Missing Longmont Woman’s Family Asks for Those with Information to Come Forward: ‘Help Us Rescue Rita’
Four weeks ago, the niece of Longmont’s Rita Gutierrez-Garcia, who has been missing since March 18, was born.
“When she was born, I said, ‘What’s her name?’” said Diane Romero, Gutierrez-Garcia’s mother. “And they said, ‘Esmay Pearl, of course.’”
Gutierrez-Garcia liked the name Pearl, so her sister Nicole Romero chose to use it in honor of her sister.
“We have a piece of Rita with us through her,” Diane Romero said.
The family of Gutierrez-Garcia spoke to the media at a news conference Wednesday in Longmont, where they called upon the community to come forward with information to help police in their search.
The meeting was scheduled after police announced Monday that they believe Gutierrez-Garcia, 34, is dead, and that they have a “person of interest” in the case. The mother of three went missing after spending a night out celebrating with friends and family in downtown Longmont. She was last seen walking to a parking lot behind 3′s Bar at 333 Main St.
While speaking in Spanish for one TV station, Diane Romero said she and her family are asking those who know more to say something, whether it brings good or bad news.
A few nights ago, someone called Diane Romero and told her about someone who knows more information, but is afraid to come to police because he has a warrant out for his arrest.
“I said, ‘That’s the last thing police are worried about,’” Diane Romero said, adding that the warrant was for a “petty” crime. “I’m hoping that that person did come in and speak with them.”
Longmont police are now “like family,” said Jessica Romero-Reyes, one of Gutierrez-Garcia’s sisters.
“They’re good about keeping us updated. Like, my heart needs more sometimes, I need something,” she said. “I’ll text or call Detective Cody Clark and I’m an emotional wreck. Even if it’s just, ‘We made a lot of progress today Jessica,’ sometimes it makes me feel better.”
Romero-Reyes thanked the community for the information and tips they have provided thus far, and said she knows that “justice is coming soon.”
But, she said, she also knows there are others who have been hesitant to come forward.
At the end of the news conference, with tears in her eyes, Romero-Reyes spoke directly to them.
“I just wanna ask people who do know to just be courageous and be a good person,” she said. “Everybody has a family.”
“So just help us rescue Rita. Just help us save her from whatever situation she is in right now. Even if it is the worst, just help us rescue whatever we can and put in her in a peaceful place.”
While the family had thought of the possibility that Gutierrez-Garcia was dead, it was still difficult to hear it from the police, they said. It became even more difficult when the information was released to the media.
“I called my mom in the middle of the night and I woke her up, and I was just balling, sobbing, like hysterical,” Romero-Reyes said.
But they have remained strong throughout this struggle, which Diane Romero credits to her faith in God.
“I know He is always there,” she said. “Wherever Rita’s at, or whatever’s going on, I know He’s there.”
Diane Romero misses talking with her daughter every day, even if just by text, the most.
“I look at her picture, like this morning I have her picture and I’m like, ‘Rita, I have to do this press conference today,’” she said. ”‘I really need you to get home. This is not easy. We’re going on eight weeks.’”
Gutierrez-Garcia has three sons, and Romero-Reyes said they are trying to be “as positive as we can for them.”
“The younger ones are not aware of the recent media releases,” she said. ”... They’re so little still and they don’t understand, and they shouldn’t have to understand.”
The disappearance was first deemed “suspicious” by Longmont police after Gutierrez-Garcia hadn’t contacted her family in two weeks, which was extremely unusual for her. At the news conference Monday, police said they suspected the worst from the beginning.
Police have issued a $10,000 reward for anyone who provides information that leads to the discovery of Gutierrez-Garcia’s body or the arrest of a suspect. They know the location of the person of interest in the case, but said they don’t believe he or she is an imminent threat to the community.
Madeline St. Amour: 303-684-5212, firstname.lastname@example.org