EL MONTE (CBSLA) — The 16-year-old former friend of an El Monte boy whose body was found near the San Gabriel River has been arrested in connection with his murder.
Sheriff’s investigators say they received information early Thursday that a friend of 17-year-old Jeremy Sanchez may have been involved in his death. After serving a search warrant at the boy’s home, he was arrested for murder and booked at the Los Padrinos Juvenile Detention Center.
Detectives confirmed that the suspect had actually found Jeremy’s body as friends and family conducted their own search.
The suspect has not been identified, and authorities said a murder weapon has not yet been recovered.
Jeremy was found face down next to the river at Thienes Avenue and Parkway Drive in South El Monte. He had been stabbed to death.
The boy’s father reported him missing when his school called to say Jeremy was not at school. A search was immediately launched by family and friends, who found the teen next to the river.
Family members said Jeremy was a student at South El Monte High School, which brought in extra counselors for the day. He played on the school’s football team, and was a member of the wrestling and baseball teams.
A friend, Briana Amigon, established a GoFundMe page to support the family.
“Jeremy Sanchez was a loving young man who was outgoing and full of energy,” she wrote on the page. “He loved playing sports. He was on the varsity football team and also on the wrestling team. We have no words to describe the grief that their family is experiencing right now, and many friends and family have asked how they can help at this difficult time.”
Family and friends held an emotional vigil for Jeremy Thursday evening.
KCAL9’s Rachel Kim said candles and flowers marked the location where the teen’s body was found.
“When I first found out, I was speechless. I had no words. I was just in tears, emotional, you know,” said friend and teammate Anthony Gomez.
Friends and family and the team remain in shock that a friend of Jeremy’s could have killed him.
“When you hear that he’s dead or he died or like he got murdered, it’s like how can someone [do] that. It’s devastating.”
Investigators told Kim that the 16-year-old suspect and Jeremy were in a dating relationship. When Jeremy told the suspect he wanted to break up and was dating a girl, the suspect called him just before midnight on Tuesday saying he wanted to meet at the riverbed. They said the suspect ended up stabbing Jeremy and left his body in the bushes.
The suspect “found” the body during a search and police believe it was a calculated move.
“I guess he was probably trying to throw people off his trail, like look, I’m helping out and I found him and I couldn’t have been involved in his death,” said Lt. John Corina of the LASD Homicide Bureau.