Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Buddhist Temple Massacre

A Startling Development

On September 17, one of the five men, Victor Zarate, was released when videotapes showed that he had been in Tucson at 8:30 on August 9, but the other four were detained.  Despite evidence to the contrary, McGraw was held because it was he who police believed had made the call.  They came to be known as the Tucson Four. 

Three grand juries were convinced that, with their confessions, there was enough evidence to hold Bruce, Nunez, and McGraw for trial.  A judge decided that Parker should also be held. 

Then more than a month went by with no new information, until something happened in Phoenix on October 24 that interrupted the investigation's momentum.  The Arizona Department of Public Safety ballistics lab had finished the analysis of the weapon taken from Caratachea.  They found a match between the casings found in the temple and the ones fired by this .22 caliber semiautomatic Marlin rifle.

The task force got a warrant to search the apartment where Jonathan Doody lived with Alessandro "Alex" Garcia. They were companions at Agua Fria High School and fellow Air Force ROTC students.

Alessandro Alex Garcia
Alessandro "Alex" Garcia

The search turned up a 20-guage Stevens shotgun, which was soon matched to the shell casings found at the crime scene.  Now they had both weapons.  They also found two knives, a camouflage hat, two facemasks, and gloves.  In Garcia's parents' home they located duffel bags, one of which was filled with miscellaneous army equipment, and they got some tips that certain items had been pawned.

It became clearer that robbery might have been a motive.

This gear was not part of the boys' high school training.  They had purchased the items on their own.  The most likely reason is that they had developed a sense of identity from their military aspirations that supported making their lives more like the military, including viewing the world as hostile and needing to attack.  There were no other items indicative of knowledge about disguises, and there were no items packed in the bags indicating that they could be used for something else.  Perhaps the massacre was a fantasy to act as brave soldiers.

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