregnant woman, steal baby

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette logo Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 5/18/2019 The Associated Press
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CHICAGO — A mother plotted for months to acquire a newborn before she and her daughter strangled a pregnant Chicago woman and cut her baby from her womb using a butcher’s knife, prosecutors said Friday.

Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, 19, was lured to the home where Clarisa Figueroa lived with her daughter, Desiree, by Facebook postings offering free baby clothes. When she arrived, the daughter showed her a photo album of her late brother to distract her as her mother started trying to strangle her with a cord, prosecutor Jim Murphy said.

When Ms. Ochoa-Lopez managed to get her fingers under the cord, Clarisa Figueroa yelled at her 24-year-old daughter — “You’re not doing your [expletive] job!” The daughter then pried Ms. Ochoa-Lopez’s fingers from the cord “one by one” while her mother continued to strangle the teen for another five minutes, Mr. Murphy said.

Once Ms. Ochoa-Lopez showed no signs of life, Clarisa Figueroa cut her open with a butcher’s knife, removed the placenta and the baby, then put the baby in a bucket with the umbilical cord still attached, said Mr. Murphy, reading from court documents.

The plot may have originated in late 2018, when Clarisa Figueroa told her family she was pregnant and later posted on Facebook an ultrasound and photos of a room decorated for a baby. Desiree Figueroa was surprised, Mr. Murphy said, because her mother had previously had her fallopian tubes tied to prevent pregnancy.

Prosecutors highlighted that Clarisa Figueroa made the announcement about being pregnant not long after one of her adult sons had died of natural causes.

Clarisa Figueroa connected with Mr. Ochoa-Lopez on March 5 via a Facebook page for pregnant women. “Who is due in May?” Clarisa Figueroa asked in one message. “Where is the May mammas at?” Ms. Ochoa-Lopez, seven months pregnant at the time, responded, and Clarisa Figueroa made the offer of free clothes, prosecutors said.

They first met with Ms. Ochoa-Lopez around April 1, though she left unharmed that day. Desiree Figueroa had told her boyfriend about her mother’s intention to kill Ms. Ochoa-Lopez, and he warned her he would call police if they harmed the young woman. The prosecutor said Clarisa Figueroa later told the boyfriend the whole scheme had been an April Fool’s joke.

Ms. Ochoa-Lopez was killed when she returned a second time on April 23. After killing her, the mother and daughter allegedly wrapped the body in a blanket and placed it into a large plastic bag. They then dragged it outside and put it in a garbage can in a hidden area next to their garage on Chicago’s Southwest Side, according to authorities.

Clarisa Figueroa then called 911, claiming that she had just delivered her own newborn baby and that it was not breathing, authorities said. When first responders arrived, the child was blue. They tried to resuscitate the infant and transported Clarisa Figueroa and the boy to a nearby hospital.

When she went to the hospital, doctors found “no signs consistent with a woman who had just delivered a baby.”

The boy remained hospitalized Friday in grave condition and was not expected to survive, police said.

Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz denied bond to the Figueroas, who are charged with murder.

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