Mural Painted In Pilsen To Honor Marlen Ochoa

May 21, 2019 - 12:16 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Even in a steady rain, people came to see a mural in Pilsen dedicated to the memory of a woman who was murdered and had her baby cut from her womb. 

A mural, memorializing Mareln Ochoa, appeared over the weekend in Pilsen, near 16th Street and Newberry Avenue. Flowers and religious candle holders are lined up at the bottom.

Cynthia Rossi, a mental health professional, was at the location on Tuesday.

"I couldn't imagine, not only the life that was lived, but the life that was unlived. I don't know the fidelity of how the family is coping with this," she said.

Ochoa's death has prompted new questions from the Cook County Sheriff and the woman's family. The sheriff’s office said Tuesday that it is questioning if Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn violated state law by not immediately reporting that a woman who claimed to be the mother of a newborn had not given birth.

Clarisa Figueroa claimed Ochoa's baby was hers. 

At a bail hearing last week, prosecutors explained how the 46-year-old Figueroa was examined in a birthing center at Christ Medical Center on April 23 “but showed no signs consistent with a woman who had just delivered a baby.”

A technician at the Oak Lawn hospital cleaned blood from Figueroa’s arms, face and hands, prosecutors said, but it was unclear if anyone verified that she had actually given birth.

Figueroa was allegedly able to pass off the baby as her own for weeks.

It wasn’t until May 9 that a “mandated reporter” — someone required to report suspected neglect or abuse — notified the Department of Child and Family Services about the newborn, DCFS spokesman Jassen Strokosch said. The child was then taken into protective custody.

After a DNA test proved that the baby was actually that of Ochoa-Lopez’s husband, the agency let the 48-hour protective custody lapse, and the baby was turned over to his father, Strokosch said.

The sheriff’s office has asked the state DCFS why it was not notified sooner that Clarisa Figueroa claimed to have given birth but showed no signs of it.

On Monday, the sheriff’s office said it will investigate the hospital if it finds the medical center violated the Abuse and Neglected Children Reporting Act.

“We will consult with DCFS and if they determine the facts and circumstances of this tragedy were such that should have been reported by mandated reporters, we will ensure an investigation takes place,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Cara Smith said in an email.

In a statement, DCFS said it “will provide any support needed to the family in this case and to those handling any investigations into this matter.”

There is currently no law or regulation to to ensure a baby belongs to the person presenting with the baby at a hospital.

Hospital regulation falls under the purview of The Illinois Department of Public Health and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Strokosch said.

Pastor Emma Lozano is working with Ochoa-Lopez's family, who she said has another question.

"When she came in, what were the procedures or process in which they were able to identify she was in fact the mom?" Lozano said.

Prosecutors have charged Figueroa and her 24-year-old daughter, Desiree, with strangling Ochoa-Lopez and cutting the baby out of her womb at Figueroa's Southwest Side home. The two are being held without bail.

(WBBM Newsradio and the Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this copy. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)