The man accused of killing 11-year-old Thomas Hunter and Shirlee Sherman in 2008 as well as Dr. Roger Brumback and his wife Mary in May will be returned to Omaha to face four counts of first-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony.
Dr. Anthony Garcia appeared in a Union County courtroom in Jonesboro, Illinois Wednesday afternoon. One of his attorneys, Alison Motta, told the judge the 40-year-old Garcia of Terre Haute, Indiana will waive his rights and agree to extradition. The judge asked Garcia if he understood that he has a right to challenge extradition.
"You are basically consenting to the authorities from Nebraska to take you back to the state to deal with these charges,” said Union County Judge Mark Boie. “Do you understand that?"
Garcia, in a grey and white striped jumpsuit, his legs and hands in shackles, responded, "Yes, sir, yes." He read many of the documents before him.
"You've had ample opportunity to speak with counsel this morning," said the judge. "They've explained this to you, correct?"
"Yes," replied Garcia.
"Do you have any questions about anything?" said the judge.
"No, your honor," said Garcia.
“It's a high-profile case,” said his other attorney Bob Motta, Alison's husband. “My client steadfastly professes his innocence. His family is obviously in a state of shock. I'd ask everybody to respect their wishes and frankly, leave them alone. They're dealing with this the best they can and it came to them as a complete shock to them on Monday."
One family member, Garcia’s brother, came to court. He declined to comment.
There was a minor dispute over the timeline of when and where Garcia was charged, however it will not impact Garcia's return to Omaha, which should happen within the next two weeks. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said in Omaha that Dr. Garcia could be brought back later this week and arraigned as soon as next Monday or Tuesday.
"I'm not going to answer any questions in regards to his state of mind at this point," said Bob Motta. "I can tell you anyone who has been arrested for four counts of first-degree felony murder is going to be pretty mortified."
Since four murders could carry the death penalty in Nebraska, the Illinois DUI and gun charges, which was why Garcia was pulled over Monday on I-70, were dropped by the state. Officials said that also could have complicated the extradition process.
“The game is afoot at this point,” said Bob Motta. “The state of Nebraska has the heavy burden and we'll put them to the test."
While waiting for the hearing to begin, the assistant state attorney in Illinois was in discussion with an Omaha police detective and a representative of the FBI. Five members of the Omaha Task Force, who have been in charge of the case, were also in the courtroom. They will be in charge of bringing Garcia back to Nebraska.
Dr. Garcia is licensed to practice medicine in just one state, Illinois. Channel 6 News has obtained documents that were submitted to the medical licensing authorities in Indiana. They detail a great deal of activity in Dr. Garcia's professional background. To read the documents, click on the links in the sidebar.
According to the documents, Dr. Garcia tried and failed in a number of residency programs. In 2000, he was forced out of a program in Utica, New York. In 2001, he was fired from Creighton. According to the letter, Garcia was fired over "an incident the program felt was unprofessional toward another resident." It was signed by Dr. Roger Brumback.
In 2003, Garcia left another residency program in Chicago. According to the medical documents, he didn't try to apply for another residency program until 2007. At that time, he applied at Louisiana State University. In an application for a license in Indiana, Dr. Garcia explained he was fired for making a phone call to a medical resident.
Creighton says yes, he made the call, but it was seemingly an intentional move to disrupt a resident who was in the middle of a high-stakes exam by insisting he return to the lab. That letter of termination was copied to Roger Brumback, who was murdered, and William Hunter, whose son was murdered.
A New York residency program questioned whether Garcia could ever be a doctor based on his behavior. Two weeks and two days after Louisiana denied his license because he lied about the Creighton and University of Chicago terminations, Thomas Hunter and Shirlee Sherman were stabbed to death in Dundee.
Federal authorities have combed Garcia's vehicle for evidence. As shown in the attached photos, several bags of evidence were taken from his impounded vehicle.
Garcia is being held at the Jackson County Jail in Murphysboro, Illinois as a fugitive of justice. He was arrested in a traffic stop in Union County by the Illinois State Patrol. OPD Chief Todd Schmaderer said on Monday that Garcia showed signs of alcohol impairment and was in possession of a gun at the time of his arrest. Task Force members had been monitoring the situation.
"He does fit the elements of a serial killer," said Schmaderer who praised the efforts of the Task Force for finding the clues to link Garcia to the murders. "Had it not been for the work of the task force, I do not believe an arrest would have been made here today."
The task force is led by Deputy Chief Mary Newman, with assistance from Captain Kerry Neumann. The Omaha FBI and Nebraska State Patrol are also part of the team.
While his attorneys didn't talk about the case Wednesday, here's their reaction to the police chief saying this case has the elements of a serial killer. “We don't agree with that,” said Alison Motta.
“It's patently absurd,” said Bob Motta.
“They want to profile someone they don't even know and facilitate the charges, which seems to be really what they're going off of at this point,” said Alison. “They really have no basis. They don't know him. No one has ever spoken with him. They don't know anything about him.”
Police believe Garcia committed the murders alone. He has not lived in Omaha for 12 years, however, Chief Schmaderer emphasized that the investigation is ongoing.
Chief Schmaderer confirmed there is evidence that proves Garcia returned to Omaha in 2008 and 2013 at the time of the murders. They believe he targeted Dr. Hunter in 2008, but he wasn't home. His son and housekeeper were.
Immediately after the Dundee murders, witnesses described the man with olive skin who was about 5-foot-9 and weighed around 200 pounds. The suspect at that time also owned a silver Honda CRV, which was described by witnesses as being a car parked outside the Hunter's home.
Dundee neighbors shared a sense of relief of the arrest and bewilderment with the motive. "It's very sad that you can hold a grudge and hurt people so much," said Molly Ivancic.
"I knew Shirlee and I feel bad for Shirlee's loved ones," said Elaine Bice, who works in Dundee. "They were innocent victims. It's sickening because (Thomas) was so young. What a sicko. I'm so glad he was caught."
The Sherman family declined to comment on the arrest. The Hunter family expressed gratitude to the Task Force for making an arrest, adding, "The Hunter family hopes that Thomas' soul will now be at peace."