2nd Suspect Charged With Murder in Death of Beloved Kindergarten Teacher

New Jersey prosecutors have added first degree murder charges to a second suspect in the death of New Jersey kindergarten teacher Luz Hernandez last month.

Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez announced the upgraded charges for Leiner Miranda Lopez, 26, on Friday, according to Fox News. He was previously charged with desecrating human remains.

Hernandez’s ex-boyfriend, 36-year-old Cesar Santana, was arrested last month in Miami and returned to New Jersey to face murder charges and other counts, but Lopez remains at large.

Hernandez, a mother of three, was reported missing when she didn’t show up for work at BelovED Community Charter School on February 6. Santana — the father of her three children — allegedly reported her missing. Investigators conducted a welfare check at her Jersey City home and eventually found the body in a shallow grave about nine miles away in Kearny, as CrimeOnline previously reported.

An autopsy revealed that she’d been beaten and strangled.

Lopez and Santana were involved in a traffic stop on February 5 in Kearny — not far from where Hernandez’s remains were found. Police later impounded the vehicle — and found a pickax, a shovel, and a bloodstained rope inside, according to court documents.

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[Featured image: Luz Hernandez/Facebook. Inset: Leiner Miranda Lopez/Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office]