Rita Gutierrez-Garcia case: Man charged with murder, kidnapping of Colorado woman

Juan Jose Figueroa Jr., 32, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and second-degree kidnapping by the 20th Judicial District in the disappearance of Rita Gutierrez-Garcia.

“It was our commitment and promise to Rita’s family from the very start that we would not let this case go cold,” District Attorney Michael Dougherty said in a Friday news conference. “There are roughly 1,700 cold case homicides that remain unsolved in the state of Colorado. And from the very first day, we were absolutely committed to ensuring Rita’s name would not end up on that list.”

Gutierrez-Garcia went missing in Longmont on St. Patrick’s Day in 2018. Though her body has not been recovered, investigators have reason to believe she is dead.

Figueroa was also convicted of attempted murder, sexual assault and felony assault and in an unrelated case in 2019. He was sentenced to 93 years in jail.

“It is a joyous day,” Diane Romero, Gutierrez-Garcia’s mother, said in a news conference. “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. … There’s still a road to be traveled and we’ll get there, and we’ll get the justice that we’ve been wanting.”

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There is no expected court date as Figueroa is still in the department of corrections, Dougherty said.

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