CHICAGO — It took 25 years, but a man is now facing murder charges in the death of Richard Montclair, who family members say was shot and killed for standing up to gangs in his neighborhood.
“We waited a long time for this, and now, finally – justice. It’s all I want. I can’t bring him back,” Montclair’s mother Diane Santiago said.
According to officials, 43-year-old Edgar Ortega had been in Mexico, but turned himself in this week in Chicago. He was charged with first-degree murder in Montclair’s killing Thursday.
Diane Santiago says gang members had been harassing and intimidating people in the neighborhood, and Montclair decided to intervene.
“He just wanted to keep the gangs out, away from my family,” Santiago said.
It all led to a confrontation in December of 1993 where Montclair was shot in the heart and killed a block from their Southwest Side home. News reports, Chicago police and family members said the 18-year-old recent high school graduate had been standing up to gang members when he was gunned down.
For Eddie Santiago, a cherished photo of his older brother from that time represents both a searing memory, and a search for justice.
“Rick was trying to protect more than his sister, his brothers, he was trying to protect the whole neighborhood, he was that kind of kid. He hated the gangs and he let ‘em know it,” Eddie Santiago said, reading from a yellowed Sun-Times article.
Witnesses and police identified Edgar Ortega as the suspect and issued a warrant for his arrest. They later learned he had fled to Mexico where he had family, according to Assistant Cook County States Attorney Jamie Santini.
The murder went unsolved for 25 years before Ortega, now 43 years old, turned himself in to officials in Chicago. It’s unclear why he decided to do so. His attorney says he had been teaching English in Mexico.
The things we carry aren’t always tangible, for Montclair’s mother, it’s the burden of a broken heart.
“You know what? I may not have my son here, but he’s in there, and that’s what matters to me. He’s going to pay the price,” Diane Santiago said.
The judge denied bond in this case, calling Ortega a flight risk. He will appear in court again on March 26.