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Ohio architect who went missing on Christmas Day found dead with fiancée and her relatives


Colleagues paid tribute to an Ohio architect who was found dead with his fiancée and her two relatives in Mexico after going missing on Christmas Day.

Mexican authorities found four ‘charred’ bodies on Thursday last week in an SUV covered with bullet holes near El Cuidado, Zacatecas, local reports said.

Officials confirmed one of the bodies as belonging to architect José Gutiérrez, 36, from Hamilton, Ohio. Investigators had to wait for DNA confirmation before identifying the remains after the body was found in a state of ‘skeletal reduction’.

Officials previously identified three of the bodies as Gutiérrez’s fiancée Daniela Márquez, 31, her sister Viviana Márquez, 26, and the women’s cousin, Irma Vargas, 27.

Ohio architect José Gutiérrez, 36, and his fiancée Daniela Márquez, 31, were confirmed dead after going missing on Christmas day

José Gutierrez (pictured) was in Mexico visiting his fiancée Daniela Márquez over the holiday season

José Gutierrez (pictured) was in Mexico visiting his fiancée Daniela Márquez over the holiday season

Champlin Architecture said they would create a scholarship in Gutierrez's honor

Champlin Architecture said they would create a scholarship in Gutierrez’s honor

Why Mexican state of Zacatecas is on the ‘do not travel to’ list 

The US Department of State has warned residents not to travel to Zacatecas due to crime and kidnappings.

‘Violent crime, extortion, and gang activity are widespread in Zacatecas state. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping,’ the advice says.

Across Mexico, at least 666 kidnappings were reported from January to November 2022, in comparison with 625 in 2021.

In 2020, there were 1,047 abductions registered, and 1,629 in 2019.

José’s Cincinnati employer Champlin Architecture confirmed his death in a post to their Facebook page.

‘It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we inform you of the death of our colleague and friend, José Gutierrez, who died tragically while visiting his fiancée, Daniela Pichardo, in Mexico during the holidays.

‘His work bettered the lives of those in the community he chose to make his home,’ they added.

Ohio-based Champlin Architecture also said they would create a scholarship in his honor.

‘We will all miss him more than words can express. Champlin Architecture will be creating a scholarship in his name at Miami University, in order to honor his impact to our firm and the community. We will share details once this has been established.’

José Gutierrez was in Mexico visiting his fiancée Daniela Márquez over the holiday season. The two were expecting to get married this year and José would often fly down to see Daniela.

On Christmas day, the couple and Daniela’s sister and cousin visited a local bar in Jerez de García, Zacatecas, central Mexico.

Daniela’s mother Rosa Pichardo told TV Azteca she had spoken to her at around 10pm that evening, before the group was set to return to their home in Colotlán.

The concerned mother then received an alert on her cellphone around an hour-and-a-half later when Daniela shared her location with Rosa’s phone. The alert said they were in Vivoras, a neighborhood in the Zacatecas town of Tepetongo.

On Christmas day, the four visited a local bar in Jerez de García, Zacatecas, central Mexico

On Christmas day, the four visited a local bar in Jerez de García, Zacatecas, central Mexico

Viviana Márquez, 26, is among the four people who were reportedly abducted in Mexico and confirmed dead last Thursday

Viviana Márquez, 26, is among the four people who were reportedly abducted in Mexico and confirmed dead last Thursday

Irma Vargas was reportedly kidnapped with her two cousins and of her cousin's fiancée

Irma Vargas was reportedly kidnapped with her two cousins and of her cousin’s fiancée

After not hearing from them after Christmas day, the family feared they had been kidnapped. 

Daniela’s mother Rosa Pichardo told TV Azteca that patrons of a local bar reported screaming. ‘There were those who saw they were kidnapping them,’ she said. ‘There was a lot of panic, screams, but they didn’t get them out and they took the vehicle.’

‘They took the girls, my daughter’s fiancée, Daniela. They took off, they went to Vivoras.’ 

The family filed a police report with Hamilton police, the city in Ohio where José lived. They also said they reached out to the FBI for help.

Mexican officials later confirmed they were looking for the group.

The car that the engaged couple was using was then found last Thursday in Vivoras, which borders the state of Jalisco. It was covered in bullet holes. 

At least 666 kidnappings were reported from January to November 2022 in Mexico, in comparison with 625 in 2021.

There were 1,047 abductions registered in 2020, and 1,629 in 2019.

The US State Department warned residents to stay away from traveling to Zacatecas due to local crime and kidnappings.

José Gutierrez and his fiancée Daniela Márquez were expecting to get married this year

José Gutierrez and his fiancée Daniela Márquez were expecting to get married this year



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