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Austin woman's 2019 death ruled 'undetermined' until killer's confession this month

Gloria Lofton’s death was not ruled a homicide until this month, when Raul Meza Jr. called police and admitted to her murder.

AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin woman’s 2019 cause of death was ruled “undetermined” by investigators until this month, when convicted killer Raul Meza Jr. called police and admitted to her murder.

According to an affidavit, 65-year-old Gloria Lofton was found dead on May 9, 2019, on Sara Drive in East Austin.

Detectives on the scene found Lofton in her bedroom with possible signs of strangulation, the documents said. Investigators also determined the marks on her head and neck were not consistent with the position she was found in. Lofton was found with possible signs of sexual assault, and forensic tests were conducted.

In July 2019, the medical examiner’s final report ruled the cause of death to be “undetermined” and manner of death “undetermined.”

“Although there was severe natural disease identified, the circumstances, witness accounts and findings at autopsy are concerning for potential inflicted trauma,” the report said. “Findings indicative of a strangulation such as external or internal neck trauma may not be present in all cases of strangulation.”

Nearly nine months later, in April 2020, DNA from the forensic tests was later linked to Raul Meza Jr., the affidavit said. Meza had reportedly been living at the neighboring house on Sara Drive, and, on May 1, 2013, had been documented in a police report about a disturbance there.

But it wasn’t until this month, when Meza was wanted for a separate murder in Pflugerville, that police charged him for Lofton’s murder.

Police were searching for Meza after the death of 80-year-old Jesse Fraga in the 700 block of Camp Fire Trail. On May 24, detectives received a call from Meza where he reportedly said, “I think you are looking for me.”

According to the affidavit, on the phone call, Meza detailed his life after getting out of prison, telling investigators, “I got out in 2016 … I end up murdering a lady soon afterward … It was on Sara Drive.”

Meza said he believed the case was not investigated as a homicide and was “misidentified” by police. He claimed he was promised 25% of the money Lofton’s nephew inherited.

The documents said Meza also detailed a double murder he committed in San Antonio, “years prior.”

Detectives eventually revisited the Lofton case after examining the deaths on Sara Drive from 2013 to 2021 where the victim was a woman.

Meza has a long history of violent crime and was convicted of murder in 1982 for the death of 8-year-old Kendra Page – a death that set Austin on edge. He served nearly 12 years of 30-year sentence, before being released for good behavior.

In a media conference on Tuesday, May 30, law enforcement called Meza the “worst of the worst” and a serial killer. They have now identified multiple cold cases with a similar modus operandi that could also be linked to him. Up to 10 other cases are currently being investigated, dating back to 1996, and detectives said they wouldn't be surprised if that number increases.

Meza was arrested this week and booked into the Travis County Jail. When he was arrested, he was carrying a bag with zip ties, duct tape and a .22-caliber pistol with additional rounds. He told authorities he was ready to kill again.

"I will let you know that Mr. Meza said he was ready and prepared to kill again, and he was looking forward to it," detectives told the media.

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