The body of Andrea Vazquez, a 19-year-old Fullerton College student from Downey, was discovered in a Moreno Valley field. She had been abducted in Whittier on early Sunday.
Whittier resident, Gabriel Esparza, 20, was arrested at his Lakewood workplace around 3 p.m. Monday. He faces charges of suspected murder and kidnapping. Authorities have also confiscated a firearm believed to be connected to the crime and Esparza’s 2013 white Toyota Tacoma.
The police have not disclosed how they linked Esparza to the crime or the reasons behind the search in Moreno Valley. However, Edlyn, Vazquez’s sister, informed KTLA she had traced her sister’s phone to a field in Moreno Valley where she found blood, but no phone or signs of Andrea.
The discovery of Vazquez’s body was made off Alessandro Boulevard and Merwin Street late Monday night.
According to Whittier Police Department’s Officer Thomas Mattsson, the incident appears to be an unprovoked and random act of violence by Esparza. The attack happened at Penn Park where Vazquez and her male companion, reportedly her boyfriend, were sitting in a car.
An armed individual approached them, firing shots. Vazquez’s companion managed to escape but returned to find her missing. There were no signs pointing to a robbery, and authorities were not in pursuit of other suspects.
Fullerton College expressed their grief over the loss. The college president, Cynthia Olivo, offered condolences, and support has been provided for those on campus affected by the tragic event.
The case will be presented to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office soon. Meanwhile, Esparza remains in custody without bail at the Whittier Police Jail.