Estranged husband arrested in New Jersey kindergarten teacher's death; another man sought

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Friday, February 10, 2023
Estranged husband arrested in NJ teacher's death; another man sought
Cesar Junior Santana is arrested in Luz Hernandez's death after the teacher was found in Kearny and they are still looking for Leiner Lopez. Toni Yates has the story.

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- Police have arrested a man in connection to the death of New Jersey kindergarten teacher Luz Hernandez and are still looking for another.

Cesar Santana, 36, of Jersey City, was arrested early Friday morning at a motel in Miami, Florida. He is the father of her three children and her estranged husband.

He is facing a charge of desecrating/concealing human remains but more charges are expected to be filed once he is extradited back to New Jersey.

Police are still searching for 26-year-old Leiner Miranda Lopez, also of Jersey City, who is facing the same charge.

Hernandez's body was discovered Tuesday in a shallow grave in Kearny.

On Thursday, an autopsy revealed she died of blunt force trauma to the head and compressions to the neck.

Her death has led to an outpouring of grief after the mother of three apparently went missing over the weekend and didn't show up for work at Beloved Charter School on Monday.

Authorities went to her house near the school and found evidence suggesting there was a crime.

During the course of the investigation, it was determined Santana and Lopez were involved in a traffic stop on Sunday in Kearny, before Hernandez was reported missing. The vehicle wasn't registered and was impounded by police.

When it was searched on Tuesday, additional evidence was recovered.

A makeshift memorial has gone up outside Hernandez's home where friends and family have been expressing their sadness and condolences.

Neighbors said the mother of three was sweet and pleasant and had three beautiful children.

"The best sister in the's unbelievable," Hernandez's sister said.

A GoFundMe has been established for the victim's children.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office at 201-915-1345.

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