TRIGGER WARNING: Violent Crime, Murder
After weeks of life support, baby Yovanny Jardiel finally opened his eyes! The small miracle buoyed his family’s spirits and the boy’s father, Yovany Lopez, was overcome with emotion. Yovanny’s mother, Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, was still pregnant when she was killed during an attack on April 23rd. Marlen was reported missing the next day by her husband, but police did not locate Marlen or her baby until May 7th. For two weeks, Marlen’s murderer had been claiming the baby as her own.
Marlen Ochoa-Lopez was murdered by Clarisa Figueroa, 46, and her daughter Desiree Figueroa, 24 in a plot to steal Ochoa-Lopez’s unborn baby. Clarisa and Marlen had met one another in a local mommy Facebook group that has since been shut down by group administrators. Earlier this year, Figueroa made a post to meet moms who were due in May. The teenage mother responded and the two made plans to meet up in person after Figueroa offered free baby gear.
Authorities claim Figueroa was planning the attack for months before Marlen’s death. Clarisa was sterile after having her tubes tied, but claimed in October that a medical miracle had left her pregnant for a third time. This fake pregnancy announcement followed the natural death of her 20-year-old son and surprised friends and family alike. After she made contact with Marlen through Facebook, Clarisa texted her daughter that she “needed help killing a pregnant lady and taking her baby.” Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy confirmed Clarisa had planned the attack months in advance, citing her Facebook activity.
On April 23rd, Clarisa Figueroa lured pregnant 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez to her home before attacking and killing her. As Marlen looked at Clarisa’s family photo album, Clarisa sneaked up behind her and placed a coaxial cable around her neck. Marlen was able to get her hand between the cable and her neck and tried to fight off her attacker. Clarisa told her daughter Desiree that she “wasn’t doing her job”; Desiree then straddled the pregnant teen and choked her by hand for four to five minutes. Then, the elder Figueroa cut into Ochoa-Lopez’s stomach and removed her unborn baby son. Afterward, Figueroa enlisted the help of her boyfriend, Piotr Bobak, and Desiree to dispose of Marlen’s body. The family placed her body inside a large garbage bag and dumped it into a trashcan in their backyard.
Clarisa called 911 after the baby was born and reported she had had a homebirth and the baby was not breathing. Both Clarisa and the baby, whom she called “Xander”, were admitted to the hospital. Even at admission, medical notes reveal Clarisa did not show any signs of recently having given birth. Still, no one reported anything to authorities. Over two weeks passed before a hospital mandatory reporter opened a case with the Department of Child & Family Services (DCFS).
Immediately, the baby was taken into protective custody. DNA tests revealed that Figueroa was not related to the baby and that Yovany Lopez was the baby’s father. Shortly after, Yovany was united for the first time with the son who shares his name. One week later, Yovany saw his son open his eyes for the first time - a sign that gave the family hope. Still, baby Yovanny is in critical condition. He is currently on life support and has shown no signs of improvement. Emma Lozano, a spokesman for the family has shared some insight into the boy’s condition.
“It’s been extremely difficult for him (Yovany) to cope. Once he was able to meet his child and hear the prognosis, which none of that shows that his child has a future with any type of quality of life, I think all of these things have been overwhelming to him.”
Marlen’s memorial services are scheduled to begin Thursday, May 23rd. Her extended family was granted emergency visas in order to travel from Mexico to attend the funeral. State authorities are investigating the hospital for failing to report the situation immediately.