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Lopez family calls for murderer to surrender

July 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Elizabeth Lopez at a family news conference Thursday had words for the murderer or murderers: "Just get the touch of heart and turn yourself in ... just turn yourself in."Authorities set up checkpoints around Valley View High School as they hunted for the killer of 17-year-old Norma Lopez, or clues related to the case, on Thursday.

Authorities were asking drivers as they passed through if they saw anything unusual the day Lopez disappeared. Police are also interviewing known sexual predators in the area, trying to get any information they can to solve the case.

Riverside County Sheriff's Sgt. Joe Borja confirmed on Wednesday that a decomposed body found in a field was the 17-year-old who had been missing since July 15. Lopez had been identified through dental records.

Police believe Lopez was walking through a vacant lot that she used as a shortcut when she was abducted.

The decomposed body, shirtless and clad in jeans, was found face-down in a grove of trees. A Moreno Valley resident made the gruesome discovery near Dracaea Avenue and Theodore Street about 3 p.m. Tuesday. The location is 2.5 to 3 miles east of Lopez's home and the site of her disappearance.

Authorities would not indicate how Lopez was killed or if she was sexually assaulted.

Parents in Moreno Valley are being warned to keep an eye on their children.

"I'm just scared that he's still out there, and he's here at our school, in our city, and it can happen to anybody," said student Denise De Dios.

What is most shocking for some is that she was abducted in broad daylight.

"It just shows how people are so bold and what they're willing to do," said student Bryce Battle.

Thousands turned out for a memorial service for Lopez on Wednesday night. School officials are doing their best to raise awareness about what happened and to counsel students.

"I think they were holding out hope that she would be found, maybe she ran away, and so there wasn't as much emotion until yesterday when it was announced that it was Norma," said Ken Schmidt, director of student services for the Moreno Valley School District.

A $35,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. If you'd like to contribute to the reward fund, you can request to donate to the fund at Wells Fargo banks.

A rosary and viewing is scheduled for Wednesday, July 28, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A funeral mass is scheduled for Thursday, July 29, at 1 p.m.

Anyone with information related to the case is urged to call the Moreno Valley Police Department hotline designated for this case at (877) 242-4345 or e-mail the Riverside County Sheriff's Department at findnormaskiller@riversidesheriff.org.


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