A missing Ohio architect, his fiancé, her sister and another family member were found buried in a mass grave in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas.

José Gutiérrez, 36; his fiancé, Daniela Márquez, 31; her sister Viviana Márquez, 26; and cousin Irma Vargas, 27, were found at a ranch in the municipality of Tepetongo, the families confirmed to local media Thursday.

‘I may not have been prepared for many things, but this is the one I was least prepared for,’ a family member wrote on Facebook. ‘Shine cousins, fly high.’

The State Attorney General’s Office of Zacatecas said in a statement Wednesday that four bodies had been located Tuesday, a day after the National Guard had found two vehicles, including the one the missing group was traveling in. 

The National Guard inspected the group’s vehicle, which was riddled with bullets, and discovered the body of a man inside the trunk.

Investigators canvassed the area Tuesday and found the bodies buried in a ditch.

‘The preliminary analysis of forensic anthropology shows that there may be at least 4 different victims, 3 female and 1 male,’ State Attorney General’s Office of Zacatecas said in a statement. 

The prosecutor’s office added that the bodies were beyond recognition and that DNA testing would be required to confirm their identities. 

The victims went out for dinner December 25 in the Zacatecas town of Jerez de García, but never made it back home.

Gutiérrez, who has dual US-Mexico citizenship, flew from Hamilton, Ohio, to Zacatecas on December 22 to spend the holidays with Daniela Marquez.

The couple was planning to marry this year.

Daniela Márquez phoned her mother Rosa Pichardo around 10pm on December 25 before they were about to leave the restaurant for her residence in Colotlán.

About 100 minutes passed when she then sent her mother a text message with her location, pinpointing Vivoras, a neighborhood in Tepetongo.

Pichardo told Mexico’s TV Aztecas that there were witnesses who ‘saw they were kidnapping them, there was a lot of panic, screams, but they didn’t get them out and they took the vehicle.’

In a video statement released December 30, Vargas’ mother, said she had received a text message from her daughter, who wrote, ‘Everything is OK mom, we’re already arriving at Huejucar,’ a town in the state of Jalisco that is near the Zacatecas border.

According to government data released earlier this month, at least 666 kidnappings were reported from January to November 2022 in Mexico, in comparison with 625 in 2021. 

There were 1,047 abductions registered in 2020, and 1,629 in 2019.

The U.S. Department of State has warned residents to stay away from traveling to Zacatecas due to crime and kidnappings.

Original Article