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Family Mourns Slain 14-Year-Old Daughter : Pacoima: Blanca Medina hoped to return to Mexico after being wounded in a January drive-by shooting. Now it is too late.


After Blanca Marian Medina was wounded in a drive-by shooting outside her Pacoima home in January, she told her mother the family should move back home to Leon, Mexico.

But Blanca's wounds healed, and the family decided to stay in their apartment in the San Fernando Gardens Housing complex, despite the violence that surrounded them.

On Monday, her mother, Juana Medina, changed her mind and decided the family should move after all.

But it was too late.

Blanca was found dead Sunday. The 14-year-old had been shot several times and her body was dumped in a dry creek bed in Kagel Canyon. She had been missing since Thursday.

"I love her. My sweet daughter is gone," Medina sobbed Tuesday as she sat in her living room.

Family members gathered around her and wondered why Blanca, who they said had no gang connections, was killed.

"It was a very bad thing," said her uncle, Salvador Almaguer. "We just don't understand."

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies Tuesday declined to release any information about the 16-year-old North Hollywood boy arrested Monday in connection with the slaying.

No motive was established and no weapon recovered, deputies said. In addition to the bullet wounds, Blanca suffered head injuries, the Los Angeles County coroner's office said.

Deputies would not say if the suspect knew Blanca. Family members said they did not know the youth.

Juana and Marcelo Medina brought their seven children to Pacoima three years ago from Mexico. Blanca, their eldest child, was learning English and was an above-average student in her ninth-grade class at Byrd Middle School, her teachers said.

"She was a very vivacious, pleasant girl, full of life and energy," said Renate Kasmann, who taught her English. "She always wanted me to call on her. She tried to get my attention and she would seem disappointed when I wouldn't call on her."

Blanca always came home from school on time, until last Thursday when she disappeared, said her parents, who called the school Friday looking for their daughter.

The teen-ager told friends she feared the gang violence that pervaded her neighborhood.

On Jan. 11, Blanca was wounded in a drive-by shooting at Lehigh and Carl streets, about 100 yards from her apartment, Los Angeles police said.

"She was shot twice in the chest," Capt. Tim McBride said. "The only information we have is that it was drive-by shooting."

The area is well-known for gang activity, but family members insist that Blanca had no gang connections.

"I don't know why. I just don't know," her mother said.

Until her disappearance, the family's major concern for her was raising enough money to hold a quinceanera , which among Latinos is both a 15th birthday party and a coming of age celebration for girls.

But now, Juana Medina said, they are trying to raise money for the funeral.

Teachers and students at Byrd have established a fund for her burial. Donations can be made through Principal Jerry Horowitz.

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