Case reopened after more than two years

Gustavo Villanueva Gutierrez Gustavo Villanueva Gutierrez was driving an 18-wheeler through southwest Texas last week when he was arrested and charged with his wife’s murder.

Tualatin resident Maribel Gutierrez-Salinas was 37 when she was last seen in February 2011.

A hunter came across her skeletal remains while hiking in Santiam Canyon about a mile north of Highway 22 one year ago, and the Marion County Cold Case Squad made a positive identification within six months.

A Marion County grand jury reviewed the case and handed down an indictment on Aug. 20, charging Gutierrez with murder and abuse of a corpse.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office worked with the Laredo Police Department in Texas to take Gutierrez, a truck driver, into custody the following week.

Officer Joe E. Baeza of the Laredo Police Department said Gutierrez was pulled over near Highway 35 and Route 20 in north Laredo, and that representatives from the Marion County Cold Case Squad were waiting to question him at the Laredo Police station.

Baeza added that the Marion County Sheriff’s Office was “working diligently” to process Gutierrez’s extradition to Oregon. There was an immigration hold placed on the suspect.

According to the cold case squad’s files, Gutierrez-Salinas had been employed at Agave Grill in Tigard and resided in Tualatin with Gutierrez, who returned to Mexico approximately two months after her disappearance. Gutierrez had been living in Salem at the time of his arrest.

Fran Lushenko, director of extradition services for the governor’s office, confirmed that funding had been approved to return Gutierrez to Oregon. As of press time, Gutierrez was no longer being lodged at the Webb County Detention Center in Texas, but was not yet on the inmate registry at the Marion County Jail.

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