Family of Indianapolis cold case victim warned not to talk

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 9, 2015)-- It was 21 years ago Monday morning that John Garner, Jr., was found dead at his desk at Hix Towing on Bluff Road. From the start, Garner's nieces have suspected their uncle knew his killer and now they tell FOX59 News they've been warned to let the unsolved murder case stay cold.

"We can't say it on camera," said Misty Villaverde, "But there's been something said and we can't make this person understand we don't care.  If you think the family's going to be destroyed because of this - our family's already destroyed. You have taken somebody so precious with a heart of gold."

Villaverde and her sister and cousin said Garner would give anyone the shirt off his back.

"I've never heard anyone in my life say anything bad about Uncle John," said Kim Simmons whose voiced choked when she was asked why Garner was killed. "I don't know," she stammered. "That's the hardest thing about it."

On the morning of March 9, 1994, after employees worried they hadn't heard from their dispatcher, Garner was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head.

"I mean, he was very big but strong," said Simmons, "and so I can't see somebody getting that close point range to shoot him and not know him."

"This person evidentally knew where my uncle's wallet was. They knew exactly what time to be there, there was things that didn't add up," said Villaverde. "A lot of things don't add up. Things that have been said, things that have been told to me and my sister and the rest of the family."

Marion County Sheriff's detectives first considered a robbery motive in Garner's killing and while DNA evidence and fingerprints were collected at the murder scene, no arrests have been made.

IMPD's Cold Case Homicide Unit is taking a second look at the murder.

Garner had been a longtime beloved employee at Hix and was looking forward to being assigned to work his first Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that spring.

"He was everything to us and you took this away from us for what?" asked Villaverde. "Why did you take him? Our family's already destroyed. How can you destroy it anymore than what we are?"

If you know anything about the murder of John Garner, Jr., at about dawn on March 9, 1994, at Hix Towing, call Crimestoppers at 262-TIPS. Your information could be worth $1,000 reward.