Authorities Searching for 15-Year-Old Girl Believed to Be With Mother, Man Wanted in Carson Killing

Authorities were searching Thursday for a 15-year-old girl believed to be with her mother and her mother's ex-husband, who are wanted in connection to a killing in the city of Carson, officials said.

Alora Benitez, 15, is seen in an undated photo provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on April 17, 2019.

Alora Benitez, 15, is seen in an undated photo provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on April 17, 2019.

Roman Cerratos, 39, and Maricela Mercado, 40, are suspects in the killing of a 32-year-old man who was found dead in a car on the 400 block of East Carson Plaza Drive, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.

Although a wanted posted for the pair states they should be considered armed and dangerous, Sheriff's Lt. Brandon Dean told KTLA it's unknown whether they are carrying any weapons.

Investigators aren't willing to divulge what weapons were used in the Carson killing, Dean added.

Jeffery Appel of Las Vegas was found dead in the front seat of a car in a business parking lot early Tuesday morning, sheriff's officials said in a news release.

A woman who works nearby told KTLA employees of ASAP Drug Solutions — a firm that administers anti-drug and alcohol programs — recognized Appel as one of their clients.

The victim had not been publicly identified until Thursday night. Earlier in the day, authorities said they were still working on notifying his next of kin.

It's still unclear whether he knew the suspects in his killing.

An Amber Alert for Alora Benitez was announced by the Sheriff's Department Wednesday evening — then sent to cellphones about 10 a.m. Thursday.

Roman Cerratos, 39, and Maricela Mercado, 40, are seen in undated photo provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on April 18, 2019.

Roman Cerratos, 39, and Maricela Mercado, 40, are seen in undated photo provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on April 18, 2019.

Benitez, a Redondo Beach resident, was last seen leaving with the suspects in a white 2013 four-door BMW at around 9 a.m. Wednesday in Torrance, authorities said.

Dean said investigators are working "24/7" to locate the teen.

The BMW has a Nevada license plate that reads “MARIMAR,” but it may have been removed and replaced with a paper plate, sheriff's officials said.

Mercado has family members who live in Nevada, according to Dean. However, the lieutenant added that investigators are unsure where the family is headed.

Benitez is described as 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighing about 100 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

Authorities described Cerratos as a Hispanic male, standing at about 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighing about 210 pounds. He is bald and has brown eyes.

The vehicle being driven by a pair of homicide suspects sought in an Amber Alert is seen in a surveillance image released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The vehicle being driven by a pair of homicide suspects sought in an Amber Alert is seen in a surveillance image released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Mercado is described as a Hispanic female who is 5 feet 3 inches tall, weighing about 130 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

It is unclear whether the teenager voluntarily left with the suspects.

Anyone with information was urged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. To provide information anonymously, you can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Carson homicide was being investigated as a stabbing. Sheriff's officials have yet to reveal the victim's manner of death.

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