News24

US doctor suspected in deadly attacks

2013-07-16 12:00

Omaha — Authorities arrested an Indiana doctor on Monday on suspicion of carrying out two attacks in Omaha in May and in 2008 in which four people were killed who had ties to Creighton University's medical school, which fired him twelve years ago.

Dr Anthony Garcia, who now lives in Terre Haute, Indiana, was arrested by Illinois State Police while driving near the Indiana border on Monday morning, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said. Officers said he appeared to be intoxicated when they arrested him, and he had a .45-caliber handgun with him.

Garcia, aged 40, is being held on suspicion of four counts of first-degree murder and four counts of using a weapon to commit a felony, Schmaderer said. An Illinois State Police official didn't respond to a request for information about Garcia's arrest or where in Illinois he was being held.

Garcia didn't have a listed phone number in Terre Haute or in Chicago, where he previously lived, and it wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.

No one answered the phone at Garcia's family's home in Walnut, California, on Monday evening.

Public records show that since 2003, Garcia has held medical licenses in California, Illinois and Indiana, but his temporary Indiana license expired in January.

Investigators believe Garcia was responsible for an attack in May in which pathology professor Roger Brumback was shot to death and his wife, Mary, was fatally stabbed, Schmaderer said. They also believe Garcia was behind a 2008 home invasion in which the 11-year-old son and family housekeeper of another Creighton pathology department professor, William Hunter, were stabbed to death.

Serial killer

Roger Brumback and William Hunter fired Garcia from his pathology resident position in the department in 2001 for displaying erratic behaviour, Schmaderer said. He declined to discuss details of the evidence against Garcia. But he said the task force of local, state and FBI investigators believe Garcia fits all the criteria of a serial killer.

"We didn't feel this individual would stop unless an arrest was made," Schmaderer said.

The attacks happened in Omaha neighbourhoods where homicides are rare. The city averages about 40 per year.

One of the Brumbacks' three children, Darryl, said the family had no comment about the arrest. A male relative of Sherman's also declined to speak. The Hunter family didn't respond to a phone message seeking comment.

The attack in which Hunter's son, Thomas Hunter, and housekeeper, Shirlee Sherman, were killed at the family's 344m² home in the historic neighbourhood of Dundee was featured last year on the TV show America's Most Wanted, and a $54 000 reward was offered. Some of Omaha's most prominent residents live in the neighbourhood, including billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

Schmaderer said on Monday that investigators don't believe the boy and the housekeeper were the intended targets of the attack.

Authorities have released few details about the attack on the Brumbacks, other than the manner in which they were killed. Their bodies were discovered in their west Omaha home on 14 May.

The task force was set up after the Brumbacks' deaths to investigate whether they were tied to the unsolved 2008 killings. Schmaderer declined to say what led investigators to Garcia.