The gripping case of convicted serial killer Anthony Garcia was thrust back into the news last week, as Dateline NBC revisited his murder convictions in Friday, March 17, episode, “Haunting.”
The Anthony Garcia saga began in 2008, when 11-year-old Thomas Hunter, son of Creighton University pathologist Dr. William Hunter, and his 57-year-old housekeeper Shirlee Sherman were found stabbed to death in the Hunter home.
There was no apparent motive, and police began their investigation at Creighton, the place where Dr. Hunter was known best, and where Thomas Hunter had friends among his dad’s students. But, none were named suspects. Former university employees and others subjects in and around Omaha were also cleared. The FBI later said the killings were random and the case went cold.
As Dateline chronicled in “Haunting,” horror struck Nebraska again five years later, when Dr. and Mrs. Roger Brumback were slain. The couple, both 65, were also found stabbed. The doctor had been shot.
Police had four murders, similar circumstances, and no real leads. What investigators did conclude was that the killer had systematically chosen where to stab each victim. Each had similar wounds to the neck, indicating the murderer was familiar with anatomy. Little did police know, it would be five years until they realized who they were looking for, as Dr. Anthony Garcia was not on the investigative radar.
However, as it would later be revealed, Brumback was one of Garcia’s bosses at the Creighton University Medical Center, where Garcia was a resident. Police discovered something else: Dr. William Hunter was the other supervising physician, and both approved his 2001 firing.
According to a letter obtained by Dateline NBC, Garcia was fired for being manipulative, disruptive, ant-authoritarian, and taking no responsibility for his work. The letter also stated Garcia sabotaged another resident’s work.
But, was Dr. Anthony Garcia the killer? If so, why did he wait seven years to get back at Huner and more than a decade to kill Brumback? Dateline reported how police connected the dots.
In the course of their murder investigation, police learned that 2001 was not the first time Dr. Anthony Garcia had been disciplined. In 1999, Garcia, a University of Utah Medical School graduate, was fired from St. Elizabeth Family Practice in Albany, New York, after a verbal exchange with a staffer.
After Creighton, Garcia landed in Chicago, accepting a residency at the UIC Medical Center; he worked at Louisiana State University in 2007. He was fired from LSU a year later, revealing a motive to kill.
Investigators learned that not only was Dr. Anthony Garcia fired from LSU, he was rejected a medical license on the grounds that he failed to disclose his termination from Creighton when a letter from Drs. Hunter and Brumback surfaced. Two weeks later, Thomas Hunter and Shirlee Sherman were found dead.
Neighbors, Dateline reported, described seeing an olive-skinned man in a black suit park an SUV a block away, walk to the Hunter home, and knock on the door. They later saw the man exit the house, walk back to the SUV, and drive away.
Garcia’s meanderings didn’t end there. In 2010, he moved to Terra Haute, Indiana, where he obtained a temporary medical license as a doctor at a federal prison. In 2012, he applied for a permanent license. However, based on an unflattering letter from Dr. Roger Brumback, Garcia was denied by the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. He was turned down again in fall 2012.
Meanwhile, Dr. William Hunter appeared in an episode of America’s Most Wanted about the 2008 killings. Months later, the Brumbacks were killed.
The haunting similarities between the killings were beginning to emerge. Police had their suspect when they learned that on March 8, 2013, Garcia purchased a.9mm Smith & Wesson SD 9, and that a clip for a.9mm Smith & Wesson SD 9 was found at the Brumback murder scene.
Garcia was arrested on July 15, 2013, by the Illinois State Police during a traffic stop in the town of Jonesboro, Illinois. He was returned to Omaha and charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
After a series of delays, centered largely on Garcia’s claims he was misrepresented, challenged evidence and psychological evaluations, a single trial for the four murders commenced in September 2016. Garcia was found guilty of all charges Oct. 26. He has yet to be sentenced and could be put to death.
[Featured Image by the Omaha Police Department]