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Locals suspected in killing

• Tracy woman stabbed and dumped near Livermore

Locals suspected in killing

Melissa Leonardo and Daniel Gross were engaged to be married. They are now up for murder charges.

POSTED February 14, 2018 10:05 a.m.
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Two local residents were arrested in the 1000 block of Nadine Avenue in connection with the homicide of a 19-year-old woman who was stabbed in the neck and dumped on a rural road near Livermore.

Daniel Gross, 19, and Melissa Leonardo, 25, were arrested at their south Modesto home by detectives of the Alameda County Sheriff's Department in connection with the stabbing death of Lizette Cuesta of Tracy.

Gross and Leonardo, who are engaged, were arrested at approximately 1:15 p.m. on Monday.

At approximately 2 a.m. on Monday Dublin Police officers responded to a 911 report of an injured woman lying on the ground near Mile Marker 8.49 on Tesla Road in rural Livermore. Authorities believe the pair dumped Cuesta from a vehicle and left her for dead. Alameda County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Ray Kelly said the victim apparently crawled on her stomach for about 100 yards from the point she was dumped. A driver spotted Cuesta crawling near the road around 2:05 a.m.

"They all knew each other and were friends," said Sgt. Kelly. "She got into the car with her own consent. It's what happened from the moment she got into the car that we're focusing on."

Paramedics and California Highway Patrol officers arrived and found Cuesta suffering from life threatening stab wounds and other injuries. She was rushed by air ambulance to Eden Hospital Trauma in Castro Valley where she was pronounced dead about 4:30 a.m. Prior to her death, she was able to provide detectives with pertinent information about her assailants.

Gross and Leonardo were identified as persons of interest and arrested at the Nadine address just outside the Ceres city limits with the help of the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department and Ceres Police on suspicion of murder. They were transported to the Santa Rita Jail where they were being held.

Anyone with information about this case is urged to call the Alameda County Sheriff's Office at (510) 667-7721. You can remain anonymous.


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