A 19-year-old pregnant woman who went missing last month was found dead with her unborn baby forcibly removed from her womb in a Chicago home, CNN reports.
Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, who was nine months pregnant, vanished on April 23, when she went to get baby items from a woman she met on a Facebook group, a spokeswoman for the family, Cecelia Garcia, told CNN affiliate WGN.
Her body was found this week, more than three weeks after her disappearance.
The Cook County, Illinois medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide by strangulation.
“We believe that she was murdered, and we believe that the baby was forcibly removed following that murder,” said Anthony Guglielmi, a Chicago police spokesman.
The newborn is alive but remains in grave condition.
The Chicago Fire Department said they received a call about a newborn in distress from the house Ochoa-Lopez’s body was later found on the day she went missing. The baby was rushed to the hospital with a woman who introduced herself as the mother.
“It’s to my knowledge that she is not the mother, and that’s all I have for you,” Larry Langford, a fire department spokesman, said.
According to a local pastor Jacobita Cortes, Ochoa-Lopez’s family has received confirmation that the newborn belongs to the late woman.
Ochoa-Lopez’s relatives are mourning the loss while praying that the baby survives.
“It just seems surreal. You see this stuff on the movies. You never get to know someone; people actually are this evil,” Garcia said.
Charges are currently pending against three people whom detectives have been investigating in the case. Neither of them has been identified.
Marlen Ochoa-Lopez is one of three pregnant women who went missing in Illinois.
The first woman to go missing was 27-year-old Kierra Coles.
Police say she went missing on Oct. 2, 2018. Coles was also three months pregnant at that time, which means her due has come and gone, and there’s still no news of her whereabouts.
“Please do not give up, because I’m not,” Kierra’s father, Joseph Coles on May 5, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Officials are offering a reward of $46,500 for information that leads to her recovery.
Coles worked in the U.S. Post Office, and they have contributed to the reward fund.
If you have information, police ask to call 312-747-8274.
The latest missing case is that of 43-year-old Chaunti Bryla who went missing on March 7.
While Bryla’s story doesn’t exactly fit the profiles of the other two women, she also went missing under bizarre circumstances. The mother of an 11-year-old son had just returned from the grocery store, but for some reason never put the groceries away. Her aunt said, according to WGN-TV, that she ran off and didn’t explain why. Even more strange is the fact that someone took out money out of her bank account from numerous locations.
Again, people are urged to call 911 or 312-747-8274 for any information about Bryla.
At 10 years old, Anayasin Vazquez, now 60, moved to Little Village, affectionately called La Villita, with her family. The predominantly Mexican neighborhood is only 15 minutes Southwest of the Loop in Chicago, but entering its non-physical borders can feel like a passport is required. Billboard advertisements change from English to Spanish, the skin and hair color of people darkens and the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe can be seen on nearly every block.
Anayasin Vazquez’s memories of her childhood in La Villita are of bustling businesses, like La Chiquita grocery store.
Credit: junf_ga / Instagram
Vasquez recalls families eating at La Justicia, sweet smells emanating from El Nopal bakery and grocery trips to La Chiquita.
“That was a time when I saw Little Village thriving,” she recalls. She moved out of the area at 18 years old, and 20 years passed before she moved back. When she did, the neighborhood had changed.
But, over time, Vasquez saw changes to the community she loves, some of which are positive.
Credit: Google Maps
“Buildings deteriorated, businesses were leaving and it no longer had the vibrancy I remembered,” says Vazquez. “People were negatively affected by these changes. It led to crime. And that’s why I’m excited about Xquina. Because maybe it can help us get back to what Little Village was.”
Vazquez is referring to Xquina Cafe.
Credit: Google Maps
The recently announced hybrid coffee shop and entrepreneurial incubator, expected to fill the empty storefront located at 3534 W. 26th St., in Spring 2019. Jaime di Paulo, former executive director of the local chamber of commerce, now President & CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, spearheaded the project and describes it as a learning center with cultural relevance. In late July, the Mayor’s office announced it was the recipient of a $250,000 Neighborhood Opportunity Grant. Another $350,000 is needed to fully fund the project.
The two-story, 6,000-square-foot building, is described as an eyesore by locals. It sits along the main corridor of the neighborhood’s shopping district, which to date, has lacked any businesses of this kind. The facility, partially owned by the chamber, will be designed as a hub for ideas and business meetings. Expect free wi-fi, classes for entrepreneurs, co-working spaces and private offices.
Di Paulo was aided in his bid by Juan Saldana, associate director of the chamber’s Small Business Development Center. The two brokered a deal with Carlos Halwaji, its initial purchaser, for 25 percent ownership of the building. Halwaji is a chiropractor who has practiced in Little Village for the last 20 years.
The facility shares tech incubator DNA, but will incorporate the neighborhood’s Mexican identity.
Classes will be offered in both English and Spanish; and the coffee operator and second anchor tenant will be carefully scrutinized by select members of the chamber, in order to ensure a shared vision of empowering the people in the area.
“Gentrification is a real issue,” says di Paulo. “We want to be very selective of the vendors we use. New amenities to a community is sometimes confused as gentrification. This isn’t that. We are building something for the people of Little Village.”
It’s not the first time a local organization purchased and built out a physical space in order to better the lives, and preserve the culture, of people in the district. Universidad Popular is a non-profit which provides support services to Latinos. Founded in 1972, the organization offers an array of classes and resources ranging from health and wellness topics, to digital literacy.
Originally located in Lakeview, the organization bounced from Humboldt Park to Pilsen, due to rising rent. In an effort to combat gentrification, the organization purchased a 12,000 square foot banquet hall in Little Village. The renovation costs, estimated at upwards of $1M, almost kept the organization from moving forward with their plans. However, with the help of its working class neighborhood—plumbers, carpenters, housekeepers and electricians—they managed to transform the dilapidated building into a vital part of the community that continues to thrive.
Xquina is the younger sibling to this concept. It’s a place primarily designed for the 33 percent of residents under the age of 35.
“Most people have to leave the neighborhood if they need a quiet place to work or study,” says di Paulo. “We don’t want that, so we’re working to fit the needs and demands of the people. There’s currently nothing like this in Little Village.“
A feasibility study done by the chamber, showed 90 percent of people deemed this initiative important and critical to the area. Especially the free internet. A common asset in the Loop and Northside, but a scarce resource in the neighborhood says Vazquez.
With a clear need and desire for this concept, it can appear as if support was garnered overnight. However, the process began five years ago when di Paulo started his position, and inherited a $50,000 deficit.
Over time, he turned the business around and earned the trust of the people by funneling resources into the neighborhood. Such as the establishment of a small business development center last fall. With that addition to the neighborhood, came Salgado.
The two walked the streets, knocked on doors and got to know residents. Their grassroots efforts led to their small business center being one of the most successful on record. Money allocated for businesses in Little Village reached more than $1M in less than a year.
When the times come, a vendor RFP will be posted where a committee of four to five members from the area will be formed to select the two anchor tenants.
“Hopefully someone from the neighborhood steps up,” says Salgado when asked about the ideal candidate.
This optimism and investment in the community drives the concept. Salgado and di Paulo both speak of this project as a way to combat gentrification and minimize brain drain happening among young people who feel their needs are not being met.
“The idea is, we don’t have all the answers,” says Salgado. “We’re looking to the community to help us. We want to bring in the right people who can help create jobs. We want to be a catalyst for growth.”
And judging by the support for Xquina Cafe, it’s clear Salgado is not the only hopeful one.
A crime you would expect to see out a movie has made waves throughout Mexico. Officials in Mexico claim that thieves made their way into the Mexican mint and stole more than 1,500 gold coins valued at $2.5 million USD. The crime, while still unsolved, is capturing everyone’s imagination.
Mexican authorities are seeking thieves who managed to pull off a movie-level heist.
Authorities say that thieves broke into the Mexican mint, knocked a guard to the ground, took the guard’s gun, and robbed a vault of more than 1,500 gold coins. The details of the heist have left everyone puzzled, and a little skeptical about what really went down.
A lot of people have questions about what the guard was doing that allowed the thieves to make out with the coins.
According to CNN, the guards and two staff members that were working during the time of the robbery were not following protocol. Since they were not following protocol, they were all taken aside for questioning to determine what happened that led to such a massive heist taking place.
Some people feel like the robbers had some inspiration by way of “Money Heist” on Netflix.
Honestly, if a Netflix movie could give someone the inspiration to rob a mint, is incredible. Like, how likely is it really that a little film could encourage two people to rob a mint?
But, more importantly, people are certain that is was actually an inside job.
There are reports that the vault was left open at the time of the robbery. That is some impressive luck if the robbers showed up to a robbery only to find that the vault is open. All that is left to do is wait and see how this all shakes down.