Authorities in north-central Mexico on Wednesday confirmed that a U.S. resident was among four people who were killed in the state of Zacatecas around Christmas.
The state prosecutors office confirmed the identity of the man as José Melesio Gutiérrez.
The man’s employer, the Cincinnati, Ohio, firm Champlin Architecture, said in a social media post that he “died tragically while visiting his fiancé, Daniela Pichardo, in Mexico during the holidays.”
Gutiérrez, his fiance, her sister and a cousin left in a car on Christmas to visit a nearby town. Their skeletal remains were found in January in a clandestine burial pit.
It was not clear if Gutiérrez was a U.S. citizen.
Local media said that Gutiérrez was in Mexico to set a date for the pair’s wedding and that there were indications a criminal gang had been operating around the ranch where the bodies were found.
The area is near the border between Zacatecas and the neighboring state of Jalisco, both of which have been wracked by turf battles between drug cartels.