Family Says Murdered Teen's Baby Opened Eyes for 1st Time

The baby remained hospitalized on life support on Saturday, according to authorities

A newborn child who was cut from his mother's womb after she was murdered in Chicago last month opened his eyes for the first time Sunday, a spokesperson for his family said.

Family of Marlen Ochoa, the 19-year-old pregnant woman who police say was strangled before her baby was "forcibly removed" from her womb, visited the hospital over the weekend as the newborn child remains in critical condition following his birth. They returned Monday where family spokesperson Julie Contreras said they were meeting with hospital officials. 

Details on what the meeting was about weren't immediately released Monday afternoon. 

Contreras said the child, who has been named Yovanny Jardiel, was visited by his father Sunday night. The family called the infant a "fighter" after saying he opened his eyes. 

The baby remained hospitalized on life support on Saturday, according to authorities. 

A funeral for the 19-year-old mother, Marlen Ochoa, will take place Saturday morning, followed by burial. A two-day visitation is expected to take place Thursday and Friday. 

Two women, 46-year-old Clarisa Figueroa and her 24-year-old daughter Desiree Figueroa, are charged with murder in Ochoa's death. Police found Ochoa's body earlier this month outside Clarisa Figueroa's Chicago home. 

Clarisa Figueroa's boyfriend, 40-year-old Piotr Bobak, is also charged with the concealment of a homicide. All three were ordered held without bond.

Chicago police say the elder Figueroa cut Ochoa's baby out of her womb on April 23, then called 911 to report she had given birth to a baby who wasn't breathing. Paramedics took Figueroa and the baby to Advocate Christ Medical Center in suburban Oak Lawn.

Prosecutors say that when Figueroa was brought with the baby to the hospital, she had blood on her upper body and her face, which a hospital employee cleaned off. They also say Figueroa, 46, was examined at the hospital and showed no physical signs of childbirth.

Advocate Christ Medical Center has declined to say whether or when it contacted authorities, citing state and federal regulations. Oak Lawn police said they were not contacted about Figueroa by the medical center or any other agency.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Ochoa-Lopez family," the hopsital said in a statement. "Our clinical team is committed to meeting regularly with patients and families to ensure there is open dialogue about treatment paths. Out of respect for the family’s privacy, we are unable to comment on the specific content covered during our time together."

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services spokesman Jassen Strokosch said Saturday the agency was alerted May 9 that there were questions about who had custody of the child in order to make medical decisions. He said he couldn't speculate about why the agency wasn't contacted sooner.

"We don't know what was happening at the hospital," he said.

Strokosch said the Department of Children and Family Services was alerted by someone required by law to contact the department about suspected abuse or neglect, but he couldn't say who contacted the agency.

However, that was after Chicago police had connected Figueroa to Ochoa's disappearance.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said police learned Ochoa was missing when her husband reported it on April 24. On May 7, Chicago police learned from one of Ochoa's friends that she had been communicating via a private Facebook group with Figueroa about buying clothing. Police then went to Figueroa's home, where her 24-year-old daughter eventually told them her mother had recently had a baby.

"There was nothing to point us in that direction in the beginning," Johnson told reporters on Thursday, after police had arrested Figueroa and her daughter on murder charges.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Saturday authorities had to subpoena medical records from the hospital for Figueroa and the child. He said police didn't learn that Figueroa showed no signs of childbirth until "a couple weeks" after she was examined.

Both Johnson and Guglielmi referred questions about hospital protocol and policies to the medical center. A spokesman said in an emailed statement: "We have been cooperating with authorities and as this is an ongoing police matter, we're referring all inquiries to local law enforcement."

DNA testing determined Figueroa was not the baby's mother and that Ochoa's husband was his father. Strokosch said his department let protective custody of the child lapse on May 13 because his father had been identified.

The baby was expected to undergo testing this week to check for brain activity.

The child's two grandmothers and an uncle were giving permission by United States Border Patrol to travel to Chicago and visit the child, an family spokesperson said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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