Teen stabbed and left for dead uses her last breath to lead police to her suspected killers

Lizette Cuesta

A 19-year-old girl was able to use her last words to identify two suspects in the vicious stabbing that killed her.

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Lizette Andrea Cuesta was found in the middle of the road in Livermore, California, after dragging herself nearly 100 yards, leaving bloody marks in her wake. She was reportedly thrown from a moving car near the remote road, but managed to move to a place where passing drivers would see her, and she was found in the dead of the night with multiple stab wounds. Cuesta was airlifted to an area hospital, but succumbed to her injuries, said Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Ray Kelly, according to KTLA.

In her dying moments, however, the teen was able to give authorities the necessary clues leading to her suspected killers.

“The last thing, that we believe, she was able to do was point us into the direction to the people that killed her,” Kelly said.

Sgt. Kelly told the San Francisco Chronicle, “Her internal fortitude, to stay alive and to fight, is pretty remarkable. This young woman clung to life when she was left for dead and was able to live for another couple hours and get us that information. Ultimately that led us to these arrests.”

The sheriff’s office announced the arrests of two suspects on Tuesday: Melissa Leonardo, 25, and Daniel Gross, 19. Both Modesto residents, Leonardo and Gross were Cuesta’s co-workers and friends. Police say this connection is why she voluntarily entered their vehicle, reports the Washington Post.

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According to an interview from jail, Gross told KTVU-TV that he and Cuesta had had sex in the car while Leonardo drove. Afterward, outside of the vehicle, he reportedly said Cuesta elbowed him in the ribs, which caused him to snap.

“I … hate myself, you know?” Gross said, according to the reporter. “I wish I could go back in time and that this never happened.”

Both Gross and Leonardo were charged with murder and are being held in Santa Rita Jail without bail.

According to the Washington Post, Cuesta was discovered by a group of delivery men who came upon her on their way to work. She was reportedly covered in so much blood, the men couldn’t tell what color her hair was — they initially thought she was missing an arm. The men comforted her and prayed beside her as they awaited emergency services.

“She laid down for almost three minutes at one period, and we told her to get up. She knew she had to get up, and I commend that,” said Richard Loadholt, one of the men. “She fought like a soldier. Like a warrior.”

Police are still investigating the possible motives for the crime, while a GoFundMe donation page has been set up for the victim’s family.

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