By LAUREN SILVER
AUSTIN, Texas (Court TV) – A man charged with two murders in Texas called officers to confess before his arrest, and told detectives who took him into custody that he was looking forward to killing again, police said.
Raul Meza Jr. has been arrested by United States Marshals working with the Austin Police Department and the Pflugerville Police Department on the evening of May 29, ending a five-day manhunt.
Meza was initially named a person of interest in the death of his roommate, Jesse Fraga, 80, whose body was found following a welfare check on May 20. Fraga’s family called the police after they hadn’t heard from him in a week. In a news conference announcing Meza’s arrest, Austin Police Sgt. Nathan Sexton said Frega was found with a belt around his neck. The medical examiner later found a puncture wound to Frega’s neck and said his cervical spine had been severed. In a news release formally announcing Meza as a suspect in Frega’s murder, Pflugerville police said Frega had been stabbed to death.
On May 24, Meza called Austin’s 311 phone line and was transferred to homicide detective Patrick Reed. “The caller stated, ‘My name is Raul Meza and you’re looking for me,'” Reed said at Tuesday’s news conference.
During the phone conversation with the detective, Meza detailed his relationship with Fraga as well as how he killed him, and included details that had not been released to the public. Meza told Reed that he spent his life in and out of prison, and told the detective that after he was released from prison in 2016, he murdered a woman on Sarah Drive.
Specific facts offered by Meza over the phone led police to connect him to the 2019 murder of Gloria Lofton. Lofton, 66, was strangled to death, and at the time, DNA was recovered from the scene. After the phone call, police confirmed the DNA matched Meza.
A career criminal, police said during Tuesday’s news conference that Meza’s criminal history dates back to 1975 when he was convicted of aggravated robbery. Then 15, Meza was tried as an adult for shooting and paralyzing a man working at a convenience store with a high-powered rifle.
In 1982, Meza was arrested for the murder of 8-year-old Kendra Page. Page, who was murdered while Meza was on parole for the 1975 conviction, was found assaulted and murdered behind an Austin Elementary school. Bruce Mills, now Austin’s interim city manager, was a detective involved in Page’s case and said he remembers the case “like it was yesterday.”
Mills said Meza was allowed to plead guilty to Page’s murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison, of which he only served 11 years.
“Here’s a guy that should have spent the rest of his life, probably from the time he nearly killed a gentleman when he was 15 years old, certified as an adult, later commits capital murder, pleads to murder, is released 11 years later and has killed how many people we don’t know. So here’s a serial killer – justice was not served. There was a travesty of justice in this case.”
Meza was released from prison in June 1993 under mandatory supervision after being denied parole seven times because he received credit for good behavior, the Associated Press reported at the time. He was arrested in September 1993 on charges he verbally abused his grandparents, with whom he was living after his release.
When US Marshals arrested Meza on Monday night, they said he had a bag with him containing zip ties, duct tape, a flashlight and a .22 caliber pistol with additional rounds. Reed said in an interview with detectives after his arrest, “Mr. Meza said he was ready and prepared to kill again and was looking forward to it.”
“There’s a lot of anxiety when you have an individual that has lost their lives, to an individual that’s still on the run,” said US Marshal Brandon Filla, who was on the task force that arrested Meza. “And we knew what he was capable of.”
“My dad worked to keep Raul Meza (in prison) and now another family has to go through this,” Page’s sister, Tracy, told KXAN. “It just scares me. What if he lives next to a school? They should never have let him out.”
Meza was charged with capital murder in the deaths of Lofton and Frega.