Search of Home, Seizure of Vehicle In California Teen’s Death

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Authorities investigating the abduction and death of a teenage girl in Moreno Valley, California have searched a nearby home and seized a vehicle that may be connected to the crime.

Norma Lopez, 17, was abducted in July as she was walking from a summer school class to a friend’s home. After her sister reported her missing, detectives located her purse in a vacant field near the school. Signs of a struggle could also be found in the field. A witness said that a green SUV had sped away from the area around the time of the kidnapping.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department issued a search warrant and subsequently searched a home in a quiet housing development. The owner of the home, Eric M. Muswaswa, was arrested on suspicion of obstruction of justice and resisting a police officer on the day when the search warrant was executed, and later released on $2,500 bail.

Muswaswa, 42, denies any involvement with the killing of Norma Lopez, whose body was found in an isolated field on the edge of town five days after her disappearance. His attorney, however, did say that the investigators conducting the search were focusing on the room belonging to Muswaswa’s son, Lazarus Tasby, 25. They removed several unnamed items from his room, and also confiscated the family’s green Mitsubishi Montero.

School records from Valley View High show that Tasby had been employed as a teacher’s aide from March 2007 to November 2009. He left that position shortly after his arrest for soliciting a prostitute in Riverside, in October 2009. He pleaded not guilty to the charge; the case is still pending.

Sergeant Joe Borja of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department emphasized that the investigation is ongoing, and that they have no suspects yet in custody. However, investigators told the Lopez family that two or three people may have been involved in the incident, given how difficult it would have been for one person acting alone to seize a 17-year-old in broad daylight.

They are also focusing their investigatory efforts on tracking down the SUV that had been seen speeding from the site, and had widened their search across the state of California to that end.

None of the Lopez family knows either Eric Muswaswa, his wife Wanda, or their son Lazarus Tasby.

“I’m really hoping that this is the person that we’ve been looking for all this time,” said Norma’s sister, Elizabeth Lopez. “We don’t want to go years and years until we know who actually did this.”

 

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