Reseda, CA—Maricela Garcia and her younger sister, Sarah, were shopping at the Goodwill on Sherman Way in Reseda on January 12th when Garcia told her sister she was going to step outside for a cigarette. She left the store around 7:22 p.m., and was seen walking near her tan BMW. This was the last time she was seen alive.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Garcia, who had battled substance abuse in the past, told her sister she was guarding a secret that she wouldn’t reveal.
The Los Angeles Police Department’s Missing Person’s Unit initially investigated the case. LAPD said previously that they had not found evidence of foul play, despite the fact that family members had suspected she was taken.
Garcia’s mother, who shares the same name, pleaded on Facebook for the police to examine a smashed cellphone and a choker necklace found during a search of the area where she was last seen. Family members said these items belonged to Maricela Garcia.
“That choker in your evidence room? That was her favorite thing to wear. I swear she would sleep and shower in it if she could!” wrote the mother. “If you look at it now, it’s obvious from the way it looked to have been ripped off her neck, that she will never wear it again. It’s all torn and tattered. I cannot allow myself to think of how it came to be that way.”
On Tuesday, March 7th, 2017, human remains were discovered on the side of the road in Santa Clarita. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the body was found on Golden Valley Road, one-quarter mile west of Robert C. Lee Parkway, near Golden Valley High School.
Two weeks later, authorities identified the remains to be that of Maricela Garcia of Tarzana.
Coroner's officials told KTLA the body was badly decomposed and identified through fingerprints. A cause of death has not yet been determined, according to the LAPD.
A toxicology report and cause of death are still pending.
Although police originally stated that foul play was not involved in Maricela's disappearance, detectives said they were still working to determine whether her death involved homicide. They stated that her death does appear suspicious.
Anyone with information about Garcia’s death is asked to contact detectives at (323) 890-5500.