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Foster parents arrested in Mexico for Bakersfield toddler's death


Foster parents arrested in Mexico for Bakersfield toddler's death

By KBAK - KBFX - Eyewitness News - BakersfieldNow.com

Published: Mar 8, 2012 at 6:02 PM PST Last Updated: Mar 9, 2012 at 12:48 PM PST

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — After nearly two years on the run, a Bakersfield couple serving as foster parents have been arrested in Mexico, accused of killing a 3-year-old girl in a southwest Bakersfield home.

"I'm happy, ecstatic, overwhelmed!" said Renee Maese, grandmother of 3-year-old Serenity Gandara.

Serenity was found dead of blunt-force trauma on her living room floor in July 2010. Her 4-year-old brother Isaiah, who was also a foster child, was asleep in another room.

The foster mother, Carla Garcia, called her sister to tell her about the death, and Garcia's sister called police. By the time police showed up, Carla Garcia and her husband Alberto were gone, suspected of fleeing south of the border.

The death of her granddaughter left a deep emotional impact on her family, said the child's grandmother. And, while she said she no longer holds anger toward Alberto and Carla Garcia, the grandmother said she does want an explanation of what happened that day.

"I hope that they will be honest enough, not cowardly, to tell me what happened to my grandchild," said Maese.

Thursday, the FBI confirmed that the Garcias have been taken into custody for the toddler's murder. It is working with Bakersfield police to extradite the couple to the United States.

The FBI couldn't say if the Garcias had their other children with them when they were taken into custody. In the summer of 2010, police believed the couple had taken their 5- and 4-year-old children with them, in addition to Carla Garcia's son from a previous marriage.

2012 Mar 8