Monday, December 31, 2012

Oak Forest, IL: Oak Forest man charged in wife's death

A southwest suburban man accused of strangling his wife and setting her body ablaze is being held without bail.

Police say Martin Rodriguez killed Erica Rodriguez on Dec. 18, set a fire and slashed his own throat at their Oak Forest home in the 15200 block of South Central Avenue.

The couple, married 17 years, had been arguing recently, Assistant State's Attorney Kim Przekota said during a bond court appearance Sunday. Prosecutors said Erica Rodriguez, 40, had removed her wedding ring and ordered her husband to eventually leave the home they shared.

That demand enraged Martin Rodriguez, 48, who allegedly asked his son to look through his wife's text messages on Dec. 14. The son told his dad that Erica Rodriguez was exchanging texts with another man and mentioned hiring a lawyer. Martin Rodriguez also believed his wife was connecting with male high school friends on Facebook.

On Dec. 17, prosecutors say, Erica Rodriguez sent a text saying she "better take the expensive lawyer" and that "things might get rough around here."

The next morning, after the couple's three children had left for school, police say Martin Rodriguez attacked his wife between 8 and 9 a.m. as she prepared to do laundry.

Erica Rodriguez's body was found on the bed, next to a Bible and a family photo. She was strangled and had second-degree burns on her head and body.

Martin Rodriguez cut his own throat after the attack and suffered burns to his hands and feet.

Emergency crews rescued him in an upstairs doorway. He was taken to Advocate South Suburban Hospital and then airlifted to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was treated for the cut on his throat and his burns.

Martin Rodriguez, charged with first-degree murder and aggravated arson, remained hospitalized Sunday when Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. denied him bail. He is due in court Wednesday.

Prosecutors say a former wife of Martin Rodriguez contacted police after hearing about Erica Rodriguez's slaying. The ex-wife told investigators that she had been choked repeatedly during their marriage. She also alleged that she had to perform CPR on an infant after she walked in on her husband choking the child. The woman told officers that she was too scared to report the crimes at the time.

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