Marlen Ochoa-Lopez Death: Murdered Pilsen woman's family arrives for funeral, health department investigating Christ Medical Center

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Marlen Ochoa-Lopez Death: Health Department investigating if Advocate Christ Medical Center followed protocols
While Marlen Ochoa-Lopez's family arrived from Mexico, the Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed it is investigating how Christ Medical Center handled the case of her baby

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As Marlen Ochoa-Lopez's family arrived from Mexico for her funeral, the Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed it is investigating Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn for how it handled the case involving her baby.

Ochoa-Lopez's funeral, will be held Saturday at Mount Auburn Funeral Home in Stickney. Visitation will be held on Thursday and Friday.

Several of Ochoa-Lopez's family members arrived in Chicago from Mexico thanks to special 20-day humanitarian visas. Ochoa-Lopez's two grandmothers broke down in tears in baggage claim as they talked about their family's loss. They said they're praying for the baby, and they plan to go to Christ Hospital to see him.

RELATED: Funeral set for murdered pregnant woman Marlen Ochoa-Lopez

Ochoa-Lopez was last seen in Pilsen on April 23. She was nine months pregnant and due in early May. Three weeks later, her remains were found near a home on the city's Southwest Side. Police say she was murdered on the day she disappeared, and her baby was taken from her womb after her death.

Her alleged killer, police said, lured Ochoa-Lopez to her home with the promise of free baby clothes.

According to police, 46-year-old Clarisa Figueroa killed Ochoa-Lopez with the help of her daughter Desiree and then removed the baby from her womb. Figueroa then claimed there was a medical emergency, and told first responders she had just given birth to a baby that was not breathing.

The Cook County Sheriff is asking the Department of Child and Family Services to see if proper protocols were followed in reporting the birth of Marlen Ochoa Lopez's baby.

The Chicago Fire Department confirmed it responded to the Figueroa home on April 23 and said paramedics transported the newborn, along with Figueroa, to Advocate Christ Medical Center for treatment.

"A system has failed Marlen, who is dead and doesn't have a voice," said Julie Contreras, spokesperson for the family.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services told ABC7 Eyewitness News it was contacted about the baby on May 9, more than two weeks after he was born and Ochoa-Lopez was killed.

The state health department told ABC 7 Eyewitness News, "...there are no rules or regulations under the Illinois Hospital Licensing Act or under the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that require hospital emergency department employees to verify the identity of a baby, or the person who brings a baby to the hospital. However, hospitals would be mandated to report to the Department of Children and Family Services under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act if there was concern."

"You can't tell me that you or I can walk today into a hospital with anybody's baby and claim it's ours?" Contreras said.

In a statement, Christ Medical Center said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ochoa-Lopez family. Our top priority is to provide the safest and highest quality care for the patients and communities we serve. 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."

The Cook County Sheriff has asked DCFS to see if proper protocols were followed in reporting the birth of Ochoa Lopez's baby.

WATCH: Husband speaks about Marlen Ochoa-Lopez's death

"It's so hurtful, so hurtful to see the person, your wife, who you lived with for four years and now you see her with her eyes closed," he said.

Her family is still holding out hope that little boy will pull through, despite his grave condition. A family spokesperson said the child opened his eyes for the first time Tuesday as his father held him. He remains on life support.

The sheriff's office has been asked to investigate if the hospital violated state law by not immediately reporting a woman who claimed to be the mother of a newborn had not given birth. Clarisa and her daughter Desiree have been charged with Ochoa-Lopez's death.

The Cook County Sheriff's Department released a statement Tuesday, saying, "The Cook County Sheriff's Office is not investigating Advocate Christ Medical Center, which provides excellent care to its patients, their families and the community. The Sheriff's Office will discuss with the Department of Children and Family Services whether there were mandated reporting irregularities that occurred in regard to this tragedy."

In a statement on Monday, the sheriff's office said, "We will ask DCFS to advise if this unspeakably tragic set of facts was reportable by a mandated reporter. If they determine it was, we will ensure it is immediately investigated."

DCFS released a statement Tuesday saying, "Regulating hospitals fall under the purview of The Illinois Department of Public Health and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. DCFS will provide any support needed to the family in this case and to those handling any investigations into this matter."

3 charged in murder of pregnant Chicago woman denied bond

Prosecutors said a technician at Christ Medical Center cleaned blood from Figueroa's arms, face and hands but it was unclear if anyone verified if she actually gave birth. The family also demanding the same answers from hospital authorities.

"I'm just thinking in my own mind, if I see somebody coming in with a baby, with an umbilical and placenta, why does the mother look like she is good health, that has no blood, normal clothes. That doesn't make logical sense to me," said family attorney Frank Avila.

RAW VIDEO: Missing pregnant teen's remains found near Chicago home

Police were seen investigating outside a home on Chicago's Southwest Side where a missing pregnant teen's remains were found.

Monday a representative for the family say they plan to meet with hospital administration again, hopefully to get answers.

"We're in unfamiliar territory," said family spokesman Julie Contreras. "We've never had a case like this and neither have they but they do as an administration, as a company, as a corporation have to answer to questions about how it came about that two criminal individuals, three, surrounded this child for X amount of days."

Currently, there is no law or regulation to ensure a baby belongs to the person who brought them there.

RELATED: Remains found on Southwest Side identified as missing Pilsen woman Marlen Ochoa-Lopez

The League of United Latin American Citizens said they would be filing a complaint on behalf of the family against the Chicago Police Department for the way the family was treated, alleging police did not take them seriously during their investigation into Ochoa-Lopez's disappearance.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi released a statement Monday evening, saying:

"What happened to Ms. Ochoa was senseless and the offenders responsible are barbaric cowards. Since her initial disappearance, detectives worked this case thoroughly and we were all devastated to learn what happened. We can't help but take these cases personally and cannot begin to imagine the immense grief and suffering this family must be feeling. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the entire family and we will ensure that any complaint filed against the department is investigated independently and thoroughly."