The killings of an entire family rocked the Gage Park area to its core, they didn’t know if there was crazed killer in their midst or what. Speculations about the murders had been circulating for a while and it was believed that whomever committed this heinous crime had to be someone close to the victims. Police have charged the nephew of the deceased who was related by marriage and his girlfriend for the murders. At this time her involvement is not known. What’s so disturbing about this is the accused was “grieving” right along with the family and friends and knowing that he the culprit all along.
Read more as reported by the Chicago Tribune:
After six of his relatives were brutally slain in their Gage Park home in February, Diego Uribe was among the grieving family members struggling to cope with the unspeakable loss.
He’d visited the Martinez family’s tidy brick bungalow often, coming over to hang out or play basketball with the kids. Uribe, 22, seemed devastated by the killings, even breaking down in tears at the funeral.
“I hugged this kid,” said Dawn Valenti, a crisis responder who assisted the Martinez family with the burial.
That image was shattered Thursday as Chicago police announced shocking first-degree murder charges against Uribe, saying the nephew by marriage had killed all six victims — including two children — in a robbery that turned into a massacre. His girlfriend, Jafeth Ramos, 19, was also charged in the six killings, but police were cagey about her exact role in the slayings.
Police officials said the break in the mysterious case came Wednesday when DNA evidence recovered from the house linked Uribe to the slayings. Police also said cellphone records connected Uribe to the crime scene. Authorities said both defendants gave statements to police admitting their roles in the six homicides. Neither Uribe nor Ramos had previous convictions.
Three generations of the Martinez family were found slain throughout the residence in the 5700 block of South California Avenue. The crime — and the police silence about the ensuing investigation — fed rampant speculation about who might be responsible. Was it a random home invasion? Some kind of hit by a drug cartel?
Valenti said news that their own relative was allegedly responsible was almost too much to bear.
“This is a lot for them to soak in,” she said. “This family has a lot to absorb. It went from it possibly being a boyfriend of Maria’s to a drug cartel to being a close relative.”
Sitting on the concrete railing in front of her house next door, Markita Williams, 41, said she was stunned to learn of Uribe’s alleged involvement. She said she saw him frequently at the home.
“I’m just devastated that he would do something like this,” she said. “He was a normal person, came over, played with the kids, played basketball and hung out. He didn’t appear to be a killer. Not the gruesome, evil, demented person that obviously he is.”
At a news conference at police headquarters, Superintendent Eddie Johnson called Uribe’s actions “an act of barbarism” and said he didn’t remember another case quite like it in his 28 years with the department.
“For area residents, it was a shocking and sudden loss of friends and neighbors as well as fear for their safety,” he said. “For CPD officers and detectives, it became personal.”
The case hit close to home, Johnson said, because the victims “were a family like any other who went to work, went to school, loved each other and abided by the law.”
Police said Uribe originally planned to rob the Martinez family. Ramos acted as an accomplice, they said.
William Dunn, commander of Area Central detectives, said it appears the Martinez family let Uribe into the home because they knew him. The massacre started with an argument between Uribe and Maria Herminia Martinez, his aunt by marriage. He fatally shot her first and then “systematically” went through the house, stabbing and beating the others to death, Dunn said.
Uribe ended up stealing only “nominal amounts of cash and electronics,” said Eugene Roy, chief of detectives.
A police source said Uribe had not been a suspect at first, but detectives got a tip that he had shown up for work the day after the slayings with some noticeable injuries.
Detectives then interviewed Uribe, but he made no incriminating statements, the source said. At the request of detectives, though, he agreed to give a DNA sample.
That proved to be the break police needed weeks later when his DNA matched evidence from the scene of the slayings.
While neither suspect had a serious criminal background, Ramos was charged last year with misdemeanor retail theft, and a warrant was issued for her arrest after she skipped court on the case, records show.
Officers had discovered the grisly scene at the Southwest Side home early on the afternoon of Feb. 4 after police were called when one of the victims failed to come to work. A co-worker said Noe Martinez Jr. had not shown up for a second consecutive day.
Police found that the home appeared in order except for the gruesome discoveries.
Police found the six family members scattered throughout the house — the family matriarch, Rosaura Martinez, 58, lying on the floor inside the rear enclosed porch; her husband, Noe Martinez Sr., 62, in a hallway by the front entry door; 13-year-old Leonardo Cruz lying against a wall in the living room by the fireplace; his brother, Alexis Cruz, 10, in the basement on a rug; and the boys’ mother, Herminia Martinez, 32, as well as her brother, Noe Martinez Jr., 38, on the home’s second floor, according to records from the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
All but one victim had died of what the medical examiner’s office described as multiple “sharp-force” and “blunt force” injuries. Herminia Martinez, the mother of two, was fatally shot multiple times.
In the more than three months since the slayings, police had shared little about their investigation.
Among the few details shared had been that officers had found the doors to the home locked and no sign of forced entry. Police said they thought the family had been targeted.
On Thursday, Roy, the chief of detectives, praised Area Central detectives for never losing “their dedication or their drive” while investigating the brutal killings.
“These people behind me have been living and breathing this case for nearly four months now, working well beyond their normal work hours to bring this case to a resolution” said Roy, flanked by nearly a dozen detectives. “I can’t begin to count how many family and social events they missed because of their dedication.”
Roy said police early on had suspected the involvement of multiple attackers because of how the bodies were scattered throughout the home.
“Significantly, the victims were not bound or restrained in any manner, leading us to believe that the victims knew and trusted their murderers,” he said.
A number of “bladed weapons, believed to be knives,” and a gun were used in the slayings, Roy said. Police said that some kitchen knives were recovered as evidence from the home, but it was unclear if they were used in the killings.
Roy said detectives and evidence technicians were inside the home processing the crime scene for 16 hours.
“Keep in mind that many of them are parents and saw things that no one, let alone a parent, should ever see,” he said.
Roy said detectives analyzed “a mountain of evidence” and interviewed dozens of people, reviewed social media postings and electronic communications.
As word of the arrests spread Thursday afternoon, neighbors said that the killings had shocked the community. A memorial to the six victims is still outside the home. Photos of each are fastened onto white crosses that are draped with rosaries and covered in messages. Flowers and weathered teddy bears sit at the foot of the crosses, and candles line a walkway. More flowers and candles lay at the doorstep to the house.
One woman, Esmeralda Rosas, who lives nearby and knew the family through her kids’ soccer program, knelt down with her two children to pay their respects.
“It’s a big relief,” said Mina Lopez, 28, who also visited the home. “I thought they wouldn’t get anybody because it’s been months.” ~ Source: Chicago Tribune
EarHustle411 and the writing staff will continue to keep the family in our prayers and will post updates as they are released.