The ex-husband of a New Jersey kindergarten teacher has been charged with her murder, weeks after he was arrested for burying her in a shallow grave.
Cesar Santana, 36, was charged with murder in the death of Luz Hernandez, a 33-year-old kindergarten teacher and mother of three.
Hernandez was reported missing on Monday, February 6 after she failed to show up for work at the BelovED Charter School.
Police conducted a wellness check at his Jersey City home the next day, where they discovered remnants of blood splatter in his bedroom and a faint smell of bleach.
Santana, Hernandez’s ex-husband and father of her children, was immediately identified as a suspect. After an alert was sent out for his car, police in nearby Kearny alerted Jersey City detectives that Santana’s vehicle was impounded.
Kearny police impounded the car on Sunday before Hernandez disappeared after being stopped in traffic. The car was impounded because it had no registration.
Hernandez’s body was found buried in a shallow grave in an industrial area of Kearny, not far from where the traffic stop occurred. Days later, an autopsy revealed that Hernandez died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck compression.
Police also obtained a search warrant for the car, where they found a bloody rope, a shovel and a pickaxe, according to testimony obtained by NBC News.
According to the partially redacted testimony, a witness also saw Santana dragging a large plastic can out of the Hernandez home on the night of Saturday, February 4th.
Police immediately began searching for Santana, who had fled the state for Florida. He was arrested by US Marshals at a Miami motel and extradited back to New Jersey.
He was first accused only of desecrating and concealing human remains. His charges were upgraded to murder on Wednesday.
Santana’s friend, Leiner Miranda Lopez, 26, was also accused of hiding human remains. Currently, Miranda Lopez remains at large.
The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office said additional charges can be expected for the suspects as the investigation remains ongoing.
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