Monday, June 17, 2024

Remains of 4 people including US dual citizen found in Zacatecas

A dual Mexico-United States citizen has been formally identified as one of four people whose remains were found in a rural area of Zacatecas last week, near the Jalisco border.

The Zacatecas Attorney General’s Office (FGJEZ) confirmed Tuesday that the remains of José Melesio Gutiérrez Padilla were among those found in Tepetongo, a municipality in southwestern Zacatecas that borders Jalisco.

Gutiérrez, a 36-year-old architect who lived in Ohio but was originally from León, Guanajuato, disappeared on Dec. 25 along with his fiancée Daniela Márquez Pichardo, her sister Viviana Márquez Pichardo and Irma Paola Vargas Montoya, a cousin of the two women. The remains of the three women were found along with those of Gutiérrez.

The four victims disappeared on Christmas Day as they were returning to Colotlán, Jalisco — where the three women lived — from Jerez, Zacatecas, a tourism-oriented “magical town” where they spent time at a bar.

The pickup truck in which they were traveling was later located in Tepetongo on Jan. 16. It had bullet holes in it, indicating that they came under fire while traveling through the municipality.

Authorities are investigating the apparent murder of the four victims, who were in their 20s and 30s. Zacatecas is currently the scene of a turf war between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel.

DNA testing of family members of Gutiérrez and an analysis of his remains allowed the FGJEZ to confirm the victim’s identity. The other remains were previously identified as belonging to the Márquez sisters and Vargas.

Gutiérrez’s family members underwent DNA testing in Guanajuato because they were too afraid to travel to Zacatecas.

“Out of fear of everything that’s happening, [we didn’t go to Zacatecas],” said Enrique Gutiérrez, José’s father.

He said that his son lived in the United States from the age of 12 and had a successful life.

“It’s not fair that good people doing good things go through this,” Gutiérrez said.

Brandie Gutiérrez, José’s sister, told Cincinnati television station WCPO that her brother completed a master’s degree in architecture at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and had been working at the firm Champlin Architecture in downtown Cincinnati.

She said that her brother and Daniela Márquez had been engaged since last Valentine’s Day and planned to get married in September 2023.

Daniela was an interior designer, her sister was a fashion designer and their cousin was a makeup artist, according to news website La Silla Rota. Funerals for the three women were held on Jan. 22.

With reports from El Financiero, Milenio, El País, La Silla Rota and WCPO 

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