MILWAUKEE (AP) — Days after someone killed his pregnant sister-in-law and sliced the fetus from her womb, Josue Garcia says his family remains haunted by a single question: Why would Maritza Ramirez-Cruz get into the car of a woman she didn’t know?

Investigators say Ramirez-Cruz was the victim of a woman who was desperate to give her boyfriend a son but was unable to conceive. Annette Morales-Rodriguez, 33, is accused of luring the young Puerto Rican immigrant into her car, taking her home, beating her with a baseball bat and cutting her full-term fetus from her womb. The mother and baby both died.

“If she doesn’t know you she won’t get in your car,” Garcia told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “How did (the suspect) get her into the car? That’s what we want to know.”

The suspect told investigators she offered Ramirez-Cruz, 23, a ride and the younger woman accepted, the criminal complaint said.

“I don’t know. She could have the baby coming out to here,” Garcia said, holding his hand between his thighs, “and she wouldn’t get in your car.”

Morales-Rodriguez was being held on $1 million bail. The Milwaukee County public defender’s office said it had received a request for an attorney for her but none had been assigned yet.

The victim’s husband, Christian Mercado, told AP the killer took away a good wife, a dear friend and a good mother of three. His sister-in-law translated his Spanish.

“We were hoping to grow old together, raise our kids together, watch them grow up,” said Mercado, 28.

“Now, the family …” he said, pausing and looking at his feet for a few seconds before shaking his head. “I don’t know what to tell you.”

Funerals for Ramirez-Cruz and the baby, who would have been named Yadier Omar, are scheduled for Friday.

Police said Morales-Rodriguez told her boyfriend and friends she was pregnant. As her supposed due date approached she grew increasingly desperate, eventually plotting to find a pregnant woman and steal the fetus.

After luring, Ramirez-Cruz into her car, she took the woman to her own home. There she bludgeoned the younger woman with a baseball bat before slicing into her abdomen to get the baby, the complaint said.

The victim’s family members said they hadn’t cried very much because there was still too much disbelief. However, Garcia said, they were up-front with the children, who range in age from 2 to 10.

“We told them the truth: that somebody did something bad to mommy, that she’s not coming back, that she’s with God,” he said. “We said she could see you and one day you can see her. (A 10-year-old daughter) said, ‘OK, I know mommy’s watching me.’ She didn’t cry. She said, ‘I’ll see mommy again.”‘

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (8)
  1. One World Language says:

    I bet this women trusted the other women because she spoke Spanish and felt more comfortable because of that one factor. How man times have you seen one Hispanic person start speaking Spanish to another one that they may not even know that person at all. It is there common bound from the rest of the world, also it keeps non Spanish speaking people from understanding what they are talking about.

    1. taylor j says:

      This is true for me. Anytime I can speak to others in my native language puts me at ease.

  2. Julie says:

    So sad…
    My heart goes out to her family, especially to the children.
    I hope the murderess is put away for so long she dies in prison,

  3. Chloe says:

    She’s not a “Puerto Rican immigrant.” Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. and its residents are U.S. citizens.

    My condolences to the family.

    1. Helen Skor says:

      Thank you, Choloe. I was going to make the same observation. You can’t immigrate to the US if you already live in the US.

  4. D says:

    How does your editor allow “Puerto Rican Immigrant” to get published? Puerto Rico is part of the US, therefore she is a citizen, not an immigrant.