53ºF

Close friend: Murder victim was former combat medic, instructor

SAPD: Pilar Horton-Garcia, 33, found near railroad tracks

photo

SAN ANTONIO – Last week's discovery of Pilar Horton-Garcia's body near a remote stretch of railroad tracks near Selma was a violent end to what had become a troubled life.

San Antonio police said the 33-year-old woman had been left there with a fatal gunshot to her head that was not self-inflicted.

"We lost a hero to a senseless tragedy," said Robert Moya, a close friend of Horton-Garcia's and her former husband Paul, who is also Moya's business partner.

Moya said all three had been combat medics and instructors for the U.S. Army beginning in early 2000.

He said Horton-Garcia also was the mother of four daughters: a teenager living out of state and three others, ages 5-7.

But Moya said at some point, her life began to unravel, caught in a downward spiral of homelessness. He said often the only way to find her was through Facebook.

He said despite her military and medical training, "We had a young mother with mental health issues staying at homeless shelters."

Moya said even so, Horton-Garcia remained a strong advocate for people in need.

He asked, "How many times a day do we pass by a homeless person? Do we put them in the shadows or wave them off?"

Moya said knowing Horton-Garcia's story may lead people to take a closer look.

"Mental health is not like the common cold or the flu," he said. "There's a very narrow window for when that person seeks help."

He said many residents at Haven for Hope also are grieving.

"They said even though she was in a bad spot herself, that she always put them before her," Moya said.

Moya said despite their efforts to help Horton-Garcia, "She opened doors that probably shouldn't have been opened and it was very hard for us and herself to close them once they were opened."

He said perhaps that's what led to her violent death last Thursday.

Moya said, "We want to reach out to people. If they saw her, if you had even a minute of contact with her, you need to speak up."

Moya said family and friends are trying to make it possible so that Pilar Horton-Garcia is laid to rest in her home state of Pennsylvania.