Moments later, prosecutors charged, Diego Uribe Cruz killed his final victim when the family’s patriarch, 62, came home to the carnage after buying tamales and hot chocolate. Only the family dog survived.
The killings of three generations of the Martinez family were motivated by money, prosecutors said, but Uribe, 22, and his girlfriend, Jafeth Ramos, 19, fled the home with only cash, a piggy bank of change, a video game console and some jewelry. They had wanted enough money to buy a car, prosecutors said, but ended up with only about $700 after hocking the jewelry at a pawn shop.
Judge James Brown ordered the two held without bail, calling their actions “pure evil.” Uribe and Ramos — who have a young child together — each were charged with six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of armed robbery.
Jafeth Ramos, 19, one half of the killer couple
Ramos turned as she was led away from the courtroom, looking for relatives in the courtroom gallery, while Uribe, wearing a white Jay Cutler jersey, showed no expression.
Prosecutors said Uribe killed all six victims — shooting one, beating another to death and stabbing the rest.
While Ramos didn’t attack anyone, prosecutors said, she was legally responsible for the killings because she knew Uribe intended to rob and kill the family. She also helped clean up the bloody home by mopping the floor and wiping down doorknobs, prosecutors said.
After the bond hearing, Lourdes Oliva, who took legal custody of Ramos when she was 8, blamed Uribe if Ramos was indeed involved, saying he was violent, controlling and didn’t allow his girlfriend to leave home, put on makeup or take a shower without his permission.
Uribe methodically murdered his family members fuelled by greed
“She was probably pressured by him or else she would be afraid of her own life, afraid of her baby,” Oliva said. “I know that’s what happened.”
For the first time, authorities revealed that the killings took place Feb. 2 — two days before their bodies were discovered. Police had gone to the home on a well-being check after Noe Martinez Jr., 38, failed to show up for work for a second consecutive day Feb. 4. Cellphones of the victims stopped answering incoming calls between 5:30 and 6:45 p.m. Feb. 2.
More than three months after the slayings, the break in the investigation came Wednesday when the state police crime lab completed its analysis of evidence and DNA linked Uribe to the crime scene. Most significantly, fingernail scrapings from his aunt, Maria Herminia Martinez, matched Uribe’s DNA, prosecutors said. A fresh drop of blood found on a concrete step outside the home’s back door also was linked to Uribe, they said.
During their investigation, detectives learned that Uribe had showed up at the electronics components company where he worked as a supervisor sometime after the killings with visible cuts and scratches. When asked about the injuries, he claimed that he had been jumped and beaten by three guys, prosecutors said.
In 30 years as a prosecutor, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said she had never seen a more senseless and disturbing crime.
“This was not an armed robbery gone bad,” she told reporters in the lobby of the Leighton Criminal Court Building. “This was a methodical slaughter.”
Authorities said both defendants gave recorded confessions detailing the killings. At the bond hearing, prosecutors used those statements to describe what happened in the brick bungalow in the 5700 block of South California Avenue.
It took Assistant State’s Attorney Peter “Guy” Lisuzzo more than a minute just to read the names of the six victims, their ages and their causes of death.
In her statement, Ramos said the two of them went to the Martinez family home with a gun to rob the relatives, according to prosecutors. But at first the couple hung out and had something to eat, prosecutors said.
Uribe then asked Maria Herminia Martinez to go upstairs, prosecutors said. Uribe told police later he “had a lot of anger” over how she had treated his uncle. The two had divorced.
Upstairs, Uribe confronted Herminia Martinez, 32, with a small-caliber gun and demanded money, prosecutors said. She refused, and the two got into a struggle, they said.
Uribe told detectives he closed his eyes before shooting her in the forehead, prosecutors said. He shot her several more times, they said.
Herminia Martinez’s brother, Noe Martinez Jr., rushed upstairs when he heard gunshots, but Uribe was able to overpower him, beating him with his gun and choking him, prosecutors said.
The matriarch of the family, Rossaura Martinez, 58, also went upstairs and attempted to throw a picture frame at Uribe, but he pushed her down the stairs, knocking her unconscious, prosecutors said.
Uribe then went downstairs and grabbed multiple knives from the kitchen, according to prosecutors. He then stabbed Rossaura Martinez multiple times as she lay unconscious on the floor, they said.
The two boys, Leonardo Cruz, 13, and Alexis Cruz, 10, showed Uribe and Ramos where some money was located. The couple went into separate rooms, going through dresser drawers and stealing cash, change, jewelry, a piggy bank and an Xbox 1 video game console.
Uribe then had the youngest boy go to the basement, telling him to get his belongings so he could leave the home with the couple. According to Ramos’ confession, she heard the boy scream as he was instead fatally stabbed by Uribe.
Moments later, Leonardo Cruz was physically shaking as he asked Uribe what happened to his brother, prosecutors said.
Uribe “told him he was fine and to go check if grandpa is coming in,” Lisuzzo said.
When the boy turned to look out the window, Uribe stabbed him in the abdomen as he pleaded for his life, according to prosecutors.
Uribe told detectives he left the house, but the back fence was locked so he went back inside as his final victim — Noe Martinez Sr. — returned home from the store. Uribe grabbed him, stabbed and beat him before stealing his wallet, prosecutors said.
“Why are you killing me?” the grandfather cried out. “I don’t owe you anything.”
As he ordered the two held without bail, the judge said the massacre had put the city “on edge as a result of this act of barbarism.”
“These acts that the assistant state’s attorney described in the courtroom today — the slaughter of an entire family including two innocent children — can only be described in two words: pure evil,” Brown said.