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Hit-and-run arrests give hope to families in similar situations

Giving hope to families of (Hit and Runs) in the valley.

PALM DESERT, Calif. - On May 21st of 2012, Zia Hoyos was struck by a vehicle on Gene Autry trail and left for dead. Almost a year later, police finally have suspects in custody, and some closure for the Hoyos family.

Paul Abshire is a Sergeant with the Palm Springs Police Department. He tells us, "It doesn't replace their daughter but we do have indications that they are pleased that we did find the vehicle that caused this and the person who was driving."

Last week, the Riverside County Sherrif's Department issued arrest warrants for two suspects, 69-year-old Russel Stienecker and his 30-year-old daughter, Heather Brents.

The arrests give hope to Sheila Barnett, who's daughter Carissa Nwene, was struck in killed on Palm Drive in November of 2007.

Sheila says, "It gives me a lot of hope. I'm glad to know that someone was called in because for awhile I kind of felt like no one...either they were afraid or no one cared but, if someone else can call in for another person I'm hoping for the same thing for my daughter."

Hit and run cases are notorious difficult to solve. But police were finally able to crack the Hoyos case after receiving help from the public.

Abshire says, "We received many leads, many phone calls right after the incident, and one of them just panned out. One led us directly to the suspect and without the help of the public we may not have solved this case."

Police say the suspect in Nwene's case was driving a 2003-2005 white Ford Econoline van, but investigators need more.

Barnett explains, "I think they're trying their best but without the public helping, calling in, giving any type of leads or tips, I don't know how far they can get without help from some outside."

The case of 16-year-old Grant Virgin also remains unsolved. Grant was hit by a Hispanic woman with shoulder length black hair, about 5'6" and 30 years old, in a white compact car last November. But, police still need the help of the public to find their suspect.

For now, those families remain optimistic, and vow to never stop searching.

"I would like for them to know that we will never give up," Barnett says. "We will never lose hope. We will never stop looking for you. So it's only the right thing to do. I don't how anyone could kill anyone, a child or anyone and just leave them on the side of the road."

There is a private investigator in the case of Carissa Nwene, her family urges anyone with information to contact him at

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