CHICAGO - One quarter of a century after 18-year-old Richard Montclair was shot and killed, a man is facing charges for his murder.
“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. He turned himself in this week. After being returned to Chicago, he was charged with first-degree murder Thursday.
Chicago police and family members said at the time that the 18-year-old recent high school graduate had been standing up to gang members when he was gunned down a block from his family's Southwest Side home. His mother remembers gang members had been harassing and intimidating people in his neighborhood.
“He just wanted to keep the gangs out, away from my family,” Santiago said.
Rick's brother Eddie Santiago carries a cherished photo of his older brother from when he was 18; it 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.
It all led to a confrontation in December 1993 where Montclair was shot in the heart and killed, according to Assistant Cook County States Attorney Jamie Santini. Witnesses and police identified Edgar Ortega as the suspect and issued a warrant for his arrest, but later learned he had fled to Mexico, where he had family.
It's unclear why Ortega decided to turn himself in now. His attorney said he had been teaching English in Mexico.
Montclair’s mother says that her son will not be forgotten.
“You know what? I may not have my son here, but he’s in [my heart], 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 March 26.