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Rape Suspect Caught in Lawrence Has Troubled Past

The 30-year-old man who was arrested in Lawrence Township earlier this week was once charged with attempted murder in Massachusetts, where he is now accused of raping a 4-year-old girl.

This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 24 with information from the U.S. Marshals Service.

The rape suspect from Massachusetts who was apprehended at a home on Eldridge Avenue in Lawrence Township earlier this week was once arrested for attempted murder in Massachusetts, authorities have confirmed.

Byron Garcia, a 30-year-old North Andover, Mass., resident who recently fled that state amid accusations he had raped a young girl, was arrested Wednesday (Feb. 22) by U.S. Marshals at a home where relatives live located directly next door to and just one block from .

Lawrence Township records show the house is owned by the church. A voice mail message left this morning at the church for Msgr. R. Vincent Gartland has not been returned.

John McKenna, principal of Saint Ann School, on Thursday sent a letter home to parents that read:

“On Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, an arrest was made at a home in close proximity to Saint Ann School. We want you to know that at no time were any of our Saint Ann children in harm’s way.

“We are making you aware of this situation to assure you of the safety of your child. Please know that your child’s safety is of the utmost importance to all of us at Saint Ann’s, and measures are taken on a daily basis to ensure a safe and protected environment for each and every student entrusted to our care.”

The girl allegedly raped by Garcia is just 4 years old, according to Deputy U.S. Marshal Michael Schroeder.

Violent Past

The child rape charge and subsequent manhunt are not Garcia's first troubles with the law.

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 here in New Jersey, awaiting extradition to Massachusetts.

"At this point, all I can say is that a North Andover [police] investigation resulted in a warrant for his arrest for sexually assaulting a minor known to him over a period of time," Kimball-Monahan said. "I do not know when he will be extradited to Massachusetts at this point."

The Manhunt

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.

"Detectives Daniel Cronin and Robert Barter are the investigating officers," North Andover Police Chief Paul Gallagher said. "They obtained an arrest warrant pursuant to their investigation. Mr. Garcia fled the area and, working with D.A. Blodgett's office and Massachusetts State Police, they believed he was in New Jersey and contacted New Jersey authorities. North Andover police feared he 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.

“He was ordered to come out of the closet. He did not and was physically removed,” Schroeder said.

The Wednesday morning raid and capture of Garcia took place as many parishioners were attending Ash Wednesday services at the church next door. Many people driving along Eldridge Avenue, either en route to the church or leaving it, slowed down to look at the large gathering of heavily-armed law enforcement personnel wearing body armor surrounding a handcuffed Garcia.

Garcia was treated at the scene by a Lawrence Township ambulance crew for minor injuries suffered in his alleged struggle with task force members. He was charged with resisting arrest and also possession of fraudulent government documents that included a fake social security card, resident alien card and passport, according to Schroeder.

This story was reported by Bryan McGonigle, editor of the North Andover (Mass.) Patch, with additional material contributed by Lawrenceville (N.J.) Patch editor Michael Ratcliffe.

Diana CG February 24, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Thank God they caught this monster before he was able to hurt another child. I hope they put him away for a long long time !
Animal Wisdom February 24, 2012 at 07:25 PM
God bless the police everywhere for dealing with these type of people and keeping our families safe. This was very close to my house. So scary that you never know who is around you.
Linda February 24, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Gee, Mr. Garcia will continued to be supported by the American taxpayers for a good long time. Boy funny how he knew to come to a "Sanctuary state and to make me sicker to a Catholic Church for help. It is getting harder for me to remain faithful i my Catholic upbringing.
SRC February 24, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Mr Garcia is a childhood friend, hard working and a lovely friend. I believe someone is inocent until proven guilty. God bless him and forgive him if in fact these accusations are true, but its interesting to know how many "good catholics" r so quick to judge.
Diana CG February 24, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I'm Catholic also Linda and attend Mass at St Anne's... That monster did not come to a Catholic Church for help....he has a relative that works for the Church that lives in that house that belongs to the Parish. I would think she is devastated by him coming to her....along with his history. We will learn more but this should not have any thing to do with it being harder for you to remain faithful to your Catholic upbringing.
Diana CG February 24, 2012 at 11:30 PM
No SRC I'm not quick to judge , but when an adult abuses and rapes a child....that person is a monster and my faith and religion has nothing to do with it....protect the children. I feel there are no boundaries when it comes to abuse to our children in any form, in any way and by anyone....including.....
Linda February 25, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Diana I am guilty of assuming that a priest was giving him shelter. : (
CarolAnn February 25, 2012 at 02:40 AM
The reports that he was holding fake documents is wrong. I know for a fact he is a legal permanent resident and has been for some time....I will not run to his defense on the rape charges but it is not right for the authorities to automatically assume that a Hispanic in this state can only carry fake documents
coach-c February 25, 2012 at 03:09 AM
please people grow up, church has nothing to do with this matter. if he has relatives in that house ask your selves if those relatives knew that kind of trouble he was in? grow up for christ sake. church has nothing to do with it.
Michael Ratcliffe (Editor) February 25, 2012 at 03:09 AM
I have no information about whether or not Mr. Garcia is in the country legally. But according to the Deputy U.S. Marshal quoted in the story, the documents in question allegedly bore a different name but had Mr. Garcia's photo on them. That is why he was charged with possession of fraudulent government documents.
coach-c February 25, 2012 at 03:18 AM
and im sorry to post things like this but byron g,, his only fault is to married a white trash,,, go and find out what heck went wrong? there if you dont know how the history went people stop guessing...and yes a white trash who likes to live of your tax-payer money a white trash who takes advantage of the sistem.. dont get me going.. if you like more just ask..
coach-c February 25, 2012 at 03:18 AM
and for all of those who are postings comments'' with-out knowing the true of his case'' first you will have to find out if he is guilty or not''' i know byron g he is a father of two beautiful kids...he works hard for his family.. if would it be guilty the last place to hide is family places.... ask your selves that...only god can judge him..
Outraged Stepmom February 25, 2012 at 05:00 AM
I know the history very well! How can anyone especially you Coach C sit here and say he is innocent. He is a perverted Nympho and has come to an all new low. What he did to MY stepdaughter is disgusting and unacceptable you can sit there and defend him all you want. You damn well no she would never have made that up. He was always an uncomfortable man to be around. In my own personal experiences and mutual friends. How dare you say he married into white trash either. The family he married into are upstanding 100% tax paying citizens who not only took care of your nasty friend but never let his children go without and helped him and her at all costs. When he was unemployed (which is more than he actually works) How many jobs has he had under his legal name? What "white trash" family put his pathetic butt to work so he could supposedly support his family.He could have had it all but chose to abuse a beautiful, upstanding respectful little lady. The nice little cozy life he once had was thanks to them not at all from his lazy scamming, hustlin ass. She loved and trusted him and he violated her in the most horrible way possible. She will have to live with this now for the rest of her life and now probably never be able to trust again. Now onto his residency.
Outraged Stepmom February 25, 2012 at 05:00 AM
This guy has 3 different alias' and multiple different illegal documentations. he may be considered a permanent resident but hopefully not for long. He does have 2 beautiful children and I feel horrible for what they will now have to endure because of his decisions. I have to say I am so proud of her for not holding this in and going straight to the proper people. I judge him and always will because i personally know him and the story and if I had my way he would get thrown in the middle of town and every parent and child would get to ostone him!
MarkE February 25, 2012 at 05:16 AM
you are absolutely disgusting to write the last sentence you did...
SRC February 25, 2012 at 07:44 AM
so now u trash talk him after u are saying u happily helped this woman keep around a "pathetic" man. for what? just so she could have some one to lay in bed with. if he was so terrible all along then what was this woman doing having 2 children w him. Mayb next time u should all think twice b4 u pay for this woman to have some one to lay with. I feel terrible for those poor kids, If BG has any to do with those allegations he should b judge as the law n should have d opportunity to defend himself as any of us would. but what should happen to u and d mother? if u feel like u knew he was no good all along but still kept him around. SHAME ON U
Outraged Stepmom February 25, 2012 at 02:17 PM
OK you are obviously confused here. I am not his (BG) girl's stepmom I am the victims stepmom. I have nothing to do w/ supporting either one of them. No shame on my end!
Lynden Arden February 25, 2012 at 04:53 PM
We just need a LA Parker editorial and we can call this patch the Trentonian. Is Brian Mccarthy still taking pictures?
SRC February 25, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Right no shame on u apologies. Def shame on those who thought he was no good and still allowed those kids around him and helped support him as u say they did...how ever like I said I also know him personally so much that I have n will continue to call him brother. Lots of things being said are incorrect and I hpe the whole truth comes out eventually. We will continue to support him and come to his defence. Where was the mother and y did she leave her girl with a man who is not the father
Angryparent February 25, 2012 at 11:28 PM
All I have to say is the whole situation is disgusting but no one ever put into account how the other parent feels and unfortunately media lies the girl wasn't "4" she was 13 and it's still disgusting and in mass rape has many definitions, so I an sick about the whole thing but please keep your comments tO yourself you never know if the girl or her family members are reading this! He will get what's coming to him. By him running its addmition of guilt.
Angryparent February 25, 2012 at 11:43 PM
If none of you know the story keep your god damn comments to yourself! The mother comes from a high class family who took in the acussed as part of their family when his own family turned their backs on him a couple years prior. The mother was in another room when this occurred so she has no fault in the matter. Like I said before watch what you say before you comment you never know who is reading this . Don't trash someone you know nothing about I think the ones doing the trashing here are Byron's own relatives and that's pretty sad when the said they'd be there 100% for the children and their mother
Angryparent February 26, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Who the hell are you that you know so much info their wasn't any history! It was his wife who got him to clean up his act and he will tell you that 100x's over. She was the best thing that ever happened to him. She stuck by him through everything and this was the final straw so if you didn't live with them and know everything that happened in their personal life's don't comment
Angryparent February 26, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Let's get one thing straight SRC no one ever said he was no good. He was let into the family and her daughters both loved and trusted him. Why would you say something so awful like she just needed someone to lay in bed with do you know her at all because I do and she was all about the kids and bg before this all happened. Another thing their were other people in the room when the incident occurred so he's even sicker for that.
Mother February 27, 2012 at 04:38 AM
What about everyone grows up and stops writing on this as if its some high school gossip site and clearly both parties in this situation need to stop writing on it as well and adding more fume than needed. The only people who should be worried about this are BG and the victim and family of course. BG and the victim know exactly what happened and the truth will come out as it always does.
JuliannaSmith February 27, 2012 at 10:32 AM
I hope that the man learns his lesson and I hope that everybody will be more vigilant this time especially with youngsters. As parents, we need to teach them to be vigilant as possible. As a way of helping everyone especially the parents, who still find it quite hard to manage issues like this, I found this great application which featured safety app which gets me connected to a Safety Network or escalate my call to the nearest 911 when needed, it has other cool features that are helpful for your kids with just a press of a Panic Button. Check it here: http://www.SafeKidZone.com
probable cause February 27, 2012 at 01:51 PM
I blame this all on Father Vince for trying to help these savages out. He should never had brought them over from Guatemala, nor give them Church money when he goes there to visit them. Good Job Father.
Your Wrong February 28, 2012 at 07:21 AM
Oh so father Vince told him to rape that girl now I understand.
MIB February 28, 2012 at 01:06 PM
You know get a life how do you even know the father and the family knew about what was going on dont talk crap if you dont know what really happened so shut ur mouth probable cause and second off all he didnt bring them here and stop being racist
JuliannaSmith March 04, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Circumstances like this is unpredictable, that's why prevention is still better than cure. Thus, I would highly suggest this App that I am using a few months from now, which I'm pretty sure not only yourself could benefit but the rest of your siblings. It's a panic button that is easy installed on your smartphone and have a quick access to 911 with a Safety Neighbor program. You can check it out here http://SafeKidZone.com/

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