N.Y. Teacher Vanished 1 Year Ago, Car Was Found Abandoned — and Now Boyfriend Is Arrested

Matthew Mercado, 37, was charged Friday with second degree murder in the death of Jessica Lopez, who disappeared from the Windsor Motel in the town of New Windsor on Nov. 3, 2019.

Her car was later found in a movie theater parking lot, but her body has never been found, CBS2 reports.

“Jessica Lopez’s body has not been recovered,” Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said at a Friday news conference. “We are not hopeful that her body will ever be recovered. But we will not stop continuing trying to recover that body for her family.”

Hoovler said there was evidence indicating that 36-year-old Lopez, a former substitute teacher, had been killed.

“In life, all of us leave a footprint of what we do and how we live,” Hoovler said. “Every footprint that she would possibly leave in life ended between Nov. 3 and Nov. 4. We know it ended shortly after she was last seen with Matthew Mercado.”

Hoovler said authorities believe her death was “a domestic violence-related homicide, in every way, shape and form.”

“This case is going to rely on a lot of video evidence, a lot of timeline evidence, and a lot of evidence of the absence of evidence,” he said.

The Orange County District Attorney said Mercado allegedly killed Lopez at the motel while she was trying to leave.

Mercado is also charged with killing Lopez during the commission of a robbery or kidnapping, as well as two counts of grand larceny for allegedly stealing her bank card and $1,500 from her bank account.

Authorities believe Mercado, after allegedly killing Lopez, placed her in the trunk of her car and drove to an unknown location where he dumped the body.

He is also accused of tampering with evidence for allegedly deleting text messages from her phone around the time of the murder.

According to authorities, Mercado had earlier been charged with burglary in the second degree for breaking into a room at the Windsor Motel and stealing two bags from three women asleep in the room.

“We just want to find a body, have some closure for our family and have justice for Jessica,” Lopez’s brother Ernesto told CBS2.

Mercado, who has entered a plea of not guilty, is being held on $1 million bond. He faces up to 25 years to life in state prison if convicted.

His next court date is scheduled for Dec. 2.

His attorney could not be reached for comment.



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