A suspect in a Texas serial killing who allegedly confessed to two murders in May may be linked to yet another case after investigators found a possible gravesite and clothing during a search this month, police documents reveal.
Raul Meza Jr. was arrested in May and is being held at the Travis County Correctional Complex in Austin, Texas, on murder charges in the fatal stabbing of his roommate Jesse Fraga, 80, in May and the death of Gloria Lofton, 66, in 2019.
At the time of the arrest, the interim assistant city manager of Austin called Meza a "serial killer," and Austin police said they were looking into possible links between him and several unsolved murders going back to the 1990s.
Austin police investigating Meza learned that he was stopped by police in Pflugerville, just north of Austin, in March 2022, and found walking near a field, bleeding on his face. He told officers he had given a ride to a woman.
A search of those fields earlier this month led to the discovery of a "gravesite" which partially buried clothes and a tarp — but no human remains.
Police found gravesite, partially buried clothes and tarp
A search warrant affidavit obtained by NBC News shows that Austin police began looking closely into Meza's history in May, when he was wanted in connection with Fraga's killing.
Austin police obtained body camera footage of an interaction Meza had with Pflugerville police March 11, 2022.
On that day, officers responded to a 911 call about a man “who appears to have been in a fight” walking on the sidewalk outside an apartment complex in Austin.
The man was identified as Meza, and he was found “bleeding on his hands and mouth,” the affidavit said. When questioned about his injuries, Meza “offered no logical explanation,” the affidavit said.
One of the officers said he observed Meza “walking through a large field” in the area before he was stopped by police.
When asked why he was there, Meza tried to convince officers that his car was stolen. His car — a 2001 red Ford F-150 — was located less than half a mile from where officers initially contacted him, the police documents said.
When pressed on why his car was found parked on the road, Meza referred to a woman.
“We got here about 9:35 or so” on March 10, 2022, he said, adding, “I gave her a lift, and she’s going towards Hutto,” the affidavit said. Hutto is more than 8 miles from where Meza's truck was parked, the document said.
It’s not clear to whom he was referring.
A police officer began to search the open fields on both sides of the roadway, and the officer observed brass knuckles, a bag about 20 yards into the field on the west side of the road, “a smashed phone,” and two cellphone cases, according to body camera footage reviewed by Austin police.
Meza was not arrested in that interaction.
Austin Police Detective Patrick Reed wrote in the search warrant affidavit that he “became suspicious that the woman Meza claimed to have arrived in the area of Old Austin Pflugerville Road with was murdered and discarded in one of the fields or overgrown areas on either side of the roadway where Meza’s truck was located.”
Drones were flown over the fields, and Reed "observed several locations that displayed the properties of a possible burial site," including disturbed earth and obvious artificial piles of rock and brush.
The affidavit noted that human remains that had been disposed of in an open field over a year will have decomposed and could be scattered due to weather and animals.
On July 12, the Austin Police Department, the Pflugerville Police Department and the FBI evidence response team searched several locations in the fields.
In that search, Reed observed “a gravesite that contained partially buried clothing and a tarp.”
The site was exhumed, but no human remains were located, the affidavit said.
The affidavit sought to have the area searched with a K-9 trained to detect human remains. The warrant was officially granted by the court July 13.
Meza 'confessed' to 2 murders in May
Meza had a lengthy criminal history before he was taken into custody in May.
He previously served 11 years in prison for the 1982 sexual assault and murder of 8-year-old Kendra Page.
A manhunt was launched for Meza after authorities discovered Fraga’s body in a closet May 20 at his home in Pflugerville, just north of Austin.
Meza called police May 24 and said: “My name is Raul Meza, and I think you’re looking for me,” according to an arrest affidavit. He was taken into custody May 29.
During the phone call, Meza confessed to Fraga’s fatal stabbing and Lofton’s killing, the affidavit says. Lofton’s cause and manner of death had initially been listed as “undetermined,” but after the alleged confession, authorities linked DNA found at the scene to Meza and said she died of strangulation, according to the affidavit.
Meza was found with zip ties, duct tape, a flashlight, a .22 caliber-pistol and rounds when he was arrested, Deputy U.S. Marshal Brandon Filla said to reporters at the time.
When Meza was arrested, he confessed to planning more murders, Reed said in a news conference at the time.
Meza was “ready and prepared to kill again, and he was looking forward to it,” Reed said.
His criminal history dates back almost 50 years and includes convictions of aggravated robbery and murder, NBC affiliate KXAN of Austin reported.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com