Family praying for safe return of missing teen, believed to be with Carson murder suspects

CARSON, Calif. (KABC) -- A Carson family is praying for the safe return of a 15-year-old girl who was last seen with two people wanted for murder.

On Sunday, family and friends gathered to pray for the safe return of Alora Benitez. Julian Benitez, Alora's father, says he hasn't seen or heard from his daughter since last week.

Alora, who was last seen climbing into a white BMW in Torrance, may be across the border in Mexico. She's believed to be in the company of her mother, 40-year-old Marciela Mercado, and 39-year-old Roman Cerratos.

Both Mercado and Cerratos are wanted in connection to the murder of a 32-year-old Carson man, Jeffrey Appel. Last week, Appel was found dead in the front seat of an Audi. The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office says Appel suffered two gunshot wounds to the neck and upper body area.

On Friday, police in San Diego found the white BMW near the border in San Ysidro.

Grateful for the prayers and support from relatives and others, Benitez is not giving up hope his daughter will be found safe.

"I'm feeling a little more confident only because I know the resources that are working on this and it's just putting a little bit more hope in it," he said.

Many who gathered on Sunday described Alora as a special girl. Norma Choza-Sanchez, Alora's aunt said, "She's always been such a loving caring smart individual. She's very intelligent."

While spending every minute possible searching for Alora, Benitez says he has this message for his daughter: "Be safe, run if you can, be smart. Be a beast like I told you. Just come home."
Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.