WR police: Man planned to kill estranged wife, self

WARNER ROBINS — The estranged husband of a woman shot to death in her Warner Robins home planned to kill her and then himself, police said.

Maria Garcia, 38, was found dead in the doorway of her home at 102 Murray Place by neighbors about 7:35 a.m. Monday, according to police and neighbors who found the body. She had been shot twice, according to the Houston County coroner.

Her estranged husband, Jose Garcia, 44, who was stabbed twice, was found unconscious about 7:40 a.m. in the parking lot at Northlake Apartments at 310 Northlake Dive where he lived, police said. He remained hospitalized Thursday.

Tabitha Pugh, public information officer for Warner Robins police, said Thursday that a warrant has been signed for Jose Garcia’s arrest on the charge of felony murder. The warrant is not expected to be served until he is released from The Medical Center of Central Georgia, she said.

Jose Garcia’s stab wounds were self-inflicted with a large knife, Pugh said. Police believe that Jose Garcia went to the home with plans to kill Maria Garcia and then kill himself in what was to be a murder-suicide, Pugh said.

He was found by residents of the apartment complex in a driveway where police believe he stabbed himself in the side and in the chest, Pugh said. The knife was recovered in the parking lot of the apartment complex, and the handgun was recovered inside the Murray Place home, Pugh said.

Jose Garcia regained consciousness late Wednesday and was interviewed by police Thursday, Pugh said. He is expected to be released from the hospital Monday, officially charged with the crime and then held at the Houston County jail pending trial, Pugh said.

Neighbors DeFrange Leary and Tiffany Ramsey said they saw Jose Garcia drive erratically away from the Murray Place residence shortly before discovering the body. They said he nearly struck a mailbox, and Ramsey described him as being hunched over the wheel of his sport utility vehicle.

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

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.