A California couple tried to enter Mexico with the body of a 2-year-old girl stuffed into a duffel bag.
KTLA reports that 39-year-old Johnny Lewis Hartley and 43-year-old Mercy Mary Becerra were caught by Mexican authorities trying to enter Tijuana from the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry. Police searched their duffel bag and found a dead body inside.
"We were informed that a gentleman was detained who was carrying a duffel bag that contained the body of a small child," said San Diego Police Lt. Ray Valentin.
Becerra allegedly fled the scene, while Hartley was arrested with the duffel bag. Becerra was eventually caught and has also been arrested.
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“An X-ray of the [duffel] bag revealed a body inside,” the police news release stated. The body has been identified as that of a 2-year-old girl, presumed not to belong to the couple.
“It has been determined that this incident may have occurred in Whittier,” the San Diego police release said. Both Becerra and Hartley are from Whittier.
According to a neighbor in Whittier, Hartley has around eight children. The neighbor also claims the pair had been evicted from their home several years earlier.
CBS News reports that both Hartley and Becerra are each being held on one count of murder and one count of child cruelty.
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San Diego and Whittier police detectives are working together on the case. Valentin declined to say whether the girl’s body bore any sign of injuries.