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Cops: ‘Everyone is a suspect’ in Oak Forest woman’s death

An Illinois State Police crime scene investigator works scene suspicious fire 15230 S. Central Avenue Oak Forest Tuesday December 18

An Illinois State Police crime scene investigator works the scene of a suspicious fire at 15230 S. Central Avenue in Oak Forest Tuesday, December 18, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 21, 2013 3:52PM



A 40-year-old mother of three who was found dead Tuesday after a fire destroyed her Oak Forest home was strangled, and her husband was being treated for a cut throat, officials said Wednesday.

Police still were trying to determine who killed the woman, and Police Chief Greg Anderson said no one was being ruled out as a suspect. But he said there was “absolutely no indication” that two men who escaped Tuesday from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago had been in Oak Forest.

“If I had any indication that the community was in danger, I would be the first to put out a community alert,” Anderson said.

Erica Rodriguez, of the 15200 block of South Central Avenue, died of strangulation, and her death was ruled a homicide Wednesday by the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Anderson said Erica’s husband, Martin Rodriguez, was being treated at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn after having his throat cut. Police had not yet been able to interview him, and did not know how his throat was cut, Anderson said.

There had been no reported domestic issues involving the couple, Anderson said. He said police also are looking into Erica Rodriguez’s past.

“Obviously, at this time, everyone is a suspect,” Anderson said. “It could also be a stranger.”

The couple’s three children are with other family members.

Oak Forest police and Erica’s family and friends have established a fund at Carlinville National Bank, 5459 W. 159th St., Oak Forest, to aid the family. New clothes and toys also are being accepted at the Oak Forest Police Department.

“The children have very few belongings left, and we would appreciate and love any support and help that we could get,” Erica’s father, John Johnson, said in a news release issued by police.

The group hopes to collect small shirts and size 3/4 pants for a 17-year-old girl, extra large shirts and size 38-by-34 pants for a 15-year-old boy, and size 8 children’s wear for a 6-year-old girl.

“Erica was the most beautiful person in the world, and she was extremely proud of and loved her children,” family friend Rhana Peloquin said in the news release. “I do not think we could ever emphasize enough the appreciation of the outpouring that the family has received.”

Police and fire officials responded to a house fire shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday after being alerted by passers-by. Martin Rodriguez was found unresponsive outside on a side porch, and his wife’s body was inside the home, officials said.

Martin Rodriguez was taken to South Suburban Hospital, then transferred to Christ Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

The Oak Forest police and fire departments, the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force, and the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s office are investigating.

“We are committed to bringing all investigative resources together to solve this homicide,” Anderson said. “The entire family of Erica Rodriguez needs to know who could have committed such an act and who is responsible.”

Anderson said there is “absolutely no connection” between Erica Rodriguez and Irma Rodriguez, 45, also of Oak Forest, who was shot to death in May 2009, and found in the trunk of a car in Midlothian, days before her divorce was to be final.

Her husband, Norberto Rodriguez, a former Chicago police officer, has been charged with her murder and has pleaded innocent.



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