- Cesar Santana has been arrested in Florida for the murder of his wife, Luz Hernandez, a kindergarten teacher in Jersey City.
- Hernandez was found strangled and beaten in a shallow grave after being reported missing.
- Authorities are also searching for a second suspect, Leiner Miranda Lopez.
Cesar Santana (36) was arrested in Florida as a suspect in the murder of his wife Luz Hernandez (33), a Dominican kindergarten teacher at a charter school who was found half buried in a shallow grave in Jersey City (NJ).
Another suspect is being sought: Leiner Miranda Lopez (26), announced Hudson County (NJ) District Attorney Esther Suarez. US Marshals arrested Santana, a resident of New Jersey, in the Miami area. Hernandez was found beaten and strangled in a shallow grave on Tuesday and identified the next day after being reported missing earlier in the week.
The suspect and the victim knew each other, according to several senior officials and law enforcement sources with knowledge of the case, but did not specify what type of relationship they had. Some media reported that the two were married but had separated in November. So far Santana has only been arrested on a charge of desecrating human remains, NBC News noted.
Investigators attempted to arrest Santana at a motel in Hazelton, Pennsylvania, yesterday, but he was not there when they arrived. He was eventually located in Florida, and details of his extradition to New Jersey were not immediately known.
This morning the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office said only that an arrest had been made. The announcement came just hours after the prosecutor’s office shared the results of Hernandez’s autopsy. It was determined that the teacher died from blunt trauma and neck compressions, confirming that the case had been upgraded from a missing person investigation to a homicide investigation.
The autopsy also confirmed Hernandez’s identity, which had been tentative pending the coroner’s confirmation.
School officials alerted authorities Monday when Hernandez failed to show up for work at “BelovED Charter School.” It is believed she may have been missing since Saturday.
The Jersey City Police Department conducted a welfare check at her Van Horne Street home Tuesday just before 1 p.m. and found “blood spatter” on the apartment door. Police then “froze the scene” and contacted the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office to obtain a search warrant, according to NJ.com.
The findings at the apartment, located in a sleek two-and-a-half-story brick building near Lafayette Park, led authorities to a location in Kearny later Tuesday. Hernandez’s body was recovered a short time later.
All charges are mere accusations, and those indicted are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.