Mother Charged With Murder After Missing 4-Year-Old Is Found Dead Near Highway

A mother in Washington was arrested Friday over the killing of her 4-year-old son, who was found dead near a highway after disappearing earlier this week.

Everett police announced that Janet Garcia was charged with first- and second-degree murder, as well as assault of a child, following the discovery of Ariel Garcia’s body along Interstate 5 on Thursday.

Authorities also accused her of making false and misleading statements during their investigation.

4-year-old Ariel Garcia, via the Everett Police Department.
4-year-old Ariel Garcia, via the Everett Police Department.

Everett Police Department

The mother had been deemed a person of interest by authorities soon after a relative reported Ariel missing Wednesday.

When questioned by investigators, Janet Garcia allegedly said that Ariel fell and hit his head that morning. Garcia claimed that she took him to a hospital but left because the wait was too long, according to an arrest affidavit cited by local outlet KOMO News.

The mother allegedly told detectives that she dropped her son off at a friend’s home in Seattle and did not know what happened to him after that.

Authorities said that they found a substantial amount of blood in the Everett apartment where Garcia was staying, according to KOMO News. Garcia was also said to have blood on her shirt at the time of her arrest.

Just two days before Ariel was reported missing, his grandmother had filed for legal guardianship of the boy. The grandmother said that Garcia was dealing with a substance abuse problem that inhibited her parenting ability, according to court records cited by the Lynnwood Times newspaper.

The grandmother alleged that her daughter’s substance abuse had gotten worse in recent months, and that she would often go on drug binges lasting days. The grandmother described her daughter as “violent and unpredictable,” which made Ariel “scared” to be around her.

Garcia became more “erratic” in the week before her son’s disappearance and at one point threw Ariel’s older brother against a wall, the Lynnwood Times reported.

“I love my grandson and I want to protect him from whatever his mom is capable of when she is on drugs,” the grandmother was quoted as saying. “My daughter is a threat to her son…I am scared she will act maliciously towards him and harm him beyond repair.”

It’s unclear whether Garcia has retained an attorney or when she is expected to appear in court. The Snohomish County Superior Court did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for clarification.

Need help with substance use disorder or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

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