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Hearing set for man accused of kidnapping, killing Norma Lopez

November 16, 2011 |  8:22 am

Norma Lopez family
A Long Beach man accused of abducting and killing Moreno Valley high school student Norma Lopez last year is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday morning in Riverside.

Jesse Perez Torres, 35, faces one count of murder with special circumstance of kidnapping. He will be eligible for the death penalty.

Investigators linked Torres to one of the crime scenes by DNA evidence, according to the Riverside County district attorney’s office.

Torres also 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 Valley View High School, where Lopez was attending summer school, authorities said.

At the time of the killing, Torres lived in a home across the street from the high school, close enough to see Lopez walking off campus. Torres moved to Long Beach in August 2010.

Lopez, 17, was abducted in broad daylight on July 15, 2010, as she walked across the vacant lot after attending a biology class. Her body was found five days later near a remote wheat field on the eastern edge of Moreno Valley.

Investigators said they found some of Lopez's belongings, as well as signs of a struggle, in the vacant field along Cottonwood Avenue, a popular shortcut among students. Torres' home was just a block away from the field.

Torres was arrested Oct. 20 and booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.


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-- Phil Willon in Riverside

Photo: Martin Lopez, left, and Elizabeth Lopez stand by a makeshift shrine in the memory of their daughter and sister Norma Lopez. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times.