Rita Gutierrez-Garcia’s Family, Friends Still Searching for Missing Longmont Woman
It’s a gray Sunday morning, and Omar Holguin is watching a bloodhound as it stands stock-still, snout pointed out toward a deep ditch and distant hay fields just east of Longmont’s Union Reservoir.
The dog, 5-year-old RC, suddenly darts down the side of the ditch, which is 10 feet deep and ends in marshy water covered in tall, green grass. His owner, dog handler Alan Duffy, tells him to come back up, and Holguin carefully heads down.
Holguin is looking for anything suspicious that could lead him to his half-sister, Rita Gutierrez-Garcia, the Longmont woman who has been missing for nearly four months .
Longmont police are offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to Rita Gutierrez-Garcia or the arrest of a suspect in her disappearance. Anyone with information is asked to call 303-774-3700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
The mother of three was last seen around 2:30 a.m. March 18 after spending the night celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with friends and family. She was walking to a city parking lot behind 3′s Bar at 333 Main St. in downtown Longmont.
Longmont police announced in May that they believe Gutierrez-Garcia is dead, and that they have identified a “person of interest” in the case. Investigators sent items to the Colorado Bureau of Information for DNA and other forensic testing, and are waiting on the results.
No further information has been released.
While police work their investigation, Holguin has been searching for his sister ever since she disappeared.
On this Sunday morning search, he walks down into ravines and ditches, trying to see through the 5-feet-tall grass. He walks along cornfields at the intersection of Weld County roads 26 and 7, finding an animal skeleton and a makeshift camp hidden among trees along a creek in the ditch.
There’s a mattress, a busted out television, chairs nailed to boards for a treehouse of sorts, and a sofa, but no sign of Rita.
“I gotta keep pushing myself to find my sister,” says Holguin, wearing a white T-shirt that has Gutierrez-Garcia’s missing poster printed on it. “It’s obviously a horrible feeling, but she needs to be found.”
Just under 20 people join Holguin on this particular search, spreading out to Sandstone Ranch, as well as rural areas with ravines and ditches, in hopes of finding any sign of Gutierrez-Garcia.
Duffy, a dog handler for 40 years, joins them with two of his bloodhounds, RC and Mindy Lynn. RC tracks the area around Weld County roads 26 and 7, first heading done a dirt road bordered by deep ditches and farmland.
Where he stops and then heads down the ditch is a place he’s always hit before, Duffy says.
The dogs are trained to search for cadavers and they’re not tracking Gutierrez-Garcia specifically. Duffy started tracking bodies with his dogs decades ago after his brother was murdered in California in a wrong-place, wrong-time scenario.
He now does the tracking in memory of his brother, and he’s helping Holguin for free.
When Gutierrez-Garcia first went missing, Holguin says, there was a family search that covered much of Longmont, so now he’s covering areas outside of the city toward Lyons.
Longmont police are aware of the searches, and Deputy Chief Jeff Satur says they are “fully supportive” of them.
“Obviously, finding Rita is a big concern for us,” he says.
Police officers don’t accompany the searches, but Satur says if they receive information on a location of interest they will follow up and search the area.
Duffy says there is an area his dogs have hit on multiple times, but law enforcement has not yet searched it.
Holguin says he is encouraging those with property, as well as farmers, to check their land and keep an eye out for anything unusual.
“I’m just hoping to find something,” he says. ”...I feel helpless in this situation.”
Madeline St. Amour: 303-684-5212, email@example.com