Everett woman who was more than a landlady is mourned

EVERETT — Judy Garcia was only 5 feet, 2 inches tall, but she was a towering presence in the lives of her family members and the tenants of an apartment building across the street from Everett High School.

Garcia, 64, was fatally stabbed Sunday at the Edison Apartments, where she had been the landlady for many years.

A prayer vigil Wednesday evening brought about 100 people together in her memory. The crowd gathered on the sidewalk in front of the old apartment building and overflowed onto Colby Avenue. The steps and foyer of the Edison, where Garcia lost her life, were lined with colorful bouquets. Many people held candles.

Steven R. Well, 58, was charged with second-degree murder Wednesday in Everett District Court. Prosecutors have until Aug. 6 to refile the case in Snohomish County Superior Court. Well is being held on $2.5 million bail.

Well was a tenant at the 22-unit apartment building that Garcia managed. He has a history of violence and mental illness.

At the vigil, Garcia family friend Colleen Good-O’Neal of Marysville said many people are angry about Garcia’s death, but that the evening was all about love for her.

“She was a vivacious, kind and caring person,” Good-O’Neal said. “She did everything she could for other people.”

Larry Hudson, Garcia’s son-in-law, read a note written by his wife, Garcia’s daughter, Rachel.

Garcia was an energetic and loving mother, grandmother and best friend. She didn’t drive, but that made life easier. The longtime Everett woman liked to walk her dogs down the street and stroll with her grandchildren to the park. She appreciated a good bargain, hated to ask for help and enjoyed sharing Santa Fe-style cooking from her native New Mexico.

Her favorite Bible verse was Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Other family members, including sons, siblings and grandchildren, spoke at the gathering, as did many of Garcia’s tenants.

One woman said Garcia was not just a good friend and great manager of the apartment building. When her parents died, the woman said, Garcia became like her mother.

Garcia’s sister, Dixie Perry, drove from Moses Lake to speak at the vigil.

“Judy would call me in the morning when she had her coffee and then call me before she went to bed to say ‘Good night,’ ” Perry said. “We talked about everything. I will miss that so much.”

Court records show that Well, 58, spent decades confined to a state mental hospital after he stabbed another former landlady in Everett. Unlike Garcia, that woman survived.

Witnesses reported that Well committed a nearly identical attack Sunday. Well allegedly stabbed Garcia multiple times with a knife while the two were inside the front door of the brick building.

It is unclear what led to Sunday’s attack.

In the 1980s, Well told a psychiatrist that he believed the landlady he tried to kill was invading his brain with electrical signals. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and spent years in and out of Western State Hospital.

In 2004, after several years of court hearings regarding his status, Well was granted conditional release with a number of restrictions. Among other things, he was required to take his medications, attend weekly therapy sessions and find stable housing. It remains unclear if Well had discontinued his medications and treatment plan prior to Sunday’s arrest.

Garcia’s family said she was planning to walk her dog when she was attacked.

“I miss her terribly,” said Kate McDonald, a resident of the Edison who lived across the hall from Garcia. “I will miss her cooking and miss her knock on the door asking if she can borrow a tomato.”

Gale Fiege: 425-33903427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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