Nearly four years ago, a man called the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department to report Regina Garcia missing.
It had been two weeks since he had seen Garcia, according to authorities, despite the couple sharing an Arden Arcade home. Garcia, 33 at the time, hasn't been heard from since.
On Wednesday morning, detectives showed up at the couple's Stewart Road home with a search warrant, and began a backyard excavation that is scheduled to continue today.
Sheriff's Deputy Jason Ramos said no remains were found as investigators dug as deep as 2 feet into the large backyard's hard soil. Authorities planned to bring in better equipment today to speed the excavation, he said.
Ramos said Garcia's boyfriend, Randy Macedo, reported the woman missing Oct. 30, 2008. She did not meet any specific criteria to designate her as "at-risk," so she was considered a "voluntary" missing person. As is standard with such missing person cases, her disappearance was never publicized by law enforcement.
Ramos said there have been no sightings of Garcia since she went missing, and no activity to indicate where she might be or if she is alive.
Meanwhile, sheriff's detectives gathered several bits of information in recent months that piqued their interest in the Stewart Road home, though Ramos declined to be specific. Their interest culminated in Wednesday's search warrant execution.
To date, no suspects have been identified in Garcia's disappearance, Ramos said. However, he confirmed that deputies recently arrested Macedo, now 56, in a separate criminal case unrelated to the missing person investigation.
Responding to a request for a welfare check on a child, deputies went to the Stewart Road home June 7, Ramos said. There, they found a cache of weapons, and arrested Macedo on suspicion of various weapons and drugs charges, including possession of an assault weapon and silencer, according to Ramos and Main Jail booking records.
Macedo also had an outstanding warrant for traffic violations, booking records show. As of Wednesday night, he remained in custody in lieu of more than $1 million in bail. He is scheduled to appear in court again Aug. 1.
Earlier in the day, detectives quietly began sorting through debris in the home and the backyard without garnering much attention. By early afternoon, a CSI trailer had parked in the Bel Air parking lot abutting the backyard fence, and a crane scooped bucketfuls of dirt and debris from the backyard into a container.
Neighbors began to gather, exchanging notes and gossip about the potentially gruesome development in their midst. Nobody there remembered Garcia; a few knew the residents of the home only by sight.
Residents in the immediate area of the Stewart Road home could not be reached or declined to be interviewed.
Most of those gathered in the parking lot described the established neighborhood off Arden Way and Eastern Avenue as quiet and family-friendly.
"If somebody's buried in that backyard, that would be a big deal," said Todd Bibby, 56, who has lived in the area for 20 years. "That would be the biggest news scoop in a long time. Nothing ever happens out here."
As the day wore on and interest in the community heightened, detectives hauled bags of potential evidence from the backyard, and volunteers made sweeps with cadaver dogs.
Ramos said the dogs showed interest in several places in the yard, and investigators were tailoring their search accordingly. However, Ramos cautioned that the alerts do not necessarily mean there are human remains to be found.
Not much is known about Garcia. Biographical details in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System called "NamUs" describe a relatively petite woman with long hair and several children.
Her relationship with Macedo appeared to be volatile. According to Sacramento Superior Court records available online, Macedo filed four domestic violence petitions against Garcia in family court in 2005 and 2006. The outcome of those petitions was not known Wednesday.
In 2004, Garcia pleaded no contest to petty theft; two years later, she pleaded no contest to driving under the influence. That year, she also pleaded no contest to possessing marijuana, court records show.
Macedo had a criminal history before his June arrest, according to online records. In 1998, he pleaded no contest to a variety of charges, including felony counts of making threats and stalking. He was sentenced to four years of prison and five years of probation, according to online records.