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Couple Wanted In Dismemberment Killing Arrested

GREG RISLING   12/11/10 05:06 AM ET   AP

Body Parts

LOS ANGELES — A Pennsylvania couple far from home and suspected of cutting up a Good Samaritan into pieces were arrested after being found in an abandoned office building just several miles from the slaying.

Police thought Edward Garcia Jr., 36, and his 25-year-old wife, Melissa Hope Garcia, had left Southern California and may have returned to York, Pa. On Friday, a fugitive task force arrested the pair, who were living in squalid conditions in an abandoned office building in Hollywood.

The Garcias have been charged with murder and the special circumstances of torture in the Thanksgiving killing of Herbert Tracy White, 49, of Los Angeles. A maid found his dismembered body stuffed in a backpack and under a bed in the Continental Hotel in the seedy downtown Skid Row area.

Authorities believe they were trying to rob White, who had befriended them and gave them money.

It appears that White "initially was attempting to help both suspects, then somehow things got out of hand at the hotel room," said Los Angeles police Detective Julio Benavides.

Investigators believe the couple were going to take away White's body but were interrupted. The hotel room was rented by the Garcias.

Police interviewed the couple Friday night. Investigators said that while they couldn't reveal if there was a confession, the Garcias were upset about what happened.

"Their attitude toward it, was there was some remorse involved," said Los Angeles police Detective Richard Arciniega. "Mr. Garcia basically apologized to the (White) family for his actions."

A 3 1/2-inch "hunting-type" knife has been found that was used to kill White, police said. The couple are believed to be the only suspects.

Both appeared to have sores on their faces caused by drug use and Melissa Garcia, who also goes by the name of Melissa Turner, had recently cut her hair and put red streaks in it, authorities said.

"They were asleep when we kicked the door in," Brown said. "They were coherent but they looked like they were on the downside of a drug binge."

Authorities learned of the Garcias' whereabouts through tips, including information from York. Several homeless people were staying in the same abandoned building where they were found.

Arciniega said the White family is relieved the couple were arrested and apparently so is Edward Garcia.

"One thing Mr. Garcia did say was that he was glad it's over," Benavides said.

The Garcias are expected to be arraigned in court Monday. The couple had several previous arrests for robbery in Pennsylvania.

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Filed by Hunter Stuart  |