A pregnant teen was lured to the home of a woman who then murdered her, cut the unborn baby out of her body and claimed him as her own, police fear.
The body of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez was found in a rubbish bin in Chicago on Wednesday morning. She was reported missing three weeks ago.
Detectives said 19-year-old Marlen was strangled to death.
Police believe that the woman lured the teenager to her home in the Scottsdale area of the city by offering extra baby clothes for her inborn son.
Just hours after Ochoa-Lopez was last seen on April 23 the older woman called 911 for help claiming she had given birth to a boy inside her home.
She told emergency responders she was suffering from “post-delivery issues,” a police source told the Chicago Sun-Times.
DNA tests are thought to have confirmed that the baby in fact belonged to Ochoa-Lopez and her husband.
The baby is in the hospital in “grave condition,” the source said.
Anthony Guglielmi, chief spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, would not comment on details of the case except to say that four “persons of interest” were in custody in both the death of Ochoa-Lopez and the “incident involving the baby.”
Before she went missing, Ochoa-Lopez apparently went to the woman’s home after the two connected on a Facebook group aimed at young mothers.
The woman was offering Ochoa-Lopez free baby clothes, according to Sara Walker, a student pastor at Lincoln United Methodist Church.
No one had seen Ochoa-Lopez since that meet up April 23, Walker said – the same day police say the 46-year-old called for help claiming she’d given birth shortly after 6pm.
The 46-year-old woman later set up a GoFundMe online campaign to raise $9,000 for her baby’s funeral, claiming the boy was sick and about to die, Walker said.
An anonymous tip eventually led detectives to check the parentage of the baby with saliva from the missing woman’s husband, Yiovanni Lopez, and hair samples from Ochoa-Lopez’s home, she said.
The grief-stricken husband was at the Cook County medical examiner’s office Wednesday evening.
“I have a lot of pain, a lot of anguish, a lot of sadness,” Lopez told reporters in Spanish. “It’s painful to lose your wife, the woman you love the most. It’s painful.”
Lopez said the perpetrators “don’t know the pain they’ve caused” his family.
“We’re gonna have justice with those responsible,” he told reporters. “We’re gonna go hard after them. We won’t let it go.”
A woman who lives near the Scottsdale home, who asked not to be named, saw an ambulance drive by on April 23.
She said she noticed her neighbor standing by her front door cradling a baby that was wrapped in a white towel or sheet.
“I said ‘What’s up?’ and she said, ‘I just had the baby. It’s not breathing,’” she recounted, noting that neither she nor first responders went inside the house.
“She said, ‘I stood up and the baby came out,’” said the neighbor, who recalled seeing blood stains on the woman’s hands and some on a T-shirt she was wearing, but not on the shorts she had on.
“Before she left in an ambulance, she told me several times, ‘Please call up someone to come and lock the house,’” said the neighbor, adding that the woman lived in her parents’ basement.
Julie Contreras, another student pastor at Lincoln United Methodist Church, said Ochoa-Lopez’s “distraught” family was “searching for answers with Marlen. Now they have that answer.”
He added: “It’s a nightmare. It’s as if this family lived through a horror film.”
Meanwhile, Yiovanni Lopez visited his newborn boy Tuesday night at Christ Hospital and named him Yadiel Yiovanni Lopez.
The boy has severe brain damage and would possibly be pulled from life-support in the coming days.