A mom called a drunk man on St. Patrick’s Day a “weirdo” and it cost her the rest of her life.
It took years to find her remains and now her killer will spend decades behind bars.
This month, a judge in Boulder County, Colorado, sentenced Juan Figueroa to 50 years in prison for the kidnapping and murder of Rita Gutierrez-Garcia in 2018, according to KDVR. That sentence is in addition to a 93-year term Figueroa is already serving for an unrelated sexual assault case.
Gutierrez-Garcia disappeared on St. Patrick’s Day 2018, according to KDVR. Figueroa told the court that he was drunk that night, and when Gutierrez-Garcia called him a “weirdo” he snapped.
He punched her in the head, dragged her to her truck and strangled her, according to KDVR.
It wasn’t until 2022 that her remains were found in Weld County, Colorado, according to the report.
Investigators long targeted Figueroa as a suspect, according to the Associated Press. Police and the victim’s family did not believe the mom of three, who was a year from finishing her education to become a paralegal, had run away.
Figueroa fled to Mexico after becoming a suspect in the case, but later returned to the U.S., according to the AP. He seemed relieved to face the unrelated charges in Colorado.
“That’s it? ... Just sexual assault? ... Sweet (claps) let’s get this over and done with so I can get my bond, get it posted,” he said, according to the indictment, and reported by the AP.
At that time, he allegedly said he buried Gutierrez-Garcia and the police would only find out where by inserting a probe into his brain.
The victim’s mother, Diane Romero, provided a statement to KUSA-TV after reports of Figueroa’s possible plea in the case.
“I am grateful for this day, thank first and foremost to my Lord and all who kept praying for our family,” Romeo said.