By David K. Li - NBC News
A murder suspect called police in Texas, confessed to multiple homicides and told them, "You're looking for me," sparking a manhunt that led to his arrest this week, authorities said.
Sheriffs and police captured Raul Meza Jr., 62, in Austin on Monday, five days after his frightening call to detectives, officials said.
Meza had been considered a "person of interest" in the fatal stabbing of Jesse Fraga, an 80-year-old man whose body was found May 20 in nearby Pflugerville.
Raul Meza, Jr., 62. Pflugerville Police Department
Meza called police on May 24 and told them he knew they were looking for him, Austin police detective Patrick Reed told reporters.
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"The person who made the call said, 'My name is Raul Meza and you're looking for me,'" Reed said.
'Armed and dangerous'
Meza confessed to killing Fraga and provided undisclosed details of the killing to the public, before admitting he had committed another homicide, Reed said.
"'I got out [of prison] in 2016 and then I killed a woman. It was on Sara Drive,'" Meza told cops, according to Reed.
Jail records do not indicate whether Meza had hired an attorney or had a public defender assigned to him.
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The chokehold of 66-year-old Gloria Lofton on Sara Drive in Austin was an unsolved case, but DNA samples collected at the crime scene matched samples from Meza, police said.
Meza was known to have been in hotels near Interstate 35 in the Austin area. A group of officers dedicated to arresting fugitives detained him Monday night.
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"Raul Meza was considered armed and dangerous," said U.S. Marshals Deputy Brandon Filla. "He had suicidal inclinations and violent tendencies."
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When Meza was arrested, he was in possession of plastic zippers, duct tape, a flashlight, a .22-caliber handgun and bullets, Fila said.
"Ready to kill again"
Reed said Meza admitted Monday night that he had planned more killings.
Meza "was ready to kill again, and he was eager to do it," Reed said.
Police said they were investigating possible links between Meza and other unsolved murders in the 1990s. "There's a good chance we'll find additional cases," Austin police detective Katy Conner said.
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"Right now we have eight to 10 cases that fit similar circumstances to what we're seeing, but that number can obviously grow," he said.
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Meza served 11 years in prison for the murder and sexual abuse of an 8-year-old girl on Jan. 3, 1982, police said.
Bruce Mills, who is now Austin's acting assistant administrator, was the police sergeant who led the investigation into the 1982 case.
Mills told reporters Tuesday that police were then building a robust case against Meza, before prosecutors struck a deal with him for a 30-year sentence, which ended in 11 years in prison.
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"I remember it like it was yesterday," Mills said of the investigation. "We were hit, we were disappointed that this case didn't go to trial without a real explanation. We never got a solid answer on that."
He added: "Here we have a serial killer against whom justice did not work ... It was a travesty of justice."
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A representative for Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza could not immediately be reached Thursday for comment.
The county's top prosecutor in 1982 was Ronnie Earle, who died in 2020. A representative for his family could not be reached for comment.
The building that now houses the operations of the Travis County District Attorney was named in Earle's honor in 2018.