LONGMONT — It’s now been nearly a full year since Rita Gutierrez-Garcia, a Longmont mother of three disappeared from a downtown parking lot.
Gutierrez-Garcia was out with friends and family celebrating St. Patrick’s Day when she was last seen walking to a parking lot behind 3’s bar. She hasn’t been seen since.
“We think about her every day,” says her brother Omar Holguin. “But more so leading up to this weekend. It’s basically reliving a nightmare.”
Family members have spent the past year searching for her body, which police have said could be near Rollins Pass, or near Rabbit Mountain or Rocky Mountain Wildlife Refuge. They have not revealed why they’ve identified these locations.
“In a way, I’m still in denial,” says Holguin. “I don’t accept it, but I do know that she is gone.”
In July, Police identified 29-year-old Juan Jose Figueroa as a suspect in her disappearance.
Police say Gutierrez-Garcia was last seen with Figueroa the night of her disappearance, and say they have forensic evidence to link him to the crime.
Longmont Police declined to comment on new updates in the investigation, citing a current court case involving Figueroa in Boulder County.
Figueroa was arrested at the Mexico border, wanted in connection to a violent sexual assault involving another woman in Longmont.
Figueroa is currently standing trial for those charges in Boulder County.
“It gives me some hope,” says Holguin of the arrest, “But at the same time, until they charge someone and convict someone, and we get more details, it will be more satisfying I believe.”
He’s asking people in rural areas West of Longmont to continue keeping their eyes peeled on their properties.
Holguin says searches for Rita’s body will continue this spring and summer.
“Finding her, finding justice for her, both of those are important to my family, and to the Longmont community as well,” he says.