Janet Ernestina Garcia appears in court via video alongside defense attorney Max Mensinger for her bail hearing on Monday, April 1, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Janet Ernestina Garcia appears in court via video alongside defense attorney Max Mensinger for her bail hearing on Monday, April 1, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Bail set at $5M for Everett mother accused of stabbing Ariel Garcia, 4

Police arrested Janet Garcia for investigation of murder in the killing of her son. His body was found in Pierce County.

EVERETT — The Everett mother arrested in the killing of her 4-year-old son repeatedly stabbed him before leaving his body in Pierce County, according to a new police report released Monday.

Janet Garcia, 27, was arrested for investigation of first- and second-degree murder and first-degree assault of a child in connection with her son’s death. Detectives believe the killing was premeditated because of a custody dispute with the boy’s grandmother and the extensive injuries, according to the report.

At the mother’s first appearance in court Monday, Everett District Court Commissioner Jennifer Millett found probable cause for all counts. She set bail at $5 million at the prosecution’s request.

Deputy prosecutor Corinne Klein said she believed the suspect would likely commit a violent offense if released from jail.

Defense attorney Maxwell Mensinger recommended Millett instead set bail at $1 million, arguing the investigation was in its “very early stages.”

“There are too many question marks here for the court to assume the state has found their person, and if that person is Janet,” Mensinger said Monday.

On March 25, two days before Ariel Garcia went missing, his grandmother filed for emergency guardianship in Snohomish County Superior Court, arguing his mother’s drug and alcohol abuse made her “leave for days, at a time, without notice.” She also called the mother’s behavior “very violent and unpredictable.” The grandmother wrote she was able to “step in” when this would happen.

The grandmother wrote in court documents she feared that if Janet Garcia learned about the guardianship issue, “she may harm me or try to run away with Ariel and harm him in the process.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Snohomish County Superior Court Commissioner Nicole Wagner approved a temporary emergency guardianship and restraining order. The order needed to be served within 48 hours.

Ariel Garcia was last seen alive around 7 a.m. Wednesday at an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Drive in Everett, police said. Janet Garcia and her son had been staying at the apartment, which belongs to her ex-boyfriend’s mother, for a couple of days.

The ex-boyfriend’s mother reported she last saw them when she left the apartment for work at 7 a.m., Everett police detective Doug Purcell wrote in his report.

Around 3 p.m., Janet Garcia texted the ex-boyfriend’s mother that Ariel Garcia had fallen and she was taking him to the hospital, detectives wrote.

Half an hour later, the boy’s grandmother came to the apartment with her son to serve the court papers to her daughter. She did not see anybody there but noticed a large amount of blood on the floor and called police, according to the report.

Janet Garcia had called her mother to say she gave her son up for adoption and checked into a rehab facility in Ridgefield, Clark County, according to court papers. Janet Garcia’s brother noted she had been using crystal methamphetamine, causing episodes of extreme paranoia, the report said.

Police contacted Janet Garcia, who provided contradictory statements about where her son was, detectives wrote. At first, she reported not knowing where he was. She then said she dropped him off in either Seattle, Portland or at a hospital, because he had “hit his head.” Garcia also gave police a number for someone she claimed was with the boy, but the number didn’t exist, according to police.

Around 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office was informed that Janet Garcia was staying at the rehab facility in Ridgefield and was “not wanted” there, the report said.

Her clothes were covered in blood, according to the report. At the facility, detectives interviewed Janet Garcia. They wrote that she gave inconsistent reports about what happened to her son and how she ended up in Ridgefield.

Police took Janet Garcia into custody. She gave another inconsistent account in an interview at a Clark County Sheriff’s Office precinct, according to the report. She said Ariel Garcia had fallen off the bed while they were sleeping. She then reported they were not asleep, and she was making tea when he fell — then claimed he was jumping and then fell.

Clark County deputies booked her for investigation of making false statements to police. Police obtained a search warrant for her phone.

On Thursday, detectives learned a twin-sized white blanket with a Christmas design was missing from the apartment where Ariel Garcia went missing.

FBI agents accessed the suspect’s cell phone data with permission from her provider. The cell phone had traveled south on I-5 into Pierce County, near Joint Base Lewis-McChord, according to the report. Security footage of Garcia’s Nissan Sentra was seen outside the base’s gate around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

A few minutes later, the cell phone signal showed the car exited I-5 for the 41st division gate, then backtracked north on I-5 near 47th Avenue SW. The cell phone remained active in this area for a few minutes, detectives wrote.

Investigators followed this “anomalous” route Thursday to the area south of I-5 and north of 47th Avenue SW, according to the report.

The regional search around the Pacific Northwest ended Thursday evening when investigators found Ariel Garcia’s body there. He was wrapped in the missing white blanket.

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)

Detectives wrote that the boy had at least 16 stab wounds through his torso and at least 41 stab “defects.”

In an online fundraiser, family members asked for help with funeral expenses.

“Ariel was one of the most loving little man that I know. Never did I ever see him walking around without a smile,” his aunt wrote. “He loved dancing, jumping and running but most of all, he loved his little bike. He will forever be in our hearts and prayers.”

The aunt wrote that any money not used on the funeral would be spent on Ariel Garcia’s older brother, 7. As of Monday afternoon, the fundraiser had brought in over $8,000.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @snocojon.

Maya Tizon: 425-339-3434; maya.tizon@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @mayatizon.

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