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Angela Sanchez: Not so safe, not so legal

Like the deaths of Jacqueline Smith and Barbara Lofrumento, the story of Angela Sanchez involves illegal abortion and attempts to hide the body. The difference is that Alicia Hannah's abortion clinic was operating openly and apparently legally.

On January 19, 1993, Angela Neito Sanchez, age 27, went to Clinica Feminina de la Comunidad with two of her four children: 12-year-old Maria, and 2-year-old Victor. Angela's family is adamant that Angela wasn't seeking an abortion. They said that she was excited about the pregnancy and was hoping it would be a girl so Maria would have a sister. Angela's sister Celia said that someone from the facility had called Angela, telling her to come in for a consultation about the pregnancy.

Maria and Victor waited for their mother in the lobby. A clinic staffer approached Maria and suggested that she take the car and drive Victor home. Maria protested that she was too young to drive. The children continued to wait for their mother.

At around noon, a staffer took the children to lunch. When they returned to the clinic, Angela's car was gone, and Maria was told that her mother had gone to another clinic. The children continued to wait, but when their mother failed to appear Maria finally called her uncle, Hemiberto Sanchez, who took them home with him.

By 10:00, Angela's family was frantic, and Celia took Maria to the clinic to look for the missing woman. When they arrived, they saw Angela's car. Maria jumped out of her aunt's pickup truck and ran to the car. There she saw her mother lying on the ground.

Maria asked two women from the clinic, who were standing nearby, what had happened to her mother, and they told her, "She's dead." Sobbing, Maria clung to and kissed her mother while the two women from the clinic told Celia that a man had shoved Angela from a car and they were picking her up. One of the women, Alicia Ruiz Hanna, who operated the facility, told Maria that her mother had just come knocking on the door, then collapsed.

Celia put her sister's body in the back of her truck and flagged down a policeman, who led her and Maria to a hospital. There, Celia was told that her sister had been dead for several hours.

After a prolonged investigation, and Hanna's jailhouse conversion to Christianity, the full story finally emerged. Hanna, who had been passing herself off as a doctor and performing abortions at the facility, had given Angela an injection to induce abortion. Angela stopped breathing, and staffers attempted to revive her but did not summon paramedics because Hanna feared that she would go to jail and lose her children if it was discovered that she was running the clinic illegally. She and the other woman had planned to put Angela's stiffening body into the trunk of her own car and abandon the vehicle at a distant location.

In December 1994, Hanna was convicted of second-degree murder for Angela's death. She was sentenced to 16 years to life.

Sources: Orange County Register 12/13/94 and 1/28/95

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