“Sol Prendido” for Borderland Beat
Rarely will you see Jose Gutierrez without a smile.
After all, his family said the 36-year-old from Hamilton, Ohio, has everything going for him. He earned a master’s degree from Miami University, is currently working as a project coordinator at Champlin Architecture in Cincinnati and recently asked his girlfriend to marry him.
“He stated to my mother, to my mom and dad, ‘I think I’m ready to get married,'” said Brandie Gutierrez, Jose Gutierrez’s sister.
The love of his life, Daniela Pichardo, said yes.
Pichardo lives in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the two have been dating long-distance.
On Dec. 22, Jose Gutierrez flew down there to be with her for Christmas.
“I just know that they were there having dinner, enjoying their time together,” Brandie Gutierrez said.
Thanks to social media posts, family members knew the couple had been dining at a restaurant in Zacatecas, a state in North Central Mexico that is about 30 minutes from Pichardo’s home.
Daniela Pichardo’s sister, Viviana Pichardo, and cousin, Irma Montoya, were also with them.
The restaurant, Solana Resto Bar, told WLWT managers looked at footage from their security cameras, and they could tell the group spent about two hours before leaving at 6:08 p.m.
Brandie Gutierrez said a few hours later, Daniela Pichardo’s mother received an odd text from her daughter. It was her location.
“The mother did state, and her specific words were, ‘I know something was not right. She sent this because they felt that they were in danger,'” Brandie Gutierrez said.
The location was in Zacatecas.
“They attempted to go on a search of that location, but they were stopped by two officers, two or three officers, and they were not allowed to enter that zone because it was too dangerous,” Brandie Gutierrez said.
The Zacatecas government has since issued a missing person alert for all four of them.
Meanwhile, back in Hamilton, Jose Gutierrez’s six siblings and parents hope and pray they get answers soon.
“We just want him back home. We want to know something,” Brandie Gutierrez said. “We are all worried.”
The Department of State said in a written statement:
“The Department of State has no higher priority than the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad. We stand ready to provide appropriate assistance to U.S. citizens in need and to their families. We are aware of reports of a U.S. citizen missing in Mexico. When a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts, and we share information with families however we can.”
There is a travel advisory in effect for that region of Mexico. The United States has warned people not to travel to Zacatecas because of the number of kidnappings and violent crimes.
WLWT has been in contact with a journalist in Mexico who said that the region is now one of the most violent states in Mexico, especially along the highways, because of clashes between two cartels.