AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man charged in connection with the death of an 80-year-old Pflugerville man earlier this month was previously convicted of murder in the 1980s, and law enforcement officials now say he might be linked to several cold cases.
Raul Meza Jr., 62, was identified and arrested and charged after confessing to the murder of his roommate Jesse Fraga, 80. Meza also implicated himself in the murder of Gloria Lofton, 65, in 2019, three years after Austin Police said he was released from Travis County Jail.
Meza’s criminal history dates back decades, including convictions in aggravated robberies as well as murder. Here’s what we know about his previous crimes and convictions.
1960: Meza born in Travis County
Meza was born on Oct. 14, 1960 in Travis County to Elvia Ortiz and Raul Meza Sr., according to archives statistics from the Texas Department of Health.
An obituary revealed Meza’s mother died on Aug. 3, 2020 while records have not been found relating to his father. Archived Austin American-Statesman newspapers from 1982 detail Meza’s father was not much of a presence in his life. County and state marriage records revealed Meza had at least three different stepfathers and three half-siblings before Meza was 15 years old.
While previous reporting suggested Meza’s first documented arrest wasn’t until 1975, a 1982 Statesman report found Meza had begun using drugs at age 8 and that he was initially arrested in 1973 for shoplifting and burglary charges.
In 1974, archived reporting detailed Meza was accused of arson following a fire at Austin Junior High School. He was relocated to Giddings State School as a result, where he allegedly ran away and broke into a local country school, per 1982 archived Statesman newspapers.
He was released from Giddings State School later in 1974 and enrolled at Travis High School, where archived Statesman articles revealed he failed every class.
1975: Aggravated robbery
On New Year’s Eve in 1975, Meza joined three others in robbing an Austin convenience store. During the robbery, the store manager was shot in the back.
Surviving the gunshot wound, the manager testified at Meza’s trial. Meza received a 20-year sentence, getting out after serving five years.
On Jan. 3, 1982, eight-year-old Kendra Page’s body was found in the dumpster at a southeast Austin elementary school. Meza — who was still on parole for his 1975 aggravated robbery conviction — was charged with raping and killing Page.
Following his trial, Meza was convicted of murder and sentenced to serve 30 years in prison.
Additionally, then-167th District Judge Tom Blackwell ordered Meza to serve an additional 16 years on top of his 30-year sentence, due to his 1977 conviction on the aggravated robbery case.
Kevin Page, Kendra’s older brother, told KXAN even all these years later it still feels like it just happened.
“Thinking about the pain and torture she was going through when all this was happening… It is just devastating,” said Page.
He said the family never felt like justice was served.
“I don’t think our judicial system did their job. I really don’t,” Page said. “So now these other families have to deal with the same pain we went through.”
1993: Meza released from prison
Meza was released from prison in 1993 after serving just over 11 years of his sentence for Page’s murder. He was cited as having accumulated enough “good behavior” credit and was released on parole.
Del Rio News-Herald archived newspapers from 1993 reported Meza had accumulated more than 19 years in good time credit and almost three years’ worth of credit for participating in vocational programs in barbering and auto mechanics. He told the Del Rio News-Herald in 1993 he became a “born-again Christian” while in prison.
However, his release didn’t come without controversy. Correction officials tried to relocate him to six different cities, with Central Texans protesting his release.
On Oct. 25, 1993, Meza married for the first time, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. That marriage ended less than eight months later on June 9, 1994, per DSHS archives.
He would marry two more times: again in 2009 — which ended in an annulment after three months — and a third time in 2015, which last more than two years before a divorce in early 2018.
1994: Meza sent back to prison for parole violation
Meza was found to have violated his parole in the fall of 1994, roughly one-and-a-half years after his release from prison. He remained in prison until 2002, when he was then transferred to a minimum security wing of the Travis County Jail.
Historic news record show he was set to be released in 2002, but a condition of his parole was that he find a job. Having not found one, he stayed in jail.
2003: Meza sues Travis County Sheriff’s Office, state parole board
Unable to find a job, Meza remained in jail and later sued the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. As that lawsuit played out, he received a four-year sentence for violating his parole, having been found with a weapon in prison.
From there, records show Meza was in and out of prisons and jails, sometimes going to halfway houses as far away as El Paso and Ohio.
2012: Meza moves into east Austin home
In 2012, records show Meza obtained a driver’s license with the home address listed as 4803 Sara Drive in east Austin. The home was located next door to Gloria Lofton. Meza would later implicate himself in connection to her 2019 death, which at the time had been ruled an “undetermined” cause.
2019: Austin Police investigate woman’s death
In May 2019, Austin Police assigned a detective to a deceased persons case along Sara Drive in east Austin. A second detective requested a sexual assault forensic exam and an autopsy be conducted in her case.
In July 2019, a Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office review of her case ruled her cause of death “undetermined.”
2019: Meza moves from east Austin home
On Oct. 30, 2019, records show Meza changed addresses from 4803 Sara Drive in east Austin to 706 Camp Fire Trail, Pflugerville.
2020: DNA links Meza to cold case
In April 2020, the DPS Capital Area Regional Crime Lab obtained a DNA profile, with a CODIS match for Meza confirmed in May 2020.
2023: 80-year-old man found dead in Pflugerville
Pflugerville Police responded to the 700 block of Camp Fire Trail on May 20 after receiving a welfare check request. There, they found Fraga’s body.
The last time Fraga was seen alive was on May 12, according to camera footage secured. Meza was seen on a security camera in the vicinity on May 13.
2023: New details reveal Meza involved in ‘disturbance’ at former east Austin home
On May 24, an affiant ran a background check on Meza and found out he had lived at 4803 Sara Drive between 2012 and 2019 and had been involved in a “disturbance” reported at his address in May 2013. The new details emerged one day after Pflugerville Police sent out a release on Frega’s death and noted Meza as a person of interest.
2023: Lone Star Fugitive Task Force aids in Meza’s arrest
The Pflugerville Police Department contacted the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force and requested assistance in Meza’s apprehension, according to U.S. Marshal Brandon Filla. Meza was arrested by Task Force officials on May 25.
This story could be updated as new details of Meza’s criminal history emerge.