Hazleton Police ID Victim As Missing Woman

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HAZLETON -- Authorities in Hazleton are now confirming the body found inside an apartment Tuesday morning is that of a woman reported missing last Friday.

The Luzerne County coroner ruled Tuesday evening that Maria Brea, 32, was strangled.

People were seen crying on East Diamond Avenue after Hazleton police found the body of Maria Brea inside her apartment.

She had been missing for four days. Her family reported her disappearance on Friday after she failed to pick up her two children from school that afternoon.

The Luzerne County coroner said Brea was strangled to death, something that is upsetting to neighbor Eddie Gonzalez.

“I have kids, too, you know. It’s a shame because she had kids and for a woman to be disappearing like that and close by to her house,” said Gonzalez.

Police tell us Brea’s family said she had being living there with Oscar Lozano Garcia, her boyfriend, but they had recently broken up.

Neighbor Melisha Garcia says she last spoke with Garcia a few hours after Brea was reported missing.

“We saw him outside in front as we were walking. He said, ‘have you guys seen my wife?’ ‘No we haven't seen her,’ and that was it,” said Garcia.

Neighbors say in light of this tragedy, they will start looking out for each other.

“I think the community has to come together and do more neighborhood watches and unite,” said Gonzalez.

Hazleton police say this is an ongoing investigation.

We're told her two children are staying with other family members.