AUSTIN (KXAN) — Court records reveal new details about how a convicted killer — accused of more murders — was able to move into the home of one of his suspected victims.

KXAN investigators discovered a 2012 lawsuit filed by Jesse Fraga, a former probation officer, along with his wife and a third plaintiff listed as “John Doe.” KXAN has learned Doe was a pseudonym for Raul Meza Jr. – who police believe brutally killed Fraga in May and committed a separate murder in 2019. Police are investigating Meza in connection to other cold cases, as well.

Meza pleaded guilty to murdering 8-year-old Kendra Page in 1982. After Meza was released from prison in 1993, Fraga and his wife befriended Meza through their church, along with other couples from the congregation.

Court records state the Fragas invited Meza “to Bible studies, which he attended, and helped him find housing and employment. The Fragas even allowed [Meza] to live in their home for a short period of time, when he otherwise would have become homeless … Their religious beliefs encourage them to help those less fortunate and forgive others’ sins.”

A year later, in 1994, Meza’s parole was revoked for violating a condition of his release. Meza went back to prison for eight more years.

During those eight years, Meza remained close with Fraga and his wife, who continued to support him with “friendship, religious guidance, and encouragement,” according to the lawsuit.

Meza was released from prison in 2002 but was mostly restricted to a Travis County jail in Del Valle.

In 2010, the lawsuit states, the Fragas attemped to provide some money to Meza. Fraga contended the then-state imposed another restriction — or “condition of release” — on Meza, specifically prohibiting the couple and Meza from contacting each other. Fraga and his wife sued on the grounds that this restriction violated their First Amendment rights, was retaliatory and punished them for attempting to rehabilitate Meza.

Compelled by faith

The Fragas and Meza were represented by the Texas Civil Rights Project and longtime civil rights attorney Jim Harrington. Harrington said he spoke with Jesse Fraga specifically about his motivation to allow Meza, a convicted killer, to live in his home.

“I had this conversation with him about whether this was really a wise thing to do,” Harrington said.

Pictured is Jim Harrington, former civil rights attorney and founder of the Texas Civil Rights Project (KXAN Photo/Chris Nelson)
Pictured is Jim Harrington, former civil rights attorney and founder of the Texas Civil Rights Project (KXAN Photo/Chris Nelson)

Though he was concerned, Harrington said he vividly remembers Fraga explaining how his faith compelled him to help Meza.

“It was out of his own Christian belief — he and his wife had a history of reaching out to people that most other folks would not be near,” Harrington said. “When we were talking he said nobody else would take care of him. We need to do it.”

Harrington said they agreed to take the case because they felt Fraga’s civil rights had been violated.

“But you had somebody who came to you with this very intense religious motivation, and you have the State saying, ‘I’m sorry, but you can’t exercise your religious belief,'” Harrington said.

The restriction against interacting with Meza was “very broad,” but specifically targeted the Fragas from communicating and providing any aid, such as money, to Meza, the lawsuit states.

“It was very unusual. And we’ve never quite understood what was prompting the parole folks do this,” Harrington said.

Fraga spent more than 40 years working as a Travis County adult probation officer and special investigator for the Texas Office of Attorney General. He retired from Travis County’s probation office in 2000, according to the lawsuit.

The defendants in the lawsuit were multiple officials with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Department of Criminal Justice Parole Division.

Harrington said Fraga’s lawsuit was dismissed after parole officials backed off the restriction that prevented contact with Meza. That paved the way for Meza to later move into Fraga’s home.

Meza was charged on May 30 with killing Fraga, whose body was found 10 days earlier. Police found him during a welfare check initiated by his niece who hadn’t spoken with him in days, according to an arrest warrant.

Fraga was discovered in a bathroom closet with knife wounds, a belt around his neck and a belt around his wrist, the warrant states.

Four days after Fraga was found, police say Meza called Austin 311 and confessed to killing him and other people. Meza claimed he killed Fraga after sexual activity between the two “got out of hand,” documents show.

On the call, Meza also confessed to killing a woman named Gloria Lofton in 2019, police said. This week, Austin Police launched an internal review into the handling of this case.

KXAN was unable to reach any relatives of the Fragas.

Another protracted legal case

The Fraga lawsuit was not the only civil case Meza filed.

In 2005, he was involved in a protracted legal battle after he sued Travis County, the Travis County Sheriff, and the directors of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and its parole division.

Meza argued the state violated his constitutional right to due process and treated him differently than other mandatory supervision parolees. His level of supervision “dramatically” interfered with his ability to adjust to society, according to an amended petition.

The lawsuit spanned nearly a decade, and its hundreds of filings and exhibits shed new light on Meza’s battle to get released from a highly restrictive supervision program at the Del Valle jail and find employment. Attorneys from the Texas Civil Rights Project, including Harrington, represented Meza in the federal case, according to court filings.

The lawsuit reveals Meza was under the highest level of monitoring and supervision in the state, and he was required to undergo sex offender treatment.

Meza complained he couldn’t land a job because armed guards accompanied him to the interview.

In an affidavit filed in 2007, a regional director of TDCJ’s parole division said Meza was a “mandatory supervision releasee on Super Intensive Supervision Program (SISP) with electronic monitoring, and subject to Condition X and Child Safety Zones.” The parole director said Meza was one of only two individuals on the “highest level of supervision and conditions.”

“Condition X” was described as a “special condition that requires sex offender treatment.” Under that condition, Meza was barred from working at or going to a sexually oriented business, possessing sexually explicit materials, volunteering without permission from his supervising officer or contacting his victim’s family.

Meza was also prohibited him from going near places where children gather, and he was required to submit to drug and alcohol testing and wear a GPS monitor. The rules also stated he had to stay in the Travis County Correctional Complex unless he had approval to leave under supervision, the affidavit states.

The rules also required Meza, as part of registering as a sex offender, to “submit a blood sample or other specimen to the Department of Public Safety of the purpose of creating a DNA record,” according to a TDCJ parole division director’s affidavit.

Meza’s DNA has become an important link to the case of Gloria Lofton, who was found dead in her home in 2019 and who Meza told police he murdered.

DNA match

Meza’s arrest affidavit in the Lofton murder case states in 2020 a DNA profile obtained from a sexual assault kit for Lofton matched Meza’s DNA, but no arrest was made at the time.

It isn’t clear why APD didn’t pursue Meza at that time. Meza’s DNA was on file with the state as part of sex offender conditions, according to state records.

APD said it is now conducting an internal administrative review of the Lofton investigation and DNA match.