Rita Gutierrez-Garcia

Gutierrez-Garcia, circa 2018; Some of Gutierrez-Garcia's tattoos; Juan Figueroa

  • Missing Since 03/18/2018
  • Missing From Longmont, Colorado
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race Hispanic
  • Age 34 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'7, 140 - 150 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A black dress or t-shirt with three-quarter-length sleeves, black leggings, a thin light-colored scarf over her shoulders, knee-high black boots with fringe, and no jewelry. Carrying a small black purse.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Hispanic female. Brown hair, brown eyes. At the time of her disappearance, Gutierrez-Garcia's hair was dyed blonde for about four to five inches at the ends, and she wore long artificial eyelashes and long, pointed Army green acrylic fingernails. Her tongue is pierced twice, her ears are pierced one time each, and she has a healed piercing in her navel. She has a chicken pox scar in the center of her forehead, a surgical scar on her left elbow, and possible scars on her fingers. One of her lower front teeth is broken and she has a dimple or cleft in her chin. Gutierrez-Garcia has the following tattoos: a Mudflap Girl on the top of her right foot, a leopard pattern on the top of her left foot, a good angel in blue ink on one shoulder, a bad angel in red ink on the other shoulder, a puzzle on her back, a skull with a pink bow on her left wrist, large eye and swirls on her left forearm, two red roses with black netting between the leaves and stems on her right forearm, Marilyn Monroe on her upper arm, and a woman removing a face mask on her left thigh. Photos of some of the tattoos are posted with this case summary.

Details of Disappearance

Gutierrez-Garcia was last seen in alley behind 3's Bar in the 300 block of Coffman Street in downtown Longmont, Colorado at 2:30 a.m. on March 18, 2018. She had been out celebrating St. Patrick's Day with her loved ones. She was on the phone, walking back to a car with her family and friends, when she said she'd get a ride home with someone else. She has never been heard from again.

In July 2018, Juan Jose Figueroa Jr. was named as a person of interest in Gutierrez-Garcia's disappearance. A photo of him is posted with this case summary. He has a lengthy criminal history. He traveled to Mexico a few days after Gutierrez-Garcia went missing, and investigators know she wasn't with him at that time, but they have physical evidence indicating she was in his white two-door Chevrolet pickup truck at some point.

In April, the month after Gutierrez-Garcia's disappearance, Figueroa was arrested at the U.S./Mexico border while re-entering the U.S. from Mexico, and charged in an unrelated attack case from November 2017. He had sexually assaulted a woman he met at a bar in Longmont, strangling her to unconsciousness at one point during the attack.

According to court documents, when Figueroa was told at the border that he was wanted for sexual assault and would be extradited to Colorado to face the charges, he said, "That’s it? [...] Just sexual assault? [...] Sweet." In March 2019, Figueroa was convicted of sexual assault, felony assault and attempted murder in that case. He was sentenced to 93 years to life in prison.

In June 2021, a grand jury (the first to convene in Boulder since the start of the coronavirus pandemic over a year earlier) indicted Figueroa for murder and kidnapping in Gutierrez-Garcia's presumed death. The evidence against him includes statements he allegedly made about the murder while serving his sentence for the sexual assault case. In one of the conversations, which was caught on a wiretap, Figueroa reportedly said he had buried her body and the police would never find it unless they inserted a probe into his brain.

He is awaiting trial in the murder. Gutierrez-Garcia's body has not been found.

Gutierrez-Garcia has three sons, and was studying to be a paralegal at the time of her disappearance; she had one semester left before graduation. Investigators believe her body may be in a remote area near the Peak to Peak Highway, Rabbit Mountain or anywhere from Rollins Pass to Jamestown, Colorado. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.

Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated June 10, 2021; two pictures added, details of disappearance updated.