CHICAGO (FOX 32/Sun-Times) - Two people were arrested early Thursday morning and have been charged in connection with the massacre of the Martinez family in Chicago’s Gage Park neighborhood.
A nephew of the Martinez family and his girlfriend are the two who have been charged with with six counts of first-degree murder. The State's Attorney's Office says Diego Uribe Cruz, 22 and Jafeth Ramos, 19, allegedly killed the family over a personal dispute.
DNA evidence and phone records put Uribe at the scene of the massacre of six Gage Park family members — an attack that started as a robbery, police said Thursday.
Uribe is a nephew to one of the victims, Maria Herminia Martinez. Both he and Ramos allegedly gave statements implicating themselves to authorities.
Uribe and Ramos had planned to rob the family. The break in the case when DNA evidence came back Wednesday linking him to the crime scene, as did Uribe’s cell phone records.
After he entered the home, Uribe confronted Maria Herminia Martinez on the first-floor of the home. Then they went upstairs. There, he shot her and then systematically beat and stabbed the other family members as he encountered them throughout the home, police said. Ramos was an “active participant” in the killings but did not shoot or stab any of the victims, police spokesman Anthony Gugliemi said.
There was already bad blood between Uribe and Maria Herminia Martinez, because the young man didn’t approve of her personal life, authorities said, although this wasn’t the primary motive.
The couple took a few hundred dollars, an Xbox and other valuables, police said.
Ramos and Uribe were arrested Wednesday at the home they shared with Ramos’ parents, Cmdr. William Dunn said.
The pair had apparently continued on with their daily lives in the months after the killings and did not attempt to flee, Dunn said. Dunn did not know what Uribe intended to do with the money or why he allegedly decided to seek it from his aunt.
Chicago Police had long believed multiple killers were involved in the slayings.
Noemi Martinez, a relative of the family, said soon after the news of the arrests broke that she had heard of the charges in the case but didn’t know any details.
“Of course we’re happy,” she said. “We have been living in fear.”
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said that this case was the worst he’s seen in his 28 years on the force.
“For CPD officers and detectives, it became personal,” Johnson said.
"They were a family, like any other, who went to work, went to school, loved each other and abided by the law," he added. "I haven't seen a case that has hit as close to home for myself and so many others in this department."
Three completed autopsies detail the gruesome way in which the Martinez family victims died. Police discovered 58-year-old Rosaura Martinez first inside the back porch. She was stabbed 45 times to her head, neck, chest and abdomen, including more than two dozen times in her head. She had defensive wounds on her hands and arms, indicating she tried to fight off her attacker.
Alexis Cruz, 10, was discovered in the basement lying near a book bag and a binder with drawings. He suffered 11 stab wounds to the torso and 16 defensive wounds to the hands and arms. Noe Martinez Jr., 38, was found along with his sister in an upstairs bedroom. He suffered 16 blunt force injuries and another 13 stab wounds to the head.
Maria Herminia Martinez, whose body was found in a kneeling position in an upstairs bedroom, was shot four times in the head and in each of her hands. A source claims she may have been the main target.
Uribe argued with Maria and shot her, and then systematically beat and stabbed the other family members as he encountered them, police said.
The investigator's report indicates Noe Martinez Sr. was found just inside the front door with blood smeared around his head and arms. He suffered about 10 stab wounds to the chest.
The last victim, 13-year-old Leonardo Cruz, was found in the front room by the fireplace with 11 stab wounds to the head, shoulder and chest. He apparently had been doing school work because nearby investigators found a book and homework, along with a pencil and ruler.
In March, police gathered DNA evidence from Uribe and other family members as a routine part of the investigation.
Testing of DNA evidence came back showing it was Uribe’s blood that was found in the home, police said.
Neighbor Martika Williams sat on her front stoop, relieved to know that police had caught the killers, but shocked at the identity of the suspects.
Uribe was a frequent visitor to the house, and a favorite of his young cousins, recalled Williams.
“[Uribe] played with those kids all the time. That family loved him,” she said. “This is not no random thing. This is someone that loved them kids, and those little kids loved him.”
In the days after the killing, Williams took care of the lone survivor of the Martinez household: the family pet, Pelusa, a shaggy mutt whose name is Spanish for “fluff.”
“I was concerned and I didn’t want to just give the dog over to no one, so the police asked me who in the family would I give it to,” Williams said, frowning. “And that was the first name I gave them: Diego.”
Police said Uribe had agreed to pick up the dog, but Williams said two women showed up to pick it up.
“I said I didn’t know them, and where was Diego,” she said. “I called his mom, and she said it was fine. He had a work thing he couldn’t get out of, and he was going to pick the dog up from them.
“That dog was already scared and upset. And I had no idea I was giving it over to the person that just killed its whole family in front of it.”
The bodies of four adults and two children, ages 10 and 13, were found throughout the bungalow on Feb. 4 after a friend of Noe Martinez Jr., one of the victims, tipped police that the O’Hare Airport window cleaner hadn’t showed up for his job for two days.
It took police 16 hours to process the crime scene for evidence, Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy said at a press conference Thursday, as he praised the team that investigated the case.
Cook County court records don’t show any prior adult charges involving Diego Uribe. Ramos was arrested by the Cicero police on Oct. 6, 2015, for allegedly shoplifting and was released on a $1,500 bond, court records show. A warrant was issued for her arrest when she didn’t appear in court.
They are scheduled to appear in bond court Friday. It wasn't immediately clear if Uribe or Ramos had attorneys.
The case has generated headlines abroad because of the family's ties to Mexico. The father of the two dead children, Manuel Armando Cruz, was granted a U.S. humanitarian visa to fly from his home in Morelos, Mexico, to attend funeral services in Chicago.
Both the U.S. and Mexican governments helped with paperwork to send all six bodies to Mexico for burial.