Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Police arrest suspect in kidnapping, murder of Moreno Valley girl

October 21, 2011 |  7:27 am

Suspect arrested in Norma Lopez case
The family of a Moreno Valley high school student who was kidnapped and murdered in July 2010 announced that police have arrested a suspect in the case.

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.

Riverside County jail records show that deputies arrested a 35-year-old man in Long Beach on Thursday, charging him with murder and kidnapping, which was first reported by the Press Enterprise. Jesse Perez Torres is being held at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, with bail set at $1 million.

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.


Moreno Valley girl, 17, may have been abducted

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

Authorities identify body as that of missing Moreno Valley girl

-- 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