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Suspect arrested in death of 'beloved' New Jersey kindergarten teacher, prosecutors say


A suspect is arrested in the death of Luz Hernandez, a "beloved" kindergarten teacher from New Jersey who was found buried in a shallow grave.

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(CNN) --

An arrest has been made of a suspect in the death of a New Jersey kindergarten teacher who was found buried in a shallow grave, and an arrest warrant has been issued for a second person in connection with her death, prosecutors said Friday.

Cesar Santana, 36, was arrested early Friday morning at a motel in Miami, Florida, by US marshals, the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office said, announcing the arrest on Twitter Friday without releasing his name.

Santana is being held at Miami-Dade's Turner Guilford Overnight Detention Center as a fugitive pending extradition to New Jersey, the office said in a news release.

Police issued an arrest warrant for Leiner Miranda Lopez, 26, who has not been detained, the office said.

Left: Cesar Santana.

Right: Leiner Miranda Lopez.

Source: Hudson County District Attorney's Office

Both men, who are from Jersey City, New Jersey, were charged with one count of desecration/concealment of human remains in connection with the death of 33-year-old Luz Hernandez, whose body was found Tuesday, a day after she was reported missing to police, the prosecutor's office said in a news release Wednesday.

Agents conducted a social security check on Hernandez on Monday after she was reported missing.

“The findings resulted in the Jersey City Police Department contacting the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office for assistance,” the statement said.

“During the course of the investigation, the Homicide Unit located what appeared to be a shallow grave in the area of ​​Central Avenue and Third Street in Kearny,” the statement said.

"A woman's body was recovered a short time later and she was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:53 p.m."

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Hernandez died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck compressions, and his manner of death was ruled a homicide, according to prosecutors.

Santana and Lopez were stopped by police Sunday on Central Avenue in Kearny before Hernandez was reported missing, prosecutors said.

His vehicle was not registered and was impounded by the Kearny Police Department, according to the prosecutor's office.

A court-sanctioned search of the vehicle on Tuesday resulted in the discovery of evidence in the case.

Prosecutors did not say who reported Hernandez missing to police in Jersey City.

Luz Hernandez "was a wonderful person"

Luz Hernandez's body was found in Kearny, New Jersey.

She died of blunt force trauma to the head, prosecutors said.

From Jenny Taveras/GoFundMe

Hernandez was a popular kindergarten teacher at BelovED Community Charter School in Jersey City, Bret Schundler, the school's founder, told CNN on Thursday.

She started as a teacher's assistant in 2017 and worked her way up to becoming a lead kindergarten teacher, she said.

Hernandez was a “beloved member of the BelovED community” who was loved by students and staff alike, Schundler said.

“Everyone is devastated,” Schundler said.

"He was a wonderful person and a very important part of the community."

The school closed Wednesday and reopened Thursday with additional counselors on site, Schundler said.

CNN is seeking comment from the Jersey City Police Department, as well as the Kearny Police Department, which is assisting with the investigation.

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2023-02-10

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