Wife Found Dead in Fire Was Strangled, Husband's Throat Cut

Erica Rodriguez, 40, found dead in a fire, died of strangulation. Her husband, Martin Rodriguez, 48, sustained severe throat wounds. Police are investigating.

Updated, 2 p.m., with comment from police

The death of a woman found dead after an Oak Forest fire Tuesday has been ruled a strangulation homicide, an autopsy revealed Wednesday. 

Erica Rodriguez, 40, was found dead inside the home from strangulation, not from injuries sustained in the fire, according to Oak Forest Police Chief Greg Anderson. 

Her husband Martin Rodriguez, 48, was found with his throat cut outside the home, Anderson said, and was transported to South Suburban Hospital, and later transferred to Advocate Christ Medical Center. He remained in critical condition as of Tuesday evening.

“We will continue the investigation and will be relentless until we bring the responsible party to justice," said Oak Forest Police Chief Greg Anderson. "We are committed to bring all investigative resources together to solve this homicide. The entire family of Erica Rodriguez needs to know who could have committed such an act and who is responsible.”

Anderson added that speculation that the fire is related to two escaped bank robbers is so far unsubstantiated.

"It's still under investigation, I can tell you that all leads are being followed," he said. "We're checking every possible angle we can. It's inappropriate for me to say that this is attached to those guys or not at this point, because the investigation is still in its infancy, so I'm really kind of barred from talking about that."

Due to the severity of his injuries, police have not been able to speak with Martin Rodriguez, Anderson told reporters Wednesday.

Officers are treating the scene as a crime scene, Anderson said, adding that it is standard operating procedure. The Illinois State Fire Marshal and South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force are investigating as a foul play situation.


The couple's three children—a daughter aged 17, son aged 15, and daughter aged 6—were in school at the time of the fire. 


"Right now our entire family is trying to come to terms with this devastating news and we truly appreciate all the prayers and word of encouragement," said Steve Johnson, a cousin of Erica Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was a devoted hospice nurse and a mother to three children, ages 17, 15, and 6. 

"Anybody she was around, loved her," Johnson said. "She was one of those upbeat type of people who got along with everybody. Very outgoing."

Neighbor Lydia Ponzcak witnessed both victims being removed from the fire. Martin Rodriguez was bloodied in the chest area, she observed. 

"It looked to me like he had streaks of blood on his chest," she said.

Ponczak called the couple "absolutely great neighbors," very friendly, who would always wave. 

"They were very nice people, as far as we could tell," she said. "We never heard any arguments coming from there or any noise. Kids were well-behaved, never trouble in the neighborhood. They lived there about 8 years."

"I can't imagine leaving your home to go to school and when you come home, there's no home, no family there," said neighbor Lydia Ponczak. "One of your parents is dead and the other one is clinging to life."

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Joe Lynch December 19, 2012 at 11:30 PM
how long before your comments post
Joe Lynch December 19, 2012 at 11:31 PM
have the police talked to martins last wife was there any abuse in that marriage
JM December 20, 2012 at 12:04 AM
#husband. #sketchy.
Yvonne Muñoz December 20, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Honestly if you can even think that he's responsible for this, your so wrong. You obviously didn't know them because they are wonderful people and he had so much love for his wife and his kids! Why would he kill his wife and slit his throat in a way that he could still live if he was responsible? He wouldn't, and he didn't. He had too much live for his family to hurt them this way. Be respectful!
Bob Laird December 20, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Erica strangled and Martins throat cut? Does this mean that there's still a murderer out there? I think O.F. needs to make a statement.
a December 20, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Yes the community deserves to know if there's a threat out there!
kmc December 20, 2012 at 05:19 AM
Oak Forest definitely needs to make a statement. There is so much crime in this town but this is so bad. Those poor kids, I feel terrible for them. I do not feel safe around here anymore. And why wasn't the high school on lock down? All the neighbooring schools were due to the bank robbers escape. Such a shame!! Things in Oak Forest are going down hill fast.
Joe Lynch December 20, 2012 at 06:08 AM
I do know him and i knew him when he was married before i hope he is not involved just wondered if the police are looking into his history as well as the wifes
Hope December 20, 2012 at 06:37 AM
I agree that there needs to be a statement. Too much crime in the area lately.
Brian Utt December 20, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Regardless of who committed this terrible crime. we need to remember the three children that have had their lives turned upside down due to this tragedy. We will be praying for the Rodriguez family. This community needs to come together to help out this family , not speculate as to what happened. The investigation will bring the answers.
Hamish December 20, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Is there a SAVAGE killer still on the loose in Oak Forest?
Peep22 December 20, 2012 at 02:27 PM
All of oak forest schools were under a oft lock down due to the escape convicts.
GS December 20, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I agree. Should we be on notice if there is a murderer on the loose?
Hamish December 20, 2012 at 03:40 PM
So can we takem it that there is STILL a SADISTIC KILLER on the loose in Oak Forest?
Oak Forest Student December 20, 2012 at 04:19 PM
I am a student at OFHS. At the time no one even realized this was a murder. Also there were teachers, administrators, and security blocking every single door at the time. They did an amazing job of helping out the children after they all found out the tragic news. There are to many senerios for the police to figure out. Give them time we will get the answers. Worry about the children . The fire left them with nothing besides horrible memories. Schools are doing many drives to help them out. Don't forget try do need Hygeine stuff, including makeup. Things like this tragedy happen EVERY WHERE, it's just shocking to everyone that its in our community. Right now the only thing we can do is help the children and trust the police they are doing there beat to keep us safe and giving us the information we need.
Jennifer Sherman December 20, 2012 at 06:59 PM
I first want to thank everyone for all the prayers and support this is a very difficult time for our family Erica is my niece and I am with her children right now they are reading all comments being made and following the news articles . Please keep this in mind when posting your thoughts these kids have been through enough with out adding negative speculations in their fragile minds thank you for your love and support
Pancho Villa December 20, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I feel bad for the children involved in this tragedy. As a resident of OF I donated $$$ and gifts to them. Having said that, If there is a killer in Oak Forest then we as residents need to know and town officials must make a statement Saying either the town is safe or to take precautions because there is a killer on the loose. One thing is certain silence will not calm the nerves of the people of Oak Forest, the police or town officials must me a statement.
Jason Oak Forest December 20, 2012 at 07:14 PM
This is horrible. So let's get this straight here. Convicts escaped and caught on video getting into a cab at 2;30am. This house fire was called in around 9am (near 151st central), then the convicts show up in Tinley Park (near 174th and central) by lunchtime? Sounds a little fishy here if you ask me. Coincidence?
Jason Oak Forest December 20, 2012 at 07:14 PM
2:30AM downtown I mean (above).
Scott Burkdoll December 20, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Sylvia and Andrew I want you guys to know im thinking of you and dont listen to the negative garbage people have put on here. My prayers are with you guys. Scott from behind your house.
Patty LaBuda December 20, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Ms. Sherman, my daughter and Sylvia are friends.....my family wanted to send our deepest condolences to your family....you are in our thoughts and prayers and my family will do what ever we can to help you all. God Bless.
Mildred Perez December 20, 2012 at 10:03 PM
My heart goes out to the family and to the children. Remember your mom will always be in heaven watching over you. Erica was such a nice lady and Martin is a nice man. Have faith in his recovery... Yvonne and I are here for you children. Stay strong Sylvia! Please if there is anything we can do do not hesitate to let us know..
Peep22 December 20, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Will they take good hand me downs?
Sue1 December 21, 2012 at 02:30 AM
I understand your concern, but how is Oak Forest to make a statement regarding if there is a killer on the loose if they have not concluded the investigation? Keep in mind that Oak Forest is not the only department involved. The Major Crimes Task Force is involved. I believe it is that organization that heads the investigation on any suspicious death and would be the entity to publish any information. This is pretty much how the information has been relayed with the recent CT tragedy. The LT has said they are not going to speculate. They will give accurate information when they have it. Do you remember how many times that story changed on Friday from the media reporting things they had "learned"? I am sure that if they believed the community was in any risk, they would have at least made that statement.
Sue1 December 21, 2012 at 02:33 AM
I believe I saw it posted that they are set as far as clothing goes, they are asking that donations by made to CNB Bank.
oak forest December 21, 2012 at 02:59 AM
they put the school on lockdown after 3 period when the school had information.
VickyOfhs December 21, 2012 at 03:32 AM
How could someone do such a horrible thing.. God rest Erica'a beautiful soul.
Debbie Faught December 21, 2012 at 04:59 PM
My heart breaks for these poor kids, losing their mother and their home right before Christmas. Keeping the family and friends in my thoughts and prayers. <3
Racing025 December 21, 2012 at 06:41 PM
So you are thinking that the convicts went to Tinley Park and then randomly picked a house in Oak Forest with two people home at the time to comite a horrible crime and then burn the house down.. Ok? Thats a real coincidence..
Pancho Villa December 22, 2012 at 03:07 PM
@Sue1: You would think that in a small town like OF, a murderer on the loose would be a big deal. If they think that have a suspect, as painful as that might be for everyone involved, some city official would make some kind of statement that would not affect the investigation. I just feel that since it happened, literally in front of a high school, as a parent I would be upset if they knew more than they are letting the people in this crummy town know!


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