Who is Raul Mata? DNA in fingernails helps nab stepdad who murdered 16-year-old girl in 2004 Miami cold case

The victim’s fingernail clips collected during her autopsy were retested and advances in DNA technology led to arrest of Raul Mata

                            Who is Raul Mata? DNA in fingernails helps nab stepdad who murdered 16-year-old girl in 2004 Miami cold case
Raul Mata (Miami Dade Police Department)

MIAMI, FLORIDA: A 46-year-old man called Raul Mata has been arrested by the Miami-Dade police for the murder of his teenage stepdaughter 16 years ago. Mata, as per reports, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Dilcia Mejia, whose life was taken just five days after her 16th birthday. Mata was arrested by the Watsonville Police Department in Watsonville, California, and his extradition to Florida is pending, cops said.

“An unsolved murder leaves a surviving family with an unending pain and fear that their loved ones will be forgotten,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a press statement. “The charging of Raul Mata for the alleged 2004 murder of 16-year-old Dilcia Mejia should offer hope, not just for her family but for the families of all crime victims still yearning for justice.”

As per CBS, a new arrest affidavit suggests that Mata’s DNA was found on Mejia’s fingernails, adding that scratches and bruises were found on Mata’s left forearm and inner bicep. The arrest affidavit says that in “May 2020 investigators requested that the victim’s fingernail clips which were collected during her autopsy be retested and examined since there have been advances in DNA technology.”

Cops were able to link “physical and circumstantial evidence, successfully solving the case.” The circumstantial evidence here is that Mata and Mejia shared a strained relationship. According to the affidavit, investigators said they had learned that a school counselor was on the verge of telling Mejia’s mother that Mata had made inappropriate advances to her.

Miami-Dade Police Major Jorge Aguiar told the press, “There have been advances in forensic sciences that we are looking at today plus we also used an extra set of eyes.” 

“While Dilcia’s life was tragically ended, for the next 16 years Mr. Mata went on to live his life thinking that he got away with this despicable crime. Unfortunately for Mr. Mata the Miami-Dade Police Department never forgets its victims and through tenacious and resilient police work by our Homicide Cold Case detectives, our forensic lab personnel, and our State Attorney’s Office, we were able to bring him to justice in the name of Dilcia and her family,” said Miami-Dade police Director Alfredo Ramirez III.

As per reports, Mejia was reportedly last seen alive at 11 pm on September 16, 2004, watching television inside her residence in the Colonial Acres Mobile home community in Miami, where she lived with her mother, Delcia Oliva, and Mata. Her mother allegedly left the home for work on the morning of September 17 at 5:30 am but did not check on her daughter. 

As per reports, after 9:15 am, police received a call from Mata who said he had just gotten home and discovered Meija’s body with a slash wound on her neck. “We need someone to come here,” he told the dispatcher. “My daughter. My daughter. Somebody killed my daughter.” Mata was questioned and he denied any involvement in the death. Despite the fact that the Medical Examiner’s office ruled it a homicide then, no arrest was made. Mata and Oliva, as per reports, later separated. Mata moved to Watsonville, 70 miles south of San Francisco.

Mejia’s death reportedly rocked the Miami community and a police detective said in 2015 that Mata was a suspect but was questioned extensively and denied he caused her death.

“I don’t know why, she was just innocent, you know, why would he do that,” Mejia’s cousin Trinidad Gonzalez told the press. “Dilcia Mejia was a joy in our lives and the loss of it left a huge hole in our hearts and I know talking here doesn’t bring her back but speaking here is creating a voice for her. It’s horrific what happened to her. No family should have to go through that. We are just so grateful to all the work of everyone here for what they did on this case,” she said.

“It’s just the biggest relief that our family has had, like a huge burden lifted from our shoulders. I’m left speechless and I’m glad that Raul Mata can face the consequences of his gruesome actions and what he did 16 years ago,” said Gonzalez.

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