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Oak Forest Man Strangled Wife and Set Her on Fire: Prosecutors

Martin Rodriguez, 48, waited until the couple's three children were in school before strangling wife Erica, 40, laying her body on their bed and setting it on fire, allege prosecutors.

A Cook County judge Sunday denied bail for Martin Rodriguez, 48, who is charged with murder in the strangulation of his wife Erica, 40, and aggravated arson for setting her body and their home on fire, prosecutors allege.

The morning of the Dec. 18 fire at 152nd and Central Avenue, Martin Rodriguez waited until their three children were at school before strangling Erica, then slitting his own throat and setting the fire, according to prosecutors. Beside her body, he placed a Bible and a family photo, Assistant State’s Attorney Kim Przekota said in court.

Rodriguez survived the fire and was treated for burns and a cut to his throat. He is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated arson. He poured an unknown accelerant over her body, according to Sun-Times Media. 

In the days before her death, Erica Rodriguez had been sleeping on the couch at their home on the 15200 block of Central Avenue, and had reportedly given her husband five months to leave the home. 

Rodriguez initially told police an unknown intruder had attacked them inside their home. Investigators did not find signs of forced entry, and found blood in front of a sink Rodriguez claimed he never used. When police confronted Rodriguez about the conflicting evidence, he stopped the interview and invoked his right to an attorney, the prosecutor said. 

The couple's three children—17-year-old Sylvia, 15-year-old Andrew and 6-year-old Gloria—are staying with family in central Illinois. 

A previous wife told police that Rodriguez had tried to choke her multiple times during their marriage, and that she had walked in on him choking their infant child, Przekota told the judge. 

Martin Rodriguez remained in the hospital Sunday during the hearing. He's expected to appear in court Wednesday, reports the Tribune.

More coverage can be read in Sun-Times Media and Chicago Tribune reports.

Jo January 06, 2013 at 01:18 AM
What about the hearts of the children that evil monster is their father so relax people this isn't your life so be concerned but stop thinking your god because then your no better than the person that commited the crime. This is painful for everyone concerned but i was ericas friend and all she would be worried about is her children so if martin is convicted of this horrible crime his children will have to live with that not us!
Joe Lynch January 06, 2013 at 08:12 PM
after he runs to Mexico will you believe he is guilty nobody knows were he is checked out of the hospital and not in police custody seem strange a innocent man hiding every person keep one eye open for this guy he is dangerous and with nothing to loose
alex January 07, 2013 at 11:32 PM
all of you need to to get a life leave the man alone and stop being such hypocrites
Andrew James January 08, 2013 at 06:44 PM
@Pancho AND "tired of the b.s." - I think the real question for Zimmerman is if he truly believes in "...innocent until proven guilty." Trayvon Martin did not get a chance to be proven before Zimmerman took "the law" into his own hands. @Erica's family and friends - I am so sorry for your loss. @everyone else - even in the midst of such divisive beliefs we can all be respectful and remember that a mother of three great kids is dead and the father of those same kids is accussed of the crime... stop arguing and pray for the kids!
Pancho Villa January 12, 2013 at 10:37 PM
@ Andrew James; you have no idea what transpired that night between Zimmerman and Martin other than what you have heard on MSNBC or FOX "faux" newscasts. All we know is one guy is dead and one is awaiting trial, you have no idea as to the guilt/innocence of anyone yet. @ Joe Lynch; do you personally know that Mr. Martinez is from Mexico? if so, how do you know? Just because someone has a Spanish surname does not automatically mean he/she is from Mexico. Ignorance must be bliss,right Lynch?

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