OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - An Indiana doctor was arrested in Illinois on Monday in connection with four murders in Omaha, including those of a pathology professor and his wife in May, and Omaha’s police chief said his profile fitted that of a serial killer.
Dr Anthony Joseph Garcia, 40, a former pathology resident at Creighton University, was arrested on four counts of first-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit the murders, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said.
Garcia was stopped by Illinois State Police and taken into custody without incident, though he showed signs of alcohol impairment and had a .45-caliber handgun with him, Schmaderer said.
“At this time, and every member of the task force feels this, but he does fit the elements of a serial killer, yes,” Schmaderer told a news conference in answer to a question. He did not elaborate.
Garcia is accused of killing Dr Roger Brumback and his wife, Mary Brumback, both 65, in May, as well as the 2008 killings of Thomas Hunter, the 11-year-old son of another doctor, and Shirlee Sherman, 57, the Hunter family housekeeper, police said.
Garcia was a pathology resident at Creighton University from July 2000 to June 2001 and was fired by Dr Brumback and Dr William Hunter, Thomas Hunter’s father, “for a form of erratic behavior,” Schmaderer said.
He said police did not believe Thomas Hunter and the housekeeper were the intended targets of the 2008 attack.
Schmaderer said Garcia had not lived in Omaha since 2001 but police have evidence that suggested he had visited the state at the time of the killings in 2008 and again in May.
“At this point in our investigation, we are led to believe that he committed these murders alone and we are investigating the history of Dr Garcia,” Schmaderer said.
A task force of local, state, and federal law enforcement officials was set up in May to investigate the cases and determine if they were connected. Police believed early on after the May killings that there was a connection, Schmaderer said.
Police plan to execute a search warrant at Garcia’s home in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Tuesday, Schmaderer said. Search warrants were also being served around the country by task-force members at places where Garcia may have worked, lived, or where someone had a connection with him, he said.
Schmaderer said the task force had been monitoring Garcia’s movements for some time and decided to make the arrest because he became mobile. Garcia did not appear to be aware he was being monitored, he said.
Brumback had just announced his retirement from Creighton and had been due to move to West Virginia in June, according to the university. He was known for his work on Alzheimer’s disease and had written many articles and books.
Editing by David Bailey and David Brunnstrom