Boulder County, Colo. (KDVR) — More than three years after a Longmont mother of three went missing, a man is now facing charges for her murder.
Rita Gutierrez-Garcia disappeared on St. Patrick’s day in 2018. Her body has still not been found but a grand jury indicted Juan Jose Figueroa on kidnapping and murder charges.
“We are grateful for this day,” Gutierrez-Garcia’s mother Dianne Romero said. “I have been praying for this day, so God has given this to me but, at the same time, it’s heartbreaking because I still don’t have my daughter.”
In a press conference Friday, Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty explained Figueroa is currently behind bars, facing 93 years to life in a state prison for an unrelated sexual assault case involving another victim.
“Longmont Police Department and the District Attorney’s office conducted an exhaustive investigation including an examination of cell phone data, video recordings, financial data, social media, DNA analysis and the use of a court ordered wiretap in jail to capture statements being made by Mr. Figueroa,” Dougherty said.
The indictment explains Figueroa told a cellmate he strangled Gutierrez-Garcia and disposed of her body before returning to the home of his sister on March 18th.
The indictment continues to say Figueroa told his cellmate she called him a “weirdo” which caused him to punch her, knock her unconscious and strangle her.
During wiretap recordings, Figueroa stated he had buried Gutierrez-Garcia’s body and that the only way anyone would find it is “if police inserted a probe into his brain.”
While the details of the indictment are incredibly difficult for Gutierrez-Garcia’s loved ones to take in, the family says they are hopeful this indictment brings them one step closer towards justice for their Rita.
“I just want everybody to not forget Rita, remember her more than anything,” Gutierrez-Garcia’s sister Jessica Reyes said. “She’s going to be victorious, she is not going to be a victim, she’s going to win still, we are going to win.”
Finding Gutierrez-Garcia’s body is still a top priority. Longmont Police Department is offering an up to a $10,000 reward for information that leads investigators to her. If you know anything, you are urged to call LPD at 303-651-8501 and ask to be transferred to Detective Cody Clark.