Hospital where baby was brought after being ripped from Chicago mother's womb under investigation

The hospital did not immediately report a woman, now suspected of murder, covered in blood and claiming the baby as her own — despite no signs she'd given birth.
Image: Advocate Christ Medical Center
Advocate Christ Medical Center, South Chicagoland & Central Illinois.Google

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Doha Madani

Illinois officials have opened an investigation into the hospital where a baby was brought in by a suspected killer after she allegedly cut the child from his mother's womb, claiming the newborn as her own.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is looking into whether Advocate Christ Medical Center violated the Abused and Neglected Children Reporting Act by not immediately reporting the woman, who was covered in blood but showed no signs of being in labor, NBC Chicago reported Monday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed to NBC Chicago on Tuesday that it also had opened an investigation into the hospital in connection with the murder of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, 19, last month.

A spokeswoman with the department would not give specifics of the case, but said the investigation would include a mandatory unannounced visit to the hospital by investigators.

Clarisa Figueroa, 46, and her daughter Desiree, 24, were charged last week with strangling Ochoa-Lopez, who was nine months pregnant at the time, and then allegedly cutting the baby out of her dead body.

Authorities suspect that Clarisa Figueroa intended on raising Ochoa-Lopez's baby as her own after her 20-year-old son died of natural causes.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

Clarisa Figueroa then called an ambulance, claiming she went into labor at home and that the baby was not breathing, according to court documents. When Chicago Fire Department officials responded, Clarisa was holding the baby with the placenta and umbilical cord attached.

A baby was forcibly removed from the body of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, who was reported missing three weeks ago, in Chicago.

They were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where Clarisa was examined and the baby was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit, the court documents said. Clarisa showed no signs that she had delivered a baby.

An obstetric technician in the labor and delivery unit cleaned blood off Clarisa's arms, hands and face while she was being treated, court documents said.

It wasn't until May 7 that police discovered Clarisa's possible involvement when they found Facebook messages between her and Ochoa-Lopez arranging a meeting on April 23, the day the pregnant teen was last seen.

Police eventually obtained a search warrant after DNA tests showed the baby was not Clarisa's, as she had claimed.

Department of Child and Family Services spokesman Jassen Strokosch told NBC Chicago that it wasn't until May 9 that a mandated reporter, someone required by law to report suspected abuse, notified the agency about the newborn.

Marlen Ochoa-Lopez's husband in the hospital with Yadiel.Courtesy Cecilia Garcia

DNA tests have shown that the baby boy is indeed Ochoa-Lopez's child and the newborn has been reunited with his family. The boy was named Yadiel, which is what his mother planned on naming him, according to a family spokeswoman.

The family said Monday that Yadiel was still in critical condition and reliant on breathing machines.

Advocate Christ Medical Center said in a statement Tuesday that its thoughts and prayers were with the Ochoa-Lopez family.

"Our top priority is to provide the safest and highest quality care for the patients and communities we serve," the hospital said. "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."