The Jersey City community is in shock following the death of beloved resident and teacher, Luz Hernandez. The 33-year-old mother of three was found deceased on February 7, 2023, in Kearny, NJ, and the circumstances surrounding her death are under investigation by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit.
Cesar Santana, 36, and Leiner Miranda Lopez, 26, both of Jersey City, have each been charged with one count of Desecrating/Concealing Human Remains, a second-degree crime. Santana was arrested in Miami, Florida, by the US Marshals Service and is being held there as a Fugitive from Justice pending extradition to New Jersey. Authorities are still searching for Miranda Lopez and are urging anyone with information on his whereabouts to contact the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.
Hernandez was reported missing to the Jersey City Police Department on February 6, 2023, and the following day, a welfare check was conducted that led to the identification of Santana as a person of interest. The Kearny Police Department conducted a traffic stop on February 5, 2023, involving both suspects and impounded the unregistered vehicle.
The investigation revealed that the suspects were involved in the traffic stop and a court-authorized search of the vehicle was conducted, resulting in the recovery of additional evidence. The Kearny Police Department then led the Homicide Unit to a shallow grave in Kearny where Hernandez’s body was found and later determined to have died from Blunt Force Trauma to the Head and Compression to the Neck.
The investigation is still ongoing and further charges and/or arrests are expected. The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office has credited multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit, Jersey City Police Department, Kearny Police Department, and various US Marshals Service offices, for their assistance in the investigation and arrest.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office or leave an anonymous tip. The defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty.