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Mexican cartel-style dismemberment killing rocks southern California

Last week a housekeeper for a skid-row Continental Hotel in southern California found the dismembered body of 49-year-old Herbert Tracy White. His body was hacked into five pieces and stuffed in a backpack, rolled up in a blanket under a bed and left for a hotel employee to discover.

Detectives on the scene said they recovered a 3 ½-inch bloody knife that is believed to be the murder weapon. According to police, White’s limbs were removed from his body, leaving his torso wrapped in a motel blanket.

A Pennsylvania couple was arrested on suspicion of dismembering a man they allegedly met in Hollywood. The couple was behind bars after they were located in a nearby vacant Hollywood building used by squatters.

Police acting on a tip they received, arrested Edward Garcia Jr., 36, and his wife Melissa Hope Garcia, 25, for the suspected murder and dismemberment of White.

The Garcia’s’ both have a criminal record in York, PA., that includes a 2009 kidnapping where Melissa Garcia lured a man to undisclosed location thinking his was going to have sex only to be robbed.

Police officers believe both suspects are drug addicts and the murder happened after the robbery went bad.

The Garcia’s’ made their first court appearance yesterday, but neither entered pleas.

A judge postponed the couple’s arraignment until Jan. 5, each will be charged with one count of murder in the slaying of White.

The court charges include a special circumstance allegation, including torture and it’s unclear if prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the two suspected murderers. The couple remains behind bars without bail.

White’s relatives said at a news conference that he mentioned meeting a couple at an automated teller machine and listened patiently to their hard-luck story.

The victim’s relatives said White was a kind person, who worked as a handyman, and had been sober for more than 15 years. If someone needed a food, money or a ride home, White was always willing to help, according to his family.

Detectives believe robbery was the motive in the killing, but have released few details in the gruesome slaying.

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© Copyright 2010 Kimberly Dvorak all rights reserved

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