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Deputies Tow SUV Possibly Connected To Teen’s Death

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MORENO VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — A green sport utility vehicle was seized from a home a few blocks from the field where a 17-year-old girl was believed kidnapped in July, but officials declined Wednesday to say whether the people living there might be suspects in her death.

Investigators on Tuesday also searched the home, which is three blocks from the field. A witness has said a green SUV drove from the area around the time 17-year-old Norma Lopez was believed to have been abducted.

Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Joseph Borja said he could not release any information because it would jeopardize the investigation. The search warrant affidavits in the case are sealed, he said.

Investigators believe the teenager was abducted on July 15 as she walked to a friend’s home after a summer class at Valley View High School. Investigators also have said there were signs of a struggle, but they have not released the cause of her death.

Her purse and backpack were found in the field, said Elizabeth Lopez, the teen’s sister. Her body was found five days later in another field two miles away.

No arrests have been made and authorities have offered a $35,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Detectives previously have said they believe Lopez was kidnapped by a stranger.

Elizabeth Lopez said the family was hopeful that the search might lead to a breakthrough in the case.

“We’re just amazed. We hope it’s the person they’re looking for,” she told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. “We didn’t want to go years and years hoping for a break in the case.”

Moreno Valley is about 70 miles east of Los Angeles.

Anyone with information was urged to call a 24-hour hotline at 1-877-242-4345 or e-mail: findnormaskiller@riversidesheriff.org.

(© 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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