CHICAGO (FOX 32 / STMW) - Chicago police said late Friday they believe six family members found dead in their southwest side home were killed in a "targeted incident," though they're still trying to determine a possible motive.
It's possible someone in the family "was involved in something that could have targeted them," or that the killings occurred during a robbery or a domestic incident, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.
Six white wooden crosses in the front yard of a Southwest Side home mark the gruesome scene where six family members were murdered — including a mother of two boys who was shot to death and five others who were beaten, stabbed, or both.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office on Friday released the results of the autopsies of the six victims, whose deaths were all ruled homicides.
The victims — two men, two women and the boys, ages 10 and 13 — were three generations of the same family.
They were found slain Thursday afternoon in 5700 block of South California in the Gage Park neighborhood after police checked on the well-being of Noe Martinez Jr., who had not shown up to work for two days. A worried co-worker called 911 to ask police to go to the home, authorities said.
Family members and the medical examiner’s office have identified the victims as: 62-year-old Noe Martinez Sr. and his wife, 58-year-old Rosaura; their adult children, 38-year-old Noe Martinez Jr. and 32-year-old Maria Herminia Martinez; and Herminia’s sons, 10-year-old Alexis Cruz and 13-year-old Leonardo Cruz.
Autopsies found the boys suffered “sharp force” injuries, which a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office defined as either a stabbing or cutting wound, or both. The office did not speculate on what kind of weapon was used.
Herminia died of gunshot wounds. Noe Martinez Sr. died of “sharp force” wounds. And his wife and his son, Noe Jr., died of “multiple sharp and blunt force injuries,” autopsies showed.
Noe Martinez Jr. worked for United Service Companies since 2012 and was a window washer at O’Hare Airport, according to the company.
“We are deeply saddened by this news,” said Gabrielle Weiss, a spokeswoman for the company. “He was well-liked by his co-workers.”
A woman who worked with Noe Jr. at O'Hare said he was reliable and hardworking.
"Everybody in the work…crying…we don't know what happened," said Fani Maldonado.
Officers were called to the family’s brick bungalow after 1 p.m. Thursday. The victims were found in different areas of the home. They were killed between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon, police said.
Police said Friday there were no signs of a forced entry into the house nor was the house ransacked, and the doors were locked from inside. There were no other calls for police service at the home over the past year.
“This is a complex investigation, we are working meticulously,” Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy said.
Later Friday, Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi issued a statement saying that detectives are looking into the victims’ background to “try to identify a potential conflict that could have caused this unspeakable tragedy. … Everything from a domestic incident, possible robbery or even possibly something nefarious that could have targeted the family is being explored.”
Brandon Geronimo, 14, lived two doors down from the family and said 13-year-old Leonardo was his best friend and soccer teammate. Leonardo’s father returned home to Mexico several years ago, Geronimo said, but the family was close-knit and happy.
“I don’t know why someone would be so cruel they would have the desire of killing him,” said Geronimo.
Next-door neighbor Hugo Lopez said his two Chihuahuas barked uncontrollably Tuesday night, creating so much ruckus Lopez’s father in-law went outside to see what had them on edge.
“When he went outside, he didn’t see anything,” Lopez said.
The Martinez’s dog, a shaggy gray-brown mutt named Pelusa — Spanish for fuzzy — was inside the house when police arrived Thursday morning. The dog is now living with a neighbor.
A good Samaritan set up crosses for each of the victims outside the home to honor them, but struggled to comprehend what had happened inside.
"I wrap my mind around it and I can't fathom all the dead bodies, all the gore, all the carnage," said Greg Zanis.
The kids, Leo and Alexis, loved soccer. But after their father got deported, they stopped playing with their teams. Recently, Leo had rejoined his team the Chicago Red Wings.
Before the team's practice on Friday night, teammates paused for a minute of silence and his coach retired his number 32 out of respect.
“For the whole team, they are impacted right now. Everybody is broken. Everybody feels so sad, because we lost a brother, a little son for me, for them they are his brother,” said coach Cesar Perez.
Friends set up a GoFundMe account to help send the bodies of the victims back to Mexico for burial.
A source says one of the women was found in a kneeling position as though she had been pleading or praying for her life.
“I don't know who had the heart to do this that kind of, you know, heartless people,” said neighbor Hugo Lopez.
Police and a neighbor said Maria had a boyfriend. Their breakup was described as rough. Now, with this appearing to be targeted murders, neighbors are scared.
“Well it's terrifying, my kids would play with their kids and I mean they didn't want to go to sleep last night, they were afraid, they're thinking what if they come to us next,” said neighbor Monica Arias.
The remains of six people discovered at 5708 S. California were autopsied Friday at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. Official identification has not been made on any of the victims and each person is identified below by the Medical Examiner’s case number.
No names or ages will be provided pending official identification. In all homicides, official identification must be done visually by next-of-kin or by scientific means, for example using fingerprint matches.
The autopsy findings are:
-ME2016-00618 (older female): Cause of death- Multiple sharp and blunt force injuries due to assault. Manner- Homicide.
-ME2016-00619 (older male): Cause of death-Multiple sharp force injuries due to assault. Manner- Homicide.
ME2016-00620 (young male): Cause of death- Multiple sharp force injuries due to assault. Manner- Homicide.
ME2016-00621 (young male): Cause of death- Multiple sharp force injuries due to assault. Manner- Homicide.
ME2016-00622 (middle aged male): Cause of death- Multiple blunt and sharp force injuries due to assault. Manner: Homicide.
ME2016-00623 (middle aged female): Cause of death- Multiple gunshot wounds. Manner: Homicide.
No additional information regarding specific injuries or the condition of the remains will be provided at this time due to the ongoing investigation.