Baby snatched by gunman is found dead; police seek clues
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) Detectives trying to determine who abducted a 3-week-old infant after shooting her parents and uncle at a Southern California home have few clues and are asking for the public's help, officials said Monday.
The baby, a 10-pound girl named Eliza Delacruz, was found dead Sunday in a trash bin in Imperial Beach, about 120 miles south of Long Beach, where her relatives were shot the day before.
A transient discovered the infant's body at a strip mall in the city that borders Mexico, raising the possibility that the assailant crossed or hoped to cross the border. Mourners erected a makeshift memorial of candles and flowers outside a pizza shop at the mall.
Long Beach detectives believe the family was targeted for some reason but do not yet know the motive, police spokeswoman Marlene Arrona said. They would say only that they are looking for a male suspect who is either black or Hispanic.
The Long Beach residence showed no sign of forced entry, and nothing was taken, homicide Lt. Lloyd Cox told the Long Beach Press-Telegram on Sunday.
"We believe that this is not a random act," Cox said. "We are going through the backgrounds of all the individuals who live here, but it appears to be very personal."
Homicide detectives referred calls Monday to Arrona. Authorities in San Diego County directed inquiries to Long Beach police.
The baby's father was released from the hospital Sunday. Her mother and uncle remain hospitalized and were listed in critical condition late Sunday. Their names have not been released.
Police on Monday defended their decision not to issue an Amber Alert for the child because they had no description of the suspect's vehicle.
"One of the criteria for that is having a license plate number. We don't even have that," Arrona said.
"We're really making a push today for people to come forward, to call us or send tips to our anonymous hotline," she said. "We really need the public's help."
The San Diego County medical examiner's office said it was unknown where or when the infant died before the transient found her body. An autopsy had not yet been performed, and no cause of death was released.
Also Monday, a trickle of mourners came by the family's modest, two-story stucco house in a working class neighborhood of North Long Beach. Christmas lights still hung on the porch over a string of yellow police tape, and a wreath hung on the door.
Joseph Guerrero stopped by with his wife and 4-year-old son to leave a candle and balloon. He didn't know the victims but was moved by the infant's death.
"We have three girls and our son, and when we were picking out the balloon, I just squeezed my daughter's hand thinking about what they were going through," he said.
A woman who identified herself as the baby's grandmother and the mother of the two injured brothers also stopped by but left in tears without going inside the house.
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