The ex-husband of a New Jersey kindergarten teacher has been charged with her murder, weeks after she was arrested for burying her in a shallow grave.
Cesar Santana, 36, has been charged with murder in the death of Luz Hernandez, a 33-year-old preschool teacher and mother of three.
Hernandez went missing on Monday, February 6, after she failed to show up for work at BelovED Charter School.
Police conducted a welfare check at her Jersey City home the next day, where they discovered the remains of blood spatter in her bedroom and the faint smell of bleach.
Santana, who was Hernandez’s ex-husband and the father of her children, was immediately identified as a person of interest. After a tip was sent out about his car, police in the nearby town of Kearny notified Jersey City detectives that Santana’s vehicle had been impounded.
Kearney police had impounded the car Sunday before Hernandez disappeared following a traffic stop. The car was impounded because it was not registered.
Hernandez’s body was found buried in a shallow grave in an industrial area of Kearny, not far from where the traffic stop occurred. Days later, an autopsy revealed Hernandez died of blunt force trauma to the head and compression to the neck.
Police also obtained a search warrant for the car, where they found a bloody rope, a shovel and a pickaxe, according to an affidavit obtained from NBC News.
According to the partially redacted affidavit, a witness also saw Santana dragging a large plastic bin out of Hernandez’s home on the evening of Saturday, February 4.
Police immediately began searching for Santana, who had fled the state for Florida. He was arrested by US Marshals at a Miami motel and extradited back to New Jersey.
He was initially charged only with desecration and concealment of human remains. His charges were upgraded to murder on Wednesday.
Santana’s boyfriend, Leiner Miranda Lopez, 26, was also charged with concealing human remains. Miranda Lopez currently remains at large.
The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office said additional charges may be pending against the suspects as the investigation remains ongoing.
Do you have a story? Contact our news team by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can submit your videos and photos here.
For more stories like this, check us out news page.
Follow Metro.co.uk at Twitter and Facebook for the latest news updates. Now you can also receive Metro.co.uk articles direct to your device. Sign up for our daily push notifications here.