AUSTIN (KXAN) — DNA evidence from the 2019 death of Gloria Lofton linked her case to Raul Meza, Jr., according to court documents — and police arrested him on a murder charge related to her death this week.

Meza’s arrest affidavit stated that in 2020, a DNA profile obtained from a sexual assault kit for Lofton’s matched Meza’s DNA, but police did not arrest Meza at that time.

On Thursday, the Austin Police Department said it’s conducting an internal review of how investigators pursued the case upon obtaining the DNA match.

“[APD Chief Joseph] Chacon was recently made aware of all of the details in this case. Chief Chacon has opened an administrative review regarding potential investigative lapses,” an APD spokesperson told KXAN.

Kendra Page
Meza was convicted of murdering Kendra Page, 8, in 1982.

This week, police also arrested Meza on a murder charge in connection with the death of his Pflugerville roommate, 80-year-old Jesse Fraga. Authorities believe he could also be connected to 8-10 additional homicides. Interim City Manager Bruce Mills, who investigated Meza’s 1982 murder of 8-year-old Kendra Page, called him a “serial killer” on Tuesday.

The DNA match is defined in the affidavit as a Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) hit. Law enforcement sources told KXAN police cannot make an arrest based on a CODIS hit alone, and all CODIS hits are not perfect matches. It can, law enforcement sources said, give police probable cause for a search warrant.

Gloria Lofton investigation

According to Meza’s arrest affidavit for Lofton’s murder, police found her dead in her home on Sara Drive in east Austin on May 9, 2019.

The final medical examiner’s report ruled Lofton’s cause of death “undetermined.”

“It is possible that these findings might represent evidence of strangulation,” according to the medical examiner’s narrative quoted in the affidavit. “Although there was severe natural disease identified, the circumstances, witness accounts, and findings at autopsy are concerning for potential inflicted trauma. Findings indicative of a strangulation such as external or internal neck trauma may not be present in all cases of strangulation.”

Last week, Meza, while a person of interest in Jesse Fraga’s death, called the police because he knew authorities were looking for him. During that call, he also told police “I got out in 2016… I ended up murdering a lady soon afterward… it was on Sara Drive,” the affidavit reads.

After that call, police discovered Lofton’s 2019 death on Sara Drive. Police moved forward with the arrest warrant following the combined factors of Meza’s confession, APD’s discovery of his residence on Sara Drive and his DNA sample.

APD DNA policy

According to the police department’s most recent General Orders, when Forensics gets a DNA hit on a case – it’s supposed to notify investigators involved with said case.

If the case has been closed, investigators should then re-open it and follow up.

If the case is still open, supervisors are directed to make sure investigators have the updated information.