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ME: Oak Forest woman found after fire was strangled

Updated: December 19, 2012 3:14PM

Erica Rodriguez, a 40-year-old mother of three, died of strangulation, not the fire that destroyed her Oak Forest home this week, officials said Wednesday.

Her death has been ruled a homicide by the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Oak Forest Police Chief Greg Anderson said Erica’s husband, Martin Rodriguez, was being treated at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn after having his throat cut.

Police have not yet been able to interview him, the chief said.

Investigators are trying to track down the person responsible and the motive for the crime.

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

The couple’s three children, ages 17, 15 and 6, are in the custody of family members.

Police and fire officials responded to a house at 153rd and Central in the suburb about 9 a.m. Tuesday, after being alerted by passersby.

Martin Rodriguez was found unresponsive outside on a side porch, and his wife’s body was inside the home, officials said.

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

Chief 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.

Oak police and fire departments, the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force, and the Illinois State Fire Marshall’s office is continuing their joint investigation into Tuesday’s fatal fire.

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

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