The stepfather of a 16-year-old girl who was found murdered in a northwest Miami-Dade home in 2004 has been arrested in connection with her killing, authorities said.
Officers arrested 46-year-old Raul Mata at his home in California and charged him with first-degree murder in the September 17, 2004 killing of Dilcia Mejia, Miami-Dade Police said Thursday.
"This individual had established a whole new life in California, was remarried had a child. So you can see that this individual didn’t have a conscience. Because this individual just pretty much went on with his life living a normal life," Miami-Dade Police Maj. Jorge Aguiar said.
Mejia had been found with a laceration around her neck when officers responded to a home in the 9600 block of Northwest 10th Avenue, officials said.
Mata was at the home at the time and had directed officers to Mejia's lifeless body, officials said.
The medical examiner's office ruled the death a homicide but no arrest was made at the time, officials said.
Investigators used DNA obtained from the victim’s body that led to a positive match identifying Mata as the primary suspect in the case, police said.
"Due to the forensic advancements in DNA technology, and the ruthless efforts, investigators linked physical and circumstantial evidence, successfully solving the case," the police department said in a statement.
“Our Homicide Bureau takes great pride in being the victims’ voice,” MDPD Director Freddy Ramirez said. “There is no greater satisfaction than to provide closure to the family after such a tragic loss.”
“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,” added Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Mata was awaiting extradition to Miami-Dade County. Attorney information wasn't available.
"It’s been horrific and no family should be able to go through this," Mejia's cousin, Trinidad Gonzalez, said Thursday. "It’s just the biggest relief that our family has had. It’s like a huge burden lifted from our shoulders. I am left speechless and I’m glad that Raul Mata can face the consequences of his gruesome actions that he did 16 years ago."