Homicide detectives are investigating the death of a New Jersey kindergarten teacher and mother of three whose body was found in a shallow grave as family members, friends and her young students mourned her loss.
The body of Luz Hernandez, 33, who taught at the BelovED Charter School, was found in an industrial area near her home in Jersey City on Tuesday, after co-workers reported that she hadn’t shown up to work on Monday.
In tears and holding a handwritten note, one of her 6-year-old students paid her respects to her teacher during a candlelight vigil.
“I love you,” the girl said, reciting her note as tears streamed down her face, in an interview with NBC New York station WNBC.
Authorities haven’t said how she died, and no arrests have been made, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.
News of her death shocked family members.
“She was always happy,” the victim’s brother, Christiano Hernandez, told CBS New York. “She loved kids. She became a teacher because she loved being around kids.”
The news hit her neighbors hard.
“It’s very close to home. She’s my neighbor, and when I learned it, I sat in my car and cried,” an unidentified woman told WNBC.
Another woman who told WNBC she was Hernandez’s cousin was stunned.
“We love her,” said the woman who declined to be identified. “She was like an amazing girl. Somebody takes away her life from her. Why?”
BelovED founder Bret Schunder told NJ.com that Hernandez started as a teacher’s assistant in 2017 after graduating from Saint Peter’s University that year.
“She was a wonderful co-worker,” Schundler said. “She was a beloved member of the BelovED family. People are feeling devastated by this.”
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