LONGMONT, Colo. (TCD) -- A missing 34-year-old woman’s remains were found last week after she disappeared in March 2018.
The 20th Judicial District Attorney and the Longmont Department of Public Safety released a joint statement May 19 announcing the recovery of Rita Gutierrez-Garcia’s remains. She was last seen March 18, 2018, at approximately 2:30 a.m. outside a bar in downtown Longmont.
Police named Juan Figueroa Jr. as a suspect, and in 2021, he was indicted by a grand jury for first-degree murder and kidnapping despite the fact that the victim’s body had not been found. Around the same time, he was arrested and later convicted of sexual assault and attempted murder of another woman. Figueroa is currently serving 93 years to life in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
According to the statement, the Longmont Department of Public Safety and District Attorney’s Office searched an area in Weld County on April 28 and found human remains. DNA samples were analyzed after the autopsy and a positive identification came back as a match for Gutierrez-Garcia. Figueroa will plead guilty June 3 and his case will no longer go to trial.
On the night she went missing, Gutierrez-Garcia and Figueroa "briefly interacted" at a local bar, according to Figueroa’s indictment. She told her cousin at 2:30 a.m. she would get a ride home, but she would not specify the driver. That was the last time anyone saw or heard from her.
At 3:07 a.m., 911 reportedly received a call from her cellphone number, but the caller immediately hung up. Dispatch called back twice, but there was no answer.
Gutierrez-Garcia had three sons in middle school at the time of her disappearance and was one semester away from graduating with a paralegal degree.