FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Caitlin Mota
PHONE: (201) 577-6699
DATE: Wednesday, February 22, 2023
MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER FOR DEATH OF JERSEY CITY WOMAN
Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez has released the following information:
Additional charges have been filed against a 36-year-old man in connection with the death of Luz Hernandez, 33, of Jersey City, who was found deceased in Kearny on Tuesday, February 7, 2023.
Cesar Santana, of Jersey City, is charged with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1)(2), a crime of the first degree; Hindering in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3b, a crime of the third degree; Failing to Dispose of Human Remains in a Manner Prescribed by Law in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:22-1b, a crime of the third degree; and Tampering with Physical Evidence in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:28-6a(1), a crime of the fourth degree.
Cesar Santana was arrested at a motel in Miami, Florida, on Friday, February 10, 2023, as a Fugitive from Justice and was previously charged with Desecrating/Concealing Human Remains in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:22-1, a crime of the second degree. Cesar Santana was extradited to New Jersey during the evening hours of Tuesday, February 21, 2023 and was processed on the charges in the early morning hours of Wednesday, February 22, 2023. He is currently being held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility pending his first court appearance. This matter is being investigated as an act of domestic violence.
Leiner Miranda Lopez, 26, of Jersey City, has been charged with Desecrating/Concealing Human Remains in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:22-1, a crime of the second degree. Leiner Miranda Lopez has not yet been apprehended and anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is urged to contact the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office at 201-915-1345.
On Monday, February 6, 2023, Luz Hernandez was reported missing to the Jersey City Police Department. On Tuesday, February 7, 2023, a welfare check was conducted on Van Horne Street regarding the missing person’s report. The findings resulted in the Jersey City Police Department contacting the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office for assistance and Cesar Santana was identified as a person of interest in the matter.
During the course of the investigation, it was determined Cesar Santana and Leiner Miranda Lopez were involved in a motor vehicle stop on Sunday, February 5, 2023 on Central Avenue in Kearny, prior to Luz Hernandez being reported missing. The vehicle was unregistered and impounded by the Kearny Police Department. A court authorized search of the vehicle was executed on Tuesday, February 7, 2023, and additional evidence was recovered.
The Kearny Police Department, knowing details of the traffic stop, led the Homicide Unit to the area of Central Avenue and Third Street in Kearny, where investigators ultimately located what appeared to be a shallow grave. The body of a female – later identified as Luz Hernandez, 33, of Jersey City – was recovered a short time later and she was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:53 p.m. The Regional Medical Examiner’s Office determined the Cause of Death to be Blunt Force Trauma to the Head and Compressions to the Neck and the Manner of Death to be Homicide.
This investigation is active and ongoing. Additional charges and/or arrests may be expected. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor at 201-915-1345 or to leave an anonymous tip at: https://www.hudsoncountyprosecutorsofficenj.org/homicide-tip/. All information will be kept confidential. The above charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. R.P.C.3.6(b)(6).