Second suspect being sought in murder investigation of Jersey City kindergarten teacher


A second suspect is being sought in the murder investigation of Jersey City kindergarten teacher Luz Hernandez, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez announced.

Cesar Santana (left) and Leiner Miranda Lopez. Photos courtesy of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Cesar Santana, 36, and Leiner Miranda Lopez, 26, both of Jersey City, are each charged with one count of desecrating/concealing human remains, Suarez said in a statement.

Santana was arrested shortly after midnight this morning at a motel on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami, Florida, by members of the U.S. Marshals Service Southern District of Florida, in conjunction with the United States Marshals Service New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force.

He is being detained at the Miami-Dade Turner Guilford Night Detention Center as a Fugitive from Justice pending extradition to New Jersey.

The HCPO tweeted about his arrest early this morning and subsequent details were revealed through sources with knowledge of the situation who were not authorized to speak on the matter.

Miranda Lopez has not yet been apprehended and anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is urged to contact the HCPO at 201-915-1345.

On Monday, February 6th, Luz Hernandez was reported missing to the Jersey City Police Department. The following day, a welfare check was conducted on Van Horne Street regarding the missing person’s report.

The findings resulted in the Jersey City Police Department contacting the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office for assistance and Cesar Santana was identified as a person of interest in the matter.

During the course of the investigation, it was determined Cesar Santana and Leiner Miranda Lopez were involved in a motor vehicle stop on Sunday, February 5th on Central Avenue in Kearny, prior to Luz Hernandez being reported missing.

The vehicle was unregistered and impounded by the Kearny Police Department. A court authorized search of the vehicle was executed on Tuesday, February 7th, and additional evidence was recovered.

The Kearny Police Department, knowing details of the traffic stop, led the homicide unit to the area of Central Avenue and Third Street in Kearny, where investigators ultimately located what appeared to be a shallow grave.

The body of a woman, later identified as Hernandez, was recovered a short time later and she was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:53 p.m.

The Regional Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head and compressions to the neck and the manner of death to be homicide.

This investigation is active and ongoing and no additional information will be released at this time. Additional charges and/or arrests may be expected.

Suarez credited the HCPO Homicide Unit, the Jersey City Police Department, the Kearny Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force, the U.S. Marshals Service Southern District of Florida, the U.S. Marshals Service Middle District of Pennsylvania, the New Jersey State Police, and the Pennsylvania State Police with the investigation and arrest.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the HCPO at 201-915-1345 or to leave an anonymous tip at:

All information will be kept confidential.

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