AUSTIN (KXAN) — A suspect in the death of an 80-year-old Pflugerville man whose body was found Saturday is the same person convicted of killing an 8-year-old girl over 40 years ago. 

Images of Raul Meza Jr. provided by the Pflugerville Police Department

The Pflugerville Police Department sent Tuesday a press release, saying Pflugerville PD investigators identified Raul Meza Jr. as a person of interest in the death of Jesse Fraga, 80. On Thursday, it identified him as a suspect and said it was actively searching for him. It noted he “has a prior conviction for a murder in Travis County in 1982 and his last known address was within the City of Pflugerville.”

Pflugerville police said Meza should be considered “dangerous” due to the nature of the investigation and his criminal history. The public is advised not to approach or try to apprehend him.

Meza has been convicted of crimes dating back to the 1970s, per the Associated Press.

On New Year’s Eve 1975, 15-year-old Raul Meza Jr., along with three others, robbed an Austin convenience store. During the robbery, the manager was led to a walk-in refrigerator, where he was shot in the back and left, according to court documents. The manager survived his gun shot wound and testified at Meza’s trial. 

Meza received a 20-year sentence for his involvement in the robbery but got out on parole after serving just five years, according to the Hoover Institute.

Then, less than 10 years later, Meza was accused of raping and murdering 8-year-old Kendra Page while still on parole for the aggravated robbery. Her body was found in a southeast Austin elementary school dumpster on Jan. 3, 1982. 

Meza was convicted of murdering Page and was sentenced to 30 years in prison but served just over 11. In 1993, after accumulating enough good behavior credit, Meza was released on parole, per New York Times reporting at the time. 

But people in Central Texas nearly 30 years ago did not welcome his release. Correction officials tried to relocate Meza to six different cities, and everywhere he went, residents protested, according to the Washington Post. 

After a year and a half of living free, Meza violated a term of his parole and was sent back to prison. He stayed in prison until 2002 when he was transferred to a minimum security wing of the Travis County jail, where he remained for over a decade, per Fox News.

Family of 1982 murder victim concerned

Inside a box in Tracy Page’s home sit newspaper clippings, legal records and photos of her late sister, Kendra.

“This is the last picture we have of her,” Page said.

Page still lives in the Austin area and was just 15 years old when her sister was murdered. She said the years since have been hard for her family.

Now a mother and grandmother herself, she said the circumstances of her sister’s death made her even more concerned while raising her children.

“It makes me watch behind my shoulder,” Page said. “I was very cautious with my girls. Wouldn’t let them out of my sight. And every time an AMBER Alert goes off I just think, ‘What happened?'”

Until KXAN reached out, Page said she was unaware that Meza was in the Pflugerville area or wanted by police. She said she will stay worried until he is found.

“My dad worked to keep Raul Meza in and now another family has to go through this,” Page said. “It just scares me. What if he lives next to a school? They never should have let him out.”