These guys are talking about control.

(two interestin


 

 

 
48 Hours The Highest Stakes 03.04.06 Run Dates
  03.04.06 48 Hours The Highest Stakes

 

Reference

02.17.07 48 Hours The Biggest Gamble - Christine Wilson

03.04.06 48 Hours The Highest Stakes - Christine Wilson

 

 
   
   
   
   
   
   

Notes

Pat Boyd

Mario Garcia - 53

Christie Wilson - Boyd

Danny

Wendy

San Jose PD

Placer County

San Francisco

 

03.11.06 48 Hours Texas Confidential -  "McClellan"  - reference McClellan AFB Sacramento

10.13.05 Christine Wilson Missing Last Seen At Thunder Valley Casino

 

 

 

Links

05.31.05 Natalee Holloway Missing - casino video recently shown on TV GMA

11.08.05 Dr. Zehra Attari Missing - car found in water

11.21.05 Katrina Hatton Babysitter Arrested For Death Of 2 Year Old Killed By A Train - Nicole Wilson

6.06.03 Kate Corbett - Mother & Her Three Children Died In Auto Accident  - casino link TV show "Lucky"

 

 

   
   
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The Highest Stakes

(CBS) Christie Wilson disappeared without a trace after a night of gambling at a northern California casino.

Christie was last seen on surveillance tapes during the early morning hours of Oct. 5, 2005, heading into the casino's parking lot with a man.

Where is Christie? And who was this mystery man on the casino tapes? 48 Hours correspondent Erin Moriarty reports.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From the moment Christie, then 27 years old, was reported missing, her mother, Deb Boyd, and stepfather Pat found themselves in the eye of an emotional hurricane.

"I want my daughter back, and I want her back now," Deb said.

Deputies from the Placer County Sheriff's Office, north of Sacramento, began searching a 200-square mile terrain, including backwoods and country area, around the Thunder Valley Casino where Christie was last seen.

Police got plenty of help. Pat Boyd is a cop himself in nearby San Jose, and officers from all over California rushed in to help.

The strain on Pat was enormous. Forced to sit on the sidelines while other officers investigated the case, Pat often searched on his own.

"Itís the hardest thing I've had to tell my wife ó we couldnít find her," he says.

Pat raised Christie from the time she was 3.

"And thatís gotta be really, really tough," says Tiffany DeVries, Christie's best friend. "I think heís feeling guilty that this is what he does for a living and he canít even find his own daughter."

Christie's 29-year-old sister Stacey, a near look-alike, remains hopeful as she searched alongside her stepfather but secretly feared she wouldn't find Christie ó just Christieís body.

"You want to hear details ó but you donít. I get this image in my head of, 'God, what she must have been going through,'" she tearfully said.

But just a week after Christie went missing, Deb wouldn't even consider the possibility that her daughter was dead.

"She's a strong girl and very resilient, and if someone dropped her off somewhere, I hope everyone and their brother is doing everything they can to locate her," Deb said.

Christie was raised in San Jose, one of four children in a blended family. Both Deb and Pat's children come from previous marriages.

"I would say that weíre an extremely sappy family but [it] definitely is full of love," says oldest sibling Debbie, who watched Christie blossom.

"She was smart. She went to college. She went out and found a great job, made good money, bought herself a BMW, was living the big life right away," says Pat.
 


The Highest Stakes
(Page 2 of 9)

March 2, 2006
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Christie Wilson (CBS)

(CBS)
But Christie seemed to have lost some of that spark in the months before she disappeared.


"She was going through her ups and downs. You graduate from college and try to figure out what to do, you thought maybe by this age, youíre going to be married, have kids," says Tiffany.

It was not an easy time for Christie; Tiffany got married and left the state, Christieís college boyfriend moved east ó and when the high-tech bubble burst, she got caught in the aftermath, losing one job after another. Her mother says Christie was unemployed and feeling overwhelmed.

"I said, 'Look around. Look at everything that you have. Look at everything youíve accomplished. Youíre beautiful. Youíve got a great personality. Christie, what is so bad?'" Deb recalls.

But it was bad. Christie had even ordered an information kit on dealing with depression and anxiety.

After her daughter's disappearance, Deb searched Christie's room looking for clues and found some handwritten notes about blackjack and gaming. It was then Deb realized that her daughter might have a gambling problem.

Christie had turned to casino gambling both to find emotional thrills and money she needed.

"She loved to gamble, and I think she was pretty good at it," says sister Debbie. "She was good at 21, blackjack. About a month ago she had $100 and walked out not more than just a month ago with $5,000."

"It started out as a fun thing, but then after she won big she kind of got addicted to it," says Christie's other sister, Stacey.

Christie thought her luck had changed when she met a new boyfriend, Danny Burlando, at a casino one night last year.

"He was handsome and he was a charmer," Deb remembers.

But, as far as Deb was concerned, meeting Danny just extended her daughterís losing streak. "He would treat her like dirt, and then it was that, 'Oh you know, Iím so sorry. Youíre so wonderful. Youíre this, youíre that.' Whatever. And I think at that point, she so wanted to be married."

But the relationship turned abusive.

Asked if he abused Christie, Danny says, "Christie and I were in an abusive relationship. I donít think itís fair to pin it on one person."

In fact, both Danny and Christie were arrested for physically fighting with each other in March 2005, though charges were never filed.

"We had seen bruises on her, and my husband got so upset that he called Danny and he said, 'I'm gonna tell you, you ever lay a hand on Christie again, I will call the police. I will turn you in,'" recalls Deb.

Danny admits he and Christie had their troubles but he prefers to remember the good times.

Asked if he would describe Christie as someone he loves, Danny says, "I do, yes. I loved her and I know she loved me and we cared about each other very much."

The last time he saw Christie, Danny says, was Tuesday night, Oct. 4, 2005.

"I went to dinner at my family's house. And she decided to go to the casino," he recalls. By 9 p.m., Danny says he was back in his Sacramento apartment he shared with Christie ó but she wasn't home.

Danny says the last time he talked to her was a 55-second conversation at 10:28 p.m. "[I] told her to come home and sheís like, 'All right, I know Iíve got like 600 bucks in front of me. I should just leave right now.' And she was like, 'OK, Iím finishing up. Iíll be home soon,'" he recalls.

At 11 p.m., Danny says he went to sleep. When he awoke the next morning, Christie was still not home.

"I called some hospitals and jails, you know, to see if maybe something had happened," Danny says.



On Wednesday, Danny continued calling Christie's cell phone, but she never answered. Finally, on Thursday, Danny went to the casino and found Christieís car in the parking lot.

Asked what went through his mind, Danny says, "Either that something terrible happened to her, or she was in the Bahamas on vacation or something. Most likely something terrible happened."

It was at that point, some 48 hours since he had last heard from Christie, that Danny decided to call her parents and then the police.

"Thereís no doubt in my mind that Danny was involved," said Christie's stepfather Pat, who couldnít forget the bruises he saw on Christie's arms. "I searched around his house. I looked in the area. I thought the car up there at the casino was planted."

Danny was one of the first people investigators looked at. "He was certainly a person of concern," says lead detective Bob McDonald of the Placer County Sheriffís Office.

Danny was under suspicion from all sides, when suddenly the case took an astonishing turn.

At a news conference, police announced that they identified Christie on surveillance tapes (video), leaving the casino with a man who was not Danny.

Investigations commander Lt. George Malim says the man seen in the video with Christie was Mario Garcia, a 53-year-old computer specialist at a local hospital and the married father of two.

Garcia had met Christie for the first time that night. "They seemed to be very friendly. They obviously met at the casino. They exchanged talk. He loaned her some money. They drank wine together," Lt. Malim explained.

All of it was recorded on videotape by casino security cameras. And because Garcia used a casino-issued ID card, cops had his name, address and telephone number.

The video changed everything; Danny was no longer the prime suspect; the focus now shifted squarely on Garcia.

Police went to Garcia's home to question him, and Lt. Malim told reporters that he was cooperating.

But there was not enough evidence to arrest Garcia, because as helpful as the videotapes are, they do not show everything. On the tape of the parking lot, you can't actually see whether Christie got into Garcia's car.

"He indicated to me that he had walked out with Christie and she had stopped before they got to his car. The last he saw of her, she was walking back towards the casino to go look for her cell phone," Det. McDonald says.

In fact, Christieís cell phone was later found inside the casino. Garcia told police he never saw her again once she left him in the parking lot ó but cops didn't buy his story.

"We also know she never went back in the casino after she exited because the tape never shows her coming back in that casino," Lt. Malim explains.

As the cops zeroed in on Garcia, he stopped cooperating. "When we got a lot more specific in our questioning, he told us he wanted an attorney," Lt. Malim says.
 



Investigators obtained a warrant and searched Garciaís $900,000 home, 15 miles from the casino. They also searched his cars and the surrounding property.

Cops scrambled to find out all they could from Garciaís neighbors.

The first reports were positive, but soon other neighbors came forward. Some claimed they have had serious problems with Garcia. They alleged Garcia threatened to shoot one, menaced another, and hit another in the face.

Meanwhile, the search for Christie continued, as teams of police and volunteers scoured the area.

Pat Boyd's close friend Lou Riccardi, a retired cop, helped spearhead the volunteer search effort.

"We're going to concentrate basically on roadside searches that are easily accessible from a car. Blankets, any tarps or anything that you come across that looks suspicious, advise your team leader, any evidence that's found, preserve the area, weíll contact Placer County and theyíll respond," Riccardi instructed volunteers.

The volunteers faced a massive task, planning to search thousands of acres, including on horseback. Initially, Riccardi and the volunteers concentrated on isolated spots near the casino.

For Deb, the very thought of Garcia was fueling her anger. "They can call him a person of interest all they want," she says "I call him a dirtbag. He did it, he did it; we all know he did."

Meanwhile investigators continued to scour Garcia's car for evidence, looking to see if Christie had contact with the vehicle.

"What wasn't in here is a carpet. We feel thatís pretty significant if we were to find this truck mat we might have a better clue where to look for Christie," said Det. McDonald.

On the surface, the family man and computer expert seems an unlikely kidnapper. But cops digging into his past were shocked to discover that Garcia had a criminal record and a history of problems with women.

"It involved charges of rape, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, and possession of stolen property," Lt. Malim explained.

Those charges involved a woman named Wendy Ward, whom Garcia was accused of raping and kidnapping 26 years ago.

Wendy met Garcia when she was 25 years old. Sheís 51 now, but says that Garcia is the reason she learned how to fire a handgun and took self-defense classes.

Wendy began dating Garcia in Oakland, Calif., in 1978, shortly after she separated from her husband.

"At the time, I didnít know many people in California. I really appreciated someone saying, 'If you need a friend you can call on me, and letís go have lunch or something like that,'" she recalls.

But soon, Wendy says, she began to see another side of Garcia ó a possessive, angry and sometimes violent side.

"Itís almost like a curtain is drawn and thereís this normal person and then thereís a whole dark side," Wendy says.
 



When Garcia's "dark side" erupted, Wendy said he would hit her. Finally, as he became more and more violent, Wendy left ó but she was always looking over her shoulder. On Jan. 12, 1979, Wendy says, Garcia finally caught up with her.

"He was holding my neck or he was holding my head and he says, 'You do anything, if you do anything, I will take your head and I will smash it. I will just smash it,'" Wendy says. She says Garcia forced her into the back of his van.

"I think he said to me, 'Take off your clothes' or something like that and I said, 'No,'" she recalls. "I was just clawing, scratching, whatever I could do, then he choked me. Then he started to choke me. I couldnít breathe, I couldnít breathe. And I really realized he could so kill me. He could just have not a problem with that."

Wendy says she thought she was going to die. Asked how he was acting at the time, she says, "Methodical, very controlled."

Garcia raped her in the van, she says, then took her to his apartment.

"And he pulled a gun out of his cabinet, and he took a cartridge and slammed it up into the bottom then he brought the gun over and he held it to my head and he pulled the trigger," Wendy claims.

The gun was not loaded.

"And then he took the gun then he held it to my mouth and pulled it again. Pulled the trigger again," she says.

What was he saying to her at the time?

"He says, 'Well it wasn't loaded this time, but basically I can come and get you anytime I want,'" Wendy says.

Wendy says Garcia raped her again and then ordered her to take a bath. Then, she says, Garcia casually made a sandwich, ate it, and drove her home.

Wendy immediately went to the police and they arrested Garcia, charging him with rape, kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon.

But the outcome was hardly what Wendy expected.

"They said 'We would like to keep this out of court if possible, that it's expensive and our court systems are really overloaded,'" Wendy recalls. "'They said, 'Letís plea bargain.' I figured itís better than nothing. Letís do this and move on," she says.
The deal? Garcia agreed to plead guilty to one count of assault with a deadly weapon. Garcia's version of the story? His attorneys refused to comment to 48 Hours.

This revelation shocked Pat and Deb Boyd. "To say that their courts are too busy. They got too many murders to prosecute. To let something like that go, thatís just wrong," says Pat.

Wendy says she felt sick to her stomach when she learned that Christie was last seen alive by Garcia. "And I am so sorry that he has been able to go on for all these years. I am so sorry for that family," she says.
 



Getting charged with rape did not stop Mario Garcia from dating another young woman just a few months later. Her name was Lynette Smith.

In mid-1979, Lynette was living near San Francisco, where she met Garcia. She told her mother, Violet Davis, that she and Mario were living together but that there were problems.

"Mom said, 'Lynn called and wants me to come and stay with her for a while,'" remembers Lynette's brother, Tom Davis.

Tom says his mother did not tell him why Lynette wanted her to come to San Francisco; all he does know is that when his mother moved in with Lynette, Lynette kicked Garcia out.

"She was trying to get rid of him. She put him on the curb," says Davis.

Letters, read by Tom only recently, revealed past abuse ó like one from Garcia upon learning that Lynette was pregnant. "Would I be able to handle myself in front of the baby? Would I hit you again?" Tom read from a letter.

Tom believes his sister ultimately chose to end the pregnancy but she remained with Garcia.

On Christmas Day 1979, Tom says Lynette, their mother Violet and Garcia had gone to the "Top of the Mark" restaurant at the Mark Hopkins Hotel for Christmas dinner. Following dinner, the three of them got into Lynetteís car and headed home.

In 1979, John Cave was the chief accident investigator for the Oakland Police Department. He recalls getting an urgent call on Christmas night. He was needed near the Oakland airport where a car had gone into the water.

What happened to the car that evening?

"Witnesses said the car pulled over to the right shoulder. They drove by and the car accelerated," says Cave. The witness told police the car was racing toward the water at 50 miles an hour.

"There was a ledge into the pier, and the car shot off that ledge out into the water, approximately 200 feet. It was probably 30 to 40 feet deep at that time and thatís where it sunk," Cave explains.

Cave also explained that it was clear that night and that the streets were dry.

Tom Davis recalls getting the bad news. "I got a phone call Christmas Day night from my brother in Hawaii saying that mom and Lynn were in an accident and they were killed and I said, 'You're crazier than hell. No this isnít true, no, no.'"

His mother's body was recovered that night, Lynette's two weeks later. The sole survivor was Garcia, who somehow managed to swim away from the car with only minor injuries.

Garcia said Lynnette was behind the wheel but Cave believed the driver was in fact Garcia and that it was no accident. "The evidence was not consistent with a regular traffic collision," he says.

Cave says he "never could prove who was driving the car."

Police hired an accident reconstruction specialist. His conclusion?

"The person most likely to survive would have been the driver," says Cave.

Cave wanted to question Garcia further, but Garcia was no longer talking to cops. "I believe he went and saw his lawyer the next day Ö a very fine criminal attorney in the city of Oakland," Cave recalls.

Asked how unusual it is for someone involved in a traffic accident to go and hire a well-known criminal attorney, Cave says, "It's the first time I've had it happen."

No charges were ever filed against Garcia. It was listed as an "open unsolved crime."



A bewildered Tom Davis didn't know what to think until he got a phone call. "Mario called me then to explain his side of what happened in the story," he recalls. "He said in the accident, he tried to help Lynette, that he was swimming out of it and he felt something grab his leg. It was Lynette and he grabbed her hair or grabbed her arm but that she was such a poor swimmer he tried to get her to the surface and he just couldnít and he was running out of breath and he saved himself."

Asked what's wrong with that story, Tom says "Thatís a lie. She was an excellent athlete; she was an excellent swimmer."

Tom flew to the Bay Area to collect the personal effects of his mother and sister. On a whim, he called an old friend from his hometown. Incredibly, that old friend knew Garcia all too well.

It was Wendy Ward, the woman who says she had been raped by Garcia. As they talked, she asked Tom how his sister was doing.

"Things came out and I said, 'Yeah, she was killed in a car accident, involved with this guy named Mario Garcia.' 'Mario Garcia?'" Tom says, recalling his conversation with Wendy.

"She says, 'I used to date him. I was involved with him. I have rape charges against him,'" Tom remembers. "And if anything could make me drop the phone that was it. How bizarre is this?"

At the time of that phone call, Garcia had agreed to plead guilty to assault with a deadly weapon in the rape case involving Wendy.

Before Garcia was sentenced, Wendy made sure the judge knew about Garciaís car accident. She contacted the court in hopes that what happened to her would never happen to anyone else. It made no difference. Instead of prison, Garcia was given probation for attacking Wendy.

"The judge had this information, knew that not only was he accused of raping and assaulting a woman but that he could have been responsible for the death of two other women," Moriarty told Deb and Pat Boyd.

"Thatís even more unbelievable now. Itís just scary. This guy should not have been out there on the street," says Pat.

The more they learn about Mario Garcia, the more Pat and Deb are forced to believe the worst has happened to their daughter, who has been gone now more than four months.

The mystery of what happened to Christie Wilson inevitably leads back to the Thunder Valley Casino and the haunting video of Christie and Mario Garcia leaving the casino in the early morning hours of Oct. 5, 2005.

Based on the video, Christie and Garcia could be seen walking straight out of the casino and towards the location where Garcia had parked; according to Lou Riccardi, Christie's car was parked some 80 to 100 yards to the right.

Garcia insists he did not kill Christie. He claims she left him in the parking lot and he never saw her again.

But at some point the video loses sight of them and you don't actually see them get into Garcia's car.

Riccardi acknowledges Christie could have parted ways with Garcia in the lot and cut over to her car. "Absolutely, she could have walked right between these cars and walked over to her car," he says.
 



Garciaís lawyers have suggested anyone could have intercepted Christie in that parking lot, including Danny Burlando, who does not have a verifiable alibi.

"So from about 11 on, you were home alone?" Moriarty asked.

"Yeah. I mean I was watching TV. Yeah. Waiting for Christie," Burlando replied.

The police however have dismissed Christieís boyfriend as a suspect. Theyíre concentrating on Garcia and what went on that night in the casino.

"We have nothing that indicates that they knew each other prior to this. We believe by looking at the videotape and talking to employees that they just happened to meet happenstance, sit down at the same table that night," says Lt. Malim.

Deb Boyd says her daughter was the type of girl who was too trusting. "That was an issue I addressed with Christie, her friends had talked to her about it, her sisters had. Christie didn't have the boundaries that most of us have in our communication."

"She definitely was too trusting at times," remembers Christie's friend Tiffany. "She just had a really positive outlook on a lot of people, basically and just never really thought that anything bad was going to happen or could happen."

"She may have willingly got into his car, I believe that, at this point, not realizing she fell into the hands of a vicious, vicious person," says Deb.

Although they have made public statements, Garciaís lawyers denied 48 Hours' request for an interview. Garcia does not appear to have been charged with any crimes in more than 20 years.



Placer County detectives believe they are dealing with a dangerous man. There are Wendy Ward's claims of rape and kidnapping, and the deaths of Lynette Smith and her mother. They also learned that Garcia has an ex-wife, married to him in the early 1980s, who fled to a battered women's shelter.

Garcia apparently knows how to work the legal system. Despite all the allegations of abuse, the stiffest penalty he has faced up to now has been probation. If he did in fact kidnap and murder Christie Wilson, police will need to build an airtight case against him, starting with physical evidence.

Garcia claims Christie was never near his car but police say trace evidence indicates otherwise.

Lead detective Bob McDonald says one hair matching Christie's DNA was found lodged behind the lock on the passenger side door.

"The other strong forensic evidence was actually found inside the trunk of the car," Det. McDonald says.

There was yet another single hair with its root matching Christie's DNA. Garcia's lawyers have a different explanation.

"Is it possible he got her hair on him when they were hugging and kissing? Is it possible that he had one of Christie's long hairs on his shirt or jacket?" Moriarty asked McDonald.

"We don't believe that's possible. It's highly unlikely, even in a common sense term, that that's possible," says Det. McDonald.

But the most damaging evidence may have been found on Garcia himself during initial questioning.

"He had a black eye," says McDonald. "I refer to it as a mouse. It's just a small, swollen, darkened spot underneath the eye. He also had scratches on his face.Ö He attributed the scratches to having fallen out of a tree that he was trimming."

Police felt they had a case ó armed with the two hairs, the casino video, Garciaís appearance and what cops say are inconsistent statements, investigators arrested Garcia for the murder of Christie Wilson.

The issue for prosecutors now is: can they prove he's guilty of murder?

"The thought of him getting off on this case, once again, scares the living daylights out of me for every woman. Every woman," says Christie's mother.

But authorities are confident they have enough evidence to send Mario Garcia to prison ó even though they have no murder weapon, no eyewitnesses, and no physical evidence that proves Christie Wilson is even dead.

On Jan. 10, 2006, the day Christie would have turned 28, her family assembled on a California beach to remember her. Twenty-seven balloons were released. Deb Boyd held on to the 28th for a bit longer until finally letting go.

"Lifeís never gonna be the same. She was really special," says Deb. "The family will not be the same without her."

A judge set Garcia's bail at $3 million. He remains in jail. On April 24, he will be tried for the murder of Christie Wilson.