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A Pennsylvania couple wanted for the murder of a 49-year-old Hollywood resident were arrested in Hollywood on Dec. 10 by members of the U.S. Marshal Services Fugitive Task Force.
Edward Garcia Jr. 36, and his wife, Melissa Hope Garcia, 25, were taken into custody without incident at a vacant building in the 1600 block of North La Brea Avenue. The Garcia’s had been identified by police as the last people who were seen with the victim, Herbert Tracy White.
White is believed to have been murdered on Nov. 29 at the Continental Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, where the Garcias had been staying. Police described White as a Good Samaritan who had befriended the Garcias and had been helping them with money. No information was provided about how long the suspects had been in the Los Angeles area. Inves-tigators be-lieve they were attempting to rob White, which resulted in his death.
After kil-ling White, the suspects reportedly dismem-bered his body and were attempting to clean the hotel room when they were interrupted by a maid. The suspects fled, and the maid found body parts inside a backpack under the bed, and others human remains wrap-ped in blankets. Officials from the Los Angeles Police De-partment’s Newton Division began an exhaustive search for the couple, who were believed to either be staying in Hollywood or on their way back to Pennsylvania. Officials received numerous tips generated by media reports and people who had seen the Garcias, and with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals, determined they were staying in the abandoned building on La Brea Avenue.
Police recovered a knife that is believed to be the murder weapon.
Both Edward Garcia Jr. and Mellissa Garcia have been charged with murder, with the special circumstance allegation that the murder was intentional and involved the infliction of torture, according to Shiara Dávila-Morales, of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. They appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court for arraignment on Dec. 13, but it was postponed until Jan. 5.
The District Attorney’s Office will decide at a later date whether to seek the death penalty against the Garcias.
If convicted as charged, the defendants face death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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