The FBI has joined the search for the missing 15-year-old Redondo Beach girl believed to be with her mother and her mother’s ex-husband, both of whom are homicide suspects and are considered armed and dangerous, the bureau said Wednesday, almost a month after an Amber Alert was issued for the girl.
The teenager, Alora Benitez, was last seen getting into a white BMW in Torrance on April 17 with Maricela Mercado, 40, and Roman Cerratos, 39.
The two were identified as suspects in the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Jeffrey Appel in Carson, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
San Diego Police later found the BMW unoccupied in the border town of San Ysidro about a week later, authorities said.
Appel was found dead with gunshot wounds to his neck and torso inside a car parked on the 400 block of East Carson Plaza Drive on April 16, LASD said.
A $20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the suspects’ arrests.
Family held a vigil for the teenager a few weeks after her disappearance and pleaded for her return.
“Alora, if you’re listening, if you see any of this: Make a run for it. Call 911. Get to a phone. Ask for help. Go where there’s a lot of people,” her father Julian Benitez Jr. said at the vigil.
Benitez was described as Latina, about 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing about 100 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Cerratos was described as a Latino man standing at around 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighing about 210 pounds, with a bald head and brown eyes. Mercado is a Latina woman, roughly 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing around 130 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes, officials said.
Anyone with information was asked to call the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at 310-477-6565 or the LASD Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. To provide information anonymously, call L.A. Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or visit the website.