The suspect in the death of a 25-year-old Kansas University student committed suicide while in police custody in New Jersey, according to Lawrence police.
Adolfo Garcia-Nunez, 46, was arrested Friday night in New Jersey, according to Lawrence Police Sgt. Paul Fellers.
The Elizabeth, N.J., newspaper, the Star-Ledger, reported in its online edition on Saturday that Garcia-Nunez, who was awaiting extradition, was found hanged to death in his holding cell at Elizabeth police headquarters.
Lawrence police had traveled to Elizabeth, N.J., where Garcia-Nunez's white Ford F-150 pickup was located, unoccupied. They were notified of his death Saturday morning.
"No further information will be available until our investigators return from New Jersey," Fellers said in a news release on Saturday afternoon.
Garcia-Nunez, a Lawrence artist who also went by the name Fito Garche, was suspected in the death of Jana Lynne Mackey. Mackey was a second-year law student at KU from Hays.
On Friday, Lawrence police had issued an arrest warrant charging Garcia-Nunez with second-degree murder.
Mackey's body was found late Thursday night in a home at 409 Mich., where Garcia-Nunez lived. Mackey and Garcia-Nunez had recently broken off a relationship.
According to police, one of Mackey's friends reported her missing about 4:30 p.m. Thursday. About two hours later, Mackey's vehicle was found in the parking lot of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. About 11:30 p.m. Thursday, her body was found inside Garcia-Nunez's home, which is near the hospital.
Mackey's funeral will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Liberty Hall.
Statements from KU
After hearing of the arrest and apparent suicide, KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway and Law School Dean Gail Agrawal issued statements.
"The resolution of this tragedy leaves us all stunned. I hope that everyone will remain considerate of the needs of the family and friends of Jana Mackey during this terrible time," Hemenway said. "I thank the Lawrence Police Department as well as other authorities for their efforts in the investigation."
Agrawal said the law school community continues to be grief-stricken by Mackey's death, and remains focused on getting through the tragedy together.
"While we are shocked at recent developments in the investigation, we remain focused on doing all we can to support her family and friends through this terrible time," Agrawal said. "We are making every effort to inform our students, faculty and staff of available counseling and emotional support. Jana was strongly committed to social justice, and in her memory, we hope to inspire others to share her cause."
Garcia-Nunez had committed another act of violence in September 2004 involving an ex-girlfriend. A Sept. 21, 2004, Journal-World article reported that prosecutors claimed in court that Garcia-Nunez and his 29-year-old ex-girlfriend had an encounter at a local nightclub. When she returned early the next morning to her home in North Lawrence, he was waiting inside for her with a knife and was under the influence of alcohol.
According to a police report, he choked her, struck her and cut her on the arm with the knife. She notified police after she was able to get away from the scene.
The woman and Garcia-Nunez had been in a two- or three-year relationship that she broke off in May 2004.
Garcia-Nunez was released on parole in August 2006.
Erin Adamson, 29, Lawrence, a close friend of the 2004 victim, said she and others were hopeful Garcia-Nunez would flee town when he was paroled.
Adamson said she saw Garcia-Nunez on Wednesday morning eating breakfast at Milton's, 920 Mass.
"I saw him and I thought, oh no, he was still in town," she said.
Adamson has avoided any contact with him. "People that knew what he had done steered clear of him, because he was intimidating out in public to people," she said.
Adamson described Garcia-Nunez as a "very charming, gregarious," person who was a "good dancer, went out a lot and also had a pretty dark side."
His artwork reflected his "dark side," she said. Themes of depression, sadness and "some kind of overtones of violence, which reflected his current life and his past in Cuba," she said.
Media coverage of his artwork and his attempt at rehabilitation from alcohol and the previous incident distracted the community from the issue of domestic violence, Adamson said. Perhaps stories about him influenced people to think he was a safe person, she said.
"Fito told a lot of people in town that it was a lie and, I think, that his ex-girlfriend was out for revenge or something," Adamson said. "But anyone that reads the police report can see he was in jail for a really good reason. I think a lot of people just didn't realize what he'd done before."
Safety for women
Adamson said Garcia-Nunez's attack on her friend was discussed as an assault instead of an attempted murder.
"If anything, the situation is a good case for the community to be really talking about violence against women when it happens," she said.
Adamson said it is important to "not be shy about" discussing domestic violence.
"I think that the community needed to know that he was dangerous when he was out there," she said.
"It's really sad both what he did and that he's so tortured that he did the things he did," she said. "For his victims who are still alive, I know people are able to breathe easier knowing he can't hurt them again. So I think there is a lot of relief with sadness for a lot of people."