GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man accused of murdering a metro Grand Rapids woman last year was turned away from Canada and booked a flight to Cuba before ultimately traveling to Mexico, federal agents told a judge Wednesday.
Yenly Garcia is charged with the murder of Mollie Schmidt, 33, who was missing for over a week before her body was found in his apartment.
During Garcia’s preliminary hearing in Wyoming district court, Schmidt’s 11-year-old son testified to what happened the day his mother went missing. He last saw her on Aug. 20, the night before her disappearance. When he woke up the next morning, she was gone, the boy said.
His grandfather then brought him to his father’s house, where his father took his Apple Watch after it received a call. Nicholas Doolittle, the boy’s father, testified that he took the watch because his son had missed the call and he did not want to miss any more calls in case it was something related to Schmidt’s disappearance. Several days later, on Aug. 23, Doolittle testified, there was a missed call on the watch. When he called the number back, he said it was a hotel in Texas about an hour from the Mexico border.
Garcia, 44, was later arrested in central Mexico just north of Mexico City in early September. Police officers had been able to track his phone headed toward Texas. Officers said Garcia was seen on Aug. 25 at an ATM trying to use Schmidt’s debit card at her bank in the city of Wyoming before heading south.
The Kent County medical examiner said Schmidt was dead by that time. Her body was found in Garcia’s apartment on Aug. 30 during a police search.
The medical examiner testified in court Wednesday that Schmidt was in an “advanced state of decomposition” by the time he performed the autopsy on Aug. 31. Her cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head, the ME said. He estimated the shot was fired from more than 4 feet away.
He also testified that Schmidt’s toxicology report showed nicotine, caffeine, an antidepressant, amphetamine and cocaine. However, he said the report showed the cocaine was almost out of her system, indicating she had not taken it around the time of her death.
“The drugs did not have any significant contribution to her death,” the ME said.
Joseph Janos, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection employee, testified that on Aug. 21, the same day Schmidt was reported missing, Garcia tried to enter Canada over the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit. Janos said that Garcia is a citizen of Cuba and that he received information that Garcia attempted to seek asylum in Canada. However, he was denied entry into Canada and sent back to the U.S. just over an hour later.
There was also record that Garcia had booked an outbound flight heading from Miami to Cuba for Sept. 10. Garcia never boarded the flight and was actually arrested in Mexico and brought to the U.S. by plane under the supervision of Mexican immigration officials. He was turned into U.S. Customs and Border Protection marshals at the Houston airport on Sept. 9 for an active homicide warrant.
A judge decided there was enough evidence to send the case on to trial.