No Missing Person Report Filed for Dead Toddler Found at US-Mexico Border: SDPD

The San Diego Police Department said Johnny Lewis Hartley, 39, and Mercy Maria Becerra, 43, of Whittier, California attempted to cross the San Ysidro port of entry on Aug. 9 with a dead toddler inside a duffle bag

San Diego police confirm there was no missing person report filed for a toddler found dead inside a bag being carried by a couple trying to cross the border into Tijuana.

San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Lt. Ray Valentin told NBC 7 Wednesday that the couple was attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border on foot at the San Ysidro port of entry at around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The couple, residents of Whittier, California now identified as Johnny Lewis Hartley, 39, and Mercy Maria Becerra, 43, were stopped by Mexican authorities and sent to a secondary inspection point.

Hartley was carrying a duffle bag.

When officials scanned the bag in an X-ray machine, they made a grisly discovery: the lifeless body of a little girl was inside. According to Valentin, the child was approximately two years old.

Valentin told NBC 7 Thursday that it appears the couple was driven down to San Diego by someone and dropped off at the pedestrian border crossing.

SDPD Homicide Unit detectives are working closely with detectives of the Whittier Police Department to track down leads on the case, and have been in contact with several people in Whittier regarding the little girl.

At this point, Valentin said no other arrests have been made in this case.

When Hartley and Becerra were stopped at the border, Valentin said Becerra tried to run away, but she was quickly apprehended and taken into custody. Hartley was also arrested on the spot.

Both Hartley and Becerra were booked into jail in San Diego and are facing counts of first-degree murder and child cruelty. They are both scheduled to appear in court Friday.

After interviewing the suspects, SDPD Homicide Unit detectives have determined that whatever happened to the girl may have occurred in Whittier.

The toddler's parents live in the Whittier/Greater Los Angeles area. NBC 4 Los Angeles confirmed Becerra's Instagram account; her biography on the social media page says she's a mother of nine.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner's (ME) office took custody of the toddler's body and will determine the cause and manner of the girl's death.

On Thursday, the ME's office confirmed the autopsy was completed, but the results have been sealed by law enforcement.

The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information on the case can call the SDPD Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

Whittier is located approximately 127 miles north of Tijuana.

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