Family and friends of Jeremy Sanchez visited the site near the San Gabriel River where the 17-year old missing South El Monte High School student’s body was found late Wednesday. Many not only mourned his brutal stabbing death but were in shock after police arrested Sanchez’s close friend as a suspect in his murder.
“We knew he was like bisexual, you know,” close friend Nelly Mendoza told Fox11 News. “We never thought in 2018 it would be a problem.”
On Thursday morning, police received information that prompted them to look at Sanchez’s 16-year old friend, whose story didn’t add up after he discovered Sanchez’s body facedown in the bushes by the water as part of a search team and then called Sanchez’s father. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department obtained a search warrant, searched the teen’s house, and subsequently arrested the 16-year-old, whose name is being withheld because he’s a minor, and booked him at Los Padrinos Juvenile Detention in Downey.
“This is somebody who obviously planned this, who tried to plan it well,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Lt. John Corina. “And who then tried to throw everybody off.” The weapon has not yet been found.
Ashlie Lara was surprised. “They had a really beautiful friendship since middle school and they got really close this year,” she told Fox11.
But apparently Sanchez had recently broken up with his friend and had asked a female friend to the prom. The 16 year old allegedly called Sanchez late Tuesday night and asked to meet him by the river. Sanchez’s father reported him missing the next day when he didn’t show up for school.
School administrators, coaches and friends describe Sanchez as a warm-hearted, considerate young man who loved sports. “Jeremy was a happy, funny and lighthearted student who had a passion for sports, having played on the football, baseball and wrestling teams,” school officials said in a statement. “He was a beloved, natural leader on our campus, and his death is nothing short of devastating.”
But Lara said Sanchez had been bullied for being bisexual. “He stopped wrestling and being a football athlete because of this bullying,” Lara said. “He might have been bisexual and he got bullied because of that. So that made him quit sports.”
“He was always happy,” Victoria Loera told ABC7. “Even when he was going through the hardest times, he managed to put a smile on everyone’s faces and put everyone’s happiness before his own.”
“When I first found out, I was speechless. I had no words. I was just in tears, emotional, you know,” friend and teammate Anthony Gomez told CBS2.
Briana Amigon has set up a GoFundMe page to support the family. “Jeremy Sanchez was a loving young man who was outgoing and full of energy,” she says on the site. “He loved playing sports. He was on the varsity football team and also on the wrestling team. We have no words to describe the grief that their family is experiencing right now, and many friends and family have asked how they can help at this difficult time.”
Anyone with information on the case was urged to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.