CARSON (CBSLA) – Authorities have issued an Amber Alert in the search for Alora Benitez, a missing 15-year-old Redondo Beach girl who is believed to be in the company of her mother and another man, both of whom are considered suspects in a killing that occurred in Carson Tuesday.

Alora Benitez. (Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

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Thirty-nine-year-old Roman Cerratos and 40-year-old Maricela Mercado are wanted in the murder of man whose body was found in an Audi in the 400 block of East Carson Plaza Drive in Carson Tuesday morning, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Mercado is the mother of Benitez, who is believed to be with the pair, the sheriff’s department said. Deputies said she was last seen Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Torrance with both murder suspects driving in a white-colored 2013 four-door BMW with a Nevada license plate “MARIMAR.”

The exact relationship of Cerratos to Mercado and Benitez was not confirmed.

Mercado and Benitez resided in an apartment in the 1100 block of Barbara Street in Redondo Beach. Although deputies said the three were last seen Wednesday morning in Torrance, management for the apartment complex told CBS2 Thursday that they saw Mercado moving items out of the unit Wednesday afternoon. A white sedan with Alora’s name on the license plate was still parked out in front of the apartment Thursday.

Roman Cerratos and Maricela Mercado. (LASD)

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Late Wednesday night, the sheriff’s department requested that California Highway Patrol issue an Amber Alert for the missing girl. However, CHP refused, saying that the case does not meet the criteria for an Amber Alert because they did not believe Benitez is in imminent danger. However, at around 10 a.m. Thursday, an Amber Alert was officially issued.

Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Dean told reporters Thursday that detectives are unsure if the teen is in danger.

“We don’t know that information at this time,” Dean said. “Based on the circumstances, the fact that she is traveling with two people wanted in connection with a murder, we felt it prudent that we get this information out to the public as quick as possible for the safe return of Ms. Benitez.”


Cerratos and Mercado are considered armed and dangerous. The exact circumstances of the Carson murder and the identity of the victim were not immediately released.

Cerratos is described as a Hispanic, 6-foot-1, weighing 210 pounds, bald and with brown eyes. Mercado is described as Hispanic, 40 years old, 5-foot-3, weighing 130 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

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Anyone with information on their whereabouts should call the LASD Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.