Autopsy: Woman found dead in doorway was killed by gunshot wounds

WARNER ROBINS — An autopsy Tuesday determined that a woman found dead in the doorway of her Warner Robins home died of multiple gunshot wounds, and police said her estranged husband is responsible.

The body of Maria Garcia, 38, was discovered about 7:35 a.m. Monday at 102 Murray Place, said Tabitha Pugh, public information officer for Warner Robins police. The victim’s estranged husband, 44-year-old Jose Garcia, who had been stabbed twice, was found unconscious about 7:40 a.m. in the parking lot at Northlake Apartments at 310 Northlake Drive where he lived, Pugh said.

Houston County Coroner Danny Galpin said Maria Garcia was shot twice — once through the neck with the bullet traveling into the chest. The other bullet entered through her left arm and traveled into the chest, Galpin said.

The official cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds to the chest, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide, Galpin said.

“Due to physical evidence and witness accounts, Jose Garcia is responsible for Maria Garcia’s death,” according to a Warner Robins police news release issued Tuesday.

DeFrange Leary, who lives next door and was one of the neighbors who found the body, said Maria Garcia had been shot in the neck. He said he also saw a shell casing nearby and a handgun on the floor.

Leary and Tiffany Ramsey, the other neighbor who discovered the body, said they saw Jose Garcia earlier drive away erratically from the home, nearly striking a mailbox.

Ramsey said Jose Garcia was hunched over the wheel of his sport utility vehicle as he drove away.

Jose Garcia remained in critical condition at The Medical Center of Central Georgia, the release said. He underwent surgery for two stab wounds Monday, according to Pugh.

Police are still investigating how Jose Garcia was stabbed, Pugh said. Detectives have not yet been able to interview him, she said. He remains in the intensive care unit, Pugh said.

The couple was married but had been separated for several months, Pugh said.

Neighbors Rosa Mooeno and Dario Hernandez said Maria Garcia had come to their home several days earlier asking for help and saying that Jose Garcia had threatened to kill her.

Aydee Short, who described herself as a close personal friend of Maria Garcia, said the couple was from El Salvador and had four children who range in age from 13 to 18. The children are staying with relatives and friends, Short said.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.