Chesterton Tribune

Yost teacher Maria Rodriguez dead, victim of apparent murder / suicide

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A Yost Elementary School teacher was stabbed to death last week apparently by her husband, who himself died of self-inflicted stab wounds, Ogden Dunes Police said.

The bodies of Maria Rodriguez, 50, and her husband, Jaime Rodriguez, 53, were found on Friday in their vehicle at a rest stop on I-57 near Pesotum, Ill., on the south side of the Interstate in Champaign County, Ogden Dunes Town Marshall Jim Reeder told the Chesterton Tribune today.

The body of Maria Rodriguez was found in the trunk of the blue-gray 2006 Saab convertible, he said; that of Jamie Rodriguez, in the car itself.

In an autopsy conducted on Saturday, the Champaign County Coroner determined that Maria Rodriguez died of multiple stab wounds and Jamie Rodriguez of self-inflicted stab wounds, Lt. Chris Eckert of the Porter County Sheriff’s Police told the Tribune.

Reeder gave this account of the investigation, which began at 10:25 a.m. Friday, after one of the Rodriguezes’ sons found blood in his parents’ Ogden Dunes home and called 911. The son--who had initially been contacted by the Duneland School Corporation when Maria Rodriguez failed to show up for class earlier in the day--drove from Chicago to his parents’ residence in Ogden Dunes after trying unsuccessfully to reach them by phone, Reeder said. There he found blood on the floor and a note which gave Reeder reason to believe that an abduction, probably of Maria Rodriguez, had occurred. “What alarmed me besides the blood was the note,” which Reeder said read in part: “Sons, you’re in good hands with your friends. They will help you. Love you. At least we are both gone.” The note was left on a wall and some attempt had been made to clean up the blood, he added.

Reeder himself reached the scene at 10:34 a.m.--he was in the middle of a semi stop and had not heard the dispatch over the engine noise of the truck--and immediately requested the assistance of the PCSP Detective Bureau and crime scene technicians, Reeder said. He also requested the assistance of the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force, which promptly sent detectives to the scene from the Chesterton, Porter, Valparaiso, Portage, and Dyer police departments, and the process of interviewing friends, family, and co-workers began, Reeder said.

About an hour later, at 11:30 a.m., the PCSP contacted the Rodriguezes’ cell phone provider to obtain a GPS locate. Triangulation narrowed the location of the cell phone to a stretch of I-57 in the Champaign-Urbana area, Reeder said, a call was made to the Illinois State Police, and at 1:20 p.m. troopers found the Rodriguezes’ vehicle and their bodies at the rest stop.

Reeder said that family members had last spoken to the Rodriguezes on Tuesday night and that Maria Rodriguez did teach on the first day of school on Wednesday. The abduction is believed to have occurred sometime later on Wednesday because at 10:03 p.m. that day surveillance cameras stationed by the Illinois Department of Transportation at the I-57 rest stop caught an image of the Saab, Reeder said.

The Duneland School Corporation canceled classes on Thursday after the previous night’s tornado, so Maria Rodriguez’s absence was not noted until Friday morning.

There is no history of police responses to the Rodriguez home in Ogden Dunes, Reeder said.



Posted 8/24/2009