Hair DNA Key In Missing Woman Case

Three weeks ago, 53-year-old Mario Flavio Garcia was seen on tape leaving a California casino with 27-year-old Christie Wilson. He is the last person known to have been with her.

Wilson has been missing ever since, and police now say a hair found in Garcia's car ties him to her disappearance, Hattie Kauffman.

"We've had now 20 days of being torn apart, and still no end in sight," says Wilson's stepfather, Pat Boyd. "There's no chance to get better because every day is like another brick on your shoulder or your back."

Wilson disappeared after a night of gambling at the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, Calif., near Sacramento.

Video cameras caught images of her at the blackjack table alongside Garcia.

One image shows them leaving the building together.

"It was very clear. You could see her car very clearly," says Lt. George Malim of the Placer County Sheriff's Department. "That's how we know she never came back to the car."

"To me," Wilson's mother, Debbie Boyd, told Kauffman, "in seeing the surveillance tape, it was apparent that she didn't have all of her faculties about her as she walked out. She was very wobbly.

"And I think that what he did, they walked out, and he probably said, 'I'm going right by ABC Road; you really shouldn't be driving; let me give you a lift.' … She could have willingly gotten into his vehicle, not realizing that she was falling into the hands of a vicious, vicious character."

Garcia lives with his wife and two children. But 20 years ago, he was in trouble with the law.

Says Malim, "It involved charges of rape, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and possession of stolen property."

Despite that list, Kauffman says, Garcia was sentenced to just one year's probation.

Now, Kauffman says, preliminary DNA tests on a hair found inside Garcia's car suggest Wilson was in the vehicle.

Asked by Kauffman if police told her and her husband that the DNA matches and the hair was Christie's, Debbie Boyd answered, "Absolutely."

"It's pretty hard to think," Pat Boyd says, "somebody was in a part of the car they shouldn't be in, and that it'd be anything but a bad situation, that she may have been killed."

  • Tatiana Morales

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