“If you shall wrong us, shall we not revenge?”
That’s a quote from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” one police officer found among Anthony Garcia’s Internet searches. The quote proved chillingly fitting for the 42-year-old Terre Haute, Ind., man. Feeling himself wronged, he did indeed take revenge.
On Wednesday, the former doctor was convicted of murdering four people as retribution for something that happened 15 years earlier.
It began in 2001, when Garcia was fired from Creighton University’s medical residency program in Omaha.
It wasn’t the first residency program he failed to complete — as Reuters noted, he had withdrawn from a New York residency program after being suspended for screaming at a radiology technician — but the Creighton program was the first to outright dismiss him.
At the time, Roger Brumback and William Hunter cited “unprofessional behavior” to justify the dismissal, NBC reported. Records obtained by the Chicago Tribune showed Garcia had “willfully” phoned a fellow resident while the resident was taking a particularly high-stakes exam, presumably in an effort to affect the resident’s score.
Following that dismissal, he applied to a residency program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In his application, he wrote, “Since my childhood, I have pursued a life ambition to scientifically study the human body. I am glad I can fulfill my interest and help others, at the same time.”
Three years later, as the Tribune noted, he was dismissed from yet another residency program when the UIC ended his contract in 2004 for “substandard” behavior.
After this, he was denied a medical license in Indiana and Louisiana, but he maintained a medical license in the state of Illinois.
Given his checkered professional past and the fact that he was still able to practice medicine in Illinois (and reportedly sometimes did in Chicago), it might seem surprising that Garcia held Brumback and Hunter accountable for his lackluster career.
But he did.
And rather than write an angrily worded letter, he, as police said, took revenge.
Two weeks after being denied a medical license in Louisiana in 2008, he stabbed to death Hunter’s son Thomas and his housekeeper Shirlee Sherman.
Photographs from the scene, the Charlotte Observer reported, showed 11-year-old Thomas lying in a pool of blood with a large kitchen knife jammed into his neck. Nearby, the boy’s Xbox stupidly made arcade noises, still on from when he had been playing it before being interrupted. Still on, as if the boy might pick the controller back up.
That’s how his father found him.
“It was pretty obvious he was dead,” William Hunter testified in court, according to the Omaha World-Herald. “A lot of the blood had soaked into the rug. And then I noticed the knife sticking in his neck. It was still in the neck. Likewise Shirlee.”
Following the killing, Brumback told the World-Herald, “The biggest interest we have, and what everybody was asking yesterday [at Creighton University], is, ‘Who could have done this and why?’”
The double slaying immediately garnered headlines. There was even an episode of “Law & Order” titled “Pledge,” in which the son and housekeeper of a pair of university biologists are slain.
At the time, police didn’t have much to go on: Witnesses told police an olive-skinned man had visited Hunter’s home and that they’d seen a Honda CRV in the area with out-of-state plates, the Associated Press reported. But no arrests were made.
Garcia didn’t emerge as a suspect, the World-Herald reported.
The case eventually went cold, and Garcia found himself regularly visiting a strip club in his home town of Terre Haute, Ind.
He became such a regular that often the DJ would announce his arrival, yelling into the microphone, “Hey, everyone. Let’s welcome Dr. Tony to the club.”
“He liked to flaunt that he was a doctor,” Cecilia Hoffmann, one of the dancers at this club, said during her testimony, according to the Omaha World-Herald. “He wanted everyone to know that he was a doctor — that he had nice things, that he had a nice life.”
He also had a thing for Hoffmann, eventually attempting to date her at the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013.
She didn’t return his affections, though, and tried to let him down easy by telling him she only went for “bad boys.”
“He said, ‘Well, actually, I’ve killed people before,’” Hoffman testified. When an unbelieving Hoffman questioned him, “He goes, ‘Well, it was an old woman and a young boy.’”
But she didn’t think much of it, at least not until May of 2013.
That’s when Garcia was denied an Indiana medical license for the second time, after Brumback informed the state of Garcia’s tattered professional record.
Just after this, Garcia attempted to break into the house of yet another Creighton medical school faculty member. When the alarm went off, he fled.
But he wasn’t done.
Immediately he used his phone to search for the Brumbacks’ address.
Later that same day, he shot Brumback and stabbed his wife, Mary, killing them both. A magazine of bullets, a recoil spring and a retaining loop to a 9mm SD9VE pistol were found at the scene.
Police immediately considered the potential that these killings were linked to those of Sherman and young Thomas. After combing through documents from Creighton University Medical Center’s pathology department personnel records, police finally considered Garcia a suspect.
By this point, a 21-person law enforcement task force including the FBI was searching for the doctor in an attempt to put an end to this years-long saga. They found him driving drunk in Illinois. With him was a .45-caliber handgun.
In his home, police found a box for a 9mm SD9VE gun, which was purchased months before the Brumback killings. The magazine, found at their doorstep, fit with that gun.
Meanwhile, Hoffman came forward with her testimony. Between her testimony, the pistol and an array of other circumstantial evidence, prosecutors felt they had enough to convict Garcia, so he was extradited to Omaha to face murder charges.
They were right.
On Wednesday, after about seven hours of deliberation, a Nebraska jury found Garcia guilty of four counts of first-degree murder, four counts of use of a deadly weapon and one count of attempted burglary.
He may face the death penalty — the jurors will meet again on Friday to decide if aggravating circumstances, such as the killings being especially cruel or if he killed to conceal a crime, exist.
While the verdict was read on Wednesday, Garcia’s mother cried while her husband, Frederick, grabbed her hand, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
“We’ve waited so long [for this verdict],” prosecutor Don Kleine told WOWT. “It’s been a long road, it really has and it’s very emotional.”
Garcia’s attorney Bob Motta Jr., simply said, “With what they had, the jury made their decision. It was a tough case,” though he did promise to appeal, according to the AP.
Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer, for one, seemed ecstatic at the outcome, posting the following to the Omaha Police Department’s Facebook account, saying that he was confident that:
“The jury would sift through the evidence and theatrics to find the right verdict — and they did. As we move forward we are left to remember the victims and there is no need to mention or worry about Anthony Garcia any longer.”
And, in a statement, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said, “The Hunter, Sherman and Brumback families have waited years for this guilty verdict. I hope the end of the trial provides solace for these families.”
More from Morning Mix: