The rape suspect from Massachusetts who was apprehended at a New Jersey home earlier this week was once arrested for attempted murder in Massachusetts, authorities have confirmed, as reported by the Lawrenceville NJ patch.com website.
Byron Garcia, a 30-year-old North Andover, Mass., resident who recently fled Massachusetts amid accusations he had raped a young girl, was arrested Feb. 22 by U.S. Marshals at a home where relatives live in Lawrence Township, NJ. The girl allegedly raped by Garcia is just 4 years old, according to Deputy U.S. Marshal Michael Schroeder.
Garcia was arrested in 2009 for armed assault with intent to murder and illegal discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a building, among other related charges, after police alleged he fired multiple shots at a car in Lawrence, Mass. No one was injured in that incident.
That case against Garcia was eventually dismissed, however. There had been speculation that the incident was gang-related, as gang violence had spiked during that time. And the alleged victim and witnesses in the case failed to show up to court multiple times, according to Carrie Kimball-Monahan, spokesperson for Essex County (Mass.) District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.
Garcia remains in custody at the Mercer County Correction Center in New Jersey, awaiting extradition to Massachusetts.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Schroeder said police in North Andover, Mass., launched their investigation earlier this month into the alleged sexual assault of the 4-year-old victim and on Feb. 13 issued an arrest warrant for Garcia on charges of rape and indecent exposure involving a child under the age of 14. North Andover police feared Garcia would return to his native country of Guatamala.
Massachusetts State Police contacted the New Jersey State Police with the information that Garcia might be hiding out in Lawrence Township, and the job of going after him was passed Wednesday morning to the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force, Schroeder said.
Created in 2002, the task force is made up of personnel from the U.S. Marshals Service, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, New Jersey State Police and about 100 other law enforcement agencies.
Task force members immediately went to the house on Eldridge Avenue in Lawrence Township where, according to Schroeder, several of Garcia’s relatives – including his father and stepbrother – live. He said Garcia was found hiding in a bedroom closet.