Murder suspect arrested
After more than three weeks of investigation and 1,000 man hours logged, a 17-year-old male was arrested on Friday, June 21 for the murder of Jordan Garcia.
The suspect, Caleb Anthony Ellis, of Hayesville, reportedly gave a confession to investigators before the time of his arrest.
The victim, Garcia, who was also 17, had been missing for a length of four days before his disappearance was officially reported on May 28. Three days after he was declared missing, Garcia’s remains were found in a wooded area within 75 feet of the residence he was reported missing from. The home was located at the end of Cloer Drive, off Fires Creek Road in Hayesville.
In the time between the opening of the investigation and the Friday arrest, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office provided brief updates to indicate there were persons of interest being interviewed and evidence being analyzed.
On Monday, June 24, more details were released in the form of an official statement from the sheriff’s office.
Ellis was charged with Garcia’s murder along with felony obstruction, felony concealment of a human death and communicating threats, according to Monday’s statement from the sheriff’s office.
The statement includes the discovery of a single gunshot wound to the back of Garcia’s head in the preliminary autopsy. In part, the statement says, “Over 50 percent of the body had been reduced to skeletal remains by fire and decomposition” when the remains were found.
In addition, Ellis’ arrest warrant cites probable cause to believe that Ellis did “secretly dispose of or bury” Garcia’s dead body. The warrant also says there is probable cause that Ellis disposed of evidence in the form of a 9mm handgun used to carry out the murder.
Shirley Sherlin, 57, of Hayesville, was also arrested Friday on one count of felony obstruction. She was released the same day on an unsecured bond. According to Clay County Sheriff Bobby Deese, Sherlin is Garcia’s grandmother.
Sherlin’s arrest warrant states probable cause to believe she tampered with the crime scene, removed evidence and concealed that evidence from law enforcement.
The date of this alleged offense is estimated to have occurred between May 31 and June 1, after the discovery of Garcia’s remains.
In the relentless search for answers, investigators executed more than 20 search warrants and collected an estimated 120 items of evidence. The sheriff’s office statement says multiple accounts of obstruction of justice have been identified throughout the process. Investigators anticipate finding additional evidences of obstruction in information obtained from social media and cell phone searches.
The sheriff’s office statement says, “During the investigation, some individuals made numerous efforts to redirect, misinform and obstruct the attentions of investigators away from the facts, some of which have been found to be criminal.”
As the investigation continues, more charges are anticipated and the results of a pathology report are still pending.
“It appears that the burning of the body was done postmortem so unless the pathologist says different we believe the cause of death is the gunshot wound,” said Deese.
When Ellis was served the four charges on Friday related to Garcia’s murder, he was already in the Clay County Detention Center and had been there since June 4 on “an unrelated failure to appear charge,” according to Deese.
The rental property where Garcia was reported missing from was identified by Lt. Todd Wingate to be the home of Jordan Garcia’s sister, Sierra Garcia. Ellis’ communicating threats charge comes into play for “orally stating” a threat to physically injure Sierra Garcia, according to the arrest warrant. The time frame for this alleged threat is cited to be the same week of the murder.
According to the district court schedule, Ellis has a July 1 court date as a defendant in an assault on a female case with Sierra Garcia listed as the plaintiff.
“There was an assault on a female and before he got arrested he had communicated threats, so it was two different instances,” said Deese on Tuesday.
Ellis remains in the Clay County Detention Center without bond. Commenting on behalf of the Garcia family following Ellis’ arrest was Jordan’s father, Kerbin Garcia.
“We want to thank investigator George Elver, Lt. Wingate and everyone who is helping from the sheriff’s office, other departments and the SBI for their ongoing work and dedication to finding justice for our Jordan. We would also like to thank the community for all the prayers and kind words that we have been receiving.”