🔴 2nd man sought in killing of Jersey City teacher faces upgraded charges

🔴 Leiner Miranda Lopez, wanted for murder, has been a fugitive since February

🔴 Cesar Santana was arrested 1st, charged with the murder of his ex, Luz Hernandez

Authorities have filed the same charges, including murder, against a second man wanted for killing a Jersey City kindergarten teacher and then burying her in a shallow grave in Kearny.

Leiner Miranda Lopez, 26, has remained a fugitive since the arrest of Cesar Santana over a month ago, stemming from the brutal death of Luz Hernandez, according to Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez.

Anyone with information regarding his location was urged to contact the prosecutor's office at 201-915-1345.

Jersey City teacher Cesar Santana is charged with the murder of Luz Hernandez (HCPO)
Cesar Santana is charged with the murder of Luz Hernandez (HCPO)

Disappearance, death of Luz Hernandez leads to Jersey City suspects in killing

Hernandez's body was found on Feb. 7, a day after she was reported missing.

A preliminary autopsy confirmed that the 33-year-old victim had been strangled and suffered blunt force head trauma.

Her homicide was being investigated as a domestic violence case, the prosecutor confirmed.

The 36-year-old Santana was tracked down to a hotel in Miami, Florida and was busted by members of the U.S. Marshals Service late on Feb. 9, Suarez previously announced.

Both men were initially charged with second-degree desecrating/concealing human remains.

Santana was then charged with first-degree murder, third-degree counts of hindering and failing to dispose of human remains in a manner prescribed by law and fourth-degree tampering with physical evidence.

Those same charges have now been filed against Miranda Lopez, as law enforcement continues to search for him.

Kearny site where body was found (Google Maps, Townsquare Media) (1)
Kearny site where body was found (Google Maps, Townsquare Media)

Victim’s grave site found after police connect Kearny traffic stop involving both men

Suarez previously said that Santana became a person of interest after Jersey City police did a welfare check at Hernandez’s home and found a “crime scene.”

At that point, investigators found that he and Miranda Lopez had been pulled over in Kearny a day before Hernandez was reported missing.

Their vehicle was unregistered and had been impounded. Additional evidence was recovered from the car before Hernandez’s body was found in an industrial area.

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

Hernandez mourned as ‘devoted mother’ of three young 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, Hernandez's sister, said in a GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $50,000 as a scholarship fund for the victim's three children.

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

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

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

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