‘The Austin Caller:’ Unveiling of a serial killer

Texas Crime Stories explores Raul Meza’s string of killings over decades

After years of evading law enforcement and justice, Raul Meza is behind bars and leaves a trail of death in his wake.

This episode of Texas Crime Stories explores his string of killings over decades after his capture in 2023.

Grisly discovery puts killer on investigators’ map

On May 20, a welfare check call came in to the Pflugerville Police Department, just north of Austin.

The family of 80-year-old Jesse Fraga had not heard from him in over a week and they were concerned.

When police went to the former probation officer’s home, they found a horrific discovery inside.

Fraga was found with a belt around his neck, a severed spine, and a puncture wound to his neck.

A murder investigation began and the hunt was now on for whoever killed Fraga.

The police first turned their attention to his roommate at the time: Raul Meza Jr.

Photos of Meza were released to the media s a person of interest and officers didn’t wait long to get their break.

‘My name is Raul Meza and you’re looking for me’

It was only a matter of a few days when the tip hotline got an unexpected call from Meza himself.

“On May 24th I answered the homicide mainline the caller stated ‘My name is Raul Meza and you’re looking for me’,” Austin PD Detective Patrick Reed said at a press conference.

In that phone call, Meza would also not only confess to Fraga’s murder but to other murders he alleged to have committed.

Before the police could get his location figured out, Meza hung up.

A fugitive task force was put together and on Memorial Day in north Austin, Meza was found riding a bike, carrying a bag with zip ties, a flashlight, a gun, and multiple rounds inside.

“Mr. Meza said he was ready and prepared to kill again and he was looking forward to it,” Reed said.

Now that Meza is behind bars, investigators are tasked with finding out just how many people Meza may have killed.

Austin PD Detective Katy Connor says it’s a number that could grow.

“We have between eight and 10 cases that kind of fit these similar circumstances that we’re looking at,” Connor said.

Meza’s life of crime

Raul Meza Jr. for years led a life of crime.

In 1975, at 15 years old, he was arrested for robbing and shooting a convenience store clerk.

He served five years and was released on parole. When he got out of prison, he soon struck again.

In 1982, 8-year-old Kendra Page was raped and murdered, her body was found in a dumpster at Langford Elementary School in southeast Austin.

Meza at the time was still on parole for the convenience store shooting.

Meza was arrested right after the murder but to the surprise of many, pled guilty and took a plea deal and was sentenced to only 30 years in prison.

After serving only 11 years, Meza was released on parole in 1993.

After Meza was paroled, he was in and out of prison several other times.

According to KTBC in Austin, in 1994 Meza was arrested on a parole violation and would spend the next 20 years on and off parole.

During that time, he claimed to have committed other murders.

“He said I quote ‘I got out in 2016, I end up murdering a lady soon afterward it was on Sara Drive,’ Detective Reed said.

That woman was 66-year-old Gloria Lofton who was found dead in her east Austin home in 2019.

It appeared she had been sexually assaulted and strangled, and male DNA was found on her body.

According to police records, Meza once lived next door to Lofton.

That DNA was tested and almost a year later, a DNA match was obtained. According to police documents, that match was Meza.

Justice system fails

Nothing was ever done to arrest Meza after that match was made and he remained out of jail.

Austin police and residents now had a serial killer to deal with.

Dr. John Delatorre, a criminal psychologist, gave his insight on just how unusual of a serial killer Meza is.

“My first impression was that it was complicated,” Dr. Delatorre said in an interview with Texas Crime Stories. “... It’s very difficult to pinpoint why he’s engaging in these behaviors because the victimology doesn’t suggest anything in particular.”

Delatorre said that Meza is “a very curious individual in his victim selection” because the victims don’t seem to have a commonality.

“It doesn’t mean that.. every victim has to have like the same hair color or the same skin... but it’s usually confined to a specific set of characteristics that each victim shares. And I’m not entirely sure what each of these victims shares other than being in (Meza’s) sphere... That they were just kind of around him. Some knew him some didn’t.

At the Austin PD press conference, the current interim assistant city manager Bruce Mills — who was a detective in the Kendra Page case decades ago — shared his thoughts.

“I talked to the media at the time about the travesty of justice, even then, when he had only done 11 years on a 30-year sentence. And here we are 20 years after that, 30 years after that, and (he’s a) suspect in other cold cases,” Mills said. “So here’s a guy who 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 that justice was not served. It’s a travesty of justice in this case.”

Meza’s San Antonio connection

In the phone call with Detective Reed, Meza told him he had committed a double homicide in San Antonio.

San Antonio police said they are investigating his claims.

“Our SAPD Homicide detectives are in communication with Austin PD and currently looking into the statements made by the suspect,” according to a statement provided to Texas Crime Stories.

SAPD said APD is the lead agency in the case, and no interviews will be provided. SAPD did not release additional details.

There was a recent search in a Pflugerville field in early July.

Criminal defense attorney Ty Cardenas said the FBI search of the Pflugerville field could be related to the Fraga murder.

“It could be something that is connected to him that would also prove his guilt in addition to the other evidence, something else that it could be, it could actually be a completely new crime that they’re investigating,” Cardenas told CBS Austin. “They could have gotten a tip, especially now that it’s national news that he is a serial killer.”

Cardenas speculates that authorities may have received a tip that evidence related to Meza’s crimes is located in the field.

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About the Authors:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.