The woman who was found dismembered in an SUV in the Hidden Valley neighborhood last weekend had been decapitated, according to a search warrant obtained by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.
Police sought the warrant, dated Oct. 8, to search the Countryside Drive apartment Mara Garcia shared with Lenin Noel Turcios Corea – who police said was Garcia’s boyfriend. Police wrote in the search warrant application that there was “probable cause to believe that evidence of murder” was inside the apartment.
Corea, 29, was found dead on the afternoon of Oct. 8 from an apparent suicide, according to police. Garcia would have turned 36 the day she was found dead, and police found a sign that read “Happy Birthday” hung above the door to their apartment, according to the warrant.
Officers with CMPD’s North Tryon Division were called to the Countryside Drive apartment complex on Oct. 6 after they received a call about a strong odor coming from a green Toyota 4Runner in the parking lot.
“Officers observed a black duffle bag on the rear floorboard of the vehicle with maggots coming out of the bag,” the search warrant said. “Visible in the rear hatchback portion of the vehicle were a shovel, a 5 gallon gas container, and a suitcase with maggots coming out of it.
“Officers also detected a strong foul odor emitting from within the vehicle.”
The SUV was towed to police headquarters and Garcia’s dismembered body was found inside. “The Medical Examiner performed an autopsy ... and noted that the victim ... had been decapitated and dismembered.”
The warrant also outlined what other items police found in the SUV and how they identified Corea as a suspect in Garcia’s death. The hatchet was found inside a Walmart bag.
Police went to the Walmart at 7735 N. Tryon St. and, through surveillance footage, learned that the shovel, gas container and hatchet discovered in the SUV were purchased there on the morning of Sept. 29 “by what appears to be a Hispanic male.”
The man arrived and left the Walmart store in a green SUV, which appeared to be a Toyota 4Runner, the warrant said.
Photo stills from the Walmart surveillance footage were distributed to the media by police, who asked for help from the public with identifying the man who made the purchases. Numerous calls came from people identifying the man as Corea.
A neighbor told police she had seen Corea “crying outside the front of his apartment on either September 30th or October 1st,” according to the warrant.
The neighbor said Corea told her that Garcia “had left him, moved to Mexico, and was never coming back,” the warrant said.