Mother confesses to murder on videotapePosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- It's video that takes us inside the mind of a killer. A Valley woman held on to her deadly secret for five years and is now confessing to her crime.
As soon as Daniel Garcia was reported missing in May 2005, Phoenix police knew something wasn't quite right.
"He left his glasses behind, he left his vehicle behind, he had checks waiting for him at his job, so there were some red flags," Detective Stuart Somershoe explained.
Daniel's wife, Larisa, told police he ran off with another woman.
"We actually contacted that other woman and they weren't having a relationship," Somershoe said. "That woman was actually a lesbian."
For the next five years, Daniel's disappearance remained a mystery. Finally in 2010, there was a break in the case. Larisa confessed to one of her relatives that she killed Daniel, but without any evidence or a body Somershoe knew the case wasn't solid. So, Larisa took him to the alleged crime scene, which was a remote spot in Northern Arizona.
"It's not often you get to see a suspect re-enact a scene like that and take you out to where something happened," Somershoe said.
Larisa admitted she smothered Daniel while he slept in their home on 4600 North 14th Place. On the tape Larisa explains, "I grabbed my pillow and put it on his face and I laid on it and he started kicking and I turned around and I laid on top of him and that was it. I don't know how long I was laying on him. He didn't fight, he didn't do mmmmmm or nothing. He didn't move my hand or nothing."
"When you talk to somebody like that, you can't be judgmental with them," Somershoe said. "You want to create an atmosphere where somebody is going to want to confess this very horrible thing that they did."
Larisa told police afterward that she checked Daniel's pulse and then she actually dressed him.
"I put his jeans on, his black socks, his black shoes, a maroon shirt with stripes, put his cap on," she said.
When Somershoe asked her why she dressed him, Larisa explained, "Because he was naked."
Larisa then said she put his body in the trunk of her car and drove five hours to Chinle. She walked a half mile from the road carrying Daniel on her back and then set his body on fire.
Detectives were hoping to find bones, something to identify Daniel. Somershoe told Larisa that fire usually doesn't consume everything. That's when she replied, "I know that's why I checked really good and I burned everything. It smelled like you were cooking a steak. You can hear the sizzling."
The video ended up playing a key role in the case. Rather than go to trial, Larisa accepted a plea deal for manslaughter. She got the maximum sentence of 10 years.
"I think that's an appropriate sentence for what we had, the evidence that we had," Somershoe said. "When you go to trial without a body, it's a gamble."
Larisa and Daniel were married for 10 years. The couple has two children together. Police believe money was one of Larisa's motives for the crime.