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The remains of a missing 9-year-old girl were discovered in Florida, nearly four years after she disappeared.
The remains of Diana Alvarez were discovered Thursday by surveyors working in a wooded area, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said Saturday at a a press conference .
“Our team never quit, fulfilling the promise we made to Diana’s family to never give up on our search for Diana,” Marceno said.
The 9-year-old disappeared from her south Fort Myers home in May 2016.
Authorities identified Jorge Manuel Guerrero as a suspect in the case after discovering evidence he possessed child pornography and indicted him for her murder in May 2018, even without her body.
The case is still awaiting trial; however, Guerrero has already been sentenced to 40 years in federal prison in connection with the child pornography charges. Images of Alvarez had also been found in his possession, according to The News-Press.
“The monster that committed this horrendous crime is behind bars and will now be brought to justice for the murder of Diana Alvarez,” Marceno said.
Amira Fox, the state attorney for the 20th Judicial Circuit of Florida, said at Saturday’s press conference that prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.
Samantha Syoen, the communications director for the state attorney’s office, declined to answer any further questions about the case to Oxygen.com citing the “active case.”
Alvarez’s mother Rita Hernandez was emotional after learning that the remains had been positively identified and said she had still not told her other five children, who had always held out hope Alvarez would have been found alive.
“What she suffered and what she lived in those moments, I don’t wish that upon nobody,” she told local station WINK.
Hernandez hopes her daughter is remembered for the vibrant person she was in life.
“My daughter is in heaven,” she said. “She’s with God.”
Guerrero appeared in court Monday for a case management conference, but the case has been delayed until late April due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the local paper reports.
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