The March 13, 2008 double murder was so shocking it made national headlines.
Eleven-year-old Thomas Hunter was found stabbed to death in his family’s Omaha, Nebraska, home, his body discovered near that of the family’s house cleaner, Shirlee Sherman. The boy’s father, Dr. William Hunter, a prominent doctor and director for the Department of Pathology at Creighton University, made the initial discovery.
The killer left the same grisly signature on both of the bodies: A knife stuck in the right side of their necks.
The case went cold for five years until police discovered the bodies of Roger and Mary Brumback, both 65, in their West Omaha home on May 14, 2013. Roger, the former Chair of Creighton’s Department of Pathology, was found in the entranceway, shot three times and stabbed six times in the neck. Mary was discovered nearby in the living room, stabbed more than 20 times in the neck.
“All the wounds were in a small area of the right side of the neck,” Omaha Police Department homicide detective Derek Mois tells PEOPLE about the four slayings. “All of these wounds told us whoever did this was looking for this geographic spot. Someone knows anatomy is what it told us.”
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It didn’t take long for detectives to zero in on their prime suspect, Dr. Anthony Garcia, a former Creighton pathology resident. Authorities believe the killings were fueled by revenge after Brumback and Hunter fired him from Creighton University in 2001 and later wrote bad references, which had prevented him from getting work as a doctor in other states.
“Every time he tried to get a license from somewhere it appeared that the information Creighton would provide was coming back to haunt him,” says Mois.
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Garcia was charged with four counts of first-degree murder in July of 2013. In October, a jury found Garcia guilty of the four slayings. He was also was convicted of four counts of use of a deadly weapon and one count of attempted burglary. He has yet to be sentenced.
Friends of Garcia are baffled as to how a once-promising University of Utah medical school graduate became a cold-blooded killer.
“I was very surprised because the person I knew was polite and easy going and got along well with everyone,” Garcia’s former University of Utah classmate Dr. Steve Lore tells PEOPLE.
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With Garcia behind bars, the victims’ families are still trying to make sense of the tragedy. “To this day I still can’t understand how somebody can just do that to another human being over a job,” says Sherman’s son, Jeff.
Adds Thomas’s brother, Tim, “I guess it provides some closure but I’m not sure if it gives me much in the way of satisfaction. It is kind of a sad reason for murder. As far as justification for murder it is pretty kind of pathetic.”