LONGMONT, Colo. – Police say a man arrested in connection with a brutal sex assault and strangulation case in Longmont is also a suspect in the March disappearance of Rita Gutierrez-Garcia.
Juan Jose Figueroa, Jr., 29, has not been charged in the case. But Longmont police said Thursday they can identify him as the suspect “as a result of testing from evidence submitted to forensic laboratories.”
Gutierrez-Garcia disappeared after she was last seen early in the morning of March 18 in the parking of 3’s Bar in Longmont.
Officials said in May that they presumed she was dead despite her body never having been found. They also said at the time they had a person of interest in her disappearance but did not identify the person at the time.
Figueroa was already being held on a prior sexual assault charge and a $1 million cash-only bond. An arrest affidavit obtained by Denver7 shows that he is accused of raping and strangling a woman he met last November at another bar in Longmont in that case.
A news release from Longmont Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Satur said that the investigation is still “very active” and that they are still collecting information and evidence. A $10,000 reward is still being offered for information that leads to Gutierrez-Garcia or the arrest of a suspect. Anyone with tips is asked to call 303-774-3700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are making significant progress, but we will not rest until we find Rita and this case is resolved,” Satur said in the release.
Police ask public to be on lookout for remains
Deputy Police Chief Jeff Satur told Denver7 that investigators have information that Rita's remains may be between Longmont and Rollins Pass.
He's asking for the public's help trying to find them.
"There's hundreds of miles of dirt roads up there," he said. "Four-wheel drive trails. So if you live in Boulder County, if you're hiking in Boulder County and taking a day trip, find an isolated road somewhere and walk the ditch for us."
Satur said he spoke to Rita's mom this morning.
"They are a wonderful family," he said. "It breaks my heart because I wish we could give them some kind of news... some sort of closure, but we're going to keep our fingers crossed and we're going to continue to work this case hard."