True Crime News Roundup: Remains Of Missing Colorado Woman Identified, Suspect To Plead Guilty

Plus: Manhunt continues for yoga teacher accused of killing love rival; romance novelist is convicted of murdering her husband; suspect charged in connection to random shooting on NYC subway

May 27, 2022
The remains of Rita Gutierrez-Garcia, who went missing while celebrating St. Patrick's Day in 2018, have been identified.

The remains of Rita Gutierrez-Garcia, who went missing while celebrating St. Patrick's Day in 2018, have been identified.

Photo by: Longmont Fire, Police and Community Health and Resilience via Facebook

Longmont Fire, Police and Community Health and Resilience via Facebook

By: Aaron Rasmussen

The remains of a Colorado woman missing since 2018 are positively identified.

Preliminary results from DNA analysis recently confirmed authorities have recovered the remains of a woman who vanished over four years ago while out celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Colorado.

According to investigators, friends last saw Rita Gutierrez-Garcia alive near a bar in downtown Longmont around 2:30 a.m. on March 18, 2018.

Police identified Juan Figueroa Jr., 33, early on as a possible suspect in Gutierrez-Garcia’s disappearance, according to the Boulder County District Attorney's Office and the Longmont Department of Public Safety.

Court documents state the pair “briefly interacted” at the bar, and phone tower data show the victim’s cell phone was in the same area Figueroa’s vehicle was traveling in for up to forty minutes after she went missing.

Figueroa is currently serving a 93-years-to-life prison sentence after he was convicted of sexually assaulting and attempting to murder another woman in an unrelated case.

After he was in custody for that crime, court records show, Figueroa allegedly told a cell mate that the night Gutierrez-Garcia disappeared, she had called him a “weirdo,” so he knocked her out and strangled her.

After police followed up on hundreds of tips and leads across multiple states, Figueroa was indicted in June 2021 for the kidnapping and first-degree murder of Gutierrez-Garcia despite the fact detectives did not know where her body was at the time.

“From the beginning of the prosecution of the murder case, her family’s strongest desire and their top priority has been the return of Rita’s remains,” officials said in a May 19 statement, noting that “the prosecution team and the defense attorneys continued to discuss the case” in the weeks leading up to Figueroa’s trial, which was set to start this month.

“Information was provided to the District Attorney’s Office and Longmont Department of Public Safety, including the exact location of Rita’s remains,” the statement reads.

Figueroa will no longer be tried for Gutierrez-Garcia’s murder. He’s now scheduled to appear in court on June 3 for a dispositional hearing for both a guilty plea and sentencing, according to officials.

Authorities continue to search for a woman accused of murdering her love rival.

An elite cyclist preparing to compete in a grueling 157-mile race in Texas was shot dead and U.S. Marshals continue to hunt for her suspected killer, a yoga teacher who authorities believe traveled to New York shortly after the incident, the Austin-American Statesman reported.

According to police, Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, 34, allegedly shot to death 25-year-old Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson in Austin on May 11.

The victim and the accused killer were both recently involved with professional cyclist Colin Strickland, 35, and investigators believe the murder may have been motivated by romantic jealousy, CNN reported, citing an affidavit.

According to an affidavit filed in Travis County District Court, Armstrong was staying with a friend while preparing for the Gravel Locos race in Hico. Around 6 p.m. on May 11, she went for a swim with Strickland and the two had dinner before he dropped her off at her friend’s residence around 8:30 p.m.

Around 10 p.m., police responded to a report of a shooting at the home and found Wilson dead in the bathroom.

The affidavit shows investigators recovered surveillance video that allegedly shows a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, similar to the one Armstrong drove, in the vicinity around the time Wilson was shot. The document also claims ballistics recovered at the crime scene have the “significant” potential of coming from a 9mm handgun Armstrong owned.

On May 17, one week after Wilson’s murder, police issued a homicide warrant for Armstrong’s arrest. She was last spotted on surveillance video arriving at LaGuardia Airport in New York City three days earlier.

Strickland confirmed that when he and Armstrong split in the fall of 2021, he and Wilson had a brief one-week romantic relationship. Strickland and Armstrong got back together and he said he remained friends with Wilson.

According to police, a tipster claimed to investigators that after Armstrong learned about Strickland and Wilson’s fling, she “became furious and was shaking in anger,” and allegedly said she wanted to kill the woman, the Austin-American Statesman reported.

“There is no way to adequately express the regret and torture I feel about my proximity to this horrible crime,” Strickland said in a statement after Wilson’s death. “I am sorry, and I simply cannot make sense of this unfathomable situation.”

"It was not my intention to pursue along an auxiliary romantic relationship that would mislead anyone. Moriah and I were both leaders in this lonely, niche sport of cycling, and I admired her greatly and considered her a close friend. I am deeply grieving her loss,” he noted.

Family said Wilson “was a talented, kind, and caring young woman,” CNN reported. “Her life was taken from her before she had the opportunity to achieve everything she dreamed of.”

The manhunt for Armstrong continues.

Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to contact the U.S. Marshals Service at (800) 336-0102.

The Oregon romance novelist on trial for killing her husband is found guilty.

After deliberating for two days, on May 25, a jury in Portland, Oregon, convicted Nancy Crampton Brophy, 71, of the second-degree murder of her husband, 63-year-old chef Daniel Brophy.

The self-published author, who wrote a blog post in 2011 titled “How to Murder Your Husband,” made headlines after Daniel was found dead from gunshot wounds in June 2018 at the culinary school where he taught and she was arrested several months later.

During trial, prosecutors claimed the motive for the murder was the couple’s financial issues and that Nancy murdered Daniel so she could collect on a life insurance policy.

The convicted killer is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13.

The New York City man accused of fatally shooting a subway passenger in an unprovoked attack is arrested.

Andrew Abdullah, the 25-year-old man accused of fatally shooting Daniel Enriquez, 46, on a subway headed from Brooklyn to Manhattan, surrendered to police on May 24.

The following day, Abdullah was arraigned on second-degree murder and weapons charges and ordered held without bail, WABC reported.

Around 11:45 a.m. on May 22, Enriquez was on the Q train on his way to brunch when he was fatally shot in the chest.

“According to witnesses, the suspect was walking back and forth in the same train car and, without provocation, pulled out a gun and fired it at the victim at close range as the train was crossing the Manhattan Bridge,” NYPD Chief Kenneth Corey said at a recent news conference.

The alleged shooter then fled the train when it pulled into the Canal Street stop in Lower Manhattan.

“It's horrific, this is a horror movie,” the victim’s sister, Griselda Vile, 43, told The New York Times of the crime that claimed the life of “a special, jovial guy."

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