A car linked to the estranged hubby of slain New Jersey teacher Luz Hernandez had a pickax, shovel with hairs on it and bloody rope inside, according to new court filings.
The vehicle was impounded three days before Hernandez, the mother of Cesar Santana’s three children, was found buried in a shallow grave in Kearny.
Santana, 36, was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder, hindering, failing to lawfully dispose of human remains and tampering with evidence in the killing of 33-year-old woman.
Santana’s friend Leiner Miranda Lopez, 26, of Jersey City, has been charged with desecrating/concealing human remains for allegedly helping him dispose of Hernandez’s body. He remains at large.
The Jersey City kindergarten teacher’s battered body was unearthed on Feb. 7 in an industrial part of Kearny. Three days later, US Marshals arrested Santana at a Miami motel on a charge of desecrating/concealing human remains.
He was extradited to New Jersey Tuesday night, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.
An affidavit supporting a murder charge against Santana, cited by NBC News, revealed that on Feb. 4 — two days before Hernandez was reported missing — her estranged husband was seen walking to her home in Jersey City. An hour later, he was spotted again, this time dragging a black-and-yellow bin from the house.
The following day, Santa was issued a motor vehicle summons in Kearny after he and his friend, Miranda Lopez, were observed loading a black-and-yellow bin into a Honda.
The court filing stated that the car was impounded for having an expired registration.
A subsequent search of the Honda revealed a black-and-yellow bin, a pickax, a bloody shovel, a bloodstained rope, and clear plastic sheeting with blood and soil on it. The affidavit stated that strands of black hair were also found on the shovel and rope.
After Santana reported his estranged wife missing, police went to her house on Van Horne Street in Jersey City and found evidence of a crime, including blood in the bedroom, cleaning supplies, a mop and “the faint smell of bleach.”
Just hours after the welfare check at Hernandez’s home, investigators found her body in the area of Central Avenue and Third Street in Kearny.
An autopsy determined that Hernandez died of blunt force trauma to the head and compression of the neck. The BelovED Charter School teacher would have turned 34 years old Friday.
Santa made his initial appearance in Central Judicial Processing Court Wednesday to hear the new charges against him, reported NJ.com. He is expected to be back before a judge for a detention hearing next Monday.