Police: Whittier residents arrested at Mexico border with child's body found in duffel bag

- Two Whittier residents were behind bars in San Diego on Wednesday after a child of about 2 was found dead in a duffel bag as the pair tried to enter Mexico at the San Ysidro border crossing.

Mexican law enforcement officers contacted San Diego police after Whittier resident Johnny Lee Hartley, 39, was allegedly found with the body of a child in his luggage around noon Tuesday, San Diego police homicide Lt. Ray Valentin said.

Hartley was denied entry and was subsequently turned over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection ,then San Diego police.

Valentin said Hartley had crossed the border with 43-year-old Mercy Mary Becerra of Whittier, and she fled as Mexican customs agents stopped her companion. However, she was arrested shortly afterward and was also turned over to police.

The relationship between the suspects and the child was not immediately clear, but Valentin said the crime had possibly been committed in Whittier.

Valentin said San Diego homicide detectives were now working with their counterparts there.

Both Hartley and Becerra were booked into jail on suspicion of first- degree murder and child cruelty, according to police and online jail records.

Anyone with additional information on the case was asked to call the San Diego Police Department's Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293, or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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