🔴 Man arrested following violent death of Luz Hernandez, reportedly her ex-partner

🔴 A second man, Leiner Miranda Lopez, was still being sought on Friday

🔴 Police pieced together the victim’s Kearny grave site, near a traffic stop on Sunday

JERSEY CITY — A man was arrested in Florida and a second man was being sought, days after the violent killing of a kindergarten teacher found in a shallow grave, according to Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez.

The prosecutor announced an arrest had been made in connection with the Luz Hernandez investigation just before 1 a.m. Friday on social media.

Hours later, she confirmed that 36-year-old Cesar Santana had been tracked down at a Florida motel in Miami by members of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Santana and 26-year-old Leiner Miranda Lopez, both of Jersey City, were each charged with second-degree desecrating/concealing human remains. Miranda Lopez had not yet been arrested as of Friday afternoon.

Anyone with information on his location was urged to contact the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office at 201-915-1345.

Santana was being held in jail, pending extradition to New Jersey.

Kearny site where body was found (Google Maps, Townsquare Media)
(Google Maps, Townsquare Media)

🔴 Police pieced together the victim’s Kearny grave site, near a traffic stop on Sunday

Suarez said that Santana had been a person of interest since Tuesday, after Jersey City police did a welfare check at the home of Hernandez and found a “crime scene.”

At that point, investigators found that Santana and Miranda Lopez had been pulled over in Kearny on Sunday along Central Avenue — a day before Hernandez was reported missing.

Their vehicle was unregistered and had been impounded by the Kearny Police Department.

On Tuesday, police searched that vehicle and recovered “additional evidence,” Suarez said.

Authorities then focused on the area of Central Avenue and Third Street, where Hernandez’s body was found in a fresh grave site.

Jersey City teacher killed found in Kearny NJ
(CBS New York via Youtube)

Preliminary autopsy results shared Thursday said that the 33-year-old victim had been strangled and suffered blunt force head trauma, before being buried.

Family members told News 12 that Hernandez had been living with her children and their father — but that the couple had been separated since about November.

NBC New York was first to report that Santana, Hernandez's ex, had been tracked down by U.S. Marshals in Florida.

Jersey City teacher killed found in Kearny Luz Hernandez GoFundMe via Jenny Taveras
(Luz Hernandez GoFundMe via Jenny Taveras)

Hernandez mourned as ‘devoted mother’ in fundraiser for her children

“She was a devoted mother and daughter who loved working with children. This upcoming May she would have graduated from St.Peter’s College with her Masters in Education,” Jenny Taveras said in the fundraiser summary.

She added that Hernandez’s two oldest children attend BeLoved Charter School, where their mother had worked.

Taveras remembered her sister as a “passionate educator” who worked to improve children's educational abilities.

Cards and balloons were among a spontaneous memorial setup outside Hernandez’s home by Wednesday, as seen in video footage by CBS New York.

Hernandez's killing follows Jersey City teacher domestic violence homicide in January

Just two weeks earlier, 35-year-old Jersey City teacher Temara King was shot to death by her husband on Jan. 24.

Lucas Cooper, 39, was arrested in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and charged with first-degree murder. The couple’s teenage daughter had called 911 at the time of her mother’s shooting.

Anyone with potential information on the Hernandez case was asked to contact the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office at 201-915-1345 or to submit an anonymous tip online.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

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