The widespread issue of violence against women, particularly by their intimate partners, is alarmingly common. Domestic abuse has become a norm rather than an exception, with women often experiencing discrimination from law enforcement and encountering failures within the judicial system. This enables the perpetrators to repeat similar abuses with other women, perpetuating a harmful cycle. Wendy Ward’s case, which is a part of CBS’ ’48 Hours: The Search for Christie Wilson,’ mirrors this pattern, and it wasn’t until the investigation of another woman’s murder that her own story of abuse came to the forefront.
Who is Wendy Ward?
Following her marriage in 1976, Wendy Ward relocated from Ohio to California. In the Bay Area city of Fremont, her neighbor, Mario Garcia, became a significant figure in her life. As Wendy encountered difficulties in her marriage, leading to eventual separation, Garcia transformed from a caring friend to a romantic interest. Within a short span, Garcia began pressuring her to move in with him, initiating a cycle of abuse. Wendy found herself concealing physical injuries at her workplace and in the presence of friends.
In December 1978, Wendy expressed her desire to end the relationship with Garcia. He proposed a final dinner, during which she noticed his newly acquired black windowless van, raising her concerns. Unfortunately, her fears were realized as he took Wendy to the isolated Santa Cruz mountain area where he subjected her to sexual assault. When she approached the police to file a complaint, they refused assistance, citing her lack of physical resistance as a reason, and declined to register her complaint.
In January 1979, just a few weeks later, Garcia attacked her once again, this time wielding a gun. He menacingly placed the unloaded firearm in her mouth, firing it to instill fear, and issued a threat that he would kill her in the next instance. Wendy was admitted to a hospital and this time another police officer registered her complaint. She detailed Garcia’s actions of hiding behind her mailbox, kidnapping her, and choking her, and he was arrested that night. He faced charges of kidnapping, rape, and assault with a deadly weapon. The trial commenced in 1981, and the District Attorney’s office informed Ward that the chances of securing a guilty verdict were slim, given the case relied on just her testimony against Garcia. Consequently, a plea deal was proposed, resulting in the dropping of rape and kidnapping charges against Garcia, who received 18 months of probation solely for assault with a deadly weapon.
Where is Wendy Ward Today?
In 2005, police approached Wendy Ward, who was residing in Santa Rosa at the time, while investigating the disappearance of a 27-year-old woman named Christie Wilson. Wilson was last seen with Garcia in a casino, and during their examination of Garcia’s files, the police discovered the record of the case filed against him by Wendy. Wendy recounted her story to the police once again, revealing that Garcia had also stolen items from her residence. Upon Garcia’s eventual arrest, police observed him attempting to conceal a gold timepiece. When shown to Wendy, she identified it as her own, an heirloom gifted by her grandmother.
Wendy developed a close friendship with Wilson’s mother, Debbie Boyd, providing her with unwavering support during the challenging months leading up to Garcia’s trial, where he was ultimately convicted of Christie’s murder and sent to prison. In 2020, when Christie’s body was discovered on Garcia’s property, Boyd reached out to Wendy as one of the first contacts. In recent years, Wendy has turned her focus to painting, using art as a means of recovery from the traumas inflicted by Garcia. Presently, she thrives as a successful artist residing in Rio Rancho, New Mexico and owns her own studio, The Mermaid Muse.