Horror behind proud dad’s baby photo
A heartbroken Yovani Lopez cradles his baby boy after he was cut from his murdered mother's tummy.
The tragic and "unspeakable act of violence", as described by police, occurred on April 23 when Marlen Ochoa-Lopez visited a home in Chicago to pick up free baby clothes after an arrangement through a Facebook group.
Ms Ochoa-Lopez was nine months pregnant when her her baby boy was cut out of her womb. It is alleged 46-year-old Clarisa Figueroa pretended the newborn was her own until a DNA test proved she bore no relation to him.
Figueroa and her 24-year-old daughter Desiree Figueroa have been charged with Ms Ochoa-Lopez's murder.
She was allegedly strangled to death, with her body found dumped in a garbage bin at Figueroa's house. Figueroa's boyfriend, 40-year-old Piotr Bobak, has been charged with the concealment of a homicide. All three are ordered held without bond and will return to court on June 3.
NEWBORN REMAINS ON LIFE SUPPORT
The baby boy, who is named Yadiel Lopez, remains in ICU and has no brain function, possibly due to lack of oxygen when he was forcibly removed from the womb.
His distraught father told reporters he understood his son was likely to die soon, but he still wasn't giving up hope.
On Sunday, baby Yovani opened his eyes in his father's arms, but his road to recovery is a long one yet.
"We plead to God that he gives us our child because that is a blessing that my wife left for us," Mr Lopez said in Spanish through an interpreter last week.
Mr Lopez and his wife had been married since 2016 and also had a three-year-old son Joshua.
The widower has set up a GoFundMe page to help care for his two boys - he hopes to raise $25,000. It has already reached nearly $10,000.
"I am very grateful to the entire community that was in the search of the disappearance of my wife," he said after notifying police of her disappearance on April 24.
"I am very grateful for the help that is being provided. With all my heart I keep asking for your help. Pray as My Son Yovanny Jardiel Recovers.
"Thank you very much for the prayers and support that you have given me, I have no more words of thanks. God bless you. This help that you all are giving me will be for the future of my children Thank you, My children will forever be grateful … God bless you."
Many have flooded his GoFundMe page leaving messages of condolences.
"I pray your little boy makes a miraculous, full recovery! I am SO sorry this happened to your wife and child! No one should ever go through this! I'm so sorry! My prayers for you, your son and family. God Bless," one person said.
"I have no words … I couldn't image such a horrendous crime that happened to this young mom," said another.
Ms Ochoa-Lopez has been described as an "angel" and "joyful" woman.
She was the oldest of four siblings and took on the role of caretaker. The 19-year-old was finishing up at Latino Youth High School.
HOSPITAL TOOK WEEKS TO NOTIFY AUTHORITIES
Police and Illinois' child welfare agency say staff at a Chicago hospital didn't alert them after a bloodied woman arrived with a gravely ill newborn.
Figueroa claimed the baby to be hers, but it was later proved, through DNA testing, this was not the case - and Ms Ochoa-Lopez and her husband were his parents.
The hospital did not contact state child welfare officials until more than two weeks later, on May 9, according to police and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
Prosecutors say Figueroa had blood on her upper body and her face - which was cleaned up by a hospital employee - when she took the baby to the hospital.
They also say Figueroa, 46, was examined at the hospital and showed no physical signs of childbirth.
The hospital declined to say whether or when it contacted authorities, citing state and federal regulations.
DCFS spokesman Jassen Strokosch said he couldn't speculate about why the agency wasn't contacted sooner.