Three weeks before 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa was allegedly murdered at a South Side Chicago home, she met with the people who ultimately would be accused of killing her, prosecutors said Friday.
Cook County Assistant States Attorney James Murphy on Friday laid out alleged details of Ochoa's murder, saying suspects Clarisa and Desiree Figueroa carefully planned out the crime and met with the victim weeks before luring her back and killing her.
Ochoa had gone to the Figueroas' home on April 1, Murphy said. During that visit, Clarisa Figueroa, 46, and her daughter, Desiree Figueroa, 24, had "acted suspiciously" before allowing Ochoa to leave the home, he said.
At that point, Clarisa Figueroa's boyfriend, Piotr Boback, threatened to call police about the plot, but was reassured that it was just an "April Fools Day" joke, according to prosecutors.
Three weeks later, Ochoa returned to the home on April 23 to obtain baby clothing and a stroller. There, she was strangled to death and had her baby ripped from her womb after she died, according to prosecutors.
Murphy then laid out a detailed timeline of events that led to Ochoa's death, starting with a fake announcement in October of 2018 that Clarisa Figueroa was pregnant:
October 2018: Clarisa Figueroa, whose son Xander had died of natural causes earlier in the year, announced to her daughters that she was pregnant. The announcement was suspicious to the daughters, because Clarisa had previously had her Fallopian tubes tied, according to prosecutors.
December 2018: Clarisa posted a photo of an ultrasound photo on Facebook and announced that she was expecting.
Feb. 5, 2019: Clarisa posted for the first time in the Facebook group "Help a Mother Out" that she had named her unborn son Xander, and that she had a crib and other baby items at her home.
March 5: Clarisa again posted in the Facebook group, sending a clear message: "Who's due in May? Where the May mama's at?"
That same day, Clarisa had her first conversation with Marlen Ochoa, offering her brand new clothes for the 19-year-old's baby, and suggested that Ochoa message her privately on the social media network.
April 1: Clarisa told her daughter Desiree that she needed help killing a pregnant mother and taking the mother's baby from her womb. Desiree initially said no and told Clarisa's boyfriend Piotr Boback about the request.
That same day, Ochoa visited Figueroa's home for the first time. During the visit, Figueroa and her daughter kept moving to an adjacent room, with the mother telling her daughter they needed to "kill" Ochoa, and Desiree kept refusing, and told Boback.
Boback threatened to call police but was told the plan was an "April Fools" prank, and Ochoa left the residence.
April 23: Ochoa was last seen on this date after leaving Latino Youth High School, where she was a student.
On that date, Ochoa visited the home again to pick up items, and police said that Figueroa and her daughter turned up the volume of music while they went into the kitchen.
In the kitchen, the mother and daughter discussed their plan to kill Ochoa and cut the baby from her womb, according to a confession from Desiree Figueroa.
A short time later, Desiree distracted Ochoa with a photo album of pictures of Clarisa's deceased son. While that was happening, Clarisa took a coaxial cable, wrapped it around her hands, and wrapped it around Ochoa's neck.
Ochoa was able to get her fingers under the cord to restore airflow, and Clarisa angrily yelled at her daughter that she wasn't "doing your (expletive)-ing job."
After Desiree peeled Ochoa's fingers one-by-one from out under the cord, Clarisa got on top of the victim and strangled her for four or five minutes before she died.
After the death, Clarisa told her daughter that Ochoa must be dead because she had researched it and found out that it takes four-to-five minutes to strangle someone.
After Ochoa's death, Clarisa told Desiree to get a blanket, a garbage bag and a butcher knife. Clarisa then cut Ochoa's abdomen open, removed the baby, placenta and umbilical cord, and placed them in a bucket.
The duo then shoved Ochoa's body into a plastic bag, and Clarisa placed it in a garbage can on the side of their home.
After that, Figueroa called 911 and told dispatchers that she had given birth to a baby in her home, and that the child wasn't breathing. Paramedics rushed the baby, and Clarisa, to a local hospital.
Following her mother's departure from the home, Desiree Figueroa then took Ochoa's car and cell phone and brought them to her sister's house. Red light footage around the home captured Desiree driving the vehicle, according to prosecutors.
On her return to her mother's home, Desiree discarded Ochoa's phone and parked the car a half-block from the scene.
When Clarisa Figueroa was examined at Christ Medical Center, her body showed no signs of giving birth, according to physicians. Prosecutors said that she still had blood on her arms, hands and face, and that the blood was likely from Ochoa.
An OB-GYN physician at the hospital, who was treating her, cleaned the blood off.
April 24: Ochoa’s husband reported her missing on this date after she didn’t pick up the couple’s son from daycare.
On that same day, Clarisa and her boyfriend cleaned the house of blood and other remnants of Ochoa's body to try to conceal the crime.
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 Ochoa’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.
During that time, Figueroa had started a GoFundMe page, asking for donations to help the baby, who remained in the NICU in "grave condition." Her boyfriend also shared the page to help continue the cover-up of Ochoa's murder.
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 Clarisa 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," Deputy Chief of Detectives Brendan 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.
When police arrived at the home, they found Boback cleaning a rug outside with a bleach solution. When he saw officers, he stopped cleaning and silently went back inside the home.
Four people, including Clarisa Figueroa, Desiree Figueroa and Boback, were brought to police stations to be questioned in the case. The fourth person has not been publicly identified.
Detectives also found a garbage can on the premises and discovered remains that were later identified as those of Marlen Ochoa. They discovered that the cord used to strangle her was still wrapped around her neck.
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.
May 16: After a long interrogation session, Desiree Figueroa confessed to police that she had helped her mother in strangling Ochoa. After that, detectives arrested Figueroa and her mother, along with Bobak. All three were charged.
May 17: The three defendants appeared in court for the first time, and all were ordered held without bond. The judge denied a request by Figueroa's attorneys to allow her to be placed in protective custody, to keep them safe from other prisoners.