The family of 17-year-old Norma Lopez used a news conference in Moreno Valley Thursday to eulogize Norma in hopes that attention could turn to finding the person who killed her.
Lopez, who would have been a senior in high school, disappeared July 15 while walking home from a summer school class.
Her severely decomposed body was found Tuesday several miles away.
On Thursday, her family used the television cameras to speak directly to whomever took Norma’s life, urging them to turn themselves into authorities.
Elizabeth Lopez urged the unknown person who kidnapped and killed the 17-year-old to turn themselves in to authorities.
She also repeatedly demanded to know why her sister was taken.
She says the family is terribly saddened and their hearts are broken.
Investigators are conducting vehicle checkpoints and contacting all local registered sex offenders for any leads.
Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Joseph Borja said Thursday authorities are conducting checkpoints along routes that Norma Lopez frequented.
An overflow crowd remembered her Wednesday evening as police searched for her killer.
“Norma [is] resting, and she’s looking upon all of us,” said Maria Vasquez, mother of the victim’s friend. “I know she’s thanking each and every one of you.”
Candles, flowers and tears symbolized solemn heartbreak.
“It’s cruel for someone to do this to Norma,” said Nicole Rodriguez, a friend of the victim.
“[I feel] pain,” said Jeannie Fletcher, a grieving member of the community. “I can’t even imagine.”
The community mourned the tragic loss of a beloved student, friend and daughter.
“It’s just sinking in right now,” said Rodriguez. “I’ve known her since the fifth grade.”
“She was so loving and humble and giddy,” said Melanie Villarreal, a close friend of the victim who helped organize the ceremony.
Hundreds gathered in front of Valley View High School to pay their respects. The same campus Lopez attended before her abduction last Thursday.
“She was an outgoing person,” said Casandra Bullard, a classmate. “She was very energetic. She was just a happy person.”
The ceremony then moved to the football field as hundreds turned to thousands, wearing white and stricken with grief.
“It’s like I lost a little sister,” said Villarreal, who nearly lost her words when speaking of her fallen friend. “A little sister that was very dear to me — I’m devastated and who ever did this will have justice towards them.”
Friends and family shared memories of Lopez from the podium, and all of them pondered ways this horror could have been avoided.
“We need to protect our children,” said Angela Hernandez, a concerned member of the community.
“It’s so close to home,” said Fletcher. “So close it could be any one of us.”
The criminal investigation is still on going, and authorities are asking for help to catch the killer.
A fund has been set up to increase the reward money for information leading to an arrest.
Visit any Wells Fargo and mention Norma Lopez to make a donation.