Chula Vista

‘They Were Friends': Mother of Woman Killed in Chula Vista Reveals Relationship With Suspect

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When police told Lisa Garcia who was arrested on suspicion of killing her 23-year-old daughter, whose body was found in a patch of shrubbery near the Otay River in August, she was shocked to learn that it was someone close to her.

On Wednesday, the Chula Vista Police Department announced Vanesa Gastellu, 28, was arrested on a charge of murder in connection with Christina Garcia's slaying.

According to Lisa Garcia, the two knew each other.

"They were friends since they were in middle school," Lisa Garcia told Telemundo 20 in Spanish. "That's why it's more difficult for me. I don't understand why the suspect, Vanesa would do that if my girl loved her? She helped her so much." 

She said her daughter loved Gastellu as a sister and that their families were very close.

"It's so hard to understand," Lisa Garcia said.

The mother lost her daughter overnight and says it is the hardest hit she has ever received. 

"I love her. I was so proud of her. I was so, so proud of her," Lisa Garcia said, adding her daughter dreamed of being a nurse and wanted to give her 2-year-old daughter a good education. 

But it's even more difficult for her granddaughter to process.

"She’ll sit at the couch by the window sometimes and say 'Mom,' 'Mama,' as if she’s expecting her to come through the door," Lisa Garcia said.

Fotos de Christina García con su hija de paseo

Christina Garcia's body was found by a passerby in a field behind a Smart & Final store in the 3100 block of Main Street in Chula Vista on the morning of Aug. 5, 2020.

Police said she had what appeared to be a gunshot wound. There were also shell casings discovered around the body, indicating the woman was slain, Lt. John English said.

Gastellu was arrested two and a half months later.

CVPD did not release any more details about the investigation, including a possible motive or how Gastellu was taken into custody on Oct. 20.

I can tell you that every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, every event, their family was there," Lisa Garcia said. "We were there. I can’t imagine what it’s going to take for all of us to heal.

"That makes me feel more devastated because apart from having lost my daughter, we lost also that part of our life."

While the police continue to investigate, Lisa Garcia placed an altar of the dead in her home to honor Christina Garcia's life. She said the arrest "made it more real" that her daughter was gone.  

"These are the flowers and the candles that represent light so hopefully she can find her way back home," Lisa Garcia said.

Chula Vista Police, as well as Lisa Garcia, are asking anyone who may have information about the incident to come forward. Tips can be made anonymously through San Diego County Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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