Nobody Alerted Police, State About Womb-Cutting Case

Weeks passed before Family Services was told
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 19, 2019 10:30 AM CDT
Police, State Agency Weren't Alerted in Womb-Cutting Case
A memorial with a photo of victim Marlen Ochoa-Lopez is displayed Friday outside the home where she was killed.   (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

Police and Illinois' child welfare agency say staff at a Chicago-area hospital didn't alert them after determining that a bloodied woman who arrived with a gravely ill newborn had not just given birth to the baby boy, as she claimed, the AP reports. The woman, Clarisa Figueroa, was charged more than three weeks later with killing the baby's mother, Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, after police found her body outside Figueoa's home. Chicago police say she cut Ochoa-Lopez's baby out of her womb on April 23, then called 911 to report she had given birth to a baby who wasn't breathing. Paramedics took Figueroa and the baby to Advocate Christ Medical Center in suburban Oak Lawn. Ochoa-Lopez's family spent those weeks searching for her and holding press conferences pleading for help finding her, unaware the child was in a neonatal intensive care unit. The baby remained hospitalized on life support on Saturday, according to authorities.

Prosecutors say that when Figueroa was brought with the baby to the hospital, she had blood on her upper body and her face, which a hospital employee cleaned off. They also say Figueroa, 46, was examined and showed no physical signs of childbirth. Advocate Christ Medical Center has declined to say whether it contacted authorities, citing state and federal regulations. Oak Lawn police said they were not contacted by the medical center or any other agency. Illinois Department of Children and Family Services spokesman Jassen Strokosch said Saturday the agency was alerted May 9 that there were questions about who had custody of the child in order to make medical decisions. He said he couldn't speculate about why the agency wasn't contacted sooner. "We don't know what was happening at the hospital," he said. (Police described what they found.)

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