Cook County

Remains Found in Southwest Side Home Are Those of Missing Mother: Coroner

Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, 19, was last seen leaving the Latino Youth High School in the Little Village neighborhood on April 23

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

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said the remains of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez were found at 4100 W. 77th Place. The office determined her cause of death was ligature strangulation.  

Earlier in the day, Cecilia Garcia, a spokeswoman for Ochoa-Lopez's family, said a newborn was found and positively identified as Ochoa-Lopez's child.

Ochoa-Lopez's body was discovered after several people were taken into custody at the home, according to authorities. No charges against those in custody have been announced.

Her family said they believe 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 "very hopeful but also 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-Lopez, of the 6000 block of S. Honore St., in the Ashburn neighborhood said that Ochoa-Lopez's car was found in that area, though Chicago police did not immediately confirm that information.

Garcia said that investigators performed a DNA test on the baby at Christ Hospital and determined that it was Ochoa-Lopez's, though police could not confirm that information.

Ochoa-Lopez, who has also been referred to as 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-Lopez was nine months pregnant with her second child when she was reported missing.

Garcia said family members believe Ochoa-Lopez  was lured to a home on the same block where her car was found. They said Ochoa-Lopez 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-Lopez'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-Lopez on April 27. A CPD spokesman said Tuesday night that police were "conducting interviews of individuals" in connection with the ongoing missing persons investigation, but declined to offer any further information.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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