Missing California teen believed to be with murder suspects

A BMW connected to the suspects was found near the U.S.-Mexico border Friday afternoon, authorities said.

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By Minyvonne Burke

Investigators in California are searching for a missing teenage girl thought to be with her mother and a man, both of whom are murder suspects.

Alora Benitez, 15, was last seen Wednesday morning in Torrance, California, getting into a white BMW with Roman Cerratos and Maricela Mercado, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

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Mercado is Benitez's mother, a spokesperson for the department said.

The vehicle, a white sedan, was found about 3 p.m. Friday near the U.S.-Mexico border in the San Diego community of San Ysidro, according to San Diego police.

The car was unoccupied, according to a tweet from the sheriff's department.

Cerratos, 39, and Mercado, 40, are wanted in connection with the murder of Jeffery Appel, who was found dead Tuesday in a car in Carson, California. Detectives have not said how Appel, 32, died.

Authorities said Mercado and Cerratos are considered armed and dangerous.

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Cerratos is described as Hispanic, 6 feet tall and weighing 210 pounds, with brown eyes. Authorities described Mercado as Hispanic, standing 5-foot-3 and weighing 130 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

Dennis Romero contributed.