A man convicted of setting a fire that killed a 7-year-old girl and her pregnant mother in an Albany Park apartment in 2009 has been sentenced to 90 years in prison, authorities said.
Jovan Djurdjlov, 23, was found guilty in January of the murder of Roxana Ocampo, 23, and her daughter, Itzel Fernandez, and sentenced to 45 years in prison for each murder by Cook County Criminal Court Judge Lawrence Flood, resulting in a total sentence of 90 years, according to Cook County state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton and court records.
Ocampo and Itzel were killed in their three-flat in the 3900 block of West Argyle Street early Jan. 31, 2009, when Djurdjlov, also known as "Yogi," a member of the Spanish Cobras gang, set fire to the building. Djurdjlov thought members of the Spanish Gangster Disciples, whom he believed had thrown a brick through a window of his home earlier, lived there.
Prosecutors said no gang members were inside of the building at the time Djurdjlov set the stairwell on fire, but Ocampo and her daughter were trapped inside and died of smoke inhalation. Several other tenants of the building were able to escape.
Djurdjlov's cellphone records placed him near the building at the time the fire was set, and several of his friends testified against him during his murder trial, including a friend who said Djurdjlov showed up at his home that night with a strong smell of gasoline.
Today, Ocampo’s sister, Cindy Abarca, told Flood in a victim-impact statement, that her sister, whom authorities had initially identified as Rosanna Ocampo and was known to family as Rosy or Rox, had taken care of her younger siblings after their mother died. Itzel was a smart girl whose father sometimes would become upset at her for studying too much and tell her to go outside and play.
“She was something else—many times when we would go to McDonald’s, she wouldn’t ask for a Happy Meal, instead she would want a salad,” Abarca said in her statement. “I was so proud of my little girl, (she) was an animal lover. She had said many times that she was going to be a veterinarian when she grew up.”
Just two weeks before her death, Itzel had a little money and begged for permission to go to a store on the first floor of the building where the family lived, Abarca said in her statement.
“As we waited for her, looking down from the window, we saw her come out of the store with a huge smile on her face. When she came upstairs she did not have any candy or anything else at all for herself, instead she pulled out two small glass roses filled with perfume, one for my mom and the other for me,” Acampa said. “It was her Valentine’s Day gift to us.”
The day before the fire had been report card pickup day at Itzel’s school and she had received the student of the month award in her class and was on the honor roll, Abarca said.
After the fire, the family had nothing—“clothes, teddy bears, pictures, nothing, it was all burnt to ashes”—and Abarca, her mother and her siblings, including a sister who was a little younger than Itzel, had to move from the neighborhood.
“Our lives have forever changed and as we try to laugh and live our lives day by day, we will always have that pain. With his vicious actions, the defendant took pieces of our hearts and destroyed our happy home,” Abarca said.