The ex-boyfriend of a 33-year-old New Jersey kindergarten teacher found beaten and strangled in a shallow grave after he was reported missing earlier this month has now been extradited to Garden State to face murder and other charges against her. Murder, Hudson County. prosecutors announced on Wednesday.
36-year-old Cesar Santana, father of three children Luz Hernandez, was detained in Florida, in the Miami area, on February 10 as a fugitive from justice in connection with the death of a teacher. Hernandez’s remains had been found three days earlier.
Investigators said she died from blunt force trauma and neck compression. A law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the coroner’s findings says Hernandez was hit on the head with a heavy object and then strangled with some kind of rope.
Initially, Santana was only detained on charges of desecrating human remains, but prosecutors now say he is charged with first-degree murder, obstruction and falsifying evidence in the case. The legal information was not clear to him.
The second man, Leiner Miranda Lopez, 26, is still wanted on charges of desecrating human remains. Law enforcement sources say Lopez and Santana were involved in the Feb. 5 Kearney traffic stop on Central Avenue, near where Hernandez’s body was later found. The search warrant also found additional evidence in the car, although it was not immediately clear what was found.
Hernandez’s family said she and Santana separated months before her death, but they still lived together. Authorities say they are investigating the case as a domestic violence case.
Santana was charged with new charges early Wednesday. He is expected to appear in court in New Jersey the same day. Anyone with information on Lopez’s whereabouts is asked to call the prosecutor’s office at 201-915-1345.
Although it is known how the beloved teacher apparently died, investigators are still looking for who. NBC New York correspondent Erica Byfield reports.
texasstandard.news contributed to this report.