Mom Found Dead, Her Kids Are Missing

Three kids are missing and Chicago police want to talk to the father of two of them after the children's mother was discovered dead inside her apartment Monday afternoon.

"Around noon, there was a 30-year-old female found deceased in an apartment," Sgt. Antoinette Ursitti told ABC News.

The woman, Sophia Garcia, had a plastic bag over her head. An autopsy is under way to determine cause of death, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, and the city's homicide unit is investigating.

Family members discovered Garcia's body and called police.

Amber Alert Issued for Kids

The children have been missing since Friday, when they were released from the Yates Elementary School near the their mother's apartment. It is unclear who may have picked up the children after school and where they were over the weekend, officials said.

Authorities in Illinois issued an Amber Alert Monday for law enforcement and the public to be on the lookout for the woman's three children, brothers Fernando and Oscar Casanova, 11 and 6; and their sister, Karla Casanova, 7.

Police in Chicago would also like to speak to Benito Casanova, the 32-year-old father of the two boys, Ursitti said. "The kids may be in the company of this male," she said.

Casanova is described as a 6-foot, 1-inch Hispanic man with brown hair and brown eyes. He may be driving a silver Dodge Dakota with an Illinois license plate.

Ursitti stressed that Casanova is not considered a suspect in Sophia Garcia's death nor in the abduction of the Casanova children. "This does not make him a suspect; he is just someone the police would like to speak with," she said.

But the Chicago Sun-Times, citing court records, reported Tuesday afternoon that Sophia Garcia had an order of protection against Benito Casanova that was granted in July 2006.

The order was reportedly lifted when she missed a court date, but Garcia obtained a second order of protection that was granted in February 2007 and remains active, records said.

In the court documents, a frightened Garcia described her husband hiding inside her house and attacking her when she entered a bedroom. "He choked me, telling me that he was going to kill me because I did not want to be with him," she wrote in court documents cited by the newspaper. She also reported that Benito Casanova said he would kill himself before he went to jail.

The order granted to Garcia prohibits contact between Benito Casanova and the three children, the Sun-Times reported.

Harry Randell, the principal at Yates school, told ABC News' Chicago station WLS that that he believed the children left voluntarily Friday afternoon. "If their mother wasn't here, they would come back to the room and wait for her," Randell said.

"There's nothing that tells us that there was foul play," he said. "They left the building on their own, and they left willingly."

Ursitti would not say whether investigators have a sense of which direction Casanova may be heading if he is travelling with the children.

A neighbor described the three kids to WLS as "smart kids" who loved their mother.

Amber Alerts are typically issued when authorities believe a missing juvenile is in imminent danger and there is information available that could help the public locate the child.

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