The family of a missing pregnant woman said Wednesday that they believe a baby found abandoned on top of a trash can in Chicago the previous day may be related to her, calling for a "speedy and thorough" investigation.
Relatives of Marlen Ochoa, who has also been referred to as Marlen Lopez and Marlen Ochoa-Uriostegui, spoke at a news conference Wednesday morning at a church on Chicago's Northwest Side.
"I think that we're convinced now that there's some wrongdoing here, that this is not somebody that just disappeared," Rev. Walter Coleman said at the news conference.
"This is somebody that we believe is being held and we hope that she's alright," he continued, adding, "We believe that Marlen is still alive. We will find out hopefully in the next few days if this newborn baby was actually part of the family."
Ochoa, 19, was last seen leaving the Latino Youth High School in the Little Village neighborhood, where she had been taking classes, on April 23.
She was supposed to pick up her 3-year-old son from daycare that afternoon but her family said she never showed up. Ochoa was nine months pregnant with her second child when she was reported missing.
Chicago police issued a high-risk missing persons alert for Ochoa on April 27. A CPD spokesman said Wednesday that officers could not confirm the baby found the day before was related to her.
"We will need DNA and we have asked for it," Anthony Guglielmi said in an emailed statement.
Authorities said a passerby noticed the newborn baby boy on top of a trash can Tuesday afternoon in the 1700 block of North Keystone Avenue in the city's Hermosa neighborhood.
The good Samaritan brought the baby to a firehouse, according to Chicago police, who said paramedics then took the baby to Norwegian American Hospital in critical condition just after 4 p.m.
The baby was "crying and kicking," a fire department spokesman said, and his condition was upgraded to stable before he was then transferred to Lurie Children's Hospital.
The newborn was the first baby to be illegally abandoned in Illinois this year, according to Dawn Geras, who lobbied to pass Illinois' "Safe Haven" law.
Under the law, infants 30 days or younger may be dropped off with no questions asked at a hospital, fire or police station, according to the state's Department of Child and Family Services.
Ochoa's family said in a statement before their scheduled news conference that communications with police to date "have been a challenge" and that they planned to call on authorities to perform a DNA test on the newborn to identify whether or not Ochoa is the mother.
But on Wednesday, Coleman said the family now thought police were adequately investigating the case.
"We are convinced now that the police are working on this and that was our initial concern, that there is an ongoing investigation and they established some real leads that they can go on," he said.
"We praise God, no matter whose baby it is, that this baby turned out through the efforts of the fire department to be alive, it’s a blessing from the lord," Coleman said.
Ochoa was described as an Hispanic woman, standing at 5'3" and weighing around 125 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes, as well as a distinctive nose ring, according to the alert issued by police.
She was last seen wearing a gray sweater and sweatpants with a maroon top bearing the Latino Youth High School logo, officials said. Ochoa may be driving a black Honda Civic, license plate number AW27865, according to police.
Anyone with information on Ochoa or her whereabouts was asked to call 911 or CPD's Special Victim's Unit at (312) 747-8274.