Juvenile due in court in connection to Grant Hill teen’s murder

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – 12/2/15 – Wednesday marked the first court appearance of one of at least two, possibly three, teenagers San Diego Police say are suspects in the murder of a 14-year-old girl.

The killing of Anna Hernandez and the disappearance of two of her friends has made this a high profile case.

A number of family members, including the father of now 13-year-old Nelly Espinoza were at Juvenile Court Tuesday morning for a detention hearing for Espinoza, who turned 13 a few days ago.

When Espinoza was found by her grandfather in Mexico and turned over to authorities last Friday, San Diego Police arrested her on suspicious of being an accessory to the murder of Anna Hernandez. 

Hernandez’s body was found in a ravine in Grant Hill on November 18, five days after she disappeared. She had been shot, but that become evident only after an autopsy of the partially decomposed body.

One the day of the discovery, the then 12-year-old Espinoza disappeared.

Last week, San Diego Police said she was in Mexico, along with another Hernandez friend, 16-year-old Janeth Mendoza, who is still missing.

Also missing is 19-year-old Daniel Flores, who is being sought as a murder suspect.

He is considered armed and dangerous. 

KUSI’s Ed Lenderman spoke with Nelly Espinoza’s father, who declined an on-camera interview.

David Espinoza said Nelly is a good kid. She’s nervous and he doesn’t believe she had anything to do with the murder.

6:34 p.m. – The search is still on for the man police say is a suspect in the death of a 14-year-old girl from Grant Hill.

Police are looking for 19-year-old Daniel Flores who they said is armed and dangerous.

He is a suspect in the murder of 14-year-old Anna Hernandez, who was shot and killed two weeks ago.

Her body was found behind an apartment complex in Grant Hill.

Police said 12-year-old Nelly Espinoza and 16-year-old Janeth Mendoza disappeared the same day Hernandez was murdered.

Police still have not said whether or not there is a connection between these two girls and the death of Hernandez.

Espinoza was found by her grandfather at a Tijuana strip mall Friday night and then turned over to the San Diego Police.

Mendoza is still missing and is believed to be in Mexico.

11/28/15 – Police were still on the search Saturday for the man they suspect in the death of 14-year-old Anna Hernandez.

The man police are looking for is 19-year-old Daniel Flores, who they say is armed and dangerous.

Flores is the main suspect in the investigation of the murder of Anna Hernandez, who was shot and killed behind an apartment complex in Grant Hill. Her body was found of November 18th.

Police said that two girls, 12-year-old Nelly Espinoza and 16-year-old Janeth Mendoza disappeared that same day. Friday night Espinoza was found by her grandfather, at a Tijuana strip mall, and turned over to the San Diego police.

Shortly after Espinoza was turned in, police announced they had arrested a juvenile for accessory to murder, but they would not say if it was a related incident.

Mendoza is still missing and believed to be in Mexico.

11/27/15 5:36 p.m. – The San Diego Police Department released the following statement after the location of 12-year-old Nelly Espinoza: 

"The San Diego Police Department has a great working relationship with Mexican Law Enforcement. The two missing juveniles’ information was relayed to Mexican Law Enforcement including their information and photographs.

Since Nelly Espinoza’s disappearance, her family in Mexico has been actively looking for her. On Friday, Nelly’s grandfather located her in Tijuana and sought the assistance of the Baja California State Preventive Police (PEP).

The grandfather brought Nelly to the San Ysidro port-of-entry and turned her over to U.S. Customs officers and San Diego Police Department Investigators. Nelly was not the victim of any crime and she was not injured in any way.

Nelly will be cared for and reunited with her mother. The whereabouts of Janeth Mendoza is still not known at this point of the investigation."

4:21 p.m. – Police have found 12-year-old Nelly Espinoza in Tijuana. She went missing the same day her friend Anna Hernandez was shot and killed.

Media reports said Espinoza was found in a strip mall at around noon Friday.

11/23/2015 – Nelly Espinoza, a missing 12-year-old, is believed to be in Northern Mexico, San Diego police said at a press conference Wednesday morning.

Capt. David Nisleit and Lt. Michael Hastings held the news conference at San Diego Police headquarters as the investigation into the death of 14- year-old Anna Hernandez goes on.

Nisleit said Nelly contacted her family from Mexico. During the call, she said she was safe, but if anyone tried to search for her she would move "deeper into Mexico."

Nelly could be with Janneth Mendoza, a 16-year-old who is also missing, police said. 

Mendoza was last seen Oct. 28 near 3000 Webster St. She is described as 5 foot 5, 160 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes and a Charger bolt tattoo on her neck as well as "Bella” on her right forearm and "Perla” on her left forearm.

It was not clear if Mendoza’s disappearance may be connected to Nelly or Anna and police did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

6:39 a.m. – A funeral is scheduled Wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m. for a 14-year-old girl found shot to death behind a Grant Hill apartment complex.

The funeral service for Anna Hernandez comes one day after grieving relatives and friends gathered for a vigil in her memory hosted by a victim support and advocacy group called Dreaming of Violence-Free Everywhere at a church a few blocks from the canyon where her body was found early last Wednesday evening.

Tuesday 3:30 p.m. – An autopsy determined that Anna Hernandez, 14, died of gunshot wounds to her upper body, San Diego police Lt. Mike Hastings said.

Authorities have not announced any arrests in the case or released suspect information.

The teen had gone missing five days before her body was found. A friend of hers, 12-year-old Nelly Espinoza, reportedly disappeared the same day, and her whereabouts remain unknown. It was unclear if the two left their respective homes together.

A vigil for Hernandez is slated to begin at 7 p.m. at New Greater Apostolic Faith Temple Church, 138 28th St. Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s vigil is being coordinated by a victim support and advocacy group called Dreaming of Violence-Free Everywhere.

"The purpose of the gathering is to provide a place for the community to affirm its witness against violence and to express its sorrow at the loss of a life,” according to a DOVE statement.

11/23/2015 – A 14-year-old girl whose partially decomposed body was found last week in a canyon behind a Grant Hill apartment complex was shot to death, authorities reported Monday.

The teen, whose name is being withheld pending family notification, was found dead in an open area off the 2900 block of Market Street shortly before 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to San Diego police.

The cause of death was not immediately apparent, but an autopsy determined that she died of gunshot wounds to her upper body, Lt. Mike Hastings said.

Police have not announced any arrests in the case.

"Homicide detectives continue to work to develop suspect information in this case,” the lieutenant said late Monday afternoon.

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