"If we were home, we wouldn't be alive:" Doctors recall near-encounter with killer resident

OMAHA -- Doctors Chhanda and Againdra Bewtra, who we met in this week's "'48 Hours:' "Resident Evil," know all too well how important timing is. In their professional careers at Omaha's Creighton University Medical Center, they know by their training and lifetime of experience, when and how to act, when it comes to making life saving decisions.

But in May of 2013 the couple learned firsthand -- in their personal lives -- how just a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

It was Mother's Day when the Bewtras were on their way home from brunch. Police say as they were making the short drive home, Anthony Garcia, Chhanda's former medical student at Creighton University Medical Center, came to their door – likely with the intent to harm them.  Police say Garcia held a grudge against the two for Chhanda's role in having him removed from Creighton after a series of poor performance reviews.

When Garcia realized no one was home, he tried breaking in through a back door, but a burglar alarm sounded and scared him away, according to police.

Doctors Chhanda and Againdra Bewtra

Doctors Chhanda and Againdra Bewtra 

Bewtra family

Againdra Bewtra told "48 Hours" he and his wife were less than three minutes from home when they got a call from their security company notifying them of the alarm. What's more, Againdra says they would have been home already if fate had not stepped in:  their slow moving elderly guests at brunch delayed their return home.

"We took a couple out for Mother's Day brunch. And they're older people. And he was with a walker. And so we had lunch. And me and my big mouth – he was walking out, and I said, 'Richard, if you walk like this, we'll never get anywhere. Can you move it a bit?," Againdra recounted.

"You said something like, 'You'll be late for your own funeral," Chhanda chimed in.

While the Bewtra's are grateful for the Mother's Day fate that brushed them that day – it's still hard for them to reconcile with the fact that had they been home minutes earlier and encountered Anthony Garcia, another couple may still be alive. Police say that after Garcia unsuccessfully attempted to gain entry at the Bewtras', he searched his phone for the address of another doctor from Creighton – Dr. Roger Brumback.

creighton-brumback.jpg

Dr. Roger and Mary Brumback

"48 Hours"

Roger Brumback and his wife Mary were killed that day. Detectives with the Omaha Police Department who were called to investigate the murders almost immediately noticed similarities to another unsolved double murder case from 2008 – that of 11-year-old Thomas Hunter and the Hunter family housekeeper, Shirlee Sherman. They were brutally stabbed to death in the upscale Omaha neighborhood of Dundee – just 6 miles away from where the Brumbacks lived. As it turned out, Thomas Hunter's father, Dr. Bill Hunter, also worked at Creighton.

Police believe Anthony Garcia's motive was revenge. He had been a resident at Creighton back in 2001 but was fired by Hunter and Brumback. The leading force behind his firing? Dr. Chhanda Bewtra – a professor of his.

"He had attitude problem. He just did not want to learn. I thought he was arrogant, he was mean. He liked to hurt people and derive pleasure from there. And so he was not a nice person," Chhanda told "48 Hours."

Two months after the Brumbacks were killed, Anthony Garcia was arrested and charged with four counts of first degree murder for the deaths of Thomas Hunter, Shirlee Sherman and Roger and Mary Brumback. After 15 days of emotional testimony, Garcia was convicted on all counts. He faces the death penalty.

garcia-trial.jpg

On Sept. 26, 2016, Anthony Garcia heads to the courtroom for his quadruple murder trial

KMTV

During his trial, Chhanda and Againdra learned that Garcia had also searched for their daughter's address that Mother's Day weekend. Their daughter was in India at the time. It's something they just can't make sense of – how were they so lucky to have been in the right place at the right time?

To this day, Againdra Bewtra says he still makes the drive from the restaurant where they were having that Mother's Day brunch to their house and he looks at the clock and realizes over and over again just how close they were to home when they got that call from their alarm company – and how close they likely came to death.

"I know exactly the spot where I got the call. So whenever I'm there and I'm coming home, I try to time myself. I can't stop timing myself," Againdra told "48 Hours."

Despite feeling lucky, the Bewtras can't help but feel some sort of survivor's guilt.

"If we were home, we wouldn't be alive. But the Brumbacks would not be dead," said Chhanda. "It was either them or us."

Stephanie Slifer is a "48 Hours" associate producer.