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Police: Trio Kills Couple for Baby

April 5, 1998

CHICAGO (AP) _ A woman and two men were charged Sunday with stabbing a couple to death and taking their two children so she could pass off the baby girl as her own.

Adriana Mejia, 22, convinced a cousin Arturo Leon and an acquaintance Gabriel Solache to help her kill factory worker Mariano Soto and his wife, Jacinita, in the early morning hours of March 28, police said.

Police say the motive was to steal the couple’s 2-month-old baby, Guadalupe Marie, whom Mejia had spotted with her mother at a Chicago health clinic one day earlier.

The discovery of the bodies sparked a widespread manhunt for the killers and the missing children, who were found two days later when the accused woman’s husband took the boy to police.

``It’s an unbelievable story,″ said Kevin Morison, a police spokesman.

Adriana Mejia, Leon and Solache were charged Sunday with first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and home invasion. They were being held without bail pending court appearances scheduled Monday.

Mejia, a factory worker, had been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby of her own since she got married four years ago, police say.

They say she fooled her husband into believing she was pregnant and, after deciding upon the Sotos’ baby, told him she was going to the hospital to have her baby.

``She said, ’I’ve had a baby girl. Pick me up in the morning,‴ said Area 5 Commander Philip Cline.

On Friday, two days after the killings, she arrived home with the baby and the baby’s 3-year-old brother.

When Mejia’s 23-year-old husband, Rosauro, asked about the boy, Mejia said she was caring for him because his mother had complications with her pregnancy, Cline said.

Meanwhile, police began a search for the children.

Rosauro Mejia saw the boy’s picture in media reports about the case and took him to a police station Friday, accompanied by his wife and her cousin.

``They felt that would take the heat off them,″ Cline said of the two suspects.

But even then, Mejia did not realize the girl he thought was his daughter was actually the one being sought, Cline said. She was found unharmed in the Mejias’ home on Chicago’s Southwest Side on Friday.

All three suspects have admitted their role in the killings to police, Cline said.

``She said they knew they were going to have to kill the parents to get the baby,″ Cline said of Mejia, who would be eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

They told police that Mejia led Leon and Solache to the Sotos’ apartment. Mrs. Soto answered the door and was stabbed to death. Mariano Soto was then stabbed to death while he slept, and the three then abducted the girl and her brother, Santiago, Cline said.

Police did not know whether the children witnessed the killings or were asleep at the time.

Police say Adriana Mejia paid Leon, 25, $600 to help with the plot. It was not clear whether Leon planned to split the money with Solache, who is 23.

Rosauro Mejia was not charged with a crime.

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