Jessica McHenry, the 14-year-old missing Livermore, California, teen who was later found dead and smoldering in a rural area, is the subject of Thursday’s Motives and Murders: Cracking the Case. The episode featuring McHenry’s story is entitled “California Girl Gone,” previously named “Little Girl Gone.” It will tell the story of a teen who vanished from the busy streets of California in broad daylight but was later found strangled in a fiery heap on the outskirts of town. The story will be told by detectives who worked the cold case for years, as well as family members of Jessica McHenry. The killer, Derick Dee Moncada, killed himself in prison by hanging in 2007, according to Fox News.
Jessica McHenry’s tragic story began in June 1991 after she failed to come home from school. Her frantic mother wasn’t worried at first. She had heard from her daughter after she left school, saying that she didn’t have her house key and was headed to the home of a friend. Schoolmates saw the missing teenager leave school, walking on foot. Jessica McHenry was last seen by another classmate at around 1:45 p.m. that afternoon, the Investigation Discovery story will show.
It was a happy time for the students at Granada High School, where they were all preparing for the last day of school. But what was supposed to be a fun summer for Jessica McHenry turned out to be the worst year of her life. It didn’t take long for Jessica’s mother to learn of her fate. Detectives had found the body hours before her mom contacted police to make a missing person report. The 911 call came in by two Good Samaritans who had happened upon the body.
When detectives arrived at the scene on Tesla Road, they discovered that the body had been set afire, and her hair and face were still smoking. She was found in a very remote area in the rural part of town. With the body partially nude from the waist down, it was obvious that this had been a sexual assault. An autopsy report confirmed that the girl had been raped and strangled. She had also been severely beaten about the head. Dental records confirmed that the burning girl was 14-year-old Jessica McHenry.
Jessica Mchenry’s heartbroken family, as well as community members, were worried that the peaceful town of Livermore would see another victim if detectives didn’t catch him soon. For many years, the two Good Samaritans were suspects in the case, as well as another man who had tried to kidnap a girl the year before. However, almost 20 years later, detectives got a hit from the CODIS database, linking the DNA back to a man named Derick Moncada, a 35-year-old inmate who was just 19 when he committed the murder. When questioned, Moncada denied knowing Jessica McHenry and never admitted to killing her.
Police learned that the well-spoken, clean-cut man had a violent past that included assaulting every single girlfriend he had ever had. In fact, that was why he was in prison when they questioned him. But within hours of detectives speaking with Derick Moncada, he was found hanging in his cell. The suicide note that he left behind spoke of the disgrace that he had brought upon his devoted Catholic family, leading him to the conclusion that death was better than bringing them dishonor. Not much has been revealed about the killer’s past. However, here is a comment from a person who remembered meeting him in Livermore, according to Topix.
“I met Derrick Moncada when we were in high school, he was a friend of a friend. We attended some parties together. He always scared me back then too.”
As if the case of Jessica McHenry isn’t tragic enough, there was one more strange twist. Derick Moncada was buried in the same cemetery where Jessica’s body was resting. Her family tried to get the cemetery owners to move his body, but they were never able to get in contact with Derick Moncada’s family to ask for permission. It is believed that the family has relocated out of the country.
To watch the Jessica McHenry and Derick Moncada story, tune into Murders and Motives: Cracking the Case this Thursday, March 17 at 9/8 p.m. central on Investigation Discovery. Last week, the Inquisitr reported on the sad story of Gloria Pointer, another missing teen featured on the show.
[Image via Discovery]