Cook County

Pregnant Woman's Baby Cut From Womb After Her Murder, Police Say

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said remains found in the 4100 block of West 77th Place were identified as those of Marlen Ochoa, missing since April 23

Warning: Details of this story are disturbing and may be difficult to read.

A pregnant woman whose body was found behind a home on Chicago's Southwest Side was strangled and her baby was "forcibly removed" from her body after her death, according to police.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said remains found in the 4100 block of West 77th Place were identified Wednesday as those of Marlen Ochoa. The office determined her cause of death was ligature strangulation and the death was ruled a homicide.

"We believe that she was murdered and we believe that the baby was forcibly removed following that murder," Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. 

Earlier in the day, Cecilia Garcia, a spokeswoman for Ochoa's family, said a newborn had been located and positively identified through DNA testing as Ochoa's child. Guglielmi said the baby remained hospitalized in "grave" condition. 

Ochoa's body was discovered after several people were taken into custody at the home, according to authorities. No charges against those being questioned have been announced and three people remained in custody as of Thursday morning. 

"We believe all of them played some role in this unspeakable act of violence," Guglielmi said.

Her family said they believed she went to the home after a woman on Facebook said she had a stroller and baby clothes, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"It's a blessing that we found Yadiel, the baby, that's the name of the baby that Marlen had chosen," Garcia said at a news conference Wednesday, adding that the family was "preparing for the worst."

A spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department said that around 6 p.m. on April 23, paramedics responded to a call of a baby in distress in the 4100 block of West 77th Street in the Ashburn neighborhood on the city's Southwest Side. CFD said paramedics treated the newborn at the scene before taking the baby to Advocate Christ Medical Center in critical condition.

A May 9 press release announcing a search party for Ochoa, of the 6000 block of South Honore Street, in the Ashburn neighborhood said that Ochoa's car was found in that area, though Chicago police did not immediately confirm that information.

Ochoa, who has also been referred to as Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, Marlen Lopez and Marlen Ochoa-Uriostegui, was last seen leaving the Latino Youth High School in the Little Village neighborhood, where she had been taking classes, on April 23.

She was supposed to pick up her 3-year-old son from daycare that afternoon but her family said she never showed up. Ochoa was nine months pregnant with her second child when she was reported missing.

Garcia said family members believe Ochoa was lured to a home in the same block where her car, and later her body, was found. They said Ochoa had been communicating with someone in a Facebook group called "Help a Sista Out" and was planning to pick up items for her new baby.

Other women in the group sent messages to Ochoa's family showing screenshots of the conversation, which have been obtained by NBC 5. The group appears to have since been shut down on Facebook.

Chicago police issued a high-risk missing persons alert for Ochoa on April 27.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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