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Police charge man with murder in Gainesville hotel slaying
Garcia-Flores originally sought for safety concerns, now top suspect in stabbing death
Jose Garcia-Flores, 29, was initially listed as a missing person in Saturday's slaying of Harmon Lavender at a Gainesville hotel. He now has been charged with murder in the case.

The man Gainesville police were seeking in connection with a Jan. 10 homicide at Sun Suites Hotel now has been charged with murder in the case.

Jose Garcia-Flores, 29, was initially listed as a missing person whose welfare police said may be in jeopardy. But after he was located safely in New York, he became the primary suspect in the death of Harmon Lavender, 52, of Augusta, according to a news release from the Gainesville Police Department.

"Initially, we were concerned with Garcia-Flores’ welfare, his safety and well-being. Once it was determined that he was safe, and through the course of the investigation, it was revealed that he was our primary suspect," Gainesville Police Department spokesman Cpl. Kevin Holbrook said.

Lavender was found dead by a maintenance person in a room at the hotel on Jesse Jewell Parkway, according to police. An autopsy showed Lavender died of multiple stab wounds, police said.

Police have not shared further details related to the cause or nature of the death.

"It was a vicious, brutal attack," Holbrook said. "Gruesome to say the least."

Gainesville police arrested Garcia-Flores in coordination with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Local police worked with New York police officials as well as other state and local law enforcement to bring Garcia-Flores back to Gainesville.

Garcia-Flores was booked into the Hall County Jail around 11 p.m. Wednesday, being charged with parole violation and probation warrant from Superior Court, according to jail officials. The warrant for malice murder was served around 12:45 p.m. Thursday, jail officials said.

The investigation is still active and other charges may be forthcoming after consultation with the District Attorney’s Office.

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