As San Diego police investigate the killing of a teenager whose body was found dumped in a ravine, Mexican authorities are helping in the search for the girl’s 12-year-old friend, who remained missing Tuesday.
The family of Nelly Tamara Espinoza, 12, put together a missing persons flyer for Nelly after she disappeared from her home in the Grant Hill community, which is less than three miles northeast of downtown San Diego. The flyer is currently being distributed by authorities in Tijuana, Mexico.
According to both the flyer and Nelly’s family, the girl has been missing since Nov. 13. The flyer says her family is anxiously awaiting her return home.
The girl’s loved ones describe Nelly as weighing 160 pounds. She was last seen wearing blue jeans, a black sweatshirt and blue tennis shoes.
Family and friends said Nelly and her friend, Anna Hernandez, 14, vanished nearly two weeks ago. The two girls lived in the same neighborhood, but Nelly’s mother is not sure if the girls were together the night they vanished.
On Nov. 18, Anna’s body was found wrapped in a blanket in a canyon at 29th and Market streets – just behind the apartment complex where Nelly and her family live. The body was decomposed, according to the San Diego Police Department (SDPD), and detectives launched a homicide investigation, but did not immediately identify the body as Anna.
On Monday, the police department issued a media release saying the homicide investigation is ongoing. Officials confirmed Anna died from a gunshot wound to the torso, and her death was ruled a homicide. No further details were released.
NBC 7 spoke with Anna’s aunt Monday who said the family knew the teen was lost and had been kidnapped, but one asked for ransom in the kidnapping. She said whoever kidnapped the teen left behind her body.
Meanwhile, as the search for Anna’s friend Nelly continues, Nelly’s mother, Maria Velasco, told NBC 7 she believes her daughter is alive. The mother is holding out hope for her safe return.
Velasco said Nelly did not have a cell phone or a boyfriend and liked to spend time with her friends at Memorial Park. She said it’s unlike her daughter to disappear without a trace.