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'Not the closure that we wanted': Parents grieving after remains of missing Lakewood man found hours from home

"His body was found in a place that nobody would have ever found it. It was just a miracle," his father said.
James Jay Montoya
Posted at 2:31 PM, Aug 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-11 21:28:12-04

DENVER — The remains of a 26-year-old Lakewood man who disappeared in April were found last month nearly four hours away and his grieving parents are now anxiously awaiting news of an arrest.

James "Jay" Montoya's body was found in Saguache County in July. No arrests have been made in the case.

"The sad update that I wanted to make sure to let everyone know is that our son James’ remains have been found," his mother Corinna Montoya told Denver7 on Friday morning. "It’s not the closure that we wanted, but we’re thankful he was found. His body was found."

Body of missing man James Montoya found in Saguache County: Family speaks first to Denver7

James' father, Eddie Montoya, said his son was in the peak of his life and was registered and prepared to join the U.S. Marines.

He often said his son had the heart of a lion.

James was last seen around 2:30 a.m. on April 2 at the Hangar Bar, where he enjoyed playing pool, near W. Jewell Avenue and S. Wadsworth Boulevard in Lakewood. He had left his truck at his girlfriend's Lakewood apartment before heading to the bar in an Uber.

James "Jay" Montoya

That night, he met some strangers and they offered to give him a ride at the end of the night, Eddie said. Then, something happened.

"He was never seen again," he said.

About a week after James' disappearance, Corinna told Denver7 it was not unusual for her to hear from her son at least once a day.

"Very, very unlikely for him to have just been gone this many days (without contact)," she told Denver7 in April. "Totally, totally uncharacteristic of him."


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She said James used Snapchat around S. Federal Boulevard and W. Alameda Avenue after leaving the bar early on April 2, but had had no contact with any family or friends since. The family said James left with someone they did not recognize. They had just met that night, Corinna said. The family described the stranger as a Hispanic man in a black shirt, black pants and a Red Sox cap.

In mid-May, the family increased a reward for information to $10,000.

“It’s been a wild ride searching highways and byways and ditches and swamps and bridges and dumpsters and alleys and everywhere you can look," Eddie said. "And then miraculously, his body was found in a place that nobody would have ever found it. It was just a miracle.”

The family, seeking closure, visited the site in Saguache County.

"Realizing that we will see him again," Eddie said. "We will.”

James "Jay" Montoya

Corinna said she is thankful for the support from her family, friends and the community as a whole over the past few months.

“We really felt blessed for all the prayers and all the support," she said. "There have been lots of people who have shared their support — they’ve brought us meals, donated. They’ve reached out to just be there and support us and we just want to say thank you.”

She asked for continued prayers.

The parents said police have spent countless hours working on this case and they were grateful for the hard work.

“They did hear us and are working tirelessly to bring the suspect or suspects to justice," Corinna said.

They couldn't provide an update on the police investigation, but said they are hoping for a time when suspect information "will be widely known," she said.

That will bring not only justice for her son, but protection for the community, Corinna said, as the suspect or suspects are still out there and capable of hurting other people.

Eddie said they are just waiting for a phone call now.

“It’s the timing — standing still and trusting in God and the authorities and detective work and letting people do their job," he said. "Being patient. It’s quite the test, but it’s a process and we’ll get there.”

As of Friday, a GoFundMe had raised more than $13,500, which would pay for Montoya's celebration of life service in Littleton on Saturday.

Anybody with information on James' death is asked to call 720-913-2000. The case number is #23-169948.

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