The mother of a missing California girl is pleading for her daughter’s safe return days after her friend’s body was found in a ravine behind the girl’s house.
Twelve-year-old Nelly Espinosa and 14-year-old Anna Hernandez disappeared Nov. 13, families and friends said. The two girls were friends and lived in the same Grant Hill, San Diego neighborhood, but Nelly's mother is not sure the girls were together the night they disappeared.
A few days later, around 5:20 p.m. on Nov. 18, Anna’s body was found at 29th Street and Market, wrapped in a blanket, the girl’s aunt told NBC7 San Diego. The ravine where the body was found was just behind the house of the other missing girl, Nelly.
San Diego police issued a news release Monday afternoon, saying the investigation into the homicide is ongoing. They said investigators determined Anna died from a gunshot wound to the torso.
Anna's aunt said the family knew Anna was lost and had been kidnapped, but no one asked for any ransom money. She said whoever did it just left her body.
Police did not release any details of the case.
As the frantic search for her daughter continues, Nelly’s mother, Maria Velasco, told NBC 7 San Diego she believes her daughter is alive.
"I want to believe my daughter is alive and is going to come back to me," she said in Spanish. "I don't want to think that my daughter is dead. I know that she is going to come back."
Velasco said she has been looking for her daughter for more than a week, checking in with all her friends. Nelly did not have a phone or a boyfriend; she liked to spend time in Memorial Park with her friends.
Velasco said it's unlike Nelly to disappear. She said her daughter was last seen blue jeans and a black sweat shirt.
"She is a good girl," Velasco said. "I don't know why she left. We never had any discussions or fights or anything. She didn't even leave a note or anything. Nothing that I could say is a reason why she's not here."
She only wants her daughter home safe.
"The only thing I want is that my daughter comes back and nothing more," Velasco said. "How much I want for my daughter to come back because I need to know where she is. That's everything. My only wish every day all day is that she comes back."