$20K Reward Offered Amid Search for Man, Woman Sought in Carson Homicide; Teen Remains Missing

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Officials on Friday announced a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of a man and woman wanted in connection with a homicide in Carson as an Amber Alert remains in effect for a missing teenager believed to be with the pair.

Maricela Mercado, 40, and her ex-husband Roman Cerratos, 39, have been identified as suspects in the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Jeffrey Appel, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Appel, of Las Vegas, was found dead inside a car that was parked in a lot in the 400 block of East Carson Plaza Drive on April 16. He died from gunshot wounds to the neck and torso, and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the autopsy.

Mercado’s daughter, 15-year-old Alora Benitez, was last seen with the two suspects in Torrance on April 17. CHP issued an Amber Alert for the missing teen the following day.

A BMW associated with the alert was found unoccupied in the border town of San Ysidro on April 19.

The $20,000 reward, offered jointly by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the City of Carson, is for information that leads to the suspects being arrested and convicted, according to a sheriff’s bulletin.

Cerratos and Mercado should be considered “armed and dangerous,” the bulletin stated.

Anyone who sees them or has information about the case is urged to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should  contact L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers by dialing 800-222-8477.





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