DA, police announce murder charges in Rita Gutierrez-Garcia case

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BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — Law enforcement officials are set to announce murder charges against the alleged killer of Rita Gutierrez-Garcia, who went missing from Longmont more than three years ago.

According to Boulder County court filings, police are charging Juan Jose Figueroa with two counts of murder in the first degree and one count of second degree kidnapping.

Gutierrez-Garcia, a single mother of three nearly graduated from a university paralegal program, is presumed dead since she went missing around March 17-18, 2018. Investigators have not found her body since.

Court documents claim Gutierrez-Garcia interacted with Figueroa in a Longmont bar March 17. Witnesses placed her and Figueroa in the same area after bars closed in the early hours of March 18. Gutierrez-Gomez’s cousin said Gutierrez-Gomez was getting a ride home from an unknown person.

Juan Figueroa
File photo: Juan Figueroa booking photo from Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.

Figueroa left for Mexico after detectives asked for him at his mother’s Colorado home. In Mexico, he reportedly told friends he was in trouble.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents intercepted Figueroa on an unrelated warrant on March 27 as he was attempted to cross from Mexico back into the United States.

The unrelated warrant involved a sexual assault charge from November 2017, wherein Figueroa was accused of strangling to unconsciousness a woman he met in a Longmont bar before sexually assaulting her.

Law enforcement identified Gutierrez-Garcia’s DNA, along with the DNA of several other unknown individuals, in Figueroa’s truck after its seizure.

Along with DNA evidence, Figueroa has made several self-incriminating statements.

He told a cellmate that he had strangled Gutierrez-Garcia, dumped her body somewhere inaccessible to the public and burned his and her clothing in his sister’s fireplace.

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