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Austin police launch review into handling of 2019 murder case now linked to Raul Meza Jr.

Gloria Lofton's death was not initially ruled a homicide. The inquiry will focus on whether investigators pursued a DNA link to the convicted killer.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin police have opened an administrative review into the department's handling of the 2019 death of Gloria Lofton and whether investigators pursued a DNA link to convicted killer Raul Meza Jr.

Police officials confirmed the inquiry to KVUE Senior Reporter Tony Plohetski on Wednesday evening.

“I was just made aware of this,” Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon said. “I don’t have any of the facts yet to be able to comment on it.”

Part of the inquiry will focus on how a Texas Department of Public Safety forensic lab communicated with the lead investigator in the case and whether that detective properly pursued the information, the KVUE Defenders have learned.

The review will be crucial to learning if police could have stopped Meza before they say he killed 80-year-old Jesse Fraga earlier this month.

An arrest affidavit charging Meza in Lofton's death revealed that official confirmed the DNA match in 2020, but the affidavit does not say what, if any, investigative steps detectives took after that.

The 65-year-old's death was not ruled a homicide until this month, when Meza called police and admitted to her murder.

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, an affidavit 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.”

Nearly nine months later, in April 2020, DNA from the forensic tests was linked to Meza, 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.

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