A missing Ohio architect has been identified as one of four gunshot victims found last week in a part of Mexico where Americans are discouraged from traveling.
The four bodies were found near a bullet-riddled van believed to be the one used by the victims, WKRC-TV reported.
“The van’s tires were blown and an airbag had been deployed,” Cincinnati.com reported, citing information obtained by TV Azteca. “There were 12 bullet holes in the vehicle including one through the rear window, the report states.”
The other three bodies were identified as those of Jose’s fiancee, Daniela Pichardo, as well as Pichardo’s sister and cousin, who were all from Mexico.
Gutiérrez and the others had been missing since Christmas Day, according to WKRC.
His parents, who live in Mexico, were called in to provide DNA samples after the bodies were found Thursday, WXIX reported.
“Do not travel due to crime and kidnapping,” the government agency warned. “Violent crime, extortion, and gang activity are widespread in Zacatecas state. U.S. citizens and [lawful permanent residents] have been victims of kidnapping.”
U.S. government employee travel is limited to Zacatecas City, and they are forbidden from traveling overland to any area of Zacatecas state, according to the government bulletin.
Gutiérrez’s employer, Cincinnati-based Champlin Architecture, confirmed the news of his death in a Facebook post.
“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 fiancé, Daniela Pichardo, in Mexico during the holidays,” Champlin Architecture posted.
“He was a valuable member of the Champlin team … His work bettered the lives of those in the community he chose to make his home.
“We will all miss him more than words can express.”
The company plans to create a scholarship in Gutiérrez’s name, “to honor his impact to our firm and the community.”
“Please keep all of us and his family and friends in your prayers.”
Born in Mexico, Gutiérrez was a role model to his six younger siblings, WXIX reported. He “overcame all odds to earn his degree” at Miami University, which is based in Oxford, Ohio.
He often traveled to Mexico to visit his fiancee, according to the report. The couple had planned a 2023 wedding.
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