LA Forensics: The Signature Murders
A woman called 911 to offer a report about going to see her sister, who was out of town, then going inside her sister's apartment and seeing a mess. It wasn't clear at first what the emergency was, but the operator gently led her through it. Sometimes people in shock can't quite articulate what they need.
Yet the caller asked for the police. She believed something terrible had happened inside.
The operator established that the woman's sister was not present at the address, 1811 North Garfield Place in Los Angeles. It was a residential area with several apartment buildings between Hollywood Boulevard and Franklin Avenue. The caller gave her name as Marguerite and said she was calling from the phone of a neighbor.
The callers turned out to be a woman and her nephew — the victim's son — who, late that afternoon, April 6, 1998, had gone together to the one-bedroom, ground-floor apartment where Luis Garcia lived. Luis was married to Marguerite's sister, Isabel Rodriguez, and Marguerite and Luis Jr. had hoped to greet her as she arrived home from a trip across the country. They had noticed that the front security door was partially open, which alarmed them, because Luis Sr. always kept it locked. Then Luis Jr. found the front door behind it unlocked as well.
Cautiously, they entered, but when they saw that the room was in a state of disarray, with Luis Garcia lying on his back on the living room floor, they feared he might be dead, so they exited and made their calls. Then Isabel arrived about half an hour later and saw that Luis was dead. (One report indicates she arrived four hours later.)
Hollywood Homicide Detective John Thacker arrived on the scene with his partner, Detective Thomas Small. They could see that a struggle had ensued and there were signs that the apartment had been burglarized. This neighborhood had some gang-related crimes in the streets but not murders of this nature. They called in the Scientific Investigation Division (SID) to collect evidence for processing. Before they arrived, the detectives looked around, unaware yet that this was just the beginning of a more intricate crime.