The estranged spouse of slain kindergarten teacher Luz Hernandez is back in New Jersey. He has been charged with Murder.

Cesar J. Santana
Cesar J. Santana

According to Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez, Cesar Santana of Jersey City is facing a new set of charges in Hernandez’s death, including Murder, Hindering, Failing to Dispose of Human Remains in a Manner Prescribed by Law, and Tampering with Physical Evidence. 

Hernandez, 33, was the mother of three and a teacher at BelovED Community Charter School.

A car stop in Kearny kicked off a series of events leading to Santana’s arrest. On February 5, Kearny police pulled over a car in which Santana and Leiner Miranda Lopez were riding. The vehicle was unregistered and subequently impounded.

The following day, Hernandez was reported missing. On February 7, police conducted a “welfare check” at her Van Horne Street home.

That day, the HCPO learned of the traffic stop and the impounded automobile in Kearny. A court authorized search warrant was executed on the vehicle. 

The Kearny Police Department led the HCPO Homicide Unit to the area of Central Avenue and Third Street in Kearny where investigators found Hernandez’s body in a shallow grave. Additional evidence was recovered from the impounded car. 

An autopsy performed on Hernandez determined that she died of blunt force trauma to the head and of compressions to the neck.

Last week Hernandez was buried at Bayview Cemetery.

Santana was arrested at a motel in Miami, Florida, on Friday, February 10. Yesterday, he was extradited to New Jersey. This morning he was processed on the new charges.

Leiner Miranda Lopez

Santana is currently being held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility pending his first court appearance. The matter is being investigated as an act of domestic violence. 

Lopez, 26, also of Jersey City, has been charged with Desecrating/Concealing Human Remains and has not yet been apprehended.

The investigation is active and ongoing, according to the HCPO. Additional charges and/or arrests are expected. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor at 201-915-1345 or to leave an anonymous tip. All information will be kept confidential.

A GoFundMe page has been established for Hernandez’s children.

Aaron is a writer, musician and lawyer. Aaron attended Berklee College of Music and the State University of New York at Purchase. Aaron served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. He received a J.D....