Ariz. Teen Didn’t Return After Night Out with Friends, Was Found Slain in Car 2 Days Later

On Thursday, 17-year-old Itzel Espinoza left her Phoenix home to go out with friends.

At 5:30 a.m. Saturday, police responding to a report of a shooting found the seated teen dead inside a car parked in an alley.

Neither police nor her parents know what happened in between.

Her mother, Elizabeth Diaz, addressed her late daughter in a GoFundMe appeal for help with funeral costs: “Until we meet again my angel.”

In a news release, police said a 911 caller reported seeing a female in the vehicle and observed that it appeared she’d been shot. First responders declared Itzel dead at the scene.© Gofundme Itzel Espinoza

Police who are treating the case as a homicide did not reveal any other details.

“This is an ongoing investigation and anyone with information is encouraged to call the Phoenix Police Department or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS,” police spokesperson Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said in an emailed statement to PEOPLE.

Itzel’s father, Eduardo Espinoza, said that he and his wife reported the teen missing to police when she did not return home Thursday, reports He said the rising high school senior recently had been spending time with friends who did not have her parents’ approval.

Itzel aspired to be a model and social media influencer, her father told the outlet, while he emphasized her academic studies.

She was “a character, she was funny,” he said. “She was good people to be around.”

“All young girls and all young adults out there, your parents care for you,” he said, according to “They want the best for you. They want you to be a teenager, enjoy your best years. Go out and have fun but have a limit, you know. Come home.”

The hardest part now, he said, is “knowing she’s never coming back.”

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