Woman Admits Killing Pregnant Teenager for Her Baby

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A Chicago woman who killed a pregnant teenager and aimed to pass the baby off as her own pleaded guilty to murder Tuesday and was sentenced to 50 years in prison, prosecutors said.

In April 2019, Clarisa Figueroa, 51, who had been pretending to be pregnant, fatally strangled Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, 19, who was eight months pregnant, according to a legal document known as a bond proffer obtained by The Associated Press.

Ms. Figueroa cut Ms. Ochoa-Lopez’s baby from her body in hopes of passing him off as her own, the court record said. The boy later died.

Now, Ms. Figueroa is set to serve her sentence at an Illinois state prison, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, ending a grim five-year case that stunned a community and left a husband widowed and without a son.

“The memory of my infant son’s last breath in my arms is complete agony,” the baby’s father, Yovanny Lopez, said in a statement in the courtroom Tuesday, according to The A.P.

Ms. Figueroa and her daughter, Desiree Figueroa, were arrested in May 2019 after investigators found Ms. Ochoa-Lopez’s car near Ms. Figueroa’s home and then discovered Ms. Ochoa-Lopez’s remains stuffed in a garbage bag in Ms. Figueroa’s garage, according to the proffer.

Ms. Ochoa-Lopez’s family had reported her missing.

Ms. Figueroa had known Ms. Ochoa-Lopez. They met on a Facebook group page for expecting mothers in March 2019 when Ms. Ochoa-Lopez, responding to a post by Ms. Figueroa offering free baby clothes to pregnant mothers expecting to deliver in May, visited her home.

Ms. Figueroa appeared to have joined the Facebook page to keep up the ruse of a fake pregnancy.

A month earlier, she posted in the group a photo of a nursery and said she planned to name her baby Xander, building on a deception that began in December 2018, when she first claimed to be pregnant.

The news came as a shock to her daughter, since Ms. Figueroa had previously had her fallopian tubes tied.

The announcement came after the death of Ms. Figueroa’s son, 20, earlier that year.

To kill Ms. Ochoa-Lopez and steal her baby, Ms. Figueroa enlisted the help of her daughter, Desiree, then 24.

They initially planned to murder her in their home on April 1, 2019, but the plan was foiled when Desiree’s boyfriend threatened to call the police after hearing of their plan. Desiree later told her boyfriend that the plan was an April Fool’s joke.

But Ms. Ochoa-Lopez would return to the Figueroa home on April 23.

This time, Ms. Figueroa managed to strangle Ms. Ochoa-Lopez in the living room with a cable as her daughter subdued her. After the killing, the pair sliced her abdomen open and removed the fetus, a boy, and then called 911 to claim that Ms. Figueroa had just given birth to a baby who was not breathing.

Paramedics took Ms. Figueroa and the baby to the hospital.

Members of the medical staff suspected something was awry, as Ms. Figueroa showed no signs of having given birth, according to prosecutors.

Ms. Figueroa kept up the ruse in the ensuing weeks, creating a GoFundMe fund-raiser in which she continued to claim the baby as her own, according to prosecutors. Her boyfriend, Piotr Bobak, shared the campaign on his Facebook page along with a photo of the baby in critical condition. The baby died months later, The Associated Press reported.

The search for the missing teenager soon led investigators to Ms. Figueroa’s home. On May 14, they executed a search warrant at the home, where they discovered Ms. Ochoa-Lopez’s decayed remains, prosecutors said.

A DNA test showed that Ms. Figueroa was not the baby’s mother and confirmed that the parents were Ms. Ochoa-Lopez and Mr. Lopez.

Ms. Figueroa, her daughter and Ms. Figueroa’s boyfriend were taken into custody. Last year, Mr. Bobak, who investigators said helped clean the murder scene, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and was sentenced to four years in prison, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Ms. Figueroa’s daughter, Desiree, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 30 years in January, according to The Chicago Tribune.



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