Some friends and family gathered in a San Jose park on February 13 to mourn murder victim Lizette Cuesta with a candlelight vigil. Who was this young woman? And who were her murderers, who she allegedly named with her dying breath?
On the evening of February 13, 2018, a group of Lizette Cuesta’s family and friends gathered in Great Oaks Park in South San Jose to honor and remember the 19-year-old murder victim with a candlelight vigil.
Cuesta was found early on the morning of February 12 drenched in her own blood from multiple stab wounds, but still alive. Shortly after being found in the Livermore, California area, she was rushed to hospital, where she died from her injuries. Before taking her last breath, she was able to give the police the names of the individuals that did this to her.
The Livermore Stabbing Suspects
The individuals named were Daniel Gross, 19, and Melissa Leonardo, 25, who were friends with Cuesta. Gross and Leonardo are in a romantic relationship and living together in Modesto, according to Sergeant Ray Kelly from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. According to the Facebook profiles of Gross and Leonardo, they are also engaged.
Having the suspects’ names helped investigators rush to Gross and Leonardo’s home. “From the time we discovered Lizette to the time we got to Modesto was critical in the preservation of the crime scene,” said Sergeant Kelly. “The evidence and Lizette’s statement to us helped make this investigation unfold very rapidly.”
According to Sergeant Kelly, there are a lot of gaps that still need to be filled, such the pair’s motive. Authorities first said that Cuesta was thrown out of the car and left to die along the road, where she crawled about 100 yards until a driver found her and called 911 immediately. The rural road that Cuesta was found on is currently being treated as the scene of the crime and investigated thoroughly.
The police are also patiently waiting to speak to Gross or his lawyer, Heather Graves, with difficulties stemming from Gross being a minor. Detectives are trying to find the missing information that occurred between when Cuesto entered and left the car.
Even though this incident still needs to be solved, Roberto Cuesta, Lizette’s uncle, is glad that his niece did not give up in her final hours of life. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t know what happened,” he said. “There would be no closure.”
Who Was Lizette Andrea Cuesta?
Cuesta was living in Tracy, California with her father at the time of her death. She was originally from Manteca and had grown up in San Jose.
According to Lizette Cuesta’s Facebook profile page, she was a student attending San Jose City College. She had completed her studies at Silver Creek High School, part of the 2016 class.
Cuesta was a fan of soccer, specifically Manchester United. She was learning how to skateboard and had made many friends in the skate community. In fact, Great Oaks Park, where the vigil was held on Tuesday, was where she often went to skate.
One unnamed friend said, “I’m glad it’s here. I’m glad it’s at the place that I skated with her. The place that we laughed even talked smack to each other.”
Cuesta liked a wide range of music, including The Beatles, Tupac Shakur, and classic rock. And, based on her pictures, it seems that the 19-year-old truly enjoyed life and the company of her friends.
The people who knew the young woman are in shock that something like this could happen to her.
Brandon Bermudez, a student from Cuesta’s high school, said “She was just like a very like kind person that was always humble, that was always willing to help others… Yeah it makes it worse…knowing that, like, a person’s life being taken away…” [sic].
Her dad expressed his love and pride in his daughter. “She was always a fighter, she was always brave, strong, a leader,” said Ray Cuesta, “If she wanted to do something, she would get it done.”
A memorial was posted on Instagram in honor of Lizette Cuesta.
Early Monday morning, Lizette Cuesta, 19, of Tracy, California was brutally stabbed multiple times before being dumped in a rural area in Livermore. She managed to drag herself 100 yards to a nearby road, where she was found. She then used her final words to identify her killers. . “This victim really tried to survive, and she fought and she fought,” said Sgt. Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. “The last thing, we believe, that she was able to do was to point us in the direction of the people that killed her. And that’s pretty remarkable.” After being found by Good Samaritans, she was airlifted to hospital where she passed away. . Hours later, based on her final words, officials in Alameda County identified two people who were arrested Monday – Daniel Gross, 19, and Melissa Leonardo, 25. Gross and Leonardo are reportedly in a relationship. Investigators say they believe the alleged killers were friends with Lizette and targeted her for this vicious crime. “On the night of this incident, Lisette got into their car, as they knew each other,” said Sgt. Ray Kelly. . On Tuesday, her father Ray Cuesta was emotional as he spoke of his oldest child who was taken away from him, calling her “his angel.” “She was always a fighter. She was always brave, strong, said Cuesta. “She was a leader; a go getter.” A friend of Lizette said, “she was a very positive woman and a determined skateboarder.” . Good Samaritan Richard Loadholt was one of the people who spotted Lizette and called 911. He was headed to work. He got out to comfort her until paramedics arrived. She was soaked in blood and dragging herself on the side of the road. “She said she felt she was going to die. I said, ‘No, you aren’t going to. You are going to sit up and you are going to be alright,’” Loadholt said. “She got up, she sat back up and at least held on.” . There was a candlelight vigil last nite for Lizette. Our deepest sympathies are with her grieving family and friends. Rest well… ✨ #lizettecuesta #riplizette #riplizettecuesta #justiceforlizette #instamemorials #gonebutneverforgotten #stoptheviolence