http://www.auburnjournal.com/articles/2006...ies/03vigil.txtMemories at the five-month mark
Family, friends honor Wilson after Oct. 5 disappearance
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal Staff Writer
Sunday, March 12, 2006 7:12 AM PST
Christie Wilson is missing, but she is in no way forgotten.
This was made apparent by more than 100 people who huddled on a cold but clear Saturday night outside of Auburn's Historic Courthouse for a candlelight vigil in the missing Sacramento woman's honor.
"As time has gone on, Christie Wilson has become our daughter, our niece, our neighbor and our friend," Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner told family, friends and supporters.
It has been five months since 27-year-old Wilson was last seen on videotape walking out of the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln around 1:13 a.m. Oct. 5 with Mario F. Garcia.
The 53-year-old Auburn man was arrested Oct. 14 and has been charged with Wilson's murder.
Garcia is scheduled to stand trial April 24 in Sacramento County.
Volunteers and law enforcement have searched hundreds of miles of grasslands, culverts, lakes, rivers and mountainous terrain, but have yet to find Wilson. There is a $35,000 reward for information leading to her whereabouts.
Sheriff Bonner said Saturday that holding a vigil outside the courthouse was symbolic of the justice that is to come.
"We will never give up, we will never stop," he promised Wilson's family. "We will never give up until Christie is brought back to you."
A number of supporters and members of Wilson's family took turns sharing words of encouragement and determination.
"As the mother of a murdered child, my heart breaks for you Debbie, and your family," said Harriet Salarno, president of the Sacramento-based Crime Victims United of California. Salarno said now is a time of hope for Wilson's safe return, but also for finding resolution in the courts.
"This is the next phase, the trial phase, and it will not be easy - it will be brutal," Salarno said, asking everyone to continue praying for Wilson's family. "We will not let your family be victimized a second time."
Pat Boyd, Wilson's stepfather, thanked supporters for coming from all over Northern California and said that each person brought a little more strength to the family.
"I can't tell you how low it feels to lose a daughter and not be able to bring her home," he said.
Debbie Boyd, Wilson's mother, said she hoped the vigil would renew focus on finding Wilson, and thanked everyone for continuous support since her daughter's disappearance.
"Through all your thoughts and continued prayers we will remain strong," she said.
Greg Quirke, pastor of outreach from Wilson's parents' home church in Gilroy, sang "You Raise Me Up" as Wilson's family members first lit their candles and then shared their flames with others, creating a glowing wave that illuminated a visibly emotional crowd.
"We need to stay vigilant and watchful, keeping Christie's face etched in our minds," Quirke said.
Among supporters in attendance were Don and Lynette Vanderschoot, parents of 17-year-old Christian Valley murder victim Justine Vanderschoot, whose body was found in September 2004 in a shallow grave near Applegate.
"We know exactly what they're going through," Don Vanderschoot said.
Lynette Vanderschoot said she had spoken with Debbie Boyd on the phone and the two had just recently met.
"It's one mother to another - I'm here to support her," she said.
The crowd of supporters kept their candles lit upon the vigil's conclusion and seemed to encompass Wilson's family.
"I think it's fantastic," said Dennis Wilson, Christie's father. "It was so wonderful to see all the friends and family out here to support us. We want to find Christie and we want justice served."
Debbie Boyd was also pleased with Saturday's vigil.
"I'm encouraged, because you know what this tells us?" she said. "We're not alone and the community is still committed to find Christie."
Posted on Thu, Oct. 05, 2006A year later, couple longing to bury daughter presumed killed
By Linda Goldston
On the third day of their daughter's disappearance, Debbie and Pat Boyd heard the unthinkable: Christie Wilson might be dead.
The Gilroy couple were on a conference call with a Placer County detective when he received another call. The detective thought he had put the Boyds on hold, but they could hear him tell his wife: ``I won't be home. I'm working a homicide.''
Debbie Boyd screamed and fell to the floor. It wasn't possible. She had just talked to her 27-year-old daughter three days before. Finally, after a long, sad ride, life had been looking up for Christie Wilson. How could she be dead?
Wilson, a San Jose native and former cheerleader at Gunderson High School, disappeared one year ago today. Her body has never been found, but the man accused of killing her is on trial for murder in Sacramento.
In the year since Wilson walked out of Thunder Valley Casino near Auburn at 1:13 a.m. with a man she met that evening, later identified as 54-year-old Mario Garcia, the Boyds have spent hundreds of hours searching for their daughter, praying they can fulfill their one last hope -- bring her home for burial.
``I don't feel I can take a deep enough breath yet,'' Debbie Boyd said. ``I'm still waiting for that phone to ring,'' for someone to say, `` `We've found her.' ''
Until then, Debbie and Pat Boyd sit every day in the same courtroom with the man prosecutors say killed their daughter. Both of them testified last week and are allowed to be there now. The trial was moved to Sacramento because of extensive publicity in Placer County.
Shortly before the trial began, Debbie and Pat Boyd sat in the dining room of their Gilroy home and talked about the searches, the tears and the frustrations that have defined their lives for the past 12 months. They're determined to make it through as a family, to add many more years to their 22 years of marriage. Pat Boyd has two children from a previous marriage -- a son, Michael, who's 28, and a daughter, Debbie, who's 31.
``Pat bought me this ring for Mother's Day,'' Debbie Boyd said. ``It has Christie's birthstone, a garnet, and it's engraved with Christie's name and birthday.''
Boyd liked the ring so much she had a ring made for her older daughter, Stacie, who's 22 months older than Christie. It has two diamonds representing Debbie and Stacie and a garnet in honor of Christie.
Debbie Boyd fights being consumed by a mother's grief over the loss of a child; Pat Boyd fights the added burden of being a police officer and unable to find the young woman who has been his daughter since she was 6.
``I pride myself on interrogation techniques and teach it up and down the state,'' said the sergeant with the San Jose Police Department. ``I wish I could have done the interview'' of Mario Garcia.
The path that brought Wilson and Garcia together at Thunder Valley Casino on the night of Oct. 4, 2005, and the early hours of Oct. 5 had dark spots for both.
Wilson had been depressed over layoffs after the Silicon Valley downturn and was in a turbulent relationship with her boyfriend in Sacramento, her parents said. She gambled when she needed money and was good at it. Casino employees testified Tuesday that Wilson had won $3,000 in the 13 months she played there, according to news reports. Pieces of paper where she figured blackjack odds were found in her apartment after she disappeared.
A business graduate from Chico State University in 2000, Wilson had been living in Sacramento with her boyfriend but had just moved her belongings to her parents' home and had a promising job interview scheduled for the Monday after she disappeared.
Garcia's dark trail began in the East Bay, where he allegedly abused three women.
According to court records obtained by the Mercury News, Garcia kidnapped Wendy Ward, a former girlfriend, outside her Mowry Avenue apartment on the night of Jan. 12, 1979, and allegedly raped her twice -- once in his black Ford van, once in his new apartment -- before dropping her back off at her apartment several hours later. Ward said Garcia twice threatened her with a handgun, pulling the trigger twice while aiming at her head.
Despite being initially charged with the felony crimes of rape and kidnapping, Garcia was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge, assault with a deadly weapon, and was placed on probation instead of a bus to prison.
Ward has given only one interview and declined to talk to the Mercury News. But she told the CBS television news show ``48 Hours'' that prosecutors told her at the time: ``We would like to keep this out of court if possible, that it's expensive and our court systems are really overloaded.''
``They said, `Let's plea bargain,' '' she said. ``I figured it's better than nothing.''
Not quite 12 months later, on Christmas Day, Garcia, his then-girlfriend Lynette Smith, 33, and her mother, Violet Davis, 66, had gone out for dinner and were on their way home to Hayward when the car went into the Oakland estuary, according to news reports from the time.
Smith had asked her mother to come live with her because she was having problems with Garcia and kicked Garcia out when her mother arrived, Smith's brother, Tom Davis, told ``48 Hours.'' Davis could not be reached for comment.
Garcia told police Smith was driving the Christmas night she died, but Oakland police were never able to determine who the driver was. All they know is that Garcia was swimming in the water with minor injuries when rescuers arrived. Davis's body was found in the car that night; Smith's body, two weeks later.
Two years later, his wife at the time, Lourdes Garcia, sought safety in a domestic violence center in Fremont.
Garcia's history will not be heard by the jury at his trial for murder in Sacramento. The judge ruled at the preliminary hearing that the information was prejudicial.
His attorney has said he is innocent and will take the stand to prove it.
The Boyds will watch and hope.
Just a few weeks ago, they found a shoe box filled with Christie Wilson's ribbons from school -- from gymnastics and cheerleading competitions -- in an upstairs closet.
``Since college, she's probably moved six times, but the ribbons look like they were handed to Christie yesterday,'' her mother said. ``It reminded me of who she was. Christie was a goal setter. When the downturn hit and she got laid off, she took it as a personal failure.''
Until Oct. 5 last year, Wilson had things lined up to turn her life around, her mother said, adding:.
``How do you go back and live a normal life after this?''