The public identification of remains found by a hunter near the North Santiam River a year ago after this week’s arrest of her husband in Texas on a murder charge has solved one murder mystery.
But it also leaves the family and friends of Bend murder victim Lori “Woody” Blaylock still wondering about the answer to their own, painful murder mystery: Where are her remains, disposed of by her now-convicted husband, Steven Blaylock, nearly three years ago?
There was at least a glimmer of hope for closure in the Blaylock case when a Mill City hunter found the skeletal remains last September while hunting beside Niagra Heights Road in Marion County.
But sheriff’s deputies said over the ensuing weeks they were almost certain they were not the remains of Blaylock, who was killed by her husband in October 2010.
He admitted during a trial – which ended in his conviction and sentence of life with at least 25 years before parole – to dumping her body in the North Santiam River. That river flows into Detroit Lake, near where the remains were found.
The Marion County Cold Case Squad announced that Gustavo Villanueva Gutierrez, 42, had been arrested Monday in Laredo, Texas after a grand jury indicted him on charges of murder and abuse of a corpse.
Prosecutors said the bones found by the hunter were identified by a state forensic anthropologist as human, and the cold case investigators determined they were those of Maribel Gutierrez-Salinas, 39, about six months after they were found. The couple had lived in Tualatin, south of Portland.
The Marion County District Attorney’s Office said the identity of the woman’s remains and the suspect in her death was withheld until this week to avoid compromising the investigation.