Father charged with murder in boys' deaths

A father stabbed his three young boys and himself multiple times and then tried to blame the crimes on the boyfriend of the children's mother, Gwinnett County police said Saturday.

Two of the boys, 3-year-old Bradley Garcia and 1-year-old Edward Garcia, were found Wednesday evening in the basement apartment of a home near Lawrenceville. Bradley's twin brother, Joshua, remained in critical condition Saturday.

Elvis Noe-Garcia, 23, was arrested Saturday morning and faces two counts of murder and an aggravated assault charge in connection with the violent crimes. He is being held without bond following a first court appearance Saturday night.

Gwinnett Police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said Noe-Garcia has been uncooperative with investigators.

Noe-Garcia's arrest was an odd twist in the aftermath of the crimes, which shocked a quiet neighborhood off Scenic Highway.

Noe-Garcia initially told police he and the children had been stabbed by 28-year-old Antonio Cardenas-Rico, the current boyfriend of the boys' mother. On Feb. 2, Noe-Garcia had approached Gwinnett County police and filed a complaint that indicated Cardenas-Rico had threatened his life. Wednesday evening, Noe-Garcia stabbed himself to make himself appear as a victim.

"The whole story involving the involvement of Cardenas-Rico was entirely fabricated," Smith said Saturday.

Early Thursday, investigators located Cardenas-Rico and he was arrested on murder charges. But investigators found holes in Noe-Garcia's account of what happened, Smith said Saturday. After re-creating the crime scene and gathering evidence, police determined Noe-Garcia was responsible for the stabbing.

Murder charges were dropped against Cardenas-Rico, who remained in the Gwinnett County jail without bond Saturday night on a felony drug charge, according to jail records. Now, it is Noe-Garcia that faces murder charges. Both men are believed to be in the country illegally, police said.

On Wednesday, police answered a 911 call around 6:30 p.m. at 1110 Bridle Path Drive in the Huntington Falls subdivision near Lawrenceville and found evidence of a violent crime scene. Two of the boys were dead and the third so badly injured, he had to be flown to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Noe-Garcia was transported by ambulance to Gwinnett Medical Center for treatment, but was being held Saturday night in a medical wing of the jail.

"At this point, the family is concerned about Elvis and making sure he does not harm himself," Christopher Taylor, the attorney for the Garcia family, said in a statement to the AJC late Saturday.

Noe-Garcia and his former girlfriend were fighting over custody of their three sons, according to police reports obtained Friday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The man, who had not legally established paternity, said he wouldn't return the sons to their mother because of his drug activity concerns involving her and her current boyfriend, Cardenas-Rico, police said.

The boys' mother and Cardenas-Rico were living together at another home in Gwinnett, police said Saturday. It is unclear whether the boys' mother will face any charges.

Following the stabbings, Noe-Garcia ran across the street and, referring to Cardenas-Rico, screamed at his neighbor, "He killed my children!" Suffering from stab wounds himself, Noe-Garcia was transported by ambulance to Gwinnett Medical Center.

The neighbor, Lewon Thomas, said Garcia-Nelasco entered his garage "with a hole in his chest," and talked to a 911 operator on a cellphone.

"He wanted me to go back and see what happened," said Thomas, who went to the house accompanied by another neighbor. "It was horrific."

When reached by phone Saturday, Thomas said he was "shocked" to learn that the man who came to him for help has now been charged with murder.

"Oh wow," he said. "That is so sad."

Thomas added that the news was "just disappointing." He said he never would have guessed that Noe-Garcia was lying to him about what happened.

"There was no indication whatsoever," he said. "That was the farthest thing from my thoughts."

Cardenas-Rico had maintained his innocence since his arrest, his attorney said in a statement Saturday evening.

"While Antonio is elated to be vindicated of these heinous accusations, his thoughts and prayers, along with mine, are with those little boys and their mother," attorney Matthew Crosby said.

- Staff writers Tim Eberly and George Mathis contributed to this story.