Things That Matter

Chicago Woman Arrested For Trying To Kill Her Ex-Girlfriend’s New Partner Via Hitman

A Chicago woman has been arrested for trying to hire a hitman to kill the woman now dating her ex-girlfriend. Lissette Ortiz, 54, planned to flee to Puerto Rico after the woman was murdered, but she didn’t plan for the hitman being an undercover cop. Ortiz had offered a man, who remains anonymous, either a TV and $500 or $5,000 for the name of a hitman. The man immediately contacted the Chicago Police Department, who asked him to give the name of an undercover police officer. 

Ortiz met with the undercover cop, thinking he was the man who would kill Washington’s new girlfriend, on Nov. 20, and sat in the car with him for an hour. She detailed how she wanted the woman to burn alive in her car, and to know that it was Ortiz who was behind it all.

Lissette Ortiz told the undercover police officer exactly how he wanted to kill the woman, and how she would stage her alibi.

CREDIT: COOK COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE

Ortiz believes that the woman, who remains anonymous, was the reason for her breakup with an ex-girlfriend, Marni Washington. Cook County Assistant State Attorney Jack Costello told ABC that, at first, Ortiz asked the anonymous man to “kidnap the victim and bring the victim to her so she could take care of the rest.” When the anonymous man turned informant and led her to an undercover cop, the story became much more gruesome. Ortiz “told the undercover that her plan after the undercover kidnapped and delivered the victim to her was to put the victim into a car while tied up and set the car on fire in a remote location,” Costello told the outlet. Her plan seemed to continue to evolve as she sat in the car with the man she believed would kill this woman. 

Later, she said that she wanted him to be the one to take the victim to the remote location in mind and set her and her car on fire.

Ortiz wanted the woman killed before Thanksgiving so that she never spent a holiday in the home where Ortiz once lived.

CREDIT: @NPAIPR / TWITTER

Assistant State Attorney Costello told ABC that Ortiz wanted “the crime to occur prior to Thanksgiving so that the victim could not celebrate the holiday in the home” that Ortiz used to share with Washington. Still, Ortiz planned to be on vacation while the woman was burning to death. “She was sure authorities would be looking for her after the murder and she wanted to have an alibi,” Costello told the outlet. 

Instead of boarding that flight to Puerto Rico, Ortiz’s recorded conversation with the undercover cop will likely land her anywhere from 20 to 40 years in prison. In addition to plotting Washington’s girlfriend’s death, Ortiz admitted to the cop that this would be her second attempt at murder-by-hitman. The first time she hired a hitman, he ran away with her money.

It seems as if Ortiz attempted to use the legal system to retaliate against Washington once before.

CREDIT: @RAFERWEIGEL / TWITTER

Marni Washington, 50, is a Chicago police officer assigned to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s security detail with over 17 years on the force. Washington and Ortiz shared a home together in the Galewood neighborhood of Northwest Chicago, but, as their relationship deteriorated over the course of a year, Washington asked Ortiz to move out in May. Later, Ortiz alleged that Washington pinned her against a wall, leaving a bruise on her collarbone on June 27, and pressed charges. On July 3, Washington turned herself in, after a warrant was posted for her arrest. Washington was booked and paid her bond of $10,000. Washington was placed on paid desk-duty during the duration of her trial.

After a full day of trial in mid-August, Domestic Violence Court Judge Megan Goldish cleared Washington of all charges, citing in-home surveillance videos that showed no physical altercation. The defense provided images of Ortiz taken the following day of the alleged assault that showed Ortiz had no bruises and even contradicted her own testimony, during which she said Washington took her car keys away from her. Images of Ortiz holding car keys in her hand had weakened her credibility. As Judge Goldish cleared the charges, Washington reportedly smiled, while Ortiz stormed out of the courtroom, shouting, “This is unfair! You know you erased that video.”

Ortiz has an arrest history on theft charges and is currently being held without bond.  If convicted, Ortiz will face 20 to 40 years in prison.

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This Chicago Man Used His Wrongful Conviction Settlement Money to Open a Barber College With His Former Prison Guard

Things That Matter

This Chicago Man Used His Wrongful Conviction Settlement Money to Open a Barber College With His Former Prison Guard

Screenshot via YouTube

Some people are dealt a tough hand in life and, for whatever reason, aren’t able to cope with it. They might spiral into bad lifestyles choices or other unhelpful coping mechanisms. However, other people are able to rise above adversity. Like Juan Rivera, a man who spent 20 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.

After he was wrongly convicted of murder, 48-year-old Juan Rivera used his settlement money to open up a barber college with his former prison guard.

Juan Rivera went to jail for the rape and murder of 11-year-old Holly Staker in 1992. Chicago police used unlawful psychological mind games over the course of a four-day interrogation to coerce Rivera to admitting to the crime. The Chicago police also destroyed DNA evidence and lied to the prosecution team. Juan Rivera spent 20 years in Stateville Correctional Center.

While he was in prison, Juan Rivera became friends with prison guard and barbershop coordinator, Bobby Mattison. Mattison knew that some prisoners just needed the right opportunities to make better life choices. After a lot of hard work, Mattison opened up the first licensed barber college in a maximum security prison. Rivera was one of his students.

“We lock them up well, but what do we do to help them get back on their feet?” Mattison told Block Club Chicago. “I see these guys coming in and out. I knew I wanted to do something to help them.

It was through Mattison that Rivera began to change his attitude and outlook on life. When Rivera left prison, the city of Chicago awarded him $20 million in a wrongful conviction suit. Rivera knew exactly what he was going to do with the settlement money: give back to his community.

Together, Rivera and Mattison founded Legacy Barber College. Legacy Barber College recruits students from inner-city Chicago who are in danger of getting caught up in a life of crime. The barber college partners with high schools, community colleges, and career day fairs to show kids that “they can find a good career even if college isn’t an option.”

“This started, believe it or not, in prison,” Juan Rivera said. “I saw a need. We want to help the less fortunate. Because once they get out, they usually have nothing to fall back on.”

Legacy Barber College’s 32 current enrollees are also college or high school students. At the school, students can earn their barber’s license, but they also learn “financial literacy, customer service and running a business.”

But Legacy Barber College’s services aren’t limited to teaching. They also, naturally, give haircuts. “We want the community to know it’s theirs, not mine,” Juan Rivera said. “We want people to feel welcome and comfortable taking their kids and family here.”

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Hundreds Gather to Mourn Yadhira Romero Martinez, Who Was Violently Murdered in Minnesota

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Hundreds Gather to Mourn Yadhira Romero Martinez, Who Was Violently Murdered in Minnesota

Photo via GoFundMe

Last Thursday, 19-year-old Yadhira Romero Martinez left work. Her housemate, Jose Daniel Cuenca-Zuniga’s, picked her up and drove her home. Surveillance footage showed her entering her home with Cuenca-Zuniga at 6pm. After that, no one ever heard from her again.

On Friday, authorities found Yadhira Romero Martinez dead in the room she rented in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Police found her “with a plastic bag lying across her forehead and wearing only a T-shirt.” There were bruises on her face and her neck. She had “what appeared to be handprints outlined in blood on her thighs.”

Yadhira Romero Martinez rented a room from a woman who owned a home in Minneapolis. She shared the house with at least one other renter, the aforementioned Jose Daniel Cuenca-Zuniga. Romero Martinez had moved from Mexico to Minneapolis last September. According to her family, she had moved to the U.S. for “a better life”.

By Friday, the homeowner realized that something was wrong. Through a cracked door, she saw Romero Martinez laying unconscious on her bed.

Cuenca-Zuniga told the homeowner that Yadhira had simply had too much to drink. But shortly after, the young man packed his belongings and fled. The homeowner then called the authorities after repeatedly knocking on the door and getting no answer.

On Sunday, police tracked down Jose Daniel Cuenca-Zuniga in Ohio, where he had fled. Police have since charged Cuenca-Zuniga with intentional second-degree murder.

Yadhira’s family, as well as the Minneapolis community at large, are grieving over the death of a bright young woman who “didn’t have a bad bone in her body.”

On Saturday, hundreds gathered in Minneapolis to attend the vigil of Yadhira Romero Martinez. Many of the mourners spoke about how the young woman’s murder was an act of misogynistic femicide.

“I didn’t know Yadhira, but I’m here because I’m a woman, like her, and I’m an immigrant, like her,” said one of the attendees to Fox 9 News. “And I’m scared that that’s going to happen to me.”

“It breaks my heart seeing just a Hispanic woman, lady, that gets her life taken away, you know, without doing nothing, without harming nobody,” said vigil attendee, Cesar Vence to WCCO. “Why do these things have to happen, you know, to a young lady that just comes from Mexico to work and support her family?”

On Facebook, Yadhira’s cousin, Jun Romero, wrote a passionate eulogy that doubled as a call-to-action.

“To have her life taken so soon to such a violent and disgusting way was something she didn’t deserve. No one deserves that,” he wrote. “She was my cousin. She was a daughter. She was a sister. SHE WAS A PERSON. I love her and I will miss her.”

He finished his post with: “Please protect your sisters and educate your boys/men. Machismo, sexism, and violence exist in every nook and cranny of our lives no matter how small. If you see it, stop it. Unlearn to stay silent in these matters for the sake of women and fem-presenting people everywhere. She didn’t deserve this and you don’t either.”

Her family set up a GoFundMe page to raise enough funds to “transport her body to Mexico so her parents can do a funeral service”. You can donate here.

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