A Texas man recently turned himself in for murdering his roommate, and at least one city official in the Hill Country region has described him as a “serial killer” whose murders date to 1982 – at least.
Raul Meza Jr., 62, allegedly confessed to killing his roommate, Jesse Fraga, 80, earlier this month, a spokesperson for the Austin Police Department said during a press conference on Tuesday. During that phone call to Detective Patrick Reed, Meza also “implicated himself” in the 2019 murder of Gloria Lofton, 66, the APD said.
“I answered the homicide main line, and the caller stated, ‘My name is Raul Meza, and you are looking for me,'” Reed said when he took his turn at the dais. “Meza then went on to detail his relationship with Jesse Fraga and detailed the manner in which he murdered Mr. Fraga – including details that had not yet been released to the public. Meza described his life in and out of prison and said, I quote, ‘I get out in 2016. I end up murdering a lady soon afterwards. It was on Sara Drive.”
Reed said Meza shared enough case-specific facts about the death on Sara Drive for the case to be reopened. The detective and his partner determined the victim’s name after conferring with other members of local law enforcement, and the APD issued an arrest warrant for Lofton’s strangulation murder. Reed then sent the nearby Pflugerville Police Department a copy of the phone call, and an arrest warrant was issued for Fraga’s murder.
Accused of two murders in a relatively short span, Meza admittedly murdered 8-year-old Kendra Page and left her body in an elementary school dumpster in southeast Austin on Jan. 3, 1982. He was also accused of raping the girl but pleaded guilty to a murder charge and received a 30-year state prison sentence, local NBC affiliate KXAN reports. Due to the mandatory application of good behavior credits, Meza served just over 11 years of that 30-year sentence.
Austin’s Interim Assistant City Manager Bruce Mills was the primary APD investigator of Page’s 1982 rape and murder. During the press conference, he noted that Meza is now a suspect in multiple cold cases with similar modi operandi – while running down a list of his crimes dating back to the 1975 New Year’s Eve robbery of an Austin convenience store that left the store manager shot in the back.
“He nearly killed a gentleman when he was 15 years old – certified as an adult. Later commits capital murder, pleads to murder, is released 11 years later and has killed how many people we don’t know?” Mills asked out loud. “So, here’s a serial killer that justice was not served. So, it was a travesty of justice, all told, in this case.”
“We don’t know how many more people he killed or would have killed,” Mills added later during a question-and-answer session with local media. “Somebody made a bad decision 41 years ago and let this guy, for whatever reason, manipulate the system.”
Meza was released from prison in June 1993, the Washington Post reported. After a year-and-a-half and several failed attempts – due to several angry would-be new communities – to relocate the child killer later, he violated a term of his parole and was returned to prison until 2002. Then Meza was sent to the minimum security wing of the Travis County Jail for over a decade.
According to U.S. Marshal Brandon Filla, Meza was arrested after he confessed to the murders on the phone with the help of the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force after a request from the PPD.
“We were able to establish more intelligence that we knew,” Filla said – explaining that the defendant was armed with a pistol, ammunition, zip ties, a flashlight, and duct tape in a bag. “Raul Meza was considered armed and dangerous, he was suicidal and had violent tendencies.”
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