AUSTIN (KXAN) — Raul Meza Jr., 62, confessed to murdering his roommate, Jesse Fraga, 80, and implicated himself in the murder of Gloria Lofton, 65, in 2019, three years after he was released from the Travis County Jail, per Austin Police.
“When they told me she got murdered, I was like ‘What?'” said Sergio Rodriguez of east Austin, who said he knew Lofton. “She knew me since I was a little kid. That’s just not right, man.”
APD said they are looking into eight to 10 more cold cases Meza may be connected with, but said this number could rise higher as it continues its investigations. Meza is currently detained in Travis County Jail. Meza told police once he was arrested that he was ready and prepared to kill again, police said.
“Here’s a serial killer that justice was not served. It was a travesty of justice,” said Interim Assistant City Manager Bruce Mills, who was also the primary investigator on the 1982 case where Meza was convicted of murdering 8-year-old Kendra Page.
“We don’t know how many more people he killed or would have killed,” Mills said.
Mills recalled Meza pleading guilty to Page’s murder. For reasons he still does not entirely understand, the case did not go to trial, he said at a Tuesday press event.
“We never really got solid answers on that,” Mills said. “I think 11 years [after going to prison], this guy was released,” he said. “I talked to the media at the time about the travesty of justice even then, when he had only done 11 years from the 30-year sentence.”
On May 24, Meza called the APD 311 line and was transferred to the homicide line, police said. Meza told an officer that he killed his roommate, Fraga, and implicated himself in the murder of Lofton in 2019, said Nathan Sexton, a sergeant with the Austin Police Department Homicide Unit. Police said it is uncommon for a person accused of such crimes to contact the police.
“The caller stated, ‘My name is Raul Meza and you are looking for me’,” Detective Patrick Reed said, the officer who spoke with Meza.
The Pflugerville Police Department contacted the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force to help them apprehend Meza, U.S. Marshal Brandon Filla said.
“We were able to establish more intelligence that we knew… Raul Meza was considered armed and dangerous, he was suicidal and had violent tendencies,” Filla said. “The task force was able to apprehend Meza [Monday] evening,” Filla said.
Filla said that when the task force arrested Meza, he had a bag filled with zip ties, duct tape, a flashlight, rounds of ammunition and a pistol.
“[U.S. Marshals] approached, surrounded him and then took them into custody within a blink of an eye. And I think that was a key advantage based on what was in that in that bag,” Filla said.
Meza was identified last week as a person of interest in the death of Fraga after he was found dead in his Pflugerville home.
According to court records, Meza had two first-degree felony charges and one charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle. APD was listed as the arresting agency.
Days after Meza was named as the person of interest in Fraga’s death, the Pflugerville Police Department confirmed that Meza had a “prior conviction for a murder in Travis County in 1982.”
Meza has gone through multiple cycles of being imprisoned then released on parole, then imprisoned again.
“To continue this kinds of heinous offenses, the community has not been safe,” said retired Travis County judge Charlie Baird. “That is a heinous offense, the death of a child that also involves a sexual assault. It’s a heinous offense and the 30-year sentence to me just seems to be excessively too light.”
Baird also said a state law no longer in effect piggybacked on what he referred to as a light sentence, further allowing for Meza’s early release.
“At the time of his sentence in 1982 if he was a model prisoner and received good conduct time, he was given credit for that, and that credit was mandatory. And that therefore effectively reduced his sentence,” he said.