Shotgun killing jolts East Orchard Mesa in July 1989

Josie Garcia warned her new boyfriend of her ex-husband’s threats, but nothing could have prepared her for the gruesome scene early one morning at her home.

Authorities alleged that 39-year-old Rafael Aguilar Garcia, who went by “Shorty,” armed himself with a shotgun and burst into Josie Garcia’s East Orchard Mesa home, stabbing and then fatally shooting Charles Porter, 38, as he reeled into a back bedroom at 3680 F Road.

“He’s killing him, he’s beating him,” a woman, presumably Josie Garcia, called into 911, according to an arrest warrant.

Though Mesa County sheriff’s deputies quickly obtained a warrant for Rafael Garcia’s arrest, he wouldn’t be in custody until nearly 20 years later.

After an extensive investigation launched with the cooperation of local and state authorities, the former Mesa County resident and Mexican national was arrested Thursday in the small, western seaside Mexican state of Colima.

Investigators now know that, during the past 20 years, Rafael Garcia worked for some of that time as a mechanic, remarried and had a family, and moved a few times to different states in Mexico, said LuzMaria Shearer, foreign prosecutor unit coordinator with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

Rafael Garcia fled to Mexico almost immediately after the grisly events of July 4, 1989.

According to Rafael Garcia’s arrest warrant, Deputies Mike Smith and John LeMaster responded to a bloody crime scene early on the morning of July 4. It appeared Porter had been shot three times— once in the chest and twice in the head. Police who came to investigate the home couldn’t open the bedroom door, as Porter’s feet lay in the door’s path.

The body was lying face up.Police noted red stains on the carpet and a splintered wooden door that had been blasted apart by a shotgun. Josie Garcia first told deputies she didn’t know the assailant, but after being questioned further, she described Rafael Garcia as the attacker. 

Josie Garcia told police her ex-husband made threatening statements to her and about herself, her two children and Porter the day before. She was so worried about the threats that she asked Porter whether it would be better if he didn’t stay that night at her place.

Just before 1 a.m., Garcia heard noises outside the home and she went to the door as Rafael Garcia was attempting to enter the home. Police later found a key in the lock on the outside of the door, and the door had a broken window. A struggle ensued when Josie Garcia saw the gun, but Rafael Garcia pushed his way inside after assaulting her.

Josie Garcia told police she heard three shots, and Rafael came from the bedroom, saying,

“Now go look at your (expletive) man.”

A description given by Josie Garcia matched a profile and birthdate of a Rafael Garcia, who had been arrested and jailed before in Mesa County.

At a height of 5-foot-4, Rafael Garcia went by the nickname, “Shorty,” Josie Garcia said.
In Mesa County, he had worked as a farm and construction laborer, according to Daily Sentinel archives.


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