Details of Disappearance
Lopez was last seen by at the Windsor Motel on Route 92 in New Windsor, New York in the early hours of November 3, 2019. She was staying there with her sometime boyfriend, Matthew Louis Mercado. She has never been heard from again.
That evening, her silver 2005 Toyota Camry with the New Jersey license plate number JDC9597 was found abandoned at the Showtime Cinemas on Route 300 in Newburgh, New York, the town where she lived. A photo of the care is posted with this case summary.
On November 6, authorities arrested Mercado for an unrelated burglary charge: he allegedly broke into another room in the Windsor Motel at 1:30 a.m. on November 3 and stole a backpack and purse from three women who were sleeping there.
He was still in custody on that charge a year later when, in November 2020, he was charged with second-degree murder in Lopez's case. Investigators stated they believed she was the victim of a domestic violence homicide at the Windsor Motel on the morning she was last seen, but that they had located her body and did not expect that they will find it.
According to police, at about 5:00 a.m., Lopez tried to leave their motel room and Mercado restrained her and killed her. He subsequently deleted text messages between them from his phone, and disposed of her phone. He put her body in the trunk of her own car and then disposed of the remains.
He is also charged with second-degree burglary, two counts of larceny, two counts of petty larceny, three counts of evidence tampering, one count of criminal possession of stolen property, and one count of second-degree criminal impersonation. Some of the charges are because he allegedly used Lopez's debit card to withdraw $1,500 from her bank account at 9:00 a.m., several hours after her death.
A photo of Mercado is posted with this case summary. In August 2022, he pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, second-degree burglary and tampering with physical evidence in Lopez's death.
Mercado stated he caused Lopez's death by giving her a variety of illegal drugs and failed to get medical aid for her when he realized she was having a severe adverse reaction. He put her body in the trunk of her car, drove it away and later hid her body, and as part of the plea agreement he must say where the remains are. The prosecution plans to request a sentence of 17 to 19 years in prison.
Lopez worked as a substitute teacher at schools in Newburgh between 2007 and 2012, and then at a medical clinic, until she quit to take care of her sick father. Some accounts state she was last seen at her home on Dubois Street in Newburgh on November 1.
Both New Windsor and Newburgh police are investigating her case. Foul play is suspected due to the circumstances involved.