A judge has ordered the first of three suspects detained pre-trial after prosecutors say a woman was murdered by a hitman, who was set to be paid $6,000 by the victim’s former spouse.
Seferino Calihua-Rodriguez, 35, of Waukegan, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, solicitation of murder for hire and attempted first-degree murder.
Misael Chavarin-Plazola, 26, of Waukegan, and Rosalio Diaz-Zarate, 29, of Waukegan, were charged with two counts of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.
The North Chicago Police Department responded around 6:05 a.m. Friday to the 1000 block of Victoria Avenue in North Chicago for a call of shots fired after receiving an alert through ShotSpotter.
Officers arrived and found an adult female who had been shot. Several shell casings were also located.
The woman was pronounced dead at the scene and an autopsy showed she died from multiple shot wounds, according to Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffrey Facklam.
A co-worker of the female victim was also at the scene when the shooting occurred.
She told investigators that she and her co-worker were going to work. The woman was putting her lunch in the back seat when she heard gunfire and dropped to the ground, Facklam said.
She saw a dark Cadillac-style SUV speeding away from the shooting.
Lake County Major Crime Task Force Spokesman Christopher Covelli said Chavarin-Plazola was identified as the gunman who shot the female victim.
Chavarin-Plazola also attempted to kill the second woman who was at the scene, Covelli said.
He missed and the gunfire did not strike the other woman.
Facklam said the surviving witness, along with other co-workers, told investigators that the female victim had been having serious problems with her ex, Calihua-Rodriguez, since May.
Calihua-Rodriguez became jealous when he found out the victim had been seeing someone else.
The co-workers reported that Calihua-Rodriguez wanted to know the female victim’s work schedule and other information, Facklam said.
Investigators recovered video surveillance from the area of the scene, which showed the black SUV driving in the area 20 minutes before the shooting.
The SUV could be seen turning down Victoria Avenue and turning off its lights.
Facklam said the SUV slowed near the shooting location and gunfire could be heard before it sped away.
Officers identified the Cadillac Escalade SUV and learned it was owned by Diaz-Zarate.
Diaz-Zarate told investigators that Chavarin-Plazola had asked to borrow his vehicle around 4 a.m. Friday and that he had returned it later in the morning.
Covelli said it was learned that Diaz-Zarate actually drove Chavarin-Plazola to the area and drove him away from the scene after the murder.
A second witness told police she heard a conversation between Calihua-Rodriguez and Chavarin-Plazola in July where the two discussed that Chavarin-Plazola would kill the victim in the case in exchange for money, Facklam said.
The two discussed specific amounts and the witness said a $1,200 payment was made or was going to be made to Chavarin-Plazola.
Police searched the phones of Calihua-Rodriguez and Chavarin-Plazola. The two had been in constant communication and Calihua-Rodriguez discussed buying a car for Chavarin-Plazola.
Chavarin-Plazola said in the text messages that he thought the deal was for $7,000, with Calihua-Rodriguez responding he thought they agreed to $6,000.
Calihua-Rodriguez at one point appeared to be mad at Chavarin-Plazola, telling him that he still had not done anything and they had been talking since July.
Earlier this month, Calihua-Rodriguez texted Chavarin-Plazola and told him to let him borrow the gun, saying he would “take care of it,” according to Facklam.
Calihua-Rodriguez texted Chavarin-Plazola on September 19 telling him to “get it done tomorrow” and said he had already paid him some of the money and gotten him a car, Facklam said.
Facklam said that Calihua-Rodriguez also mentioned in the messages he was “looking for another dude” and wanted his money back.
Calihua-Rodriguez texted Chavarin-Plazola on Thursday and told him to “get it done” tomorrow, according to Facklam.
Cellphone data placed Chavarin-Plazola at the scene of the shooting. Facklam said Chavarin-Plazola texted Calihua-Rodriguez minutes after the shooting that “both girls are dead.”
Lake County Judge Theodore Potkonjak during a Tuesday afternoon hearing granted a petition for detention filed by prosecutors.
Potkonjak ordered Calihua-Rodriguez held in the Lake County Jail pending his trial.
Chavarin-Plazola and Diaz-Zarate are scheduled to appear in court for detention hearings on Thursday.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said this was “one of the most calculated and cold-blooded murders we have ever seen.”
Rinehart said the Major Crime Task Force, the state’s attorney’s Violent Crimes Unit and the state’s attorney’s forensic team did an “amazing job” to solve the case.
“These public servants have started to secure justice for this victim and have prevented these offenders from escaping the jurisdiction with their thorough and detailed work,” Rinehart said.
The identity of the female victim is still being withheld because the Lake County Coroner’s Office has been unable to notify her family so far.