Woman’s Strangled Body Found In Oak Forest House Fire

Oak Forest, IL – Mother of three, 40-year-old Erica L. Rodriguez, was pronounced dead Tuesday, December 18, 2012. A conflagration had destroyed the family’s Oak Forest home. Her body was discovered inside. The nurse’s husband, 48-year-old Martin Rodriguez, was also found on the scene. He was alive but in critical condition. Mr. Rodriguez was initially taken to the South Suburban Hospital and later transferred to Advocate Christ Medical Center. Thankfully, their children were all at school. The cause of the fire is not immediately known. The Illinois State Fire Marshal and South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force are investigating.

The Oak Forest Patch reports further suspicious details pertaining to Mr. Rodriguez’s medical condition, confirming his throat had been slashed and he suffered severe burns. Mrs. Rodriguez was strangled and left to be devoured in the fire. Therefore, authorities are thoroughly investigating the fire as part of a criminal act and not an accident.

The Chicago Tribune has disclosed that Mr. Rodriguez’s condition has since been upgraded from critical to serious, and he is conscious. While he recovers, their children are staying with relatives. Preparations are being made for Erica Rodriguez’s funeral.

Oak Forest Police speculate the fire may have something to do with two escaped bank robbers, Joseph Jose Banks and Kenneth Conley. They escaped from a downtown Chicago prison and were thought to be making their way to Tinley Park. Oak Forest is about 25 miles from Chicago and roughly five miles from Tinley Park, according to Google Maps. It is an unsubstantiated theory for the time being, as they are investigating every possible lead, but not a far-fetched one.

The men had escaped the same morning of the fire and were thought to be in the area. Joseph Jose Banks has since been apprehended. Kenneth Conley remains at large.

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