Things That Matter

Woman Who Brutally Murdered A Pregnant Teen To Steal Her Baby Took Photos With Boy At The Hospital

The story surrounding the murder of 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez continues to be one of heartbreak, confusion, and madness.

At the core of this tragic ordeal that took place in Chicago was simply a teen mom looking for some help on Facebook. Last month, Ochoa-Lopez, already a mom to a toddler, sought to get used baby clothes and items via a Facebook group called “Help A Sister Out.” One woman did respond to Ochoa-Lopez’s request. Clarisa Figueroa, a 46-year-old woman, said she had all the goods at her house and told her to come to pick it up. When Ochoa-Lopez arrived, eight months pregnant, Figueroa ended up killing her, tossing her body in the trash, and took the baby out of the mother’s womb and claimed it as her own.

A new image has surfaced that showed the killer posing next to the baby in the hospital.

The images, obtained by CBS News but were taken down as requested by the family, shows Figueroa at the Advocate Christ Medical Center, where the baby was taken after she called the police. Mitú has chosen to not post the photos in this article out of respect for the family.

Figueroa told officials that she had given birth at home and that baby wasn’t breathing. What they didn’t know then is that Ochoa-Lopez’s body was in the trash and had just been killed.

The killer’s twin daughters say they had no idea their mom had taken this baby, and also gave details about how the hospital was accommodating towards her.

“They should have checked my mom. They should have made sure that the baby was hers. If they knew her tubes were tied, why didn’t you double check? Why didn’t you check that that was her baby,” one of the sisters said.

They went to visit their mom in the hospital a couple of days after she had arrived.

“I seen the baby, and I touch the baby, and I didn’t think of anything about it wasn’t my brother because my mom said it was my brother,” one sister said, according to CBS News.

The daughters also called their mom and step sister “monsters.”

Twitter/ @d_RealTahj

A timeline provided by CBS Chicago local news shows that Figueroa’s 20-year-old son died in September 2018. Later that year, Figueroa said she was pregnant, and showed an ultra sound picture on her Facebook page. None of that was true. In April, Figueroa began corresponding with Ochoa-Lopez on Facebook.

CNN reports that police are investigating why Advocate Christ Medical Center didn’t contact children’s services if they had suspicions about Figueroa.

“Our top priority is to provide the safest and highest quality care for the patients and communities we serve. Out of respect for patient privacy and in compliance with federal and state regulations, we are unable to provide comment. We continue to cooperate with local authorities,” medical center spokesman Adam Mesirow said, according to CNN.

A Mexican Neighborhood Was On The Verge Of Being Gentrified Until Selena Saved The Day

Entertainment

A Mexican Neighborhood Was On The Verge Of Being Gentrified Until Selena Saved The Day

Latinos from all over town in are stopping by a family-owned carniceria in Chicago’s historically Mexican neighborhood, Pilsen, and it’s for more than just tacos. A new series of murals, all featuring Tejana musical icon Selena have been erected as a joint collaboration by three Latinx who wanted to beautify and drive business to the area and have since called the street La Calle Selena.

“In Latin America, you have streets and paseos dedicated to people whether it was culturally or historically,” said organizer of La Calle and creative strategist, Mateo Zapata. “I wanted to bring that tradition and practice as well.

Onlookers of all ages are stopping by to take photos with the freshly-painted murals.

@carniceria_maribel / Instagram

Quinceañeras, families and friends have stopped by the wall for their own picture with the singer-songwriter, lauding the art on social media with the natural geotag for Carnicera Maribel and the natural hashtag, #LaCalleSelena.

The art on the carniceria features Selena in her memorable Amor Prohibido cover outfit, sparkly purple jumpsuit and in her Grammy dress.

@__samanthaperez / Instagram

The paintings were all spray painted on brick.

Asend One, the artist, doesn’t typically work on pop culture icons, but when creative strategist Mateo Zapata approached him with the idea, he was all for it.

“What I wanted to bring with this mural is bring quality — not just a simple rendering of her,” said Asend, adding that he wanted spectators to “taste some Chicago Mexican food. Art is part of the culture and food is art too.”

Zapata used money from the nonprofit he founded, Inner City Culture, to commission the art in May and so began the process to complete five Selena murals across the street.

@ascend_one / Instagram

The mural was completed this August after about three months of work.

These Selena murals have attracted fans and created an influx of foot traffic and business for Carniceria Maribel.

@angmir / Instagram

Alejandro Banda, who is the incoming owner of the establishment and collaborated with Zapata on the inception of the project has noticed the increase of activity in this area since the mural was completed. His family business has been a part of the Pilsen community since the 1990s when his grandfather first opened the shop. The taqueria was a recent addition from just a few years back which Banda, who is in his mid-20s, has been managing.

“I grew up around the store,” Banda said. “It’s been the biggest part of my life and identity. You really get to get the sense of community at the store. Everyone comes around.

“At the heart of it, Carniceria Maribel really does know its meat and tacos. A taco al pastor y de asada and limonada you can get from the back is eaten at the no frills taqueria by the windows. (Photo Credit: Lyanne Alfaro)

Inside, you can purchase anything from your margarita mix to agua fresca to mouthwatering tacos al pastor.

@bigmichchicago / Instagram

Of course, the business would not be complete without a signature carniceria calendar hung on the wall as is typical to give to customers during the holiday season.

And while Carniceria Maribel may be receiving a healthy amount of business as of late, that is not the case for other small businesses in the area.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Banda said. “But it’s still very disheartening to see a lot of friends and families I’ve known, move out of the neighborhood.”

The cost of living has risen in Pilsen, and the numbers for demographics show it. In the 1960s and 70s, Mexicans arrived in Pilsen in mass numbers. But in a decade alone from 2000 to 2010, the neighborhood lost more than 25 percent of its Latinx population, from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

There are also physical signs of Pilsen’s transformation like when a developer removed iconic cultural murals from the neighborhood’s historic Hispanic community center. Casa Aztlan was torn down to make room for new condos as reported by CityLab. Just last year, community members helped shut down a $52 tour spotlighting gentrification.

Zapata’s commissioned project is more than an art piece for the neighborhood, it’s a strategic way to combat gentrification, he says.

@angmir / Instagram

“Supporting your local business is a realistic (response to gentrification),” he said. “If people go to these corner stores instead of gentrified businesses, they will stay. I do think it could be an effective strategy to avoid displacement from our community.”

Meanwhile, Banda sees La Calle Selena as a way that Carniceria Maribel, an established family business is “adapting.”

A taco al pastor y de asada and limonada is served at the no frills taqueria by the windows.
Photo Credit: Lyanne Alfaro

He considers this crucial for small businesses to survive in addition to support from the local community.

“It gives us an opportunity to re-identify ourselves. It gives us an opportunity to change things up and make things better as a business,” he said.

Banda noted that having immigrants from Colombia and Venezuela as well as a Mexican family business participating in the project adds to the value of the project.

“The fulfillment I get from it has exceeded anything I could have imagined,” said Banda, “A project done by three Latinos of all different backgrounds.”

Here’s Why Chicago Should Be On Everyone’s List Of Must-Visit Cities

Culture

Here’s Why Chicago Should Be On Everyone’s List Of Must-Visit Cities

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If you don’t have Chicago on your bucket list, you’re sleeping on the vibrant metropolis.

The city has an enviable lakefront that runs 18.5 miles along the city skyline, a museum campus (and a number of other art and educational institutions nearby) that you could visit for years and still find something new, and dining options that run the gamut from Michelin-starred to hole-in-the-wall mom and pop shops. 

If that’s not enough to get your there, this might be:

For $2.25, you can take the CTA train into the city.

Credit: boje.gardel / Instagram

Whether you’re flying into O’Hare or Midway, each airport offers a direct route into downtown Chicago. From there, you can easily transfer to any of the other train lines, buses or Metra (servicing the suburbs) to get where you’re going and oftentimes, get downtown just as fast as driving. Save yourself the headache of traffic and trying to find your rideshare—as well as cash—by taking the train into the city. Once you’re there, hop into a cab or transfer like a local.

Speakeasies and Cocktail Bars Aren’t Just a Fad

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They’re a historical part of the city. In 1921, the bar now known as The Green Door Tavern opened as a restaurant. Over the years, the restaurant was sold and renamed the Green Door Tavern. During prohibition, a green door would let people know that they could find a speakeasy inside. According to the Green Door Tavern’s website, many of the original fixtures found at the bar are from the 1920s. It’s easy to get caught up in the history of the first floor, but if you keep walking towards the back, and take the steps into the basement—you’ll find a woman with an iPad next to a bookshelf. Leave your name, head back upstairs and wait for The Drifter to call you. Once IDs are checked (again) you’ll find yourself in a tiny room that feels like you’ve stepped into an old-timey circus. Tarot cards are used as drink menus, you can play drink roulette by selecting a $10 fortune cookie that contains your drink order and every hour a different performer takes the stage. It’s easy to imagine one of Al Capone’s cronies posted at the bar grabbing a drink between jobs.

But The Drifter isn’t the only speakeasy worth visiting. In Wicker Park, The Violet Hour, considered the birthplace of artisan cocktails in Chicago, is worth the wait. Just be sure to follow the house rules.

Comedians Are Made in The Second City

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Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mike Meyers, Steve Carrell, Chris Farley, John Candy and most of the funniest names in entertainment came out of world-renowned The Second City, a comedy club, theater and school of improvisation.

To date, it has not produced a Latinx show on its mainstage (a disappointing trend in entertainment). However, actress/producer Vanessa Garcia is working to change that with “La Carne Asada 2: The Seasoning,” performed inside the venue’s Judy’s Beat Lounge. The sketch show for Latinos by Latinos is performed mostly in Spanish with deeply Latino characters and tropes. It sold-out its summer show dates and recently added new fall dates.

Garcia was inspired to write a sequel to last year’s sold-out run of La Carne Asada after a conversation that implied that Latinx content was not headlining stage material. With that in mind, the show is a statement about quality Latinx-centric and minority-centric content being as entertaining, engaging and mainstream as any headline show.

It’s a Magical Place—No Really, Magicians Are As Common As Bartenders

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In a profile piece on magicians for Chicago, Kevin writes about how the art of magic is taught mostly from books, and Midwest Magic in the suburbs is one of the largest magic shops in the world. It’s no wonder there’s been an uptick in magic-themed venues and entertainment. For an intimate, upscale experience head to the Magic Parlour at the Palmer House Hilton. In one of the gilded rooms, you’ll see close-hand magic performed by Dennis Watkins.

To see several acts in one place, head north to the Magic Lounge. The entrance is marked by a sign that reads ‘laundromat.’ Walk inside and start enjoying your night with a drink at the bar where a raised platform features a magician while you wait for your show to begin. Once ushered into the seated venue, various magicians will rove the aisles to keep guests entertained before the start of the first act.

Latino fans will get a kick out of Luis Carreon. The award-winning magician peppers his act with jokes that riff on Mexican culture.

It’s A Sports Fan’s Dream

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Between the Cubs and Sox (MLB) rivalry, Bears (NFL), Bulls (an NBA franchise synonymous with Michael Jordan and six league titles), the Sky (WNBA) and three recent titles between the Blackhawks (NHL), sports are an integral part of the city’s DNA—and that’s just the professional teams found within the city limits. Head to the suburbs if you want to see the Red Stars (MLS) play. It’s worth the drive considering four members of the Women’s World Cup Championship team play for the local league. The Chicago Fire, the men’s team, also plays at the same venue.

Even if you prefer a different type of entertainment, you’re not really experiencing the city if you don’t have some kind of sports encounter. Worst case scenario, you can eat really well since all the stadiums have local dining options in-stadium—like Big Star at the United Center where the Bulls and Hawks play— which is also across the street from the Cubs’ Wrigley Field.

READ: A New Incubator Is Opening Up In Chicago’s ‘La Villita’ And Will Embrace The Neighborhood’s Mexican Heritage