Just picture this. It is a gloomy twilight. The clock reads quite late. The law recognizes you as an officer. An automobile is parked on the side of what looks to be a curbless road in a manufacturing district.
It’s not breaking any laws, but nobody else seems to be there and it seems like an odd time and place for a car to be idling around.
I polled a dozen officers, and they all said they were nearly certain to have driven past that car without giving it much thought.
Police Officers Jose Perez-Fonseca and Bryan San Martin, followed by Anthony Oliveira, had a suspicion that something wasn’t right when they saw this car pulled over in South Kearny recently.
Hence, they decided to light it up rather than drive past it, only to discover that the vehicle’s registration had lapsed.
Hence, the vehicle is hauled to a Kearny Police Department impound lot because it cannot be driven without registration. The residents then continued on with their day.
However, here’s the catch. One of them was Cesar Santana, a Jersey City resident who, as we found out the next day, had been charged with murdering Luz Hernandez, a Jersey City charter school teacher in her thirties.
Getting Santana a citation for driving an unregistered vehicle was the final straw that would eventually lead to his demise, but no one knew that at the time.
It’s because the night before Hernandez went missing, a detective checked Santana’s name against a database of previous ticket purchases; the system immediately flagged Santana as having purchased a ticket in South Kearny.
This man, who was a suspect at the time, had been issued a citation only a few hours before.
The Kearny police officers who “pulled him over” were able to pinpoint the exact location of the incident, which they shared with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. Soon after, Hernandez’s body was discovered in a shallow grave, discarded as if it were yesterday’s garbage.
It’s possible, maybe even likely that Santana wouldn’t have been caught a few days later along Key Biscayne Boulevard in Miami if the aforementioned three police officers had taken the easy road here.
Now Hernandez’s loved ones have no idea where he is or what he plans to do. U.S. Marshals instead arrested and extradited him back to Jersey, where he is being held behind the comforting bars of the Hudson County Prison in South Kearny on charges of first-degree murder.
We would like to publicly thank Perez-Fonseca, Oliveira, and San Martin for their extraordinary efforts, which were the primary cause of Santana’s capture and detention, despite what some may have asserted.
You’ve all done a fantastic job. Congratulations; you’ve brought honor to your city and country.