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Samantha Bustos Vital, 15

Samantha Bustos Vital (2019-03-25)

Samantha Bustos Vital, a 15-year-old Latina, was pronounced dead on Monday, March 25, after her body was found in the 500 block of West Victoria Street in Compton, according to Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner records. 

Samantha, a student at New Designs Charter School in Willowbrook, went out with friends on Friday, March 22, and never returned home, according to family members.

Her mother, Blanca Bautista de Cuevas, told NBCLA  and CBS2 television that Samantha said she was sleeping over at her best friend's house, and the friend told her family she was staying at Samantha's house. Instead, the girls apparently went to a party, unusual behavior for her daughter, she said. 

"She was really good," Bautista de Cuevas told reporters. "She didn't even go out to parties, until that day."

Bautista de Cuevas also said her daughter's friend told her she last saw Samantha in a white jeep, with two males her family didn't know.

Samantha's cousin, Susan Lainez, wrote in an email to KTLA that Samantha stopped answering her cellphone after 5 p.m. that Friday and the device was shut off after midnight. 

When Samantha didn't return Saturday, her family began searching for her, and reported her missing on Sunday. 

Early Monday morning, around 1:30 a.m., Samantha's body was spotted lying face-down between some bushes and a fence near the Dominguez Hills Industrial Park, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Rodney Moore. 

Samantha was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:56 a.m., according to coroner's records. The cause of death was listed as a gunshot wound to the head. 

On Wednesday, April 4, investigators announced in a news release that after reviewing "leads from various sources," they detained a 15-year-old Latino on March 30, "who was present at the time of the homicide and involved in the events following the death" of Samantha, The Times reported. The boy was arrested on suspicion of murder.

On April 2, investigators "received information about an additional subject," according to the news release, and went to his home in the 1200 block of Central Avenue in Compton to question him. 

The second suspect, another 15-year-old Latino, fled when investigators arrived and ran to the roof of an adjacent building, where he later surrendered without further incident, according to the release. 

The sheriff's SWAT team responded to the arrest scene, and posted photos of the boy on the roof on Twitter. 

During questioning, the second boy "implicated himself in the shooting death of Victim Bustos and was subsequently booked for murder," according to the release. 

Charges are still pending for the two boys, according to the release.

An online fundraiser to help with burial expenses exceeded its $15,000 goal within a few days, raising $16,138 before the page was closed on April 3. The statement posted on the site by Samantha's uncle Jose Bautista said her body was "bruised and cut" when found. 

The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.  

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

Do you have information to share about the life of Samantha Bustos Vital ? The Homicide Report needs your help. Please fill out this form or e-mail us at homicidereport@latimes.com.

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