An exhaustive 10-day search for missing University of Maryland student Lizeth Lopez has ended with the discovery of her lifeless body in Lake Ridge, Maryland, on Friday. She was reported missing by family members on April 19, 2016, and was last seen on surveillance footage from the evening of April 17. Police are now investigating her death as a homicide.
Law enforcement searched Lizeth’s Alexandria, Virginia, apartment after she was reported missing, but would not comment on whether she had made any calls for assistance to police, according to Fox 5 DC. At the time, foul play was not suspected in Lizeth’s disappearance.
One of Lizeth’s neighbors told WJLA ABC 7 that the university student was quiet most of the time. Nevertheless, the neighbor noted that a man visited Lizeth “…often, and when he did the two would get into loud arguments.”
According to Fox 5, during the investigation into Lizeth’s disappearance, police found video from a CVS store in Woodbridge, showing her entering the location and picking up a shopping basket at about 9 p.m. Authorities note that after 10 p.m. that evening, “no contact” was made with Lizeth, 36, again.
Inside Nova reports police believe that after leaving the CVS store, Lizeth returned to her apartment complex.
Lizeth worked as a youth counselor and her car was found near her place of employment on April 20 in the Woodbridge area, according to Inside Nova.
Although police had already searched the area in which Lizeth’s body was found, it is believed that it had been secreted away in a drainage ditch, according to Inside Nova.
CBS Baltimore reports that Lizeth’s body was discovered by a neighbor who responded to his barking dog. Lizeth was unclothed and a tattoo on her body was visible.
Potomac Local reports that a press release on the matter states,
“On April 29 at 10:56AM, officers responded to the area of Cotton Mill Dr and Griffith Ave in Woodbridge (22192) to investigate a found body. Officers arrived in the area and located the body of an adult woman presumed to be Lizeth Yadira Lopez, 36, who was reported as missing and endangered on April 19. The body was located near a drainage ditch in the above area and will be transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. At this time, the death is being investigated as a homicide and more information will be released when available. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call Prince William County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS. The investigation continues.”
Lizeth’s family members told WUSA 9 that she was a university student and was getting ready to graduate just weeks from now. Lizeth was obtaining her degree in criminology and both her mother and sister were traveling to Maryland from Bolivia to be present at her graduation ceremony.
Inside Nova reports that the Bolivian embassy is offering Lizeth’s family support regarding the matter.
After Lizeth failed to pick up her niece from school, Lizeth’s sister, Janette Lopez, reported her missing, according to WUSA.
Prior to Friday’s discover of Lizeth’s body, Janette told NBC Washington,
“I feel like I’m living in a dream right now and it’s not even a dream, it’s like a nightmare… All I want to do is wake up from this nightmare so I can continue my life.”
Lizeth’s sister said she communicated with her via text before Lizeth went to CVS, according to NBC. She added, “I don’t know what happened to her after that… I’m sure somebody took her. She wouldn’t disappear like that. She is a very responsible person.”
Sergeant Jonathan Perok with the Prince William Police Department said Lizeth’s case is not related to Marie Ditoro’s case, according to Inside Nova. Ditoro’s body was discovered in a drainage pond outside Manassas on March 29; however, her death was not ruled a homicide.
Marie, 23, was reported missing on February 4 and was last seen at the Comfort Suites Hotel in Manassas. Police announced that no foul play was suspected in her death, stating, “There is no public threat or need for concern from the surrounding community…,” reports Inside Nova.
Anyone with information regarding Lizeth’s case is urged to contact police at 703-792-6500 or Crime Solvers at 703-670-3700. According to Inside Nova, a cash reward may be offered to those whose tips lead to an arrest in the matter.
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