Missing American, fiancee killed in Mexico

The pair had been missing since Christmas Day, shortly after Gutierrez arrived in the country to spend time with Pichardo and her family.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
Mexican authorities have confirmed that two bodies found in the Mexican state of Zacatecas are those of American citizen José Gutiérrez and his fiancée Daniela Pichardo. 

The pair had been missing since Christmas Day, shortly after Gutiérrez arrived in the country to spend time with Pichardo and her family. 

According to TV Azteca, Gutiérrez and Pichardo, along with her sister Viviana and cousin Irma, had been traveling in a silver van from Cotolán, Jalisco, and were last heard from near the community of Viboras in Zacatecas. 

On January 18, the van was located with flat tires and numerous bullet holes. The bodies of the occupants were located nearby. The Zacatecas State Prosecutor's Office later revealed that another vehicle had been found next to Gutiérrez and Pichardo's along with the decomposing body of a young man.

The victims' families feared that they had been kidnapped, however no information has been released regarding the circumstances that led up to their deaths.

Such incidents are not uncommon in Zacatecas, and often involve foreigners. The US State Department has the region on its "Do not travel to" list for Americans, citing "violent crime, extortion, and gang activity."

Gutiérrez, who was born in Mexico but immigrated to the US and proudly becoming a citizen, worked for Cincinnati, Ohio-based firm Champlin Architecture.

"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 firm wrote in a statement.

"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 firm announced that it would be creating a scholarship in his name at Miami University, his alma mater, "in order to honor his impact to our firm and the community."

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