Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Buddhist Temple Massacre


Doody, too, eventually offered a confession and he described events quite differently.  He said that they were part of a larger gang.  They had initially met by the Agua Fria River on Camelback Road around 8:30 that evening and then set off to rob the temple.  One of the victims recognized someone in their party, so Doody said he was told to go outside.  While away from the scene, someone started shooting people.  He said that the crime had begun as a "challenge" to see if they could beat the temple's sensor-alarm system, although he couldn't explain the reason for guns, knives, and military gear.  He said the group had threatened to harm his family if he told anyone.

Rifle & Shotgun, murder weapons
The murder weapons, offered in evi-
dence at trial

A judge decided that they would be tried as adults, with the potential penalty of death.  A year later in 1993, Garcia struck a plea deal for life in prison in exchange for testifying against Doody.  He gave a statement, and then three weeks later, he added one more crime for which someone else had been coerced to confess and who had been imprisoned for it for over a year. 

In October 1991, two months after the temple massacre, Garcia and his 14-year-old girlfriend, Michelle Hoover, had murdered Alice Cameron, 50, in a campground.  Garcia had goaded Michelle to do it, so she had pulled the trigger.  They waited an hour to be sure the woman was dead and then stole her money, which amounted to $20.  Michelle pleaded guilty and got 15 years.

As Garcia pleaded guilty, he revealed what had happened on the night of August 9, 1991. 

It began as a plan for a robbery.  He and Doody had obsessed about it for two months, because they had heard from Jonathan's brother about the solid gold Buddha and the safe that supposedly contained $2000.  According to some reports, David had said that the monks also kept money and guns in their rooms, as well as cameras.  It had seemed easy pickings. Doody had his eye on a car that cost $1,000, and he believed that after their "hit," he would have it.  To make it interesting, they turned it into a "war game."

They purchased military clothing and gear, including snow boots, camouflage hats, scarves, goggles, and harnesses with knives. Doody borrowed the rifle from Caratachea and Garcia smuggled his uncle's shotgun out of his father's house.  They tested them in the White Tank Mountains with silencers, which failed, but were too excited about the plan to give it up.

On the evening of August 9, they went to a party and then drove to the temple between 10 and 10:30.  They checked it out, left, came back, and burst in, ordering the residents to the floor.  They arranged them in a circle, kneeling and facing one another, and for an hour one would hold them at gunpoint while the other searched for keys to the safe and committed general vandalism.  The monks did not resist.  At one point, a nun came in, and they forced her to join the men.

They managed to grab over $2,500, along with cameras and stereo equipment.  They never did find the right key to open the safe.  Garcia said that he was all for leaving, but Doody wanted to ensure there would be no witnesses, which meant killing everyone.  Standing on a couch, he started shooting.  Garcia used the shotgun to wound some of them, but he insisted that he had not killed anyone.  Then he carved the word "Bloods" on the wall in the hallway.  He testified to all of this in Doody's trial, which began in May 1993.

On July 12, 1993, Jonathan Doody was convicted of nine murders and 11 other criminal counts, and sentenced to 281 years in prison.  Although the prosecutor had sought the death sentence, the judge felt that it was unclear which young man had actually pulled the rifle's trigger, so he remained cautious.  Nevertheless, the sentence ensured that Doody would never again walk the streets.

Alessandro Garcia was sentenced to 271 years in prison, the maximum possible under his plea agreement.

Winslow Prison, AZ
Winslow Prison, AZ, main gate

The men who had been falsely arrested sued Maricopa County, resulting in a settlement of $2.8 million.  The man implicated in the campground murder which was resolved by Garcia's confession also got a settlement.

In 1996, the Arizona Court of Appeals, examining the allegation that Doody's confession had been extracted without a parent present, upheld the conviction and the prison sentence.

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