Carson murder: Missing teenager found, second suspect arrested

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A woman wanted in a Carson murder has been arrested, and her missing teenage daughter has been found with her, sheriff's officials said Wednesday.

Maricela Mercado was detained in Chihuahua, Mexico, and daughter Alora Benitez was located with her on Tuesday, with the assistance of the FBI and local law enforcement, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Mercado and Alora Benitez were deported from Mexico, deemed to have entered the country illegally. They were transported to the Paso Del Norte port of entry and were delivered to agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Mercado was then arrested by officers in El Paso pursuant to the warrant issued in Los Angeles for the murder of Jeffrey Appel.

FBI agents took custody of Benitez pending return to California and reunification with her family. Mercado will remain in custody in El Paso, pending extradition to California, sheriff's officials said.

The arrest comes about one month after suspect Roman Cerratos was arrested in Mexico in connection with the same murder investigation. The search for the two suspects in the murder investigation triggered an Amber Alert in April for Benitez, who is now 16.

"I'm on a roller coaster of emotions right now, things I'm finding out, I'm just hoping for the best right now," said Julian Benitez, the father of Alora.

Alora's family held vigils and prayed for the girl's return.

"What do you expect in situations like this from kids who have been exposed to traumatic things like this? I don't know. I'm going to find out, won't quit," the father said.

MORE: Search for teen continues after Carson murder suspect flees with daughter

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Authorities are looking for a 15-year-old girl who was last seen with her mother and a man who are wanted suspects in a Carson murder investigation.


Detectives are continuing their investigation into the shooting death of Appel that occurred in the 400 block of East Carson Plaza Drive in Carson on April 16 at 6:30 a.m.

Cerratos and Mercado had been last seen driving a white 2013 BMW four-door sedan with Nevada license plate MARIMAR. That vehicle was later recovered unoccupied in San Diego in late April, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
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