EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Police believe an El Paso mother who went missing in July was killed by her date and buried in the desert off of Montana Avenue, court records show.
Erika Andrea Gaytan is believed to be dead, according to the El Paso Police Department. She disappeared July 13 after attending a concert at the El Paso County Coliseum. A complaint affidavit shows investigators believe Ricardo Marquez used a Jeep and shovel he borrowed from family members during the crime.
Marquez, 28, was arrested Wednesday in connection with her death, police said. He was her date the night she went missing and police believe he spent the next day trying to cover it up.
Police said he originally told detectives that they drove to his house, in the 3600 block of Nehemiah, after the concert and got into an argument. The document shows he claimed she used a ride-share app and left his house. However, her phone showed no such activity, police said.
Marquez then began to give conflicting statements to law enforcement, as well as family and friends, according to the affidavit.
About 15 minutes later, Marquez asked his sister if he could borrow a shovel and then picked it up around 11:25 a.m. on July 14 before going to pick up his brother’s Jeep, the affidavit said.
About an hour later, the Jeep was spotted on surveillance video in the 13900 block of Montana in far East El Paso, driving towards a desert area. The video shows the Jeep driving back at about 1:39 p.m., the affidavit said.
Phone records, obtained through a search warrant, showed that Marquez texted his brother the day after Gaytan went missing. He reportedly asked to borrow his Jeep Wrangler, which has several distinct features including an off-road light bar on the hood and oversized tires.
A search warrant was executed on both Marquez’ home and for his brother’s Jeep Wrangler, the affidavit said.
Blood was found on the rear cargo mat of the Jeep and a Department of Public Safety DNA lab later confirmed it was the blood of Gaytan. According to the affidavit, police believe she was placed in the rear cargo area of the Jeep.
The document also details that during the search of Marquez’ home, police found the shovel he borrowed from his sister along with sand-filled shoes and zip-ties “tied in a manner to be used as restraints.”
Investigators believe “Ricardo Marquez murdered the victim in his residence, used the Jeep to transport the body of the victim to an unknown location only accessible by off-road vehicles, and that he used the shovel to bury the body.”
Gaytan’s case has been a mystery to the public for several months following her disappearance. It was featured as a Crime Stoppers of El Paso Crime of the Week and police have been asking the public for help.
Gaytan is the mother of a 7-year-old son. Family members said it was extremely unusual for her to have no communication with him. She has no prior history of disappearing, according to police.