By Brian Day and Jessica Donnelly:
Sheriff’s deputies Friday found a car belonging to a man suspected of stabbing and wounding his estranged wife as their young children looked on, but the suspect himself remains at large, authorities said.
Cesar Meza, 33, is accused of breaking into the home of his 31-year-old estranged wife on Thursday and stabbing her at least seven times in the torso and neck in front of their children, 11 and 9, sheriff’s officials said.
Investigators began a manhunt for Meza after the stabbing, and found his Lexus sedan being driven by another man Friday afternoon, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John McBride said. There was no sign of Meza.
“We have a few leads that we’re still working on,” McBride said.
After a photograph of Meza was released to the public, the lieutenant added, “We’re hoping that someone comes forward, or he turns himself in.”
Deputies spotted Meza’s Lexus shortly after noon driving in Industry, officials said.
Deputies followed the car into El Monte before stopping it at Garvey Avenue and Peck Road, sheriff’s Lt. Victor Sotelo said.
The man driving the vehicle was not the suspect and was not arrested, investigators said.
“We don’t think he had any knowledge of the suspect,” McBride said. It was possible the man was tricked into moving the vehicle without knowing it was connected to a crime.
Meza, who had been estranged from his wife for about eight months, broke into the home at 3:05 a.m. Thursday, waited for her and stabbed her seven times, sheriff’s Sgt. Gerard Valona said.
The woman’s children witnessed the stabbing and called the sheriff’s Industry Station to report their father was beating their mother, authorities said.
The children’s call likely saved their mother’s life, Valona said.
By the time deputies arrived, the man had fled, officials said.
The woman was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and underwent several surgeries, officials said. She remained hospitalized in “critical-but-stable” condition Friday.
“It looks like she’s going to pull through,” McBride said.
The sheriff’s Industry Station continued pouring resources into the investigation going into the weekend.
“I have every detective in the field working this case,” Valona said.
Anyone who sees Meza should not approach him and immediately call 9-1-1 or the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322.
PHOTO of Cesar Meza courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department