Produced by Jaime Stolz and Marc Goldbaum
[This story originally aired on May 6, 2017]
“To have anybody murdered is a shock to the community, but to have an 11-year-old boy and a housekeeper killed in the manner they were – I think is a whole ‘nother level,” Omaha Police Sgt. Scott Warner told CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod.
In 2008, a community was shocked by the brutal stabbing deaths of Tom Hunter and Shirlee Sherman inside the Hunter family home. Police found no DNA, no signs of a robbery and little motive for someone to want them dead. Five years later and six miles away, tragedy struck again when Dr. Roger Brumback, and his wife, Mary, were found murdered in their home.
For the two law enforcement officers investigating the cases, the attack on the Brumbacks was eerily similar to what they found five years earlier with the Hunter and Sherman murders.
Investigators would find more similarities between the cases and a trail that led to Creighton University Medical Center. But would they find the killer there?
Omaha, Nebraska, is a proud beacon of America’s Midwest. Spreading out from the majestic banks of the Missouri River, it is home of the College World Series and Warren Buffet – who is rich enough to live anywhere he chooses.
Warren Buffet: My take on Omaha overall is it’s a terrific place to live.
According to Todd Cooper, court reporter for the Omaha World-Herald, the secret heartbeat of this town is Creighton University Medical Center.
Todd Cooper: It resonates throughout the community. … You can’t go anywhere without running into someone who is Creighton born and bred.
Doctors Chhanda and Againdra Bewtra loved and respected their Creighton colleagues.
Jim Axelrod: How long was your career at Creighton?
Dr. Chhanda Bewtra: Forty years.
Jim Axelrod: You both knew Dr. Hunter?
Dr. Chhanda Bewtra: His office is right next to my office.
The Bewtras were close friends with Drs. Bill and Claire Hunter, the parents of 11-year-old Thomas, and dedicated to their hospital.
Jim Axelrod: What were they like?
Dr. Againdra Bewtra: Nice people.
Dr. Chhanda Bewtra: He was very well loved by the residents and the students.
The Hunters and their four children lived in a handsome home in the upscale, close-knit neighborhood known as Dundee.
Todd Cooper: From the beginning this was strange… Violent crime does not happen in Dundee. …it’s a classic neighborhood … neighbors in each other’s business, common areas where kids play.
On March 13, 2008, Dr. Claire Hunter was attending a conference in Hawaii, and Dr. Bill Hunter was busy at the pathology lab. This school bus camera captures Tom arriving home.
Todd Cooper: Good kid, smart kid. …loved to play Xbox, drink Dr. Pepper, eat potato chips.
Tom Hunter, a very bright, very normal sixth grader. His three older brothers, already out of the house. Waiting for Tom was the Hunter’s part-time housekeeper, Shirlee Sherman.
Jim Axelrod: When you think of your mom, what are some of the words that come into mind?
Jeff Sherman: Mother, caregiver, grandmother – nurturer.
For her son Jeff Sherman and her younger brother, Brad Waite, Shirlee was the rock-solid, hard-working centerpiece of their extended family.
Brad Waite: Anytime you went over there, the first thing she wanted to do was make sure she had coffee. …And, “You want something to eat, I’ll fix you something.'”
Tom grabbed a snack and settled into the basement playroom with his chips, soda and his Xbox.
At 5 p.m., Bill Hunter left his pathology lab at Creighton, and began the 10-minute ride home.
Det. Mois: He came home from work. Immediately walking in the back door … he encountered Shirlee.
And just a few feet away lay his son, Tom. The doctor knew immediately it was too late for an ambulance.
Todd Cooper: He called 911, they told him to get out of the house and wait for first responders.
Detective Derek Mois, 19 years with the Omaha Police Department, and his partner, Sgt. Scott Warner, describe a crime scene that would consume and haunt them.
Sgt. Warner: Incredibly sad scenarios. It just doesn’t leave you.
Det. Mois: Just the manner and the brutality of it.
And in the basement, cops found that still life of Tom’s world, interrupted by madness.
Det. Mois: His Xbox was online. You could see his bag of chips and his Dr. Pepper.
Not surprisingly, it was evident, Shirlee had been hard at work.
Det. Mois: You see her bucket of cleaning supplies … just kinda dropped haphazardly right where Thomas was.
Tom Hunter and Shirlee Sherman had been stabbed to death. And, as if sending some dark, raging homicidal message, knives had been left in the victims and around the house.
But what was the motive for murder?
Jeff Sherman: Something’s just not addin’ up here … My mom had $833 in cash in her purse. It wasn’t even touched.
Det. Mois: The Hunters have a lot of valuables there. None of that appeared to have been touched.
Jim Axelrod: I imagine the community must have been unglued.
Sgt. Warner: I think the city as a whole, an 11-year-old boy doesn’t get killed in his home. It just doesn’t happen anywhere in this city.
For Detectives Mois, Warner and the other investigators, the horror of these gut-wrenching murders would soon be paired with a deep frustration. The crime scene left them little to go on — no DNA, no motive and no apparent suspects.
Sgt. Warner: One of the neighbors happened to notice a car that she wasn’t familiar with.
That was the first clue and it would one day prove critical – the neighbor’s sighting of a silver Honda SUV, with out-of-state plates, prowling the streets of Dundee.
Sgt. Warner: It caught her attention not only because of the car, but watching an individual that exited the car — take a satchel and then walk northbound on this street.
Mois and Warner played out one scenario after the next.
Det. Mois: It occupied our lives every day. And when I say every day, I mean all day.
Was Shirlee the target? Might Tom have attracted an online predator to his basement playroom?
Sgt. Warner: Was there something that had occurred online over his gaming, over a computer?
And there was Creighton itself. Were the murders a gruesome act of vengeance by a disgruntled, former employee targeting Tom’s parents – the Hunters?
Detectives briefly considered Dr. Anthony Garcia, a former resident in the pathology program. Bill Hunter had fired Garcia back in 2001. But —
Todd Cooper: Bill Hunter dismissed Anthony Garcia when they brought up his name in an interview. “Yeah he got fired. But he left quietly.”
Every lead seemed like a dead end, leaving nothing but shattered families.
Brad Waite: You just can’t put it out of your mind.
Jeff Sherman: We did not want it to just go away, disappear.
Det. Mois: They want answers. And the only people they can really turn to is us.
Jim Axelrod: Was there ever a point for either of you where you thought, “We’re just never gonna find out who did this?”
Det. Mois: Sure. Absolutely.
Sgt. Warner: Yeah, there was.
TWO MORE MURDERS
The horrific crime scene in the Hunter house in Dundee gave investigators plenty to puzzle over and think through.
Det. Mois: It was clear that Thomas had been attacked first. …We just didn’t see anything that would have precipitated the murders.
Det. Mois: Even after a couple weeks into the investigation we didn’t know if Thomas was the intended victim, if it was Shirlee — if it was the Hunter’s themselves, or if it was a completely random act.
Todd Cooper: It went cold quietly.
Todd Cooper: It was a mystery for years.
Mois and Warner kept grinding and getting nowhere.
Jim Axelrod: Let’s talk about Mother’s Day 2013.
Dr. Againdra Bewtra: We took a couple … and we took them out for Mother’s Day brunch. And they’re older people. And he was with a walker.
That Mother’s Day fate brushed the Bewtras. And it all started after that brunch, with their slow-moving elderly guest.
Todd Cooper: He took forever to get to his car. And Dr. Bewtra’s husband ribbed him at the time and said, “You are killing us here. Like, you are taking forever.”
Jim Axelrod: The irony being he actually may have been saving their lives.
Todd Cooper: Yeah.
The Bewtras, both doctors at Creighton, finally began their short drive home when they got a call. Their burglar alarm was going off.
Dr. Againdra Bewtra: So I went to the basement… This door was opened about an inch.
The door was ajar but nothing was out of place. They had no idea how lucky they were. Cops say the intruder moved on, just a few miles down the road, to the home of Dr. Roger Brumback and his wife Mary.
Todd Cooper: Roger Brumback was in his old clothes, painting the entryway of his house, getting it ready to sell.
Jim Axelrod: They were moving away … they were gonna retire.
Todd Cooper: They were on the cusp of what we all work for. And they had talked to their daughter via FaceTime. …His daughter cracked a joke. …And she screenshot it.
It was shortly after that FaceTime chat that Creighton Dr. Roger Brumback answered a knock at the door.
Todd Cooper: And boom, just immediately shot.
It would be two days before anyone knew the extent, and the nature, of the carnage inside the Brumbacks’ home.
Jason Peterson, a piano mover, showed up as scheduled.
Jason Peterson: We showed up to move a piano here and nobody answered the door. …I opened up the front glass door to yell inside “hello,” and that’s when I seen a gun clip on the floor.
Jim Axelrod: Like a magazine?
Jason Peterson: Like a magazine on the floor.
The piano mover called the cops:
Peterson to 911: There’s a gun clip and some bullets on the floor. …I just think there’s something going on in this house.
That day, Detectives Derek Mois and Scott Warner happened to be on call.
Det. Mois: We walked through that front door. There was the loaded magazine that the movers had spotted. You also found a spent shell casing kind of stuck between the double doors. …And just beyond that in the entryway was Roger Brumback. Where you could see he had gunshot wounds. …We would also see very evident stab marks on the right side of his neck just below his right ear.
Det. Mois: And inside the main living room area of that main floor. And that’s where we find Mary Brumback. …She had very clear defensive wounds on her hands which were indicative of her trying to put up a defense. …And we had knives that were left in that crime scene.
The carnage just inside the front door of the Brumback home was shocking even for longtime homicide detectives, but there was something else that hit them almost instantly about the crime scene – a sickening familiarity.
Det. Mois: We walked through that first door … Scott and I had a real definitive moment after we walked through that house where we’re like – you know — I’ve seen these things before.
Det. Mois: Specifically, with the wounds to the right side of the neck. …And when I saw those both on the male victim and on the female victim, you don’t see a lot of knifings or stabbings that are like that.
Sgt. Warner: The mindset at that point was there’s a connection here.
Jim Axelrod: Light bulbs must have gone off. Very brightly.
Mois and Warner: Yes.
The wounds were a mirror image to those suffered by Tom Hunter and Shirlee Sherman in 2008.
Jim Axelrod: And then you find out the victim worked as a doctor at Creighton’s medical school.
Sgt. Warner: Yeah.
Jim Axelrod: Then you two must look at each other and say, “We can’t ignore this. We got something.”
Mois and Warner: Yes.
Roger Brumback was not only a doctor at Creighton, but he worked out of the same office as Tom Hunter’s father, Bill — the pathology department. Roger Brumback was chairman and Bill Hunter was in charge of the residents.
Det. Mois: We knew we had these similarities in the crime scenes and the weapons that were used and this connection to the pathology department.
The cold case that had mystified Omaha for five frustrating years was heating up.
Sgt. Warner: Your mind’s goin’ a million miles an hour. …You consciously have to make yourself slow down.
The next day cops got a call from the Bewtras, telling detectives about that alarm that went off at their home on Mother’s Day — the same day the Brumbacks were believed to have been murdered.
Det. Mois: We have Dr. Hunter….
…whose son Tom had been murdered in 2008.
Det. Mois: We have Dr. Brumback…
…who had just been gunned down in his doorway.
Det. Mois: And now Dr. Bewtra…
…a colleague of Doctor’s Hunter and Brumback in Creighton’s pathology department.
Det. Mois: Who are they in a position to have affected the most? And the obvious answer was, of course, the residents at that pathology training program.
Sgt. Warner: And from that point on, that’s what we looked at.
Det. Mois: We went to Creighton University and we pulled the files from every resident within that program starting I think in 2000.
Jim Axelrod: And one of the files you got belonged to Anthony Garcia.
Det. Mois: Uh-huh.
Omaha police had heard Anthony Garcia’s name before – the Creighton pathology resident the cops had barely considered back in 2008. He had been fired. And Garcia’s professor in the pathology department? Doctor Chhanda Bewtra.
Jim Axelrod: What kinda student was he?
Dr. Chhanda Bewtra: Bad guy and a bad student.
And Doctor Bewtra didn’t hold back on her feelings in several performance reviews she prepared for Bill Hunter.
Dr. Chhanda Bewtra: I was trying very hard to convince Bill to get rid of him, yes.
And that’s exactly what happened. Hunter and Brumback fired Garcia. His letter of termination began to look like a smoking gun.
Jim Axelrod: The signatures are Dr. William Hunter and Dr. Roger Brumback?
Det. Mois: Correct.
Jim Axelrod: So in his mind, if he’s trying to figure out who’s responsible for his termination … He’s thinkin’ of three people: Brumback, Hunter and Bewtra.
Chhanda Bewtra: Yes.
Jim Axelrod: So every time Anthony Garcia is looking for a job, this letter signed by Brumback and Hunter…
Det. Mois: Kinda seemingly was coming back to haunt him.
A COMMON THREAD
Jim Axelrod: Where does this case, where is it in terms of your frontal lobe?
Det. Mois: It’s ever present. It’s at the forefront for sure.
Sgt. Warner: It’s been a constant since 2008.
Two sets of murders five years apart with a common thread: Creighton University.
Jeff Sherman: I always felt it had something to do with Creighton.
Meanwhile, Det. Derek Mois was learning as much as he could about former Creighton resident Anthony Garcia.
Det. Mois: After I got the Garcia book — like I said, every time that I turned a page, I was learning something new that I felt was relevant, that I felt was gonna carry me onto the next step.
For Mois, Garcia was looking more and more like his No. 1 suspect — but an unlikely one.
Jim Axelrod: Anthony Garcia. Who is he?
Todd Cooper: A decidedly middle-class kid — played football, grew up in Walnut, California.
Walnut, Calif., is a place where dreams really do come true. It’s a pristine suburb in a golden valley about an hour east of Los Angeles.
Fernando Garcia: It was a loving home… We were encouraged to do the right thing.
Fernando Garcia, Anthony’s younger brother, is keenly aware of what his family has accomplished.
Fernando Garcia: My mom was born in Mexico and came here. …My dad was born here …My dad fought in Vietnam … They didn’t have a lot. But they were able to achieve the American dream.
For Fred, who worked for the Post Office, and Estella a registered nurse, a cornerstone of their dream was their first-born child, Anthony.
Estella Garcia: He was … healthy, playful … He played football.
Jim Axelrod: What kind of student was Anthony?
Estella Garcia: He was a good student. …He was an altar boy.
Fernando Garcia: He wanted to get along with people. Not confrontational.
There was college in California, and then med school in Utah.
Estella Garcia: He wanted to be a brain surgeon.
Jim Axelrod: You must have been enormously proud.
Estella Garcia: Of course.
Frederick Garcia: Oh, yes.
Then, in 1999, came a journey most parents only dream of.
Todd Cooper: His dad described … packing all of Anthony’s belongings into a van and driving cross country, father and son. Dad couldn’t have been prouder.
Father and son were headed to Basset-Saint Elizabeth’s in Utica, New York. It would be Anthony Garcia’s first residency. And it didn’t go well.
Estella Garcia: I did not know he was having trouble.
Garcia’s professors accused him of behaving unprofessionally – including yelling at a radiology technician. Under pressure, Garcia resigned and the first-born son headed back home.
Estella Garcia: When he came back, he was not the same. He looked very tired, almost exhausted.
But he wasn’t giving up. And in July of 2000, Anthony Garcia got what few residents ever do: a second chance.
Estella Garcia: I was happy he was getting a job.
That’s when Garcia began his residency in the pathology department at Creighton.
Dr. Chhanda Bewtra: Academically he was very poor.
But there was much more than poor academics.
Todd Cooper: …pranking a chief resident, rolling a body onto its face so that it becomes disfigured. …He would write emails to Dr. Hunter complaining about Dr. Bewtra. I mean, this guy was a child — cloaked with a medical degree.
Then in 2001, after multiple incidents — and those bad performance reviews by Dr. Bewtra — Creighton had its fill of Anthony Garcia.
Jim Axelrod: What does it mean for a resident to be terminated?
Dr. Chhanda Bewtra: Pretty serious.
Sgt. Warner: It pretty much ends your medical career.
Anthony Garcia headed home, once again.
Estella Garcia: He said it didn’t work out.
Jim Axelrod: Did he complain about the people?
Estella Garcia: He did not complain about the people.
Frederick Garcia: He didn’t complain about anybody.
Those who knew and still love him, believe Anthony struggled with depression and migraine headaches, and was overwhelmed by the rigorous work required to fulfill his American dream of becoming a doctor.
Fernando Garcia: I can see that taking a toll on somebody … psychologically, emotionally.
Jim Axelrod: Did you get the sense at all that Anthony felt he had failed?
Frederick Garcia: Not at all.
Estella Garcia: I think he was adamant about continuing with that career.
And, miraculously, in 2003, Anthony Garcia got a third chance. Working as a resident at the University of Illinois Hospital, he somehow managed to get a medical license to practice in the state of Illinois.
Todd Cooper: But for the State of Illinois, this guy does not have a medical license anywhere.
For the next few years, Anthony Garcia bounced around the country working where he could – clinics and even a prison hospital.
With every new state he moved to, Garcia had to apply for a medical license there. And those who had the authority to grant that license, would learn of his dismissal from Creighton. And each time, he would pay a price for his past.
Det. Mois: To get licensure in another state, they would be sending Creighton University very specific requests about Anthony Garcia’s time at Creighton University …And those responses … They were not positive. …It doesn’t take a detective or even a physician to read those as a lay person and say, “That’s not gonna help him get licensure or a job.”
Investigators discovered that in February 2008, Garcia was living in Louisiana. The state denied his application for a medical license due in part to his termination from Creighton. Less than three weeks later, Tom Hunter and Shirlee Sherman were brutally murdered.
The pieces of Anthony Garcia’s past were coming together in front of Mois and Warner. But could they place him in Dundee in 2008, on the day of Tom and Shirlee’s murder? Mois wondered what kind of car Garcia was driving back then, so he checked his reports.
Det. Mois: And I remember it was on page 11 of that report … that between July of 2007 and July of 2009, Anthony Garcia had a Honda CRV registered to him at a Shreveport, Louisiana, address.
After discovering the make and model, Mois ran the VIN number to get the color.
Det. Mois: And it came back as a Silver Honda CRV.
ON THE TRAIL OF A KILLER
It was 2013. The slaughter of four innocent people over the course of five years had left Omaha staggered and searching for answers.
Sgt. Warner: This is something that really had upset the community, the city, the region.
Det. Mois: It evolved into something so much bigger than any of us were used to.
But its origin was the pathology department at Creighton University Medical Center, where Dr. Brumback was the head of the department and Dr. Hunter was in charge of the residents. It was also here, investigators allege, Anthony Garcia developed his twisted motive for murder.
Todd Cooper: It’s unfathomable. A grudge that festers for seven years before the first killings and 12 years before the second set of killings? That’s unheard of.
A grudge that wouldn’t quit. Revenge for being fired was the motive — the theory of the case Mois and Warner began to build. But Fernando Garcia, Anthony’s younger brother, wasn’t buying it.
Fernando Garcia: There’s been millions of people fired who don’t come back and kill somebody.
And by 2013 Garcia was long gone from Omaha, living 500 miles away in Terre Haute, Indiana. He had been fired again – this time from that job as a medical worker in a prison. Still, he had a Ferrari in his driveway and appeared to be living the high life. But that wasn’t the information cops craved.
Det. Mois: I needed to find out where he was on May 12, 2013.
The day Roger and Mary Brumback were murdered. Garcia’s electronic records lit up the trail.
Det. Mois: We have this phone call accessing a cell tower in Atlantic, Iowa, which is only an hour away from Omaha … He had made a purchase at a Wingstop restaurant in Omaha.
And Anthony Garcia was caught on camera — just outside Omaha, buying a case of Bud Light that very same day.
Jim Axelrod: At this point do you have a suspect you want to arrest?
Det. Mois: Yes.
Detectives headed for Garcia’s Terre Haute home, but, when they got there, he was nowhere to be found.
Sgt. Warner: Our concern was that he was leaving Terre Haute and he was headed south towards Louisiana.
Jim Axelrod: Where there were other people that you felt he perceived had wronged him?
Det. Mois: Yes.
Sgt. Warner: Yes.
Cops feared Garcia was out to kill again. Omaha detectives were now working with nearby law enforcement agencies and the FBI. And at 8:30 a.m., Illinois State Police spotted Garcia’s car. He was pulled over. Drunk, and on his knees, in the middle of the road,. In his car was a crow bar, a sledge hammer and a gun.
Det. Mois: And we got a call that he was in custody.
Jim Axelrod: And what did that sound like?
Sgt. Warner: Relief.
With Garcia under arrest, cops entered his house in Terre Haute.
Det. Ryan Davis: It was barren. It didn’t look like somebody planned on really coming back.
Omaha Detective Ryan Davis got the first look into a dark and conflicted world through Garcia’s chilling words: “We live. We die. We live. We die.”
Det. Davis: On top of the dining room table are all of these documents. …I would call them documents of success. A medical degree … the deed to his house …”
Det. Davis: And then he’s got this bag, this trash bag in his kitchen sink.
Inside the trash bag were more documents submerged in a liquid. It looked to detectives like someone was trying to destroy them.
Det. Davis: These documents really give you the chills. He’s talking about going to the store, buying broccoli, butter, shrimp.
Anthony Garcia’s shopping list — from the ordinary to the ominous.
Det. Davis: As you can see here, it says, “Invade rich house, torture, murder. Over here it says, “Rich children, gun, invade, kill, knife, kidnap family, SUV, torture, kill.”
And there was also something familiar soaking in the sink: Those negative performance reviews written by Dr. Chhanda Bewtra and Garcia’s termination letter signed by Drs. Hunter and Brumback.
Todd Cooper: The motivation for these murders was all right there in that sink.
That sink full of evidence wasn’t all detectives found. Their investigation led them to a key witness at Garcia’s favorite haunt, Club Koyote.
Jim Axelrod: Who’s Cecilia Hoffmann?
Det. Davis: At the time, she was a stripper at a strip club in Terre Haute, Indiana. …Mr. Garcia was a regular customer.
A roadside strip joint — the one place Anthony Garcia’s childhood dreams still had life.
Det. Davis: When he came in the door, they would announce that “Doctor Tony” was in the house. …He had all this money.
Cecilia Hoffmann told Detective Davis that Garcia wanted more than just a dance — he wanted a girlfriend. That wasn’t what she wanted.
Det. Davis: And so she stated to us that she started to try to distance herself from him.
Omaha cops recorded Hoffman’s haunting story:
Voice of Cecilia Hoffmann: I’m putting on my little voice and saying, “Well, Dr. Tony, I only like bad boys.” …”I’m a bad girl. You couldn’t — you know — you couldn’t handle a girl like me.” …And then that’s when he told me. He told me I wasn’t as good as I thought he was. And he said, “I killed people before.” …He said, “I killed a young boy and an old woman.”
Jim Axelrod: Anthony Garcia confesses to the murders of Thomas Hunter and Shirlee Sherman as a way to try to impress a stripper?
Todd Cooper: Right.
The police fugitive unit would, and on July 23, 2013, at the Douglas County Courthouse, Dr. Anthony Garcia was formally charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
Lead prosecutor Don Kleine and deputy Brenda Beadle would lay out Nebraska’s capital murder case against Anthony Garcia.
Brenda Beadle: There wasn’t anything in this case I don’t think that was like our big piece of evidence. I think there were a lot of pieces. And when you put them together that’s what makes it overwhelming.
Don Kleine: And it all points to Anthony Garcia
Bob Motta Jr.: They’re trying to put my client to death and I was gonna do whatever I had to do to get him a fair trial if at all possible.
Bob Motta Jr., his father, and their legal associates, were the Chicago-based powerhouse defense team Anthony Garcia’s parents spent their entire life savings to hire.
Jim Axelrod: Did your son kill Tommy Hunter, Shirlee Sherman, Roger and Mary Brumback?
Estella Garcia: I don’t know. If he did, it’s a totally different person that they’re talking about.
ANTHONY GARCIA ON TRIAL
Omaha. Sept. 26, 2016. Fifteen years after he was fired from Creighton, the quadruple murder trial of Anthony Garcia finally began.
Todd Cooper: Just the innocence in this … every one of those people were just going about their days, their lives … And then Anthony Garcia comes knocking.
Knocking, with his grudge — Garcia’s motive — summed up by the prosecution in a single word: revenge.
Brenda Beadle: He Googled it. He searched for it. He searched for that term
Jim Axelrod: Including a quote in his phone, Shakespeare quote.
Brenda Beadle: Merchant of Venice … “If you harm us, shall I not revenge.”
Bob Motta Jr.: Their theory’s revenge. Revenge. …If you take out that element … that leaves them with absolutely a giant gaping hole in their tapestry where the entire thing becomes unwoven.
No cameras were allowed in court. The Mottas of Chicago went at the prosecution like heavyweights.
Todd Cooper: They brought a lot of fire.
“Revenge,” suggested the Mottas, was just a fancy theory. And in fact, the Mottas produced a letter of recommendation for Anthony Garcia written by Dr. Hunter just a few days after Garcia was fired from Creighton.
Dr. Chhanda Bewtra: We terminated him, but we don’t want him to be jobless, destitute. We want him to rehabilitate and find some other job.
And the Mottas take on the star witness, Cecilia Hoffmann, who Garcia had allegedly confessed to? She was a strung-out stripper at the time.
Fernando Garcia: I think she’s a liar.
Bob Motta Jr.: At the time she gives the interview she’s intoxicated. She’s popping script pills every day. …She has no credibility.
Brenda Beadle: I thought she was extremely credible, and she had nothing to gain by coming forward.
Don Kleine: She was subjected to very long and extensively vigorous cross-examination. …And she didn’t waiver. And the jury saw that.
And the jury saw the gun cops believe Garcia used to kill Roger Brumback.
Don Kleine: The other piece of the gun was found off the highway– on an exit ramp — right by Terre Haute, Indiana.
Jim Axelrod: That’s an unbelievable coincidence.
Don Kleine: It’s amazing.
The serial number matches the one on the gun box found in his Terre Haute apartment.
And at the Bewtras’ home, there was DNA on a doorknob.
Don Kleine: There was DNA evidence that pointed to Anthony Garcia.
But, the Mottas insisted cops could not place Garcia in Omaha for the first set of murders. And they argued Anthony Garcia was not the only disgruntled employee at Creighton. That buying chicken wings and beer on the day of the Brumbacks murder didn’t make their client a killer. And that he was simply looking for a job again in the Omaha area.
Jim Axelrod: If Nebraska puts Anthony Garcia to death is an innocent man dying?
Bob Motta: I believe so.
Alison Motta: I believe so.
After more than 50 witnesses and 15 days of emotional testimony, the case went to the jury. It took just seven hours, and then the jury spoke as one:
Don Kleine: [Sighs] You know, the breath just kinda comes out of you. It brings a lot of emotions back … because you think about Thomas and Shirlee and Roger and Mary.
For two cops it was the answer to nearly a decade of relentless work.
Jim Axelrod: You been called the hero of this story.
Det. Mois [shaking head no]: Not at all.
Jim Axelrod: You can’t shake that off fast enough.
Jim Axelrod: Oh no, not at all.
Jim Axelrod: You’re describing to me a tireless investigation.
Det. Mois: By a lot of detectives in our department and other agencies.
But Omaha, that proud Midwestern city, wasn’t buying Derek Mois and Scott Warner’s modest ways, and when they approached a room full of the victims loved ones.
Jim Axelrod: Tell me what happened. You walked in.
Det. Mois: I don’t even wanna say it. [Laughs]
Jim Axelrod: Why not?
Det. Mois: I don’t know.
Jim Axelrod: I can see it in your face. This was the most emotional moment, wasn’t it?
Det. Mois: One of them, yes. For sure.
The victims’ families stood and applauded.
Don Kleine: It’s very gratifying. That’s I think, why we do what we do.
Sgt. Warner [emotional]: And just finally after seven years, you can kinda let it go a little bit and say, “OK, these families have got their answer.”
Three families shattered. Three — plus one.
Estella Garcia: They got the wrong person.
Fred Garcia: I still don’t believe it.
Jim Axelrod: Will you be at the sentencing?
Estella Garcia: Ah, yes.
The first-born son of hard-working people.
Estella Garcia: He grew up in a healthy environment. What changed him? I don’t know.
The boy who followed his dream — now up for the death penalty.
Estella Garcia [in tears]: I have to be there. I don’t know if I ever see him again.
If there is room for irony in a murder story, it belongs to the Bewtras. Police believe that the Bewtras, not the Brumbacks, would be dead – if the Bewtras had not been at that Mother’s Day brunch with their slow moving, elderly friend.
Jim Axelrod: If you had been home 20 minutes earlier, what would have happened?
Dr. Chhanda Bewtra: We would be both be dead. We wouldn’t be having this conversation. It was either us or them.
Outside Creighton Medical Center… where every single day countless doctors bind wounds, help and heal, there sits in the cool stillness, a statue. It is Tom Hunter, forever an 11-year-old child, at play … for eternity.
Anthony Garcia has stopped communicating with his defense team and his family.
A three-judge panel will decide if Garcia will be sentenced to death.