On March 13, 2018, Dr. William Hunter came home to find his eleven-year old son Tom and housekeeper Shirlee Sherman lying in pools of blood after having been brutally murdered by an unknown assailant. Police soon arrived on the scene and detectives began their investigation into two homicides that unnerved the quiet suburban enclave. Five years later on May 14, 2013, doctors Roger and Mary Brumback were shot and killed in their West Omaha home. The brutality of the murders shocked even the most seasoned investigators and left many wondering what how one person could commit such a grisly crime. Detectives Derek Mois and Scott Warner became the lead investigators and continued to examine the two murders, looking for any clues that would lead them to a suspect. A crucial link was soon discovered between the two victims and led investigators to take a closer look at the Department of Pathology at Creighton University.
Hunter and Brumback both worked at the famed institution and knew each other very well. As detectives began to learn more about the lives of the two doctors and their common employer, the more they realized that the killer must be someone they knew, who had a deadly vendetta against anyone who worked at Creighton. Authorities culled the personal files of all current and former employees, looking for anyone who might fit the profile of the killer at large. The records were voluminous but Sgt. Mike Ratliff soon found a folder that caught his attention and stood out from the rest. He brought it Mois’ attention believing that this was the person that detectives need to focus on. The name on the file was Dr. Anthony J. Garcia and the events that followed would develop into one of the Nebraska’s most infamous crimes and place Garcia on Nebraska’s death row.
Outside of Nebraska, Garcia’s story received limited coverage and if not for this book, his story might continue to go largely unknown. But authors Henry J. Cordes and Todd Cooper have ensured that Garcia will always live in infamy as a homicidal maniac that took the lives of four innocent people and may have killed more had he not been apprehended. Old-school detective work done by the book, proved to be the key factor that broke the case wide open. But there is more to the story than what has been reported officially. This is the true inside story of the effort to catch Omaha’s worst nightmare. Detectives raced against the clock as it became chillingly clear that anyone who worked with or above Garcia at Creighton might soon be a target.
The book reads like a good crime thriller and I found myself deeply immersed in the book, not wanting to put it down at all. The book is about two hundred fifty-eight pages and goes by quickly. But contained in the book is a story that is beyond shocking. Some may wonder how could that happen in Omaha of all places? Murder knows no bounds and location is irrelevant. What is relevant, is the mindset of those who have the ability and willingness to kill, possessed by what is in this case, called pathological rage.
Omaha natives may choose to pass on this book, as they have probably seen news reports on their locals stations from the time of Garcia’s arrest until his conviction and sentencing. For those outside of Omaha, this story of murder in the heartland, will cause you to rethink who we think to be capable of murder and who we assume to be the least likely to harm us. In fact, as Dr. Hunter points out in the book, he never suspected that Garcia was involved. Perhaps if their had been a suspect with whom Hunter had a far more explosive relationship, the doctor may have zeroed in on a possible suspect even quicker than authorities. And while he did give Garcia’s name to investigators, he made it clear that he did not think Garcia was a threat. The benefit of hindsight allows us to look in the past and see the critical clues that were missed but at the time, all involved went by what was solid evidence that would actually lead to a thorough and conclusive investigation.
True crime aficionados will welcome this thriller to their libraries and undoubtedly will be asking for more at the book’s conclusion. To be clear, the story is not a glorification of Garcia or his crimes. In fact, the book has the opposite effect and the barbarity of Garcia’s actions him home with profound force. But what is paramount is that we understand the motives and thought process behind pathological killers to understand what lies behind their decisions and actions. Murder is certainly not a new idea and has been part of society since the creation of humans. And while we cannot prevent all murders, perhaps we do stand a chance in preventing another killer like Dr. Anthony Garcia.