Strangers and family members gathered on the garden of St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church to attend a mass for Juan Carlos Hernández, whose physique was just lately found buried in a shallow grave out within the Mojave Desert.
A small desk and some garden chairs had been set out, however most attendees selected to face quietly in small teams whereas a priest led mass from underneath the shade of a tree gently dropping leaves. Juan Carlos Hernández’s mom, Yajaira Hernández, stood holding a single white rose.
Father David G. Nations, who led the bilingual mass, learn the story of Lazarus, a buddy of Jesus who fell sick and died however was subsequently resurrected by him. He requested the attendees to see the circumstances of Juan Carlos Hernández’s demise via a brand new mild.
“Justice needs to be served, and there’s little question about that, however issues like this that occur give us a chance to dwell and alter our lives,” Nations repeated in each English and Spanish. “If we find yourself simply on the lookout for an eye fixed for an eye fixed and a tooth for a tooth, we’re shedding one thing of ourselves.”
He later blessed ornaments introduced by the Hernández household for attendees to take with them. Yajaira Hernández requested individuals to incorporate her son of their holidays as she could be doing.
Juan Carlos Hernández initially went lacking the night time of Sept. 22 after ending his shift at a dispensary. Nearly instantly, his household started making lacking particular person flyers and filling out a lacking particular person’s report.
Now, over two months after his preliminary disappearance, two suspects have been arrested and charged in connection to his demise. Ethan Kedar Astaphan, 27, and Sonita Heng, 20, each appeared at a court office on Monday, Nov. 23.
Each plead not responsible and at present sit at a bail quantity of $10 million every.
“It warms my coronary heart that they caught these individuals and that these are the folks that murdered my son,” Yajaira Hernández mentioned. “I’m not on the lookout for divine justice, I’m on the lookout for judicial justice.”
Yajaira Hernández attended the suspects’ preliminary court docket listening to and mentioned she waited there “all day”, as their case was the final to be heard. She mentioned she plans to attend each considered one of their court docket hearings.
“I do know there [are] some issues that I will not be prepared to listen to, however that is what I must do,” she mentioned. “I must struggle for my son and simply make sure that justice is introduced upon those that damage him.”
The mass was open to the general public and livestreamed over Instagram and Fb for anybody who wished to take part nearly. Stephanie Mendoza, Juan Carlos Hernández’s aunt, helped in dwell streaming the occasion.
“[Juan] had a number of potential, a brilliant future, and I do know that his life was robbed from him,” Mendoza mentioned. “He would’ve develop into an important particular person due to who he was.”
Juan Carlos Hernández had been an energetic group member. He was concerned along with his church group and a working group that always partook in group service.
He was additionally attending El Camino School with hopes of transferring to the College of Southern California (USC) to review engineering, as he had been a part of the USC Neighborhood Tutorial Initiative (NAI) program since grade college.
In the direction of the top of the mass, Yajaira Hernández requested attendees to assist sing comfortable birthday to her younger nephew because the occasion was being held on his birthday. The tune resulted in cheers.
Each Mendoza and Yajaira Hernández mentioned the quantity of public assist they’ve acquired means loads to them. However Mendoza mentioned her sister was the one who wanted assist essentially the most.
“We’re going to want it [support] as a result of, on the finish of the day, we’re Yajaira’s energy,” Mendoza mentioned. “We’re those which can be pulling her on her ft in order that she will be able to proceed this struggle for justice.”
Shortly after her son went lacking, Yajaira Hernández received a tattoo of a dandelion blowing away and turning right into a flock of birds. She mentioned that on the time of getting it, she didn’t understand her son was lifeless.
“It symbolizes energy, it symbolizes hope, it symbolizes religion in love,”Yajaira Hernández mentioned. “[It symbolizes] that we’ll be reunited and [just] put together me to be prepared for the upcoming struggle as a result of it’s not going to be a simple one.”
Managing Editor Juan Miranda contributed to this story.