Text messages found in a slain Mesa mom’s cell phone tipped off authorities to search for a 32-year-old man arrested Thursday — a year after her death, court documents say.
The capture of Daniel Enrique Garcia brings relief to the mother of Christine Ann Wood, who was 22-years-old when she was killed March 19, 2006 at her apartment at 718 S. Alma School Road.
“The first thing I did was thank God ... for when they found this person,” said her mother, Criselda Rodriguez.
Rodriguez described her daughter as one-of-a-kind, intelligent and funny, but said she blames a group of women whom she hung out with and trusted for her demise.
Following the slaying, Mesa detectives analyzed Wood’s phone and discovered several messages between the 22-year-old and Garcia, who police say frequented Chandler but hung out in south Phoenix.
“The text messages indicated the defendant was involved in the drug trade and he and Ms. Wood had a sexual relationship,” according to the Maricopa County Superior Court document.
Mesa police spokesman Detective Johnny Lopez said the police department is not yet revealing whether or not Wood was associated with the drug trade.
A friend had found Wood’s apartment door ajar on March 19. When police arrived, they discovered her two sons, then ages 18 months and 2, clinging to her bloody body. According to the court document, she was wearing only a bra.
Wood was shot in the front of her head, according to a report from the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner. A toxicology analysis showed that she had methamphetamine and amphetamine in her system.
Rodriguez said she thinks her daughter was forced to use the drugs.
On July 20, 2006, police physically linked Garcia’s DNA to Wood based on evidence gathered at the scene, the court document says.
On Thursday, the U.S. Marshals Service caught Garcia in Phoenix after they tracked his Chrysler Le Baron to an apartment at 40th Street and Indian School Road. Garcia tried to run but found himself surrounded at gunpoint and was arrested about 11 a.m. on suspicion of second-degree murder and possession of dangerous drug paraphernalia.
Garcia told police he had consensual sex with Wood, who he said he later shot and killed when his gun accidently fired, the court document says. He said he then fled in a red mini-van.
Neighbors told officers they heard the single gunshot between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. and, according to the court document, said they saw two Hispanic males exit the hallway leading from her apartment. However, no one called 911.
The text messages indicate that Garcia and another male visited Wood at 4:46 a.m. at her apartment, the court document says.
Lopez stated that the case is an ongoing investigation with more interviews to be conducted.
On May 1, 2003, Garcia was arrested after a Phoenix apartment complex security guard found him in possession of a .357-caliber handgun and methamphetamine. In October of that year, he was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for weapons misconduct and also received a three-year probation for drug paraphernalia possession, according to Maricopa County Superior Court documents. The probation was to be served after he was released.
On Oct. 22, 2005, Garcia left prison and on May 8, 2006, the court issued a warrant for probation violation.
— Tribune reporters Nicole Beyer and Gary Grado contributed to this report.