Suspect in Moreno Valley teen's slaying could face death penalty
The Riverside County district attorney’s office Wednesday announced that a murder charge will be filed against a Long Beach man suspected in the abduction and slaying of Moreno Valley high school student Norma Lopez in July 2010.
Jesse Perez Torres, 35, was arrested near his apartment in Long Beach on Thursday. He faces one count of murder with the special circumstance of kidnapping, according to John Hall, spokesman for the district attorney’s office.
The special circumstance allegation would make Torres eligible for the death penalty, Hall said.
The district attorney’s office revealed that Torres owned an SUV that matched the description of a vehicle a witness saw at the site of the kidnapping, a vacant lot less than 200 yards from Torres’ suburban home. The witness told authorities the vehicle was a green SUV, which became a focal point in the initial investigation.
At the time of the crime, Torres lived in a home on a Moreno Valley street which the victim walked past.
Torres moved to Long Beach in August 2010.
Lopez was abducted in broad daylight on July 15, 2010, as she walked across a vacant lot after attending a summer school biology class at Valley View High School. Her body was found five days later in a wheat field.
Investigators said they found some of Norma's belongings, as well as signs of a struggle, in a vacant field along Cottonwood Avenue, a popular shortcut among students.
Torres was arrested and booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on Thursday, but released and immediately rearrested Monday evening -– a move that gave the district attorney’s office an additional 48 hours to review the case before filing charges.
Torres is scheduled to be arraigned 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Riverside.
-- Phil Willon in Riverside
Photo: Police on Friday announce the arrest of Jesse Perez Torres in the slaying of Norma Lopez. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times