GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Wyoming man accused of murdering a young mother of five and fleeing to Mexico is set to spend decades in prison.
On Monday, 45-year-old Yenly Garcia pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and felony firearm for the murder of 33-year-old Mollie Schmidt, a Plainfield Township resident.
A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such during sentencing. When the judge asked why Garcia took that plea, Garcia’s attorney said it was for “civil liability” purposes.
Garcia will serve a minimum of 23 years for second-degree murder and a mandatory two years for felony firearm. He is set to learn his exact sentence on Sept. 28 at 9 a.m.
Schmidt was reported missing on Aug. 21, 2022. Investigators believed she may have been with Garcia.
She disappeared just days before one of her children started kindergarten. That’s when her aunt, Lisa McGraw, knew something was off.
“That really was kind of a red flag that she wasn’t there for that,” McGraw told News 8 in August 2022. “She would never have missed that.”
“She adored her children,” McGraw later said.
McGraw told News 8 that her niece was a “ray of sunshine.”
“She’s sweet,” she said. “That word is just what always comes in my mind. I just want people to know that she was an amazing human being.”
Just over a week after Schmidt’s disappearance, police found her dead inside Garcia’s home on 44th Street just east of Burlingame Avenue. The medical examiner later ruled her death a homicide, determining that Schmidt suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
Garcia wasn’t home when the police arrived. Wyoming police named him a person of interest, put out his license plate number, and asked the community’s help to find him.
McGraw implored the community to share anything they knew.
“Finding her was the end of one chapter,” she said. “But now we need to find out what happened and let law enforcement do their job, which they are. And find justice for this.”
A criminal affidavit later revealed that on the day of Mollie’s disappearance, Garcia’s phone was active near the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit before it was powered off. On Aug. 25, 2020, was seen on an ATM video attempting to use Schmidt’s debit card at her bank in the city of Wyoming, according to court records. Garcia was also seen heading southwest toward Texas and ended up crossing the border.
In early September, he was arrested in central Mexico, just north of Mexico City.