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Consulate: Bodies found in Mexico are of missing Hamilton man's fiancée and her family

couple missing in mexico.jpg
Posted at 3:27 PM, Jan 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-21 00:03:02-05

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the fourth body discovered was identified as belonging to José Gutiérrez. Mexican officials clarified they have not positively identified the fourth body yet.

Four bodies have been found in Mexico connected to the case of a missing man from Hamilton, Ohio.

José Gutiérrez, 36, flew to Mexico from Cincinnati on Dec. 22 to visit his fiancée, Daniela Pichardo.

Pichardo and two members of her family have been identified as three of the bodies, according to officials at the Houston consulate to Mexico. A fourth body found in the area — a man's — has not been positively identified yet, according to the Zacatecas State Prosecutor's Office.

The couple, Pichardo's sister Viviana Pichardo and cousin Paola Vargas went to a bar in the north-central state of Zacatecas on Christmas Day. They left to go back to Pichardo's home, but never arrived.

Mexican news outlets reported that a vehicle located in Mexico was the one Gutiérrez and the others were last seen driving. A report from TV Azteca in Jalisco said officials located her car. Pictures show a flat tire, bullet holes and deployed airbags.

Gutiérrez's sister, Brandie Gutiérrez, said her brother was last seen at Solana Resto Bar in Jerez de Garcia Salinas in the state of Zacatecas on Christmas day. He was last seen with his fiancée, her sister and her cousin, all four of whom are now missing, Brandie said.

When José's future mother-in-law had not heard from the four into the night of Dec. 25, she became worried and contacted them — and in turn received a text message with an address, Brandie said. However, when the family drove to that address, they were stopped by police and told the area they were in was too dangerous, said Brandie. The family was told to return the next day, but were not given specific reasons as to why the area was dangerous.

The U.S. Department of State has issued a travel advisory for the Mexican state of Zacatecas, urging people not to travel in the state "due to crime and kidnapping."

"Violent crime, extortion and gang activity are widespread in Zacatecas state," reads the agency's website. "U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping."

Gutiérrez received his master's degree in architecture from Miami University and has been working at Champlin Architecture in downtown Cincinnati, Brandie said.

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