Police identify body found near site where missing California girl disappeared last week

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Police identify body found in search for CA teen

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. — Authorities said Wednesday they have identified decomposed human remains found near the Southern California site where a 17-year-old girl disappeared last week.

Deputy Melissa Nieburger said the identification of the body is “related” to the investigation into the disappearance of Norma Lopez.

She declined, however, to say if it was the body of Lopez or to release more details until an afternoon news conference.

Nieburger said no arrests have been made.

A resident reported finding the human remains Tuesday near an empty stretch of road lined with utility poles and desert scrub in Moreno Valley, an inland region about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

Lopez vanished Thursday on her way home from a summer a summer school class Valley View High School.

Deputies found personal items and signs of a struggle in a field the girl often used as a shortcut home. Police went door-to-door, and searchers using dogs worked the areas for days.

Investigators haven’t identified any suspects or persons of interest and were presuming the girl was kidnapped.

Lopez’s family has pleaded for her return, and authorities offered a $35,000 reward for information.

“If the person that took her is out there, please let her go,” sister Elizabeth Lopez said. “She hasn’t done anything to anyone to deserve this, at all.”

(This version CORRECTS Corrects spelling of Melissa and Lopez. Developing from news conference planned for 2 p.m. PDT.)

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