clock menu more-arrow no yes

Family praying for ‘miracle’ as Marlen Ochoa-Lopez’s baby boy clings to life

A new indictment adds to charges against Clarisa and Desiree Figueroa for allegedly killing the pregnant 19-year-old and cutting child from her belly.

Flanked by family and supporters, Yovani Lopez leaves the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, after prosecutors announced a grand jury indictment against three people charged with murdering Lopez’s pregnant wife, 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, and cutting their unborn son from Ochoa-Lopez’s belly.
Andy Grimm/Sun-Times

Yovani Lopez is hoping for a “miracle” for his son and tougher charges against the three people accused of killing his pregnant wife and badly injuring the newborn in a gruesome plot to steal the child.

Lopez spoke to reporters Wednesday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, after a short hearing at which prosecutors announced new charges against Clarisa Figueroa, 46, and her 26-year-old daughter, Desiree, who are accused of strangling Marlen Ochoa-Lopez in their Scottsdale home and cutting Ochoa-Lopez’s unborn child from her womb.

“He wants charges for his child. He lost his wife to a brutal murder, his baby’s still alive,” Lopez’s attorney, Frank Avila, said after the hearing, rattling off a list of doctors who have examined the infant. “They harmed that baby, that baby could still die... We believe in God. We’re hoping for a miracle.”

The Figueroas already faced counts of first-degree murder and aggravated battery of a child, both charges that carry the longest potential prison sentences under state law. It was not immediately clear if prosecutors tacked on additional charges in a grand jury indictment handed up this week.

Lopez’s son, whom he named Yovani Yadiel Lopez, has been in the newborn intensive care unit since the Figueroas brought the child to a hospital in April, shortly after killing Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, authorities say. Clarisa claimed she had given birth at home, but DNA testing showed Lopez and his wife were the parents.

Lopez family spokeswoman Julie Contreras said the family wants to see stiffer charges for the harm done to the infant, who suffered severe brain damage from a lack of oxygen as his mother was strangled. Two doctors already have given Lopez a grim prognosis for the child, but a third specialist is set to examine the child this week, Contreras said.

“Nothing is going to fix what happened, only a miracle,” Contreras said. “This is a child that lives in intense, chronic pain, sedated at times, surviving only by machines.”

The Figueroas and Clarisa’s boyfriend, Piotr Bobak, were arrested last month, some three weeks after Ochoa-Lopez was reported missing. Prosecutors said the teen had met Clarisa through a Facebook group for expectant mothers, and was lured to the Figueroas’ home in the 4100 block of South 77th Place with an offer of free baby clothes.

As Ochoa-Lopez leafed through an album of photos of Clarisa Figueroa’s deceased son, Clarisa sneaked behind her and strangled her with a length of coaxial cable, then cut open Ochoa-Lopez’s stomach with a kitchen knife, prosecutors said. The child was not breathing, and Figueroa took him to a hospital. There, she said the baby’s name was “Xander,” the same as her deceased son, and claimed Bobak was the father.

Bobak solicited donations on Facebook for the child, whom he called his son, according to prosecutors. Police said he was using bleach to clean a blood-stained rug outside the Figueroas’ home when officers arrived with a search warrant. Ochoa-Lopez’s body was found, stuffed in a trash can behind the house.

Bobak’s lawyer said that while Bobak has been charged with helping to conceal the murder, the 40-year-old had no involvement in the killing or in trying to “sanitize” the murder scene.