48 Hours on ID is investigating the murder of Christie Wilson by Mario Garcia in Placer County, California, in 2005. The killer was convicted despite Christie’s body not being found; he then refused to reveal where he’d hidden her remains.
The 27-year-old Wilson vanished on October 5, 2005, after a night of gambling at a casino in Lincoln, CA. She was last seen alive in the parking lot of the Thunder Valley Casino.
Surveillance footage from the casino showed Wilson in the company of an older man, 53-year-old Mario Garcia. The pair left the casino together, but at one point, the young woman appears to rebuff his advances and tries to push him away. The cops were able to identify Garcia through his casino card.
Garcia strongly denied having any involvement in her disappearance, and the surveillance footage seemed to show him driving out of the parking lot alone. But the cops were suspicious of a series of cuts on his face; nobody at the casino remembered him having those injuries.
The police also learned that Garcia had a history of violence towards women; he had been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon against a former girlfriend. This caused the cops to focus more intently on this suspect.
The investigators got their breakthrough when they searched Garcia’s car and found traces of her hair and blood, which led to his arrest on a charge of murder.
Mario Garcia refused to say where he’d buried Christie Wilson
Garcia was found guilty in 2007 and was sentenced to 59 years to life. Wilson’s family had hoped that he might admit his guilt and reveal where he had buried his victim’s body, but to their frustration, he only reiterated his claim that he was innocent.
The authorities mounted numerous searches for Wilson’s body across both Placer and Nevada Counties. They used state-of-the-art equipment, helicopters, cadaver dogs, and more to try to find the body, but it was to no avail.
Eventually, in 2020, 15 years after the murder, the police received a tip-off from the killer’s family, which led them to Garcia’s old backyard in Auburn, CA. The area had been searched previously, but this time the cops used ground-penetrating radar to examine under the 4.5-acre lot. They found some skeletal remains, which were later identified as Christie Wilson.
Mario Garcia passed away in prison on Christmas Eve 2020; he died from pneumonia.
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48 Hours on ID airs at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.