Salvador Garcia-Vaca

Salvador Garcia-Vaca

After a year and a half on the run, the man accused of a 2018 murder in Colusa is expected to plead not guilty.

Salvador Garcia-Vaca was arraigned in a Colusa County courtroom Tuesday on murder charges stemming from the death of Karen Garcia, a Williams native who disappeared on Jan. 8, 2018. 

Garcia-Vaca’s attorney, Mathew Smith, said he has reviewed the evidence available and feels that he and his client are ready to move forward with a not guilty plea, but no plea were officially entered, as of yet.

Karen Garcia’s body was discovered, a week after she went missing, in a car parked in a Woodland shopping center parking lot and an autopsy later determined she had died from blunt force trauma. 

Garcia-Vaca, the victim's ex-boyfriend and father of her child, was questioned by police in January 2018 but fled the area shorty after. Authorities believed he had gone to Mexico after a stolen Toyota van that he was believed to be driving was located near the U.S.-Mexico border in October.

According to Appeal-Democrat archives, Garcia-Vaca was charged with domestic violence and battery in December 2017 and Colusa Chief of Police Joshua Fitch confirmed the victim was Karen Garcia. 

During the investigation into Karen Garcia’s disappearance, a search warrant was issued for the residence she shared with Garcia-Vaca in Colusa, where investigators found a substantial amount of blood, according to archives. Garcia-Vaca’s car was also searched and additional blood was found in the vehicle.

That evidence, coupled with the pair’s tumultuous relationship, made Garcia Jr. the prime suspect in the case. 

Garcia-Vaca was apprehended last week by the U.S. Marshals Service after being located in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. He was turned over to the Colusa County Task Force at about 11 p.m. on Saturday night, according to Fitch.

Fitch said he was informed by the U.S. Marshals on Thursday night that they had Garcia in their custody but information about his capture was not released until after Garcia was booked into the Colusa County Jail for security reasons. 

“We are very thankful for all the assistance we got from surrounding agencies, especially the marshals who never gave up on their pursuit of him,” Fitch said on Monday. 

During Tuesdays hearing, Garcia-Vaca waived further arraignment hearings as well as his advisory of rights. He also signed and submitted a statement of rights to the court shortly before the hearing. 

Garcia-Vaca is scheduled to appear back in court on Oct. 9 for a preliminary hearing. The judge in this case continued the conditions of no bail due to the severity of the charges so Garcia-Vaca will remain incarcerated at the Colusa County Jail.

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