Police arrest suspect in kidnapping, murder of Moreno Valley girl
The announcement was made on a Facebook page of the family of Norma Lopez, 17, who disappeared after leaving summer school. Her body was found near a wheat field on the eastern edge of town five days later.
"I waited 1 yr and 3 months and my answer that I've been awaiting for was finally answered I promised this crime wasn't gunna go unanswered and the fbi didn't fail us....he's been found and he's in jail were going on trial,'' the family stated on the "Find Norma" Facebook page, created shortly after she was abducted.
Her father, Martin Lopez, confirmed to the Times that police had arrested a suspect.
Riverside County Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Joe Borja on Friday morning said he could not confirm the arrest, but did say an announcement would be made later this morning.
Lopez's abduction and murder struck fear into parents throughout the Riverside County town, with police urging students not to walk home by themselves or through isolated areas.
Lopez was reported missing on July 15, 2010 by her older sister, Sonja, after she failed to show up at a friend's home following her summer biology class. She was out of school by 10 a.m. and planned to meet her older sister and a friend.
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.
Lopez's body was found in a grassy field five days later by a resident doing yardwork in an isolated area just off the 60 Freeway that is surrounded by vast wheat fields.
At the time, investigators told the family they believe that two or three people may have been involved in Norma's abduction and murder, since it would have been hard for one person to grab the 17-year-old in broad daylight.
Detectives also focused on tracking down the green SUV that was seen speeding away from the area where Lopez was abducted, expanding the search across the state.
-- Phil Willon in Riverside
Photo: A photo collage of Norma Lopez, 17, is brought to her funeral last year. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times