A vigil to honor two young women found dead in a Northeast Los Angeles park was planned for tonight.
Multiple commenters on the Facebook page of victim Briana Gallegos, a 17-year-old Pico Rivera resident and student at Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies in nearby Glassell Park, said she was pregnant.
We reached out to a coroner's official who would only say, repeatedly, that no information about the cases was available, despite the office's apparent leak that the other victim, 19-year-old Gabriela Calzada, had been shot in the head. We also wanted to know if this was a triple homicide; one commenter said Gallegos was weeks away from giving birth, although she certainly didn't appear that way in social media images.
Police said previously there was evidence of blunt-force trauma in the double-homicide case.
We asked Los Angeles Police Department Commander Andrew Smith if investigators found any links between the latest discovery and the murders a few years ago of 22-year-old Bree'Anna Guzman and 17-year-old Michelle Lozano, whose bodies also were found in Northeast L.A.
"RHD [Robbery-Homicide Division] has looked at the case and doesn't believe it is related," he said. "Until we make arrests, though, we cannot say for sure."
For now the case of Gallegos and Calzada is being handled by homicide investigators at LAPD's Hollenbeck Division, which covers the Montecito Heights park where their bodies were found.
The murders of Guzman and Lozano were said to be connected to each other.
Lozano reportedly had been strangled. Authorities said her remains were inside a container that was possibly dumped from a moving vehicle. Her body was found near the 5 freeway in Boyle Heights, not far from her home, on April 25, 2011.
Lozano was last seen on the afternoon of April 24, 2011, near Lincoln High School in her neighborhood of Lincoln Heights. The school is about five or six blocks from Ernest E. Debs Regional Park, where Gallegos and Calzada were found.
Guzman's body was discovered near Riverside Drive and the 2 freeway, where Silver Lake and Frogtown meet, on Jan. 26, 2012. She was heading to a Rite Aid at 111 E. Avenue 26 in her neighborhood of Lincoln Heights when she was last seen, on Dec. 26, 2011.
The spot where her remains were discovered is only a few blocks from Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies in Glassell Park, where Gallegos went to school.
All the victims were attractive, young Latinas. Two of them even had similar names.
"The FBI is continuing to assist in the Lozano and Guzman cases but is not involved in the others," bureau spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told us last night.
Authorities discounted community rumors attempting to connect previous attacks in Ernest E. Debs Regional Park to the latest crimes. And they previously dispelled chatter about kidnapping attempts and abductions in Northeast L.A., calling that info false.
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The bodies of Gallegos and Calzada were found near a pathway in the park by a passerby about 2:20 p.m. on Oct. 28.
Acquaintances of Calzada have started an online "memorial fund" and are organizing a car-wash fundraiser Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Glassell Senior Citizen Center, 3750 Verdugo Road.
Tonight's vigil starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 6. A march will begin at Rose Hills Recreation Center at 4530 Mercury Ave., organizers say.
"We demand a thorough and professional investigation of their deaths and issue a call for increased neighborhood safety and resources within parks and education about violence against women," said the Eastside Mujeres Network in a statement.