A Texas man who took an El Paso mom on a concert date before she disappeared has now been charged with her murder.
The El Paso Police Department announced the arrest of 28-year-old Ricardo Marquez Wednesday, months after Erika Andrea Gaytan, 29, disappeared in July.
“Her body has not been found, but based on forensic and other evidence gathered over the course of the investigation detectives have reason to believe that she is deceased and was the victim of a murder,” Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said in a statement.
Gaytan was last seen alive on July 13 when she went out on a date with Marquez to the “El Reencentro Norteno” concert at the El Paso County Coliseum, local station KFOX-TV reports.
Marquez initially told authorities he and Gaytan had driven to his home after the concert, where they had gotten into an argument, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by the station.
He told police that Gaytan had used a rideshare app to leave his house; however, authorities were never able to find any evidence to suggest she had requested a ride.
The El Paso mom, who had a 7-year-old son from a previous relationship, wasn't seen again; her family reported her missing several days later, KVIA reports. They've said it would have been extremely unusual for her to have left behind her son.
Authorities now believe Marquez killed Gaytan and then used a Jeep Wrangler he had borrowed from his brother to transport her dead body, which has still not been found, to the desert.
Phone records allegedly indicate that Marquez texted his brother to ask if he could borrow the vehicle at 11 a.m. on July 14. Then, 15 minutes later he texted his sister to ask if he could borrow a shovel, the affidavit states.
Surveillance footage captured the Jeep driving away from a desert area off Montana Avenue about an hour and a half after he'd picked up the vehicle.
Police later seized both the shovel and the vehicle and found blood matching Gaytan’s DNA in the rear cargo area of the Jeep, according to the affidavit.
Investigators also found sand-filled shoes and zip ties which were “tied in a manner to be used as restraints” during a search of Marquez’s home, according to local station KTSM.
In the days and weeks after Gaytan disappeared, police said Marquez gave “conflicting stories” to friends, family and investigators about what happened that night.
Marquez is being held at the El Paso County Detention Center on a $1 million bond, police said.
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