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California police find car tied to missing teen, murder suspects

California police have found the unoccupied car that a missing 15-year-old girl was believed to be traveling in with a man and her mother — both murder suspects.

San Diego Police Department officers found the empty vehicle, a white 2013 BMW with Nevada license plates reading “MARIMAR” in the San Ysidro district of San Diego. The two suspects and the missing girl, Alora Benitez, have yet to be found, according to a tweet from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department posted Friday evening.

An Amber Alert in the Las Vegas area was issued, and then canceled, for the missing girl on Thursday. The Nevada Highway Patrol tweeted Thursday evening that California officials believe the suspects were making their way to the Mexico border.

Alora was last seen 9 a.m. Wednesday in Torrance, California, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The Sheriff’s Department suspects her mother, 40-year-old Maricela Mercado, and 39-year-old Roman Cerratos of murder after finding a man’s body in the front seat of a white Audi parked in Carson, California, on Tuesday.

“They are considered armed and dangerous,” the department said on social media. “Her family is concerned for her safety.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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