On February 12, authorities in California witnessed a heartbreaking scene when they responded to a call and discovered a 19-year-old woman dying on the side of the road.
Lizette Andrea Cuesta had sustained life-threatening injuries, including multiple stab wounds. When she was found around 2 a.m, she was covered in so much blood that police officers were unable to identify her hair color.
So what happened?
Cuesta was attacked and injured by two assailants who then drove to a road in Livermore to dump her. It's unclear whether or not the pair of criminals realized that Cuesta was still alive when they disposed of her, but that's a mistake that would come back to bite them.
The officers from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office had no leads that would be able to help them find those who were responsible for hurting Cuesta, but the teen was not ready to give up fighting.
She was airlifted to a hospital, and despite her severe life-threatening injuries, she was able to help the police find her killers.
How did she do it?
After Cuesta was dumped in the middle of nowhere, she managed to drag herself 100 yards to the side of a nearby road to seek help.
According to KCRA, a man named Richard Loadholt was driving with his coworker when they spotted the injured young woman bleeding profusely. The good Samaritans called for help, and Loadholt said that he remained by Cuesta's side and prayed with her until the first responders arrived.
"I just felt compelled by the spirit of love to do that,” Loadholt said.
"I gave her my blanket because it was really freezing cold out there," added Loadholt's coworker, who chose to remain anonymous. "She was soaked in blood.”
Once at the hospital, Cuesta continued to fight for her life, but still managed to use turn her last words into a "dying declaration" so cops would be able to find her killers.
"The last thing we believe she was able to do was point us in the direction of the people that killed her, and that's pretty remarkable," said Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly.
Police were then able to apprehend two suspects, 19-year-old Daniel Gross and 25-year-old Melissa Leonardo, for murder. The pair were found in Gross's home in Modesto, California.
The news of Cuesta's brutal death took the community by surprise and some of Gross and Leonard's neighbors have been shaken to the core. "I'm shaking because I don't know that I have neighbors like that," Bertha Andrade said. "I don't know them to be like that. Murder somebody, you know, like that. For me, it's painful."
Loadholt and his coworker have a message for Cuesta's family, who has since been informed of their relative's death.
"I hope it will be encouraging to her family to know that their daughter did have that spirit to fight," Loadholt said. "She was a fighter," the other added. "For real, she was fighting for her life."
At this point, police have not revealed what the connection between the suspects and victim was, but they believe that they were acquainted with each other.