Father Prays Easter Sunday for Safe Return of Missing 15-Year-Old

on Apr22
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What to Know

  • Alora was last seen Wednesday morning in Torrance.

  • Jeffery Appel, 32, was found dead in a bloodied car in Carson Tuesday, and Alora’s mother and another man are suspects.

  • The car they were believed to be traveling in was found at the border.

For six days, no one has seen 15-year-old Alora Benitez.

Her father and his family used their time Easter Sunday to pray for her safe return.

Alora, missing for nearly a week, is thought to be in danger, trapped on the run with two murder suspects.

Her mother, Maricela Mercado, and a man she was last seen with, Roman Cerratos, were named by authorities as suspects in the death of a Carson man found dead in a bloodied car.

Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department say the last trace of Alora was found Friday near the border. The car the trio were thought to be traveling in was discovered near the San Ysidro border crossing, but no one was found in the car.

“She’s not safe right now. She’s walking around with a guy who, I don’t know what he did, I just know it’s not good,” her father, Julian Benitez, said. “She’s 15. She’s a little girl. Why is she in this?”

Julian said he last talked with his daughter, Alora, on Tuesday, the same day she disappeared.

“I haven’t slept. I’m on three hours of sleep a day. I work on top of that. When I’m done, I’m out there searching,” he said.

On Easter Sunday, the Benitez family held a vigil, praying for Alora’s safe return.

“I know it’s a holiday but my kid ain’t here so it’s just another day. I’m doing what I can,” he said.

Julian said he’s exhausted and trying to remain strong.

He says there’s no time for tears.

“I’ve done that on my own plenty of times already. Like I said I’m just trying to maintain and stay high spirits.”

Julian said his daughter loves dancing, and spending time with her younger siblings.

They ask for her, and he says and he just doesn’t know how to answer.

Julian said he’s not sure if his daughter is in Mexico, but he says he’ll keep searching Southern California to find her.

Anyone with information on where Alora is should call 911 immediately.

Benitez is 5-feet 2-inches tall, weighing 100 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. Investigators could not provide a description of the outfit she was last seen in. 

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