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Murder Mystery: Who killed Smiley? Auburn PD and victim’s family need public’s help

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The family of a man murdered in the street are talking for the first time in hopes you can identify his killer.

John Wachsnicht heard a commotion outside his apartment on 25th St. SE. on Saturday night, May 28th. “I grabbed for my phone.  I grabbed for my bat and I popped the screen out and hopped out the window.”

He called 911 after finding Isaac Garnica lying in the street. “He was in real bad shape,” said Wachsnicht. He says it all happened so fast, “I just saw two guys running off in the distance.  I didn’t even get enough time to get a description of them.”

Isaac, who everyone called ‘Smiley,’ had been stabbed multiple times.

Auburn Police begin to piece together what happened. Isaac and a couple friends were in this car hanging out when two people came walking down the street. He mistakenly thought one of them was one of his brothers. "He gets out to try to talk to them..unfortunately, there was some type of verbal altercation and the victim decided to handle it old school way with just boxing," said Auburn Police Det. Francesca Nix.

That rings true to his brother, David. "Yeah, he was a little cocky. He thinks too much of himself. He was a good fighter."

But the killer pulled out a knife instead. "Before he knew it, his witnesses, his friends said he was stabbed multiple times and collapsed to the ground," adds Det. Nix.

Several witnesses ran, but police were able to track them down and interview them. "We were able to catch up to those guys, interview them and get their statements,’ said Det. Nix. “They are not persons of interest in our case at this time."

Police say the killer may have ties to the Surenos gang, is light skinned, 20 to 25 years old with a possible tattoo on his left forearm.

Det. Nix said, "The majority of the people, his friends and family considered him a peacemaker among the groups or the gangs."

Isaac was one of nine kids in his family. His younger sister, Rebecca, says Isaac was the kind of guy that would always help others see the brighter side of things, “Even when he was going through hard times, he would always smile."

Life wasn't easy growing up in Auburn. "We come from a really rough background. Our father wasn't in our life, just our mom. And the gangs, his brother said, "There was a point where we were on two different sides of different gangs so we would always bump heads all the time, fist fighting but this last later years, we became really close because of our faith in Jesus Christ."

A faith renewed in 2009 after David and Isaac were both shot by a gang member. "He pulled the trigger,” said David. “All I could do was put my hand over my face out of reaction and that bullet stayed in my finger.”

But Isaac was the main target and shot 5 times. "One in the jaw, one in his arm, three in his stomach,” said his brother.

You can see from the scars in photos, the shooting was a wake-up call for both of them. "We started going to church, reading our bible," said David.

Isaac fathered a little girl, but as much as he could help others, his brother says he couldn't help himself and old cravings resurfaced. "He did certain thing, he got addicted too, so after leaving that behind and dedicating his life to Jesus Christ and trying to pursue God, he still wrestled with a lot of addictions, depressions that just kind of pulled him back into that you know." Police say he was hanging out with drug users the night he was murdered.

As much as Isaac's family is grieving and searching for answers, his brother says they also forgive his murderer, "If he was here, I could look at him and tell him I love him in the name of Jesus and I forgive him and I would pray that he would turn from the lifestyle he's living because at the end of it all, it's not going to get you anywhere.

That's a message they want others involved in gang violence to hear as they plead for someone to come forward and name the killer. "I don't understand,” said Isaac’s sister-in-law, Ebonie. “If it had been their family, they would be out begging for answers and every moment that they sit not getting this person in prison, it will and possibly can be their family members. I have no understanding of someone who sits on information at all."

They're hoping others will stand up for Isaac, just like John Wachsnicht did that night, who adds, "This neighborhood isn't for the gangs. It's for the kids. It's for the families."

If you know who killed Issac ‘Smiley’ Garnica, call an anonymous tip into:

You must call the Crime Stoppers hotline with your tip to be eligible to receive a cash reward for information leading to a fugitive’s arrest.