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Family of slain Moreno Valley girl say they will 'get the killer'

July 22, 2010 |  4:25 pm

The family a 17-year-old Moreno Valley girl who was abducted and later found dead said Thursday that their hearts are broken but that they are committed to finding the person responsible.

"My heart is broken that my sister is no longer going to be here," said Elizabeth Lopez, 18. "But we're trying to find the person responsible for this to pay for what he has done. We're trying to get the killer out there so no other family will have to go through what we have gone through at all. It's something terrible."

Norma Lopez was reported missing July 15 by her older sister, Sonja, after she failed to return from a biology class. Investigators said they found some of the girl's belongings, as well as signs of a struggle, in a vacant field along Cottonwood Avenue, a popular shortcut among students.

Authorities declined to provide any details about the cause of death, evidence found with the body or when they believe Lopez was killed.

Family members held a news conference Thursday afternoon in front of their home, holding baby pictures of the Valley View High School student. Her body was found in a grassy field on the eastern edge of town Tuesday.

Elizabeth Lopez said she had last seen her younger sister the morning she disappeared when she burst into her room to borrow her shoes. Norma Lopez left her sister a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a banana happy face in it.

"It's still very hard for us,'' her father, Martin Lopez, said in a brief telephone interview.

Riverside County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Joe Borja said investigators continue to scour the area for evidence and clues, but no suspects or "persons of interest'' have emerged in the case.

The slaying has put parents and teenagers throughout the Riverside County community on edge, knowing that the killer is still at large. Police are warning community members to be vigilant and telling parents to keep close track of their children.

Authorities urge anyone with information about the case to call (877) 242-4345, or send  e-mail to findnormaskiller@riversidesheriff.org.

-- Phil Willon