A Dundalk man has been charged with killing two women and trying to kill two others in a series of attacks in Southeast Baltimore, police officials said yesterday.
Police had long suspected the killings and assaults were committed by one man. But only recently were they able to link John P. Garcia, 55, a forklift operator and divorced father of several children, to the crimes with the help of DNA evidence, detectives said.
"DNA is probably our whole case," said Sgt. Steven Krause of the city police homicide unit.
Garcia was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Melody Ann Brock, 33, and Danielle D. Fell, 18, who police believe were prostitutes. Both women were found beaten and suffocated, Brock in April and Fell in May.
Garcia also is a suspect in the killing of a third woman, police said. Tabitha Bruce, 22, of the 4000 block of Pinewood Ave. was discovered strangled in September of last year. Police said they are awaiting DNA test results.
Garcia has been in the city jail since he was arrested in May after a sexual assault victim called police and said she had seen her attacker driving in a car next to her on a Southeast Baltimore street. If it had not been for that woman's quick thinking, other women might have harmed or possibly killed, police said.
The victim, a 31-year-old Southeast Baltimore resident, told police that a man jumped out of his burgundy minivan and abducted her in the 1700 block of Kane St. on Sept. 29 of last year.
In his van, the attacker choked the woman to unconsciousness. She awoke a short time later in the Holabird Industrial Park in the 6400 block of Holabird Ave., while the man was raping her, she told police.
The woman screamed for help, investigators said, and the man again choked her to unconsciousness. She awoke again and found herself alone, police said.
The woman, whose identity is being withheld by The Sun, suffered bruises to her face and broken teeth, among other injuries, police said.
On May 18, the woman was driving in the 6300 block of Dundalk Ave. when she saw the man driving the burgundy minivan next to her, police said.
She jotted down his tag number and called police, who arrested Garcia that day at his house in the 7400 block of Alvah Ave. in Dundalk and charged him with attempted murder and rape.
After Garcia's arrest, detectives quickly realized that the man closely resembled a composite sketch of the suspected killer. Police also discovered forensic evidence linking Garcia to the killings.
When Brock, of Lakeland, Fla., was found in the 2200 block of Newkirk St. on April 9, detectives recovered an impression of a van tire near her body. Police say that tire print matched one of the tires on Garcia's 1993 Ford Aerostar van. An impression of a boot taken from that scene matched a boot seized from Garcia's house, according to investigators.
On Sept. 20, police say they learned about the strongest evidence linking Garcia to Brock's killing, another slaying and two sexual assaults - DNA.
Investigators said DNA ties Garcia to Brock's death and the killing of Fell, of the 200 block of Fleetwood Ave. Her body was found May 13 in the 1300 block of Bayliss St.
Late Wednesday, five days after learning about the DNA results, police charged Garcia with killing Brock and Fell, court records show.
In July, police charged Garcia with the attempted murder and rape of a second 31-year-old woman, who identified her attacker in a photo lineup, police said.
That woman, from Dundalk, told police that a man grabbed her by the hair and forced her into a maroon minivan in the 1600 block of Dundalk Ave. in Southeast Baltimore. The man drove the woman to a footbridge over Interstate 95, where he raped her and slammed her head into the concrete several times before leaving, police said.
Bruce was found dead Sept. 6, lying near construction equipment at All Freight Distributing Co. in the 6200 block of Seaforth St., police said.