Suspect sought after woman's body found in Chattanooga closet

photo In this file photo, Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Chuck Gaston investigates the scene near where the body of Jeimy Barquero was found at 4103 Shady Oak Drive near Collegedale.

4103 Shady Oaks Drive

4103 Shady Oaks Drive

Alfredo Garcia caught a horrifying glimpse.

A woman's arm hung limply out of the blankets wrapping her body. Garcia had found the grisly package late Wednesday night inside a closet in his home at 4103 Shady Oaks Drive, one of Garcia's family members said.

The body was that of 34-year-old Jeimy Barquero.

As of Thursday night, investigators were searching for suspect Jose Angel Lopez Hernandez, 23, said Janice Atkinson, spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

A first-degree murder warrant has been issued for Hernandez, who also goes by Rene A. Hernandez, Atkinson said. Authorities believe he may be headed to Mexico.

Garcia, who owns the house, was questioned by investigators Thursday morning. A family member said Thursday night Garcia was staying with relatives. The family member didn't want his name used for fear of retaliation.

Investigators have not disclosed how Garcia is connected to Barquero or how she died.

The family member said Garcia met the woman last year. Neighbors said Garcia, who is from Mexico, often took people in and sometimes would rent out a room. A couple of months ago, neighbors said, Garcia had issues with a tenant whom he kicked out.

"He found out some stuff about the guy so he ran him off," said Judy Quinn, who lives across the street from Garcia.

Neighbors said they saw the ex-tenant on Wednesday leaving the residence with another man and driving off in Garcia's truck.

About 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Garcia went to Quinn's home after he noticed someone had been inside his home and his iPod appeared to be missing. He also said his car had been moved, according to a family member.

"He [Garcia] is a hardworking person. He used to work two jobs to take care of his kids," Quinn said. "He's always been a nice person. He's got a kind heart. I've never seen him mad. He's just a nice guy."

Garcia has three children in their teens and early 20s, the family member said. None of them were home when he found the body.

Investigators processed the scene Thursday, packing evidence from the backyard into boxes, including clothing items they took from a wooded area. Some investigators wore white hazardous materials suits.

By Thursday evening, crime scene tape reached across the street and was roped across several neighbors' properties.