Police Searching for Suspect in Hazleton Homicide

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HAZLETON -- Officials in Hazleton have filed charges against the man they believe is responsible for killing a woman last month.

Oscar Garcia of Hazleton is charged with one count of criminal homicide in the death of Maria Brea. Police believe Garcia has left the area.

"We are confident he is not in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but we are still actively looking for him so we can apprehend him," said Hazleton Police Department Detective Lt. Kenneth Ziposky.

According to police, Brea, 32, was reported missing on December 14,  shortly after breaking up with Garcia. When police later searched her apartment on East Diamond Avenue, officers found the mother of two in the attic. She had been strangled and wrapped in plastic.

Court papers reveal that on December 17, Garcia told his employer that he was having some troubles at home, and would be leaving the area for good, heading back to Mexico.

That same day, Garcia was pulled over during a traffic stop in Texas, but later crossed the border.

Authorities say they have updated Brea's family on the investigation.

"Of course they're still devastated over this. They lost a loved one and our hearts go out to them," said Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis.

U.S. Marshals and the FBI are assisting in the search for Garcia.