A body was found Monday afternoon in the area where 17-year-old Norma Lopez disappeared, the Riverside County (California) Sheriff’s Department revealed Tuesday evening. As yet authorities have not positively identified the body, and the process could take up to five days. The search for Norma Lopez continued unabated, a police spokesperson told CNN.
The body was found at around 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy Melissa Nieburger said. She noted that the body was also found approximately two miles from where Norma Lopez was believed to have been kidnapped.
Norma Lopez went missing on July 15 sometime after 10:00 a.m. after finishing a class a nearby Valley View High School. She apparently took a route home that cut through a field near her home. It was in the field where investigators found personal items (identified as belonging to Lopez) and evidence of a struggle that convinced them that Norma Lopez had been kidnapped. Nieburger insisted that the items were things that would not be left behind but would not elaborate.
The Deputy told CNN: “We cannot confirm who it [the body] is or even the sex of the body. As far as identification, that can be anywhere from a day or five days depending on what we find.”
Searches for the 17-year-old continued through Tuesday, the Deputy said. “This is an active investigation. We have utilized all our resources. We’ve used canines, bloodhounds, numerous units and all our detectives are still working the case.”
The only information made public by authorities has been that personal items belonging to Norma Lopez were found and that police are looking for a newer model green sports utility vehicle, the occupants of which might know something about Lopez’ disappearance. A vehicle fitting that description was seen leaving the area at around the time of the girl’s disappearance.
Norma Lopez was reported missing at 12:25 p.m. after her sister, Sonja, and a friend scoured the neighborhood looking for her when she did not return home after her summer class.
The Associated Press covered the news conference held Tuesday, where authorities revealed that there was a $35,000 reward being offered for information. Elizabeth Lopez, Norma’s older sister, pleaded, “If the person that took her is out there, please let her go. She hasn’t done anything to anyone to deserve this, at all.”
Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Borja noted at the conference that the found body was unidentifiable. It was discovered in a semirural area.
“We’re following up all leads,” Borja stated, “especially when it pertains to, you know, deviant behavior or behavior that’s not normal toward young females.”