Cook County

Marlen Ochoa Case: Mother-Daughter Duo Used Photo Album to Distract Pregnant Teen Before Strangling Her, Prosecutors Say

The suspects were ordered held without bond Friday as prosecutors detailed the horrifying case

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

The mother-daughter duo accused of murdering a pregnant Chicago teen before cutting her baby out of her stomach distracted the woman with a photo album of their late son and brother before strangling her, prosecutors said Friday.

Clarisa Figueroa, 46, and her daughter Desiree Figueroa, 24, allegedly plotted 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa's death for weeks before luring the teen to their home after meeting her through a Facebook group for mothers in need, prosecutors said. 

The pair, along with Clarisa Figueroa's boyfriend, were ordered held without bond Friday as prosecutors detailed the horrifying case. 

Prosecutors said it all began when Clarisa Figueroa first claimed she was pregnant in late-2018, just months after the death of her 20-year-old son. In February, she began posting in a Facebook group called "Help a Mother Out," stating she had a crib and other baby items available. She ultimately offered to give Ochoa new clothes for her baby, which was due in May. 

According to officials, Ochoa first visited Figueroa's home in the 4100 block of West 77th Place on April 1. While there, Clarisa Figueroa allegedly told her daughter the pair needed to kill the teen. When Clarisa Figueroa's boyfriend threatened to call police, they let Ochoa go and told the boyfriend it was a joke, prosecutors said. 

When Ochoa returned to the home weeks later to obtain baby clothing and a stroller, prosecutors allege the mother and daughter turned up music in the home and went into the kitchen where they discussed a plan to strangle the teen to death and cut the baby from her womb. 

That's when prosecutors say Desiree Figueroa distracted Ochoa with a photo album of her late brother while Clarisa Figueroa wrapped a cable around the teen's neck. 

At one point, Clarisa Figueroa told her daughter "you're not doing your f---ing job," prompting Desiree Figueroa to peel Ochoa's fingers from the cable, one by one, allowing it to tighten around the teen's neck, prosecutors said. 

Ochoa was strangled for four to five minutes before the pair stopped, saying she "must be dead," prosecutors said, citing a confession from Desiree Figueroa. Clarisa Figueroa then allegedly told her daughter to get a blanket, a garbage bag and a butcher knife, which she used to slice Ochoa's abdomen open and remove the baby, placenta and umbilical cord, according to prosecutors. 

The baby, placenta and umbilical cord were wrapped in a blanket before Ochoa's body was placed in a plastic bag and taken to a garbage can on the side of the house, prosecutors said. 

That's when Clarisa Figueroa called 911 and told dispatchers she had given birth and the baby wasn't breathing, according to prosecutors. Both she and the baby were transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center for treatment, where hospital staff told authorities her body showed no signs of giving birth. 

Clarisa Figueroa still had blood on her hands and face at the time, prosecutors said. 

Meanwhile, Desiree Figueroa, who is four months pregnant herself, took Ochoa's phone and car to her sister's house, prosecutors said. Red light cameras captured her driving the vehicle and Ochoa's phone tracked the location before the device was thrown out, authorities said. Clarisa Figueroa's boyfriend Piotr Boback allegedly helped Desiree Figueroa clean the home of blood and other "remnants of Ochoa's body." 

Clarisa Figueroa later created a GoFundMe page for the baby, saying she was the mother, prosecutors said. Her boyfriend also shared the page, they allege. 

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said detectives received a break in the missing person investigation on May 7, when they learned that Ochoa "was in communication with one of the offenders" before she disappeared. 

Deputy Chief Brendan Deenihan said one of Ochoa's friends told police that Ochoa was part of a "chat site" on Facebook, and detectives went into the group to find that Ochoa had arranged to go to Clarisa Figueroa's house to pick up baby items the day she went missing.

DNA evidence determined Clarisa Figueroa was not the mother of the child and Ochoa's husband, Yovany Lopez, was the father, authorities said.  

On May 14, Ochoa's body was found by police in the garbage can at the home with a cable still wrapped around her neck, prosecutors and police said. 

"They find a garbage can on the premise, it's kind of in a hidden area on the premise, and unfortunately that's when they discover the remains of Marlen," Deenihan said, adding that investigators also found a device used to strangle Ochoa, as well as remnants of burnt clothes and traces of blood in several places throughout the house.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Ochoa died of ligature strangulation and ruled the death a homicide.

Deenihan said that during an interrogation earlier this week, Desiree Figueroa confessed "that she assisted her mother strangling Marlen," and she and her mother, as well as Bobak were charged later that day. 

Clarisa Figueroa, 46, and Desiree Figueroa, 24, were each charged with one felony count of first-degree murder Thursday, according to police. 

They were also both charged with one felony count of aggravated battery to a child under 13 resulting in a permanent disability, authorities said, in connection with the harm caused to Ochoa's baby. 

Bobak was charged with concealing a homicidal death and concealing the death of a person, both felonies, police said.

 Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson addresses the media after charges were filed against three people in connection with the murder of 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa. 

"Words cannot really describe how disgusting, and thoroughly disturbing, these allegations are," Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said Thursday. “I would like to offer my sincere condolences and prayers to Marlen’s family, who instead of celebrating the arrival of a new life into their family, are now mourning Marlen’s loss, while at the same time caring for a new little baby that’s in grave condition.”

Marlen Ochoa’s family is coming to grips with the murder of the 19-year-old mother, and NBC 5’s Michelle Relerford has the details on the case. 

"It's a blessing that we found Yadiel, the baby, that's the name of the baby that Marlen had chosen," family spokeswoman Cecilia Garcia said at a news conference Wednesday.

Ochoa's family stood by a family spokeswoman Thursday morning ahead of the suspects' bond hearing, calling the trio "monsters" and saying they were living a "nightmare." 

"Today there is only one message that the family has and that is justice for Marlen," said Julie Contreras, with the League of United Latin American Citizens.

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