Andrea Vazquez, a 19-year-old California teen abducted after being shot by an assailant in Penn Park over the weekend, was found dead on August 21. Vazquez was in her boyfriend’s car at the parking stalls of Penn Park in Whittier just after midnight on Sunday when an assailant approached the vehicle and shot her before abducting her from the scene.
Andrea Vazquez's sister told ABC News that the teen’s boyfriend, who was with her at the time of the incident, fled the scene after the assailant opened fire but returned shortly after to find Vazquez was gone.
Following an intensive search, Andrea Vazquez was found dead late Monday night in a vegetation field in Moreno Valley. In the wake of her death, the late teen’s family created a GoFundMe to help pay for the funeral expenses. The fundraiser has so far raised over $14,000 of the 20,000 target amount. The page said:
“I am asking all our friends and family to help my family with the tragic loss of our beautiful Andrea. We appreciate all the love, prayer, and support during this time. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!”
Andrea Vazquez was a fashion student at Fullerton College
Andrea Vazquez, a fashion design student at Fullerton College, was found dead on Monday in a vegetation field in Moreno Valley, a day after she was shot and abducted from her boyfriend's car in Penn Park. Andrea’s location was reportedly found by her sister Edlyn who tracked the victim’s phone to Moreno Valley. In a statement to KCLA, Edlyn said:
"When I got to that spot, that night, the police were called. They had drones, they had canines, and they had a lot of people searching that area. But, we don't really know much more."
In another statement to KCLA, Andrea’s devastated mother, Anna, expressed her anguish over the violent death.
“It's a pain nobody deserves," said her mother, Anna. "She was my everything."
Meanwhile, Andrea Vazquez's sister, who was hoping for her safe return, said that she has trouble sleeping on the heels of the tragedy.
"It's hard to get rest, it just feels guilty to even sleep. She's a homebody. She was my best friend."
The assailant, identified as 20-year-old Gabriel Esparza, a Whittier resident, was arrested at his job Monday, August 21, in Lakewood. While the motive for the killing remained unclear, police described the incident as a random attack.
“At this time, it appears that Andrea Vazquez and her male companion were randomly targeted by the suspect at Penn Park.”
Authorities said a weapon believed to have been used during the abduction was recovered from the suspect’s 2013 white Toyota Tacoma trunk.
Police said that Esparza, who is facing murder and kidnapping charges, is being held without bail. Meanwhile, authorities declined to disclose additional information in the case, citing an active investigation.