Suspect named in case of missing Longmont mother

Rita Gutierrez-Garcia

LONGMONT, Colo. -- A suspect has been named in the case of a missing mother, the Longmont Police Department said Thursday.

Juan Figueroa, 29, has not been formally charged in the case of Rita Gutierrez-Garcia, who has not been seen since the early-morning hours of March 18.

Gutierrez-Garcia, a mother of three, was celebrating St. Patrick's Day with friends and was last seen in a parking lot behind 3's Bar in downtown Longmont about 2:30 a.m.

“I just don’t want to cry right now. I can’t imagine how someone can be so sick,” said Gutierrez-Garcia's mother, Diane Romero.

Figueroa is in jail in Boulder County on an unrelated sexual assault charge. He's being held on a $1 million cash-only bond.

“He was not in Rita’s circle of friends. He likely met her that night,” Romero said of Figueroa.

Police said evidence submitted to forensic laboratories led them to name Figueroa as a suspect,

According to court documents, Figueroa reportedly strangled and sexually assaulted another Longmont woman in November.

The details allege he stripped the woman, held her down on the bed and said, “I swear to God. Don’t try to run. Don’t you (expletive) say anything. I’ll (expletive) kill you.”

Police say he met the victim at The Speakeasy on Main Street -- a bar just 200 feet away from 3's Bar.

Ten days after Gutierrez-Garcia went missing, police located Figueroa in Texas.

"We have a good timeline of when he left Longmont and we did our best to find him,” Deputy Chief Jeff Satur with the Longmont Police Department said.

Police are still investigating and following up on leads.

“We still have a secondary crime scene somewhere that has yet to be discovered. We really want to find the crime scene. [It] will be helpful to our investigation,” police spokesman Jeff Satur said. "We will not rest until we find Rita and this case is resolved."

Romero and the rest of Gutierrez-Garcia's family are hopeful the latest development will soon bring closure.

"Let us lay my daughter’s body to rest. God willing, if she’s alive somewhere, then just tell us where she’s at,” Romero said.

Police believe Gutierrez-Garcia’s body might be in a mountain pass in the southern Rockies.

"If you go up towards Rollins Pass, there are hundreds and hundreds of miles of dirt roads between here and there. We believe her remains are somewhere out here, based on experience and hunches and what you would do in a situation like this,” Satur said.

Investigators said Gutierrez-Garcia's disappearance has been suspicious since the beginning.

Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leads to Gutierrez-Garcia's discovery or for information that leads to an arrest.

Anyone with information is asked call 303-774-3700 or email the department.

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