Investigators called a news conference for 2pm, today, to discuss yesterday’s discovery of human remains in a Moreno Valley field.
The FBI assisted Moreno Valley authorities collect evidence Tuesday near where the body was discovered by a neighbor. It was found within a short distance from where Norma Lopez, 17, disappeared last week.
Authorities said they have identified the remains after an autopsy this morning.
Deputy Nelissa Nieburger says the identification of the body is “related” to the investigation into the disappearance of Norma Lopez.
She declined, however, to say if it was the body of Lopez or to release more details until an afternoon news conference.
The father of missing teenager Norma Lopez has told Spanish-language station KMEX that the human remains found yesterday in Moreno Valley are those of his daughter.
Authorities taped off an area of farmland along Theodore Road where the body was found in high grass.
Authorities have not even determined whether it is a man or a woman. But the body was found just two miles away from where Lopez is said to have been abducted, which is why members of that community fear that it’s her.
“This is a dumping place where they dump bodies,” said Veronica Alzaga, a resident upset by the progression of the investigation.
It’s possible that investigators didn’t search the area where the body was found, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
“There were no police officers — no dogs,” said Alicia Espinoza, a concerned resident.
Hours before a resident found the body, Lopez’ family members pleaded for her return.
“She hasn’t done anything for anyone to do this at all,” said Elizabeth Lopez, the victim’s sister.
More than 50 concerned residents showed up for a news conference.
“Obviously, we’re being very, very careful because it’s probably more than likely a homicide,” said Sgt. Joe Borja, with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Residents were frustrated that five days after Lopez disappeared, a dead body turned up.
Still, investigators can not confirm if it’s Lopez.
Either way, investigators were being extra cautious with the crime scene.
“As soon as they realized there was a dead body in the area,” said Borja. “They were back out and then they work their way from outside to inside. It may be hours until they actually come up to the body itself.”
Residents claim the body was found near the same location another dead body turned up four months ago. Investigators could not confirm or deny that.
“I hope it’s not her,” said Chamyra Smith, a resident whose family knew the victim. “I pray its not.”
“It’s sad for which ever body it may be, because there are parents,” said Lenora Rodriguez, worried the body belongs to Lopez. “There’s sisters, brothers and relatives.”
Those who have followed the case since Lopez disappeared last Thursday also found it suspicious that someone found the body just hours after the Moreno Valley Police Department announced a $35,000 reward for information leading to Lopez’s safe return.
“Before there was no money offered we didn’t hear anything,” said Alzaga.
It’s a waiting game, now, as investigators work to determine whose body lies in that field.
“We’re going to try to determine who that person is and investigate that crime thoroughly,” said Borja.
Lopez has been missing since Thursday afternoon.
She was taking a shortcut to a friend’s house from summer school when she was abducted. according to authorities.
KESQ will be at today’s news conference, and will update new information as we get it.
If you know anything about the abduction, call the hotline at 877 242-4345.