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Family of Baby Ripped From Mother’s Womb Says Boy is ‘Getting Better’

By Zachary Stieber

The family of the baby ripped from his mother’s womb, after she was killed by a woman who lured her to a Chicago apartment with a post on Facebook, said that the boy is getting better even as doctors say the baby is brain-dead.

Family members have congregated at the hospital where Marlen Ochoa-Lopez’s baby boy is on life support after being rushed there in late April.

The father of the victim said that the boy appears to be progressing.

“The doctors say he doesn’t feel anything,” Arnulfo Ochoa told the Chicago Tribune. “But when we touch him, he reacts. The baby is getting better. This is the gift Marlen left me. I’m going through something so bad, but my faith in God is keeping me going.”

The boy reportedly opened his eyes for the first time on May 20.

Family members, including Ochoa-Lopez’s grandparents, who recently traveled from Mexico on humanitarian visas, have been singing hymns to the boy and speaking with him.

“I was just grabbing his little hand, he moved it around and his little hand warmed up because they’ve been so cold. It was so emotional,” the baby’s maternal great grandmother Benigna Perez Castañeda told ABC 7.

Arnulfo Ochoa, the father of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez,
Arnulfo Ochoa, the father of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, is surrounded by family members and supporters, as he walks into the Cook County medical examiner’s office to identify his daughter’s body in Chicago on May 16, 2019. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

The positive energy is helping, the boy’s grandfather said.

“We want him to know we love him,” Ochoa said. “That positivity is helping him. He is a miracle of God.”

The hospital hasn’t officially commented on the boy’s condition, but relatives said doctors informed them he does not have brain activity and can’t breathe without life support.

Even as family members held out hope for a miracle recovery, they criticized the hospital, which admitted the baby despite an exam of Clarisa Figueroa, the older woman accused of killing Ochoa-Lopez, showing she had not given birth.

Chicago family
This combination of booking photos provided by the Chicago Police Department on May 16, 2019 shows from (L), Pioter Bobak, 40; Clarisa Figueroa, 46; and Desiree Figueroa, 24. (Chicago Police Department via AP)

The hospital alerted detectives two weeks after the birth, only after Chicago police detectives went there and inquired about what happened.

“Everyone in our family is hurt,” said Raquel Uriostegui, Ochoa-Lopez’s mother. “We think the hospital made a lot of mistakes. The hospital didn’t do anything. They didn’t investigate. I don’t know. All of that needs to be cleared up. My daughter needs justice. We have questions that haven’t been answered, but God will give us justice. My daughter deserves it.”

The hospital is now under investigation by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“We have to learn by what happened, and we also demand respect and dignity when something does happen to us, that we should not be ignored,” Lincoln United Methodist Church Pastor Emma Lozano added to ABC 7.

Police said that Figueroa, 46, and her daughter strangled Ochoa-Lopez while she was looking at a photo album at Figueroa’s apartment.

Marlen Ochoa-Lopez
A memorial of flowers, balloons, a cross and photo of victim Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, are displayed on the lawn in Chicago, on May 17, 2019. (Teresa Crawford/AP Photo)

In court on May 17, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy told Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz that Ochoa was being shown a photo album of the late son of the older woman when she was suddenly set upon by the elder Figueroa.

Ochoa managed to get her fingers under the cord around her neck before Clarisa Figueroa, yelled at her daughter, “You’re not doing your [expletive] job!” according to Murphy.

That’s when Desiree Figueroa, 24, pried Ochoa-Lopez’s fingers from the cord while her mother continued to strangle the teen.

After hearing the testimony, Ortiz denied bond to the Figueroas, who are charged with murder, saying she felt “the presumption is great” that they committed a “heinous and brutal murder” and that they pose “a real and present” danger to the community. They were charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery to a child under 13 resulting in a permanent disability.