A New Jersey kindergarten teacher and mother-of-three was found dead in a shallow grave on Tuesday, hours after blood was discovered on the door of her apartment, authorities said on Wednesday. Luz Hernandez, 33, was found dead after she was reported missing when she failed to show up for work at the BelovED Community Charter School in Jersey City.
However, Hernandez was last seen on Saturday but was not reported missing till Monday. Police launched a search operation and found her body on Tuesday while conducting a welfare check on the mother of three. An investigation has been launched and police are treating Hernandez's death as a homicide.
Mysterious Discovered Dead
Hernandez's body was located three miles from her house, in an industrial area of Kearny bordered by trucking firms. Police have not said what brought them from her house to the town's Central Avenue neighborhood to search for her body.
Officers from the Jersey City Police Department visited her house on Tuesday after receiving a missing person's complaint. Her case was also taken up by the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office.
It is the second murder of a teacher in Jersey City in recent weeks. Temara King, a teacher at PS-5, was shot and killed by her husband in January, according to the authorities. She had a 35-year-old age.
"We love her, her family, the friends. She was an amazing girl and it's so unfair somebody takes away her life from her. Why?" a cousin who wanted to remain anonymous told NBC New York.
"She was one of the best teachers, everybody loves her, all the kids. It's just like, so complicated to think about this. We just want justice," they continued.
A friend of Hernandez also wrote a heartbreaking Facebook post that read: "I'll never forget our talks, never forget our laughs. You will forever be in my heart. Rest in paradise beautiful. I love you Luz Hernandez, a wound that will never heal."
Loved By All
Following the news of her death, classes were canceled at the school where she taught. "People loved her. She was a wonderful co-worker. She was a beloved member of the BelovED family. People are feeling devastated by this," BeloveED founder Bret Schundler told NJ.com.
Hernandez began working at the school after earning a degree from Saint Peter's University in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 2017. She has two children who go to the same school.
"There is going to be a desire to commemorate her and there's going to be a desire to support her family," Schundler added.
Hernandez was known as a teacher who forged strong bonds with her pupils and colleagues, Schundler told ABC New York in a separate interview, adding that Hernandez's death had "utterly destroyed" the community.
According to The Jersey City Times, Hernandez's death came a few hours after he had spoken to the Jersey City Planning Board about the prospect of expanding his school.
Her death is being looked into as a possible homicide. The cause of Hernandez's death has not been disclosed by the local medical examiner's office. According to Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez, no arrests have been made yet.