The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — A community college student who was strangled along with her four young children was planning to break off a relationship with the burly ex-convict now accused of the slayings, the woman’s mother said Wednesday.
Joshua Steven Durcho, 25, was arrested Tuesday night in Texas’ Hamilton County after his car hit a guard rail and a tree, Texas officials said. Durcho waived extradition following a brief court hearing on Wednesday and is expected to be returned to Oklahoma early Thursday morning.
As he left the hearing, he told reporters he was sorry “for getting into this (expletive) mess I didn’t do.”
Durcho’s court-appointed Texas attorney, Rickey Bryan, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prosecutors in Oklahoma charged Durcho with five counts of first-degree murder Tuesday, a day after an El Reno police officer conducting a welfare check found Summer Garas, 25, and her children dead in their apartment in the Oklahoma City suburb. The children ranged in age from 3 to 7.
Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty, assistant district attorney Paul Hesse said Wednesday.
Details of how the gruesome crime was carried out were scant.
Each charge listed strangulation as the cause of death. Each body had ligature marks around the neck, according to an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation affidavit.
Investigators hadn’t determined a motive for the killings, OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said.
The exact manner in which the strangulations were done was not clear, she said.
“We’re not going to know until we talk to the guy,” Brown said. “He’s a big man. You can tell he’s very large and very strong. That certainly would have helped him.
“I don’t know if the children knew what was going on. If the children were in one room watching ’SpongeBob SquarePants,’ they might not know. Children that young could be glued to the television.”
Court records show Durcho was 5-foot-9 and about 235 pounds.
Besides Garas, daughters Kirsten Rust, 7; Autumn Rust, 6; and Evynn Garas, 3; and son Teagin Rust, 4, were killed.
Garas’ mother, Susan Rust of Carson City, Nev., told The Associated Press on Wednesday that her daughter had planned to end her relationship with Durcho this past Sunday.
“She said it was over and it was done, and apparently that didn’t go over very well,” Rust said.
“I hope he gets the slowest, most painful death, because that’s what he has earned. Hell is too good for him,” she added.
Rust said she has known Durcho for years, and that while she never knew him to be violent, she was disappointed to find out he was dating her daughter.
“At one point, I knew that he was living there and not contributing anything, and I was just enraged,” Rust said. “I told her if he was going to be there, I’m not going to help. I just tried the tough love thing.”
After the killings, Durcho reportedly drove to Edmond and told a friend that he had “choked” Summer Garas until she was dead and that the children were with Garas’ mother in Nevada, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit also said Durcho visited a cousin in Oakwood on Monday and tried to get her to swap vehicles with him.
According to court records, Durcho was convicted of car theft as a juvenile and several minor drug charges as an adult. He was sentenced to four years in prison in 2003 for unlawful possession of marijuana. He was released in February 2007, records show.
“He has been in and out of jail most of his adult life,” Brown said.
In October 2007, Durcho was charged with possession of methamphetamine, and that case had not been resolved, court records show. A telephone message left Wednesday with Durcho’s attorney in that case, Bill James, was not returned.
Durcho’s stepfather, Shelton Bryan, acknowledged his son liked to drink and smoke marijuana, but said he never was violent and was affectionate toward Garas’ children.
“He loved those kids,” Bryan said Wednesday. “He took the boy everywhere he went.
“This is just devastating to our family, and we can’t believe that he done it. It’s hard for us to take this in and digest it.”
Durcho’s page on the MySpace social networking Web site includes pictures of him in a sleeveless shirt, flexing his tattooed arms. He lists interests including tattoos, bodybuilding and the gory “Saw” film series, and warns: “Danger many illegal activities in progress. Enter at your own risk.”
The Associated Press