Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Abduction & Murder of Norma Lopez

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Norma Lopez was only 17 years-old when she was abducted and brutally murdered by 42-year-old Jesse Perez Torres on July 15th, 2010. The teen encountered Torres while she was walking home from summer school in Moreno Valley, California. Norma planned to walk to a friend’s house after school, but she never arrived. 

Norma’s sister, boyfriend, and friends later went to search for her along a footpath that she was known to take. At that point, they found Norma’s earrings, purse, and folder scattered in a field. The police were called, and a team launched a search party in the surrounding areas. No clues or any other signs of Norma were found.

Five days later, authorities announced a $35,000 reward in exchange for information leading to Norma’s safe return. Unfortunately, just hours later, Norma’s body was found under brush at the edge of a property on Theodore Street–about 2.5 miles away from where she was last seen. 

Norma was found naked from the waist up. An autopsy declared that Norma died from homicidal violence, however her exact cause of death was never able to be determined. From this point forward, detectives focused their investigative efforts towards finding Norma’s killer. 

A little over a year later, in September 2011, investigators noticed that Norma’s earring had DNA on it that matched a DNA sample from the state’s CODIS system. The match appeared on their system after Jesse Perez Torres was arrested for an unrelated charge. Once investigators determined who the DNA belonged to, they also were able to determine that Torres’ DNA was all over Norma’s pants and purse as well. 

About a month and a half after this discovery, Torres was arrested and charged with kidnapping and murdering Norma. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. The prosecution decided to pursue the death penalty.

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Jesse Perez Torres (source: People)

Torres went to trial in early 2019. The prosecution stated that Norma’s murder was completely random, as Torres and Norma had not met prior to her abduction. In fact, the lead prosecutor said that in the days leading up to Norma’s murder, Torres was “looking out the window at the teenage girls kissing their boyfriends on the corner. Each and every day he was watching, he was waiting, he was looking through the blinds, he was lusting.” Torres was reportedly angry over his wife leaving him around the time of Norma’s murder as well. 

In March 2019, a jury found Torres guilty on all counts. In 2020, he was sentenced to the death penalty.

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