Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Murders of Alejandra Gutierrez and the Rios Family


Alejandra Gutierrez was only 10 years old when she was brutally murdered on December 8th, 2005.  The little girl left her family's Fort Wayne, Indiana home that morning to walk a short distance to her school bus stop. However, when the bus arrived, Alejandra was not there. She never made it to school that morning, nor did she return home. Alejandra's family members reported her missing around 9PM that evening. 

Both investigators and Alejandra's worried family members feared that Alejandra had been kidnapped. Initially, investigators could not find any evidence of an abduction, but they acknowledged that Alejandra's disappearance was suspicious and it was unlikely that she ran away. Then, just days later, another tragic incident occurred in Fort Wayne: a woman and her three daughters had been murdered.  One of the victims, Liliana Rios, was Alejandra Gutierrez's former classmate. Investigators would quickly learn that Alejandra's disappearance and the murder of the Rios family were not just a coincidental tragedies.

The Rios Family

During the early morning hours of December 12th, 2005, 33 year-old Simon Rios called Fort Wayne police and said that he was suicidal. Officers were dispatched to Rios' home, where they greeted him on his front porch. Rios then told officers that he beat his wife, Ana Casas-Rios with a steel pipe before strangling her to death with an extension cord.  Afterwards, he strangled his three daughters, Liliana (10), Katherinne (4), and Thynna (1).  Rios was arrested on the scene and charged with murdering his family. 

While in custody, Rios began speaking to investigator's about Alejandra's disappearance. Eventually, he provided information that led to Alejandra's body being found in a gravel pit in Delaware County--over 50 miles away from Alejandra's home in Fort Wayne. An autopsy revealed that Alejandra had been sexually assaulted and strangled. Rios was then additionally charged with Alejandra's abduction, rape, and murder.

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Rios initially told investigators that he had an accomplice in Alejandra's abduction. He said that it was actually 17 year-old Juan Rosales who abducted Alejandra from her bus stop on the morning of her disappearance. Rios' explained that Juan is the one who put Alejandra into Rios' van, and that the two of them raped Alejandra before they dumped her body in Delaware County. Juan was taken into custody but was seemingly released after 77 days. Investigators reportedly believe that both Rios and Juan lied about Juan's involvement. 

Investigators later revealed that their belief that Rios lured Alejandra into his van on the morning of her disappearance. Alejandra was familiar with Rios, making it easier for him to gain her trust. He then drove Alejandra to Delaware County were he raped and strangled her before dumping her body in a remote area. Later, after Alejandra was reported missing, Rios went to her family's home to tell them that he was praying for her and her family. Days later, Rios argued with his wife Ana over household chores. It was this argument that eventually led to Rios beating and murdering Ana and then their three children. 

Thynna, Liliana, and Katherinne 

This was  not Rios' first incidence of domestic violence. In fact, he was charged with domestic battery in 2003 after he reportedly beat his wife in front of their oldest daughter, Liliana. Court records state that Rios received a one year suspended jail sentence, one year of supervised probation and was ordered to have no contact with his wife. However, the no-contact order was lifted two months later.

After Rios was charged with murdering his family and Alejandra, prosecutors sought the death penalty. However, in April 2007, he pleaded guilty to Alejandra's murder in exchange for the death penalty being taken off the table. In September 2008, Rios once again pleaded guilty to murdering his wife and children in exchange for the death penalty being taken off the table. He was subsequently sentenced to life in prison.

Just a month after he pleaded guilty to murdering his family, Rios was found dead in his jail cell. His death was ruled a suicide. 

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