Baby fighting for life after pregnant mom shot to death; Police search for suspect in Eva Casara's murder

December 27, 2013 (OAK LAWN, Ill.)

There are still no arrests in the case, but late Friday night, the Dolton Police chief said that a lot of progress is being made, based on witness statements. But for now, the focus of the victim's family is on the baby.

At Advocate Children's Hospital there are signs of hope.

"She's in critical condition, but it's a blessing because she's moving. She's moving," said Autumn Vargas. "She's opening her eyes and wiggling her fingers and her toes."

Relatives of the 2-day-old newborn spent the day in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The child's name, Lailani Paris Casara, was chosen by her late mother.

"I believe in my heart she's going to pull through," said family friend Davin Ellis. "That's a strong baby. Her momma was strong enough to pull her out, and I believe she's strong enough. Lailani, she's going to pull through. She has a strong family."

The baby's mother, 17-year-old Eva Casara, was five-and-a-half months pregnant when she was gunned down Christmas night.

Casara was shot in the head and left in the snow between two homes in Dolton, but managed to stay alive long enough for 1-pound, 5-ounce Lailani to be born.

"I ask everyone to continue to pray because that's all I have left of my baby girl, and I miss my princess so much," said Estrellita Casara, Eva's mother.

"If you all have any answers, if you can please come forward," said Melody Vargas. "It's just, you know, it's not right, my beautiful niece. It's just not right."

Volunteers in Dolton have gone door-to-door passing out fliers, hoping to mine information.

Police say they're questioning multiple people and say an arrest could come soon.

"We've made a lot of good progress (Friday)," said Dolton Police Chief John Franklin. "The task force has done a very good job (Friday) in piecing this thing together. I'd say an arrest is going to be close."

Casara's relatives remain focused on the newborn.

"Right now we all have to stay strong for the baby," Vargas said. "It's not really even about us at the moment. We can't even grieve because we have to stay strong for the baby."

The child's relatives say she's been crying, which is actually a very good sign. But things remain touch-and-go, and there's a nurse by her side at all times.

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