BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – The family of Rita Gutierrez-Garcia called the indictment of a suspect Friday on kidnapping and murder charges a joyous day for them more than three years after her disappearance. They said this was a necessary step forward as they continue to honor her memory and still hope to find her remains.
Gutierrez-Garcia

Rita Gutierrez-Garcia (credit: CBS)

“I’ve 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,” said Diane Romero, Gutierrez-Garcia’s mother.
The family joined prosecutors and police at a news conference announcing the charges against Juan Figueroa, a suspect previously identified in this case, who is currently in prison for unrelated charges.
Juan Jose Figueroa Jr.

Juan Jose Figueroa Jr. (credit: Boulder County)

“The family has been gracious, they have stood by us, and they trusted us and that means a lot to be here today,” said Longmont Police Deputy Chief Jeff Satur.

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said part of the challenge in pursuing these charges is that investigators have still not found Gutierrez-Garcia’s remains, and the pandemic complicated the process with a grand jury. While he is confident he can prosecute this case without her body, the search continues to find Gutierrez-Garcia.
“In charging this man with Rita’s murder, it’s just another message that Rita’s not coming back,” he said at the news conference. “It’s our continuing hope and a goal we will maintain of finding Rita and bringing her home to her family.”
Even with a suspect charged in her murder, the family wanted to keep the focus on Gutierrez-Garcia and honor her memory. They have kept her name in the headlines by marking important milestones including the three-year anniversary of her disappearance back in March.

“She will be victorious, she’s not going to be a victim,” said Jessica Reyes, Gutierrez-Garcia’s sister. “She’s going to win still. We’re going to win.”

Longmont police have a reward still available to the public for up to $10,000 for information that helps them find her remains.
“We’ll get the justice that we’ve been wanting and I’m still praying,” said Romero. “I know the Longmont police and everyone else hasn’t given up on the fact that my daughter will be found.”

Shawn Chitnis