'Not a homicide,' Modesto police say of death of woman found in car in church parking lot




  • In US
  • 2022-09-25 23:14:03Z
  • By Modesto Bee

The death of a woman found in a car in the parking lot of a Modesto church on Saturday afternoon is "not a homicide," a Modesto Police Department spokesman said Sunday.

It is "classified as a death investigation at this point and will stay as such unless an autopsy says otherwise," Sgt. Kalani Souza said in a text message to The Bee on Sunday afternoon after the Police Department posted about the case on social media.

The woman has not been positively identified, the post states, but "all indications are likely" that she is the missing person reported to the Ceres Police Department on Friday. That missing woman is 39-year-old Erika Lopez, and she is the person found in her car, according to her family.

Lopez's daughter, Yaresli Lopez, also has has identified on social media a man she says was threatening her mother and is "the main reason" she was missing. But the news release from Modesto police says, "There is currently no one wanted or being sought by Detectives as part of this investigation."

It says the woman was found unresponsive and later was pronounced dead at the scene. It also says investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy.

Erika Lopez went missing Friday night, her family said.

This photo is posted on the gofundme.
This photo is posted on the gofundme.  

In an Instagram post Saturday, Yaresli Lopez of Ceres wrote that her mother called her Friday at 7:46 p.m. to say she would arrive home in about 30 minutes. "Two hours passed and my mother never came home," the post reads. "Me and my dad went all throughout I-5 looking for her but there was no sign."

Saturday about 3 p.m., Modesto police responded to a report of a possibly deceased person in a car on the 1200 block of Maze Boulevard. The area around a black Honda sedan sitting in the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church parking lot was taped off, and a police watch commander confirmed a person had been found dead inside the car.

The car matches the description of Erika Lopez's, and though the name of the person found has not been released by authorities, Yaresli Lopez told The Bee by text, "It is my mother."

Modesto Police investigate a possible death in the parking lot of St.
Modesto Police investigate a possible death in the parking lot of St.  

A gofundme page, titled "In The Loving Memory of Erika Lopez," has been set up to help the Lopez family with funeral and other expenses.

The creator of the page, Yeileen Espinoza, identifies herself as a family member and writes that relatives "took it upon themselves to search for her where Erika's phone was last at and sadly her vehicle was found at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Modesto, CA where her body was also found."

On the fundraising page, Espinoza calls Lopez "an amazing, kind, and caring human being. She was someone's daughter, sister, mother, cousin, friend, and more. She meant a great amount to a lot of different people. ..."

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