Family members, friends and even strangers Tuesday mourned the death of a 15-year-old girl whose body was found on the grounds of a business in Compton after the teen went missing on Friday.
The body of Samantha Bustos, who lived in an unincorporated area near Gardena, was found about 1:25 a.m. Monday in the 500 block of Victoria Street, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported.
The coroner’s office identified the body as Samantha, whose mother, Blanca Bautista, told reporters her daughter had claimed to be going to a sleepover with her best friend, but went to a party instead.
Samantha was last seen Friday in Compton, Blanca Bautista said, but according to the sheriff’s department, family members didn’t report her missing until Sunday.
Sheriff’s officials said the victim had “sustained traumatic injury” to her upper body.
“The cause of the traumatic injury is unknown,” sheriff’s officials said.
The coroner’s office has ruled the death a homicide, but the cause was being withheld and the motive and potential suspect information was unknown, according to the sheriff’s department.
The body was found face-down in bushes by a passerby, according to reports from the scene.
“This morning, we were told that they found a body on our property on the outside of our fenced-in area,” Andy Miller, CEO of National Retail Systems, told KTLA5 on Monday. “They believe it happened some time Saturday evening.”
Miller said his company was working to provide security video to investigators.
A sheriff’s department spokeswoman said Tuesday that information released to the public and media by non-official sources could hamper the investigation.
“Detectives are currently following up on potential evidence from processing the crime scene, leads which were developed through the investigation and information provided to detectives by community members,” according to Deputy Trina Schrader of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau, who said updates on the case “will be disseminated to the public by the department when appropriate.”
A makeshift memorial of candles, messages and flowers has been growing at the scene where Samantha’s body was found.
Counselors were made available at the Watts campus of New Designs Charter School, where Samantha was a sophomore, according to a news report, and a gofundme fundraising effort to help with the family’s funeral expenses had garnered $7,873 toward a $15,000 goal as of Tuesday afternoon.
Anyone with information on the case was urged to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.
Anonymous tips may be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS or at lacrimestoppers.org.
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