Ohio architect Jose Gutierrez and his fiancée Daniela Pichardo have been confirmed as two of the four bodies Mexican officials found buried near Gutierrez’ bullet-riddled car earlier this month.
Jose Gutierrez, a 36-year-old project coordinator, had been missing since a Christmas Day restaurant dinner along with fiancée Daniela Pichardo, her sister and her cousin.
The attorney general for the Mexican state of Zacatecas said last week that members of Mexico’s National Guard found four bodies buried near the vehicle.
Gutierrez’s employer, Champlin Architecture, confirmed he and Pichardo were two of the bodies found in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
“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,” the post reads. “He was a valuable member of the Champlin team, working on projects for clients such as The Christ Hospital, Hamilton County, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, and University of Cincinnati. His work bettered the lives of those in the community he chose to make his home.”
The other two bodies are reported to have been Pichardo’s sister Viviana Pichardo, 26, and her cousin Irma Vargas, 27, according to Fox19.
Mr Gutierrez had travelled to Mexico to see Ms Pichardo ahead of their 2023 wedding. When Ms Pichardo did not arrive back from the restaurant, her family messaged her and received an address back, according to WCPO-TV.
When the family went to the address they were stopped by police who told them the area they were in was too dangerous.
The US State Department currently has a “Do Not Travel” advisory placed on Zacatecas for American tourists “due to crime and kidnapping.”
“Violent crime, extortion and gang activity are widespread in Zacatecas state,” it states.
“US citizens and LPRs [lawful permanent residents] have been victims of kidnapping.”
Mr Gutierrez proposed to his fiancee on Valentine’s Day last year and the pair had been planning to tie the knot in September.
He received his master’s degree in architecture from Miami University and worked at Champlin Architecture in Cincinnati, Ohio.