A man accused of killing another man whose body was found in Carson in April has been charged with kidnapping and murder, officials announced Tuesday as the search for the suspect’s ex-wife, who’s also wanted in the case, and her missing teenage daughter continues.
Roman Cerratos, a 39-year-old resident of Mopua, Hawaii, was also charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He faces special allegations that he personally used a handgun and a knife in the crime, prosecutors said.
Jeffrey Appel, 32, of Las Vegas, was found with gunshot wounds to his neck and torso inside his car on Carson Plaza Drive near Del Amo Boulevard the morning of April 16.
Cerratos allegedly kidnapped, stabbed and shot Appel.
Authorities named Cerratos as a suspect in the killing, along with his ex-wife, 40-year-old Maricela Mercado, who was last seen with her 15-year-old daughter in Torrance on April 17. The next day, California Highway Patrol issued an Amber Alert for the teen, Alora Benitez.
San Diego police reported finding a BMW named in the Amber Alert in the border town of San Ysidro on April 19.
About two months later, on June 13, Cerratos was arrested in Mexico, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He was extradited to the U.S. and placed in county custody on June 14.
Bail has been set at $3,050,000, county inmate records show.
Investigators have not disclosed any details about a possible motive in the killing.
Cerratos could face life in state prison if convicted as charged, the District Attorney’s Office said.