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Authorities seek teen girl believed to be with couple suspected in Carson homicide

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Alora Benitez, 15, was last seen about 9 a.m. Wednesday in Torrance leaving with her mother and a man in a white 2013 BMW sedan, authorities said.
(Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

Authorities are seeking the public’s help to find a teenage girl who is believed to be with her mother and a man — both suspects in a Carson homicide investigation, detectives say.

Alora Benitez, 15, was last seen about 9 a.m. Wednesday in Torrance leaving with her mother, 40-year-old Maricela Mercado, and Roman Cerratos, 39, in a white 2013 BMW sedan. The four-door vehicle has a Nevada license plate that reads “MARIMAR,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.

It is not clear where the group was headed. The suspects are believed to be close to the Mexico border, according to county officials in Nevada. Late Friday, authorities said the BMW sedan was found abandoned in the San Ysidro area, which is a major border crossing.

Authorities described Alora as 5 feet 2 and 100 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.

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Mercado and Cerratos are suspected in the death of 32-year-old Jeffery Appel. His body was discovered Tuesday in the front seat of a white Audi that was parked in the 400 block of East Carson Plaza Drive. The pair are considered armed and dangerous, according to sheriff’s officials.

Anyone with information about the group’s whereabouts is asked to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Anonymous tips should be directed to Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

hannah.fry@latimes.com

Twitter: @Hannahnfry

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