LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) — Longmont police say forensic testing helped them identify a suspect in the disappearance and presumed death of missing mother Rita Gutierrez-Garcia. Gutierrez-Garcia disappeared in the early hours of March 18.
“As a result of testing from evidence submitted to forensic laboratories, we can now identify a suspect in Rita’s disappearance as Juan Jose Figueroa Jr.,” officials stated.
Juan Jose Figueroa Jr., 29, is believed to be the last person seen with Gutierrez-Garcia.
Figueroa has not been charged in this case. Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information that helps them build a case against him.
Figuero is the suspect in a separate sexual assault that happened in November in Longmont.
In that case, he is charged with sexual assault (serious bodily injuries), sexual assault (force), sexual assault (victim incapable), sexual assault (victim physically helpless) and other charges.
He was arrested about 10 days after Gutierrez-Garcia disappeared and is being held in jail with a $1 million cash-only bond, officials said.
“As we have previously said, for all the reasons now known in this investigation, it is our belief that Rita is no longer alive, and her remains have not been found,” officials said. “This is still a very active investigation, we are making significant progress, but we will not rest until we find Rita and this case is resolved.”
Police are asking the public to be aware and pay attention any time they are on rural and dirt roads and trails in Boulder County.
“Hopefully, someone will come across something that’s helpful in this case,” said Longmont Police Department Deputy Chief Jeff Satur.
Satur said he spoke with Gutierrez-Garcia’s mother Thursday.
“We work on this and talk about it daily,” Satur said.
Anyone with relevant information requiring immediate police involvement and follow-up is asked to call the Longmont Emergency Communications Center at (303) 651-8501. A tip line and email address have been established for anyone with information. Please call (303) 774-3700, for the police tip line or e-mail your tips to Policetipline@longmontcolorado.gov.
A GoFundMe has been set up to support Gutierrez-Garcia’s sons.