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AMBER Alert girl found safe with homicide suspect mother, reunites with dad following 3-month disappearance: Police

Authorities found a missing California teen in Mexico on Tuesday, who disappeared three months prior after a homicide that her mother may have been involved in, according to police.

Los Angeles Times reports that authorities found 15-year-old Alora Benitez and her mother, 40-year-old Maricela Mercado, in Chihuahua, Mexico, after the pair allegedly entered the country illegally. In April, police issued an AMBER Alert for Alora after she was last seen with Mercado and the woman’s boyfriend, 39-year-old Roman Cerratos.

Both Cerratos and Mercado were wanted by authorities in connection with the death of 32-year-old Jeffery Appel, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office. As CrimeOnline previously reported, Appel was found dead in April, slumped over in the front seat of white Audi found at a business park in Carson, off of the 400 block of East Carson Plaza.

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wanted poster
CAPTURED: Roman Cerratos and Maricela Mercado [Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department]
Police haven’t released how Appel died, but a trail of blood was found in the parking lot and a nearby street.

Detectives found Cerratos in Mexico last month and extradited him back to Los Angeles in connection with Appel’s death.

According to ABC, Alora was reunited with her father, Julian Benitez, this week. Benitez said Alora will need therapy and time to help deal with the circumstances.

“It was a challenge for her. We’re still coping with it. She’s coping with it. How much damage has been done I won’t know until we speak with somebody.”

Mercado was detained and taken to the Paso Del Norte port of entry. She’ll remain detained in El Paso while awaiting extradition back to Los Angeles.

No other information on Appel’s shooting is available at this time. Authorities are still investigating.

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[Feature Photo: Audrey Chelette/Handout; Facebook]