On the festive night Monrovia lit its community Christmas tree, dozens of the celebrants stayed and lit candles in remembrance of two residents found slain one week ago in their home.
Cecilia Meza, 41, and daughter Kelsey, 17, had both been strangled, and the daughter had also been struck with a blunt object, according to coroner's autopsies.
"The community really needs this time for grieving and mourning," said Carmen Martinez, the Monrovia resident who organized the vigil.
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The mother's significant other, Nimrod Perez Guerrero, is now sought by law enforcement. He has not been seen since before the bodies were discovered.
The apartment is across Colorado Blvd from Monrovia High School, which Kelsey attended, and many of the students pass by the curbside memorial as they go to and from campus. Kelsey aspired to attend Wellesley College, as had Hillary Clinton, the former senator, secretary of state, first lady and presidential candidate.
"It just hits like hard," said Lino Lopez, whose girlfriend was close to Kelsey.
"She didnt deserve it," said Martinez's daughter Cata. "She was amazing."
Neighbors do not recall seeing any activity at the apartment for several days prior to authorities getting notification to make the welfare check, when the grim discovery was made. One said she assumed the family was traveling.
Investigators believe Guerrero, 33, left in a 2014 Toyota Rav4 and has not traveled far from the area, said Homicide Det. Lt. Derrick Alfred of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Dept. He said detectives are actively pursuing leads.
"People are antsy," said Carmen Martinez. "Our entire community will feel more at ease once he is caught."
A cousin of the deceased, Lily Meza, has started a Go Fund Me page.