Let’s talk about it: the Garcia/Burhans family

On March 15, 1982, Carmen Maria Burhans Garcia, her husband Diego Garcia, and Carmen’s nine-year-old daughter Barbara Burhans departed their Los Angeles residence into the unknown.

The family lived in the same house as Carmen’s mother; Carmen’s mother lived in the upstairs apartment, and the others lived downstairs. That morning — which was a Monday, presumably a school day for Barbara — Carmen’s mother came downstairs to see them while they were eating breakfast and noticed her daughter was crying but didn’t ask why. She never saw any of them again. They left that afternoon, leaving everything behind, including their dog.

One month and ten days later, the family’s car turned up in a snowbank 500 feet down a gorge in the San Gabriel Mountains, near Big Pines, California. Google Maps says that by today’s routes, Big Pines is 80-ish miles from the Garcias’ home, about an hour and a half by car. There’s two interesting things worth noting here:

  1. In spite of the fact that the car had gone 500 feet into the gorge and the roof had been bashed in, there was no blood present, strongly suggesting no one was inside the car when it was pushed, accidentally or intentionally, into the gorge.
  2. The road it must have fallen off from had been closed since March 16, the day after the trio vanished.

There are a few colorful details here, including a rumor that Carmen, a newly minted Mormon, had gotten involved in a MUCH different religion prior to her disappearance, one involving chicken sacrifice. (Santeria maybe? For what it’s worth, Santeria has Caribbean origins, and Diego was born in Cuba.) Another rumor was that Diego had gotten into criminal activity and the whole family had up and left for Miami.

The whole thing makes me think of the Mary Celeste. It appears that SOMETHING seriously spooked the family that morning, enough to have Carmen crying, enough to keep Barbara from going to school, enough to have them pile into their car and leave everything behind. But what was it? And what happened next?

Let’s talk about it.

5 thoughts on “Let’s talk about it: the Garcia/Burhans family

  1. Joanne Ouimet January 19, 2017 / 4:19 pm

    If their car was found, minus any blood, and the family, I wonder if they had help – like another car to drive them away, or a person that aided in their disappearance.

    Or, could they have met with foul play?!?

    • Meaghan January 19, 2017 / 4:22 pm

      Them leaving of their own accord and them meeting with foul play is not mutually exclusive.

  2. marsyao January 20, 2017 / 9:06 am

    I think it was possible that they made a decision to commit suicide, and they did not want their bodies to be found, so they drove to a remote area, left the car, and walked to some place to die, that would explain the mother was crying in the morning, and they left everything behind

  3. theclaires January 23, 2017 / 10:57 pm

    I think they were running from someone and that someone caught up with them, abducted them and killed them, then pushed the car over the edge.

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