AUSTIN, Texas — Raul Meza Jr.'s alleged crimes span over 40 years, with victims from age 8 to 80. Even though time has passed, the memory of the investigation stays with the detectives who were on the case.
"There's many parts of it I'm sure are forgotten, but there are other parts, it reminds you – it's like it was last week," said Bruce Mills, former homicide detective for the Austin Police Department.
After the murder of Jesse Fraga on May 20, police will be looking into up to 10 cases, dating back to 1996, potentially involving Meza. Mills, who was a homicide detective on Meza's case in 1982, said investigators will have to look for similarities to piece together these cases.
"Certainly, you will look at your unsolved cases, not just locally, but anywhere that fit that or have characteristics of this type of case," Mills said.
Mark Gillespie, a former forensic director for APD, said evidence will also be a large part of the investigation.
"The key, I think, in many of these cases, especially with cold cases, are physical evidence," Gillespie said.
But he said time can be the greatest issue when investigating evidence.
"Evidence could be degraded, you know, could be destroyed," Gillespie said. "Every time it's handled, you run the risk of contamination or loss of evidence."
He said the same is true for talking to witnesses.
"One of the biggest challenges they'll have is just time itself," Gillespie said. “Time has an effect on memories, on recollection.”
Gillespie said a solution could be bringing other investigators back to help with the cases – investigators like Mills, who still remember it to this day.
"It's one of those – it's never out of your memory," Mills said. "I mean, if I happened to drive through southeast Austin, I recall the case."
Mills said if police need him to interview Meza or need his help, he would be willing.
"I want to stay close to it, to see this individual never has an opportunity to commit that type of crime again," Mills said.