CTA stabbing death: Ex-boyfriend charged with murder of woman at Loop 'L' stop
CHICAGO (CBS) – A man has been charged with murder in the stabbing death of a woman at a CTA station in the Loop over the weekend.
Alejandro Arellano, 31, is charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Samantha Maldonado, and was ordered held without bond Monday afternoon.
Police said Maldonado named Arellano as her killer before she died, and detectives were able to track him down in less than 15 hours using surveillance video footage from the CTA station.
"Although this offender is in custody, there is still a family at the center of this who is grieving the loss of a young woman, who had her whole life ahead of her. We hope knowing that the person responsible for her death has been brought to justice brings a small measure of closure and peace for the family," Police First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter said.
As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported, prosecutors said Arellano had been in a relationship with Maldonado for six months. They had just broken up a week ago.
The two met at Miller's Pub, 134 S. Wabash Ave., about an hour before the incident, prosecutors said.
Police have said Arellano followed Maldonado after she left Miller's Pub. She walked up the steps of the Adams/Wabash 'L' stop around 1:26 a.m. Saturday, hours before huge St. Patrick's Day crowds arrived downtown.
Prosecutors said Maldonado tried to hide from Arellano on the 'L' stop platform, and then tried to get on an arriving train to get away from him. But he pulled her back to stop her from boarding, pulled out a metal object, and stabbed her at least four times before getting on a train himself and going home, prosecutors said.
According to records, Arellano can be seen pulling a knife from his pocket while walking up the stairs to the 'L' stop.
The video shows Maldonado "looking over her shoulder at least three times," then trying to hide behind equipment on the platform, before attempting to get on the train from which Arellano is seen restraining her, prosecutors said.
Even after she was injured, police said Maldonado tried to get away, running down to the street, where she collapsed.
She received first aid at the scene and was taken to Stroger Hospital of Cook County with stab wounds to the chest, abdomen, and left arm. She was later pronounced dead.
Prosecutors said Chicago Police arrested Arellano at his home less than 15 hours after the stabbing. He had a bloody knife on him when he was arrested, prosecutors said.
Arellano admitted to officers that he "poked" his ex-girlfriend with a "blade," prosecutors said.
In a GoFundMe for Maldonado's funeral costs, a loved one wrote:
"Sami was and is a truly one-of-a-kind, beautiful soul. To talk with her was like being reminded of what true joy and generosity looks like in a person. She used her brightness and brilliance in being a great student, graduating with honors from a top University in Ecuador, South America. She used her dedication and passion in all she did, from work to family to continued education, and was even taking English Language classes in Chicago to improve her ability to connect with others. Most importantly though, she loved easily and is loved by so many. She constantly looked out for others and was generous at heart, ready to help anyone at a moment's notice."
Meanwhile, CBS 2's Sabrina Franza talked to Maldonado's family Monday night. Maldonado's family said she loved Chicago, and it was a dream come true for her to move to Chicago from Ecuador just about a year and a half ago.
"For her, this was like a mission – it was great adventure," said Maldonado's cousin. "So for her being able to go out, see the city, explore - that's one of the reasons why she was always downtown."
But now, the rest of her family is flying in from her home country to say goodbye to her. They took note of the bravery of Maldonado's naming her suspected killer before she died.
"It was very brave of her - and that's the thing, she's brave," said Maldonado's cousin. "She's always been brave."
For the family, the multiple levels of horror are still setting in.
"It doesn't feel real completely, honestly," Maldonado's cousin said. "It feels - I just kind of almost like, can't believe that it would happen – to think that something like domestic violence and relationships that can go so awry so quickly."
Maldonado's cousin said she did not know Maldonado's ex-boyfriend – as they had only been together for about six months.
"We didn't know much," Maldonado's cousin said. "She was very secretive, honestly and – I can see why now."
It is because of Arellano that Maldonado's family asked us to hide their identities – for fear of their safety.
"It makes me want to cry every time, honestly - just because she's such a good person and didn't deserve any of it," said Maldonado's father.
Maldonado's father told us about his out-of-body plane ride from Ecuador to Chicago.
"She always wanted to help people - no matter what - just one of the best things about her," said Maldonado's father, speaking through Maldonado's cousin as an interpreter. "Unfortunately in this case, she wasn't willing to ask for help. She was willing to give it, but not ask for it."
Maldonado's father had a message to the man accused of killing his daughter.
"God bless him," he said.
Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Antoinette Ursitti said Arellano has a prior criminal record, but the charges did not involve Maldonado.
His background included a battery case in 2013, and a year later, an aggravated assault involving a knife. Both cases were dropped.
If you or anyone you know needs help, the State of Illinois has a domestic violence helpline. The number is (877) TO END DV, or (877) 863-6338.
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