Chicago man used ‘large machete’ to slash co-worker to death, prosecutors say

Rosemary Sobol
Chicago Tribune

Chicago – A 21-year-old Chicago man allegedly used a “large machete” to slash his co-worker to death at an auto body shop before stuffing the body in the trunk of a Cadillac on the city’s Northwest Side, prosecutors said Friday.

Cook County Judge Susana L. Ortiz ordered Martin O. Molina held without bail during a court hearing that was livestreamed on YouTube after what she called an “extremely violent and extremely vicious” random attack of 42-year-old Felipe Villalobos-Calderon.

Martin O. Molina

Molina was charged Thursday with murder in the death of Portage Park resident Villalobos-Calderon, whose body was found inside the trunk of a Cadillac parked on the street in the city’s Belmont Central neighborhood, police said.

A motive was not made clear, and Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Deboni said the two saw each other “daily” before the Wednesday attack and appeared to “get along.”

Villalobos-Calderon was in the shop by himself that morning working on his own car, a Toyota RAV4 SUV, which was up on a lift when Molina walked in about 10:30 a.m.

Villalobos-Calderon had unplugged the shop’s video cameras so he could use the outlet for something else, but the shop was equipped with audio surveillance.

Moments later, Villalobos-Calderon can be heard speaking in Spanish saying, “Stop messing around, a–––. Stop, wait. Chill out. I’ll leave. … I’ll leave. … Here comes your dad, dude,” Deboni said.

His voice then “abruptly stopped” and “several thumping noises” could be heard as Molina allegedly used a large machete to slash his face and neck, according to Deboni.

At some point before 11 a.m., a person came into the shop to check on his truck and saw Molina covered in blood that appeared fresh. When the witness jokingly asked if he’d killed someone, Molina claimed he’d been in a fight, Deboni said.

After seeing blood on the floor, the witness sped away, called Molina’s father and told him to get over to the shop because there was some kind of fight, and then called 911.

Molina then told another witness, who saw blood under the victim’s RAV4, that he had injured himself and he declined medical attention.

That witness saw several things out of place in the garage, including a metal grate peeled up and covered in blood and apparent drag marks, according to Deboni. He also saw Molina put a cardboard box in his trunk.

It also appeared Molina had used a power washer to try and clean up.

At some point before police got there, someone asked Molina where Villalobos-Calderon was and Molina thumbed backward, slightly moving his head toward the trunk of the Cadillac, Deboni said.

When officers opened the Cadillac’s trunk they found Villalobos-Calderon’s body, Deboni said.

A “large machete” and another knife were found nearby in an alley and Molina was placed under arrest at 11:03 a.m.

An autopsy Thursday determined Villalobos-Calderon died of multiple sharp force injuries, and his death was ruled a homicide, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.

Molina’s attorney pointed out that Molina, who has only two misdemeanor convictions for cannabis on his background, never admitted to “murdering” Villalobos-Calderon and had told at least one witness that he’d been involved in a fight.

Additionally, Molina suffers from mental health issues, including “breakdowns,” which can be triggered by fights, the attorney added.

Molina, a U.S. citizen with no children, has resided for most of his life in Illinois and in the Chicago area, and there was nothing to indicate he would present a flight risk, the attorney said.

Judge Ortiz, before denying bail, called Molina a “clear and present danger” to the community and said she was not able to issue a monetary bail.

Molina is due back in court on May 6.