Grave Spotlight

In a way, cemeteries are like libraries. They contain the final resting places of thousands of people, each with their own separate and unique story. Some of these people are famous, and their stories are well known. Most are not, but that doesn't make their life any less interesting or their stories any less worthy of being told and remembered.

Periodically, we'll spotlight a different Los Angeles-area grave. Every person has a story, and we will use this space to tell their story, through their final resting place.

After your tour of the virtual cemetery, don't forget to visit the official store (or the brand new downtown location) on your way out and pick up a souvenir or two. Thanks!

Shanta Diane Lucero
(Nov. 26, 1985 - Sept. 14, 2008)

Nov. 1, 2009 -- The unique beauty of her grave marker is what first attracted me. It was a simple bronze marker at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier. But it was colorfully painted to show a smiling, beautiful girl in front of a background of blue sky and white clouds. Perhaps is was designed to show her place in heaven.

The marker identifies the grave of Shanta Diane Lucero, a resident of Long Beach, Calif., who was shot to death just a few weeks before her 23rd birthday. Her body was dumped in an alley in Harbor City, and her death could have been retaliation for her testimony against a man who was tried and convicted of the attempted murder of Lucero's friend three years before.

Lucero's killer has never been found.

On Sept. 24, 2004, Lucero went to pick up her friend, Quennie Reyna, at Reyna's apartment on Canal Street in Long Beach. Reyna was living in the apartment with her boyfriend of five years, Javier Bocanegra. Reyna came out of the apartment and got into Lucero's car. A few minutes later, Reyna went back into the house and came out again, followed by Bocanegra. They were arguing.

Bocanegra told Reyna she was not going to leave, and Reyna said she was. Reyna started to get back into Lucero's, and Bocanegra went back into the apartment. He came out carrying a shotgun, and pointed it at Reyna's head.

Lucero got out of the car and stood between Reyna and Bocanegra, telling him to put the shotgun away. Reyna told him to stop playing around. Bocanegra then shot Reyna in the back of the neck and ran off.

Renya survived the shooting. A police officer who examined Reyna at the hospital testified that Reyna had a hole in her head that went from one side of the back of her neck to the other side. The base of her skull was missing and her brain was visible. When she was interviewed by police and a social worker in the hospital, Reyna said she didn't know who shot her.

A month after the shooting, Bocanegra was arrested in Texas and sent back to California, where he was tried and convicted of attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a felon, and sentenced to nine years in prison. During the investigation and trial, both Renya and Lucero admitted they had taken methamphetamines before the shooting, and that Bocanegra had been drinking.

Bocanegra had several run-ins with the law as a juvenile. As an adult, he was convicted of throwing an object at a vehicle and possession of a controlled substance in December 2000; being under the influence of a controlled substance in May 2001; taking a vehicle without the owner's consent in May 2002; possession of a controlled substance and driving with a suspended license in December 2002; taking a vehicle without the owner's consent, receipt of stolen property, and driving with a suspended license in March 2003; manufacture/possession of a dangerous weapon in May 2003; and possession of a firearm in March 2004. He was on parole at the time of Renya's shooting.

On Sept. 14, 2008, just before midnight, a security guard found Lucero's body behind a building in the 1300 block of Alameda Boulevard in Harbor City. She had been shot multiple times, and police investigators concluded that she had been shot elsewhere and her body was dumped in the alley.

Although most of the news articles on Lucero's death mentioned her testimony in Bocanegra's trial, there was no evidence linking the cases and, as far as could be determined, there have been no arrests in Lucero's death.

Bocanegra is currently being held at the Kern Valley State Prison in Delano, California. He is eligible for parole in October 2028.

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