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Police spent two decades looking for Luis Rodriguez-Mena

By Chris Harris
December 11, 2020 01:34 PM
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Young Kavila
Young Kavila
| Credit: Des Plaines Police Department

Authorities in Illinois have filed charges in a cold case that has haunted detectives for over two decades — and they have advances in DNA science to thank.

During a press conference Thursday, investigators announced they had arrested Luis Rodriguez-Mena in connection with the 1999 slaying of flight attendant Young Kavila.

Kavila, 30, was killed on Nov. 30, 1999, inside of her apartment in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Officials said Mena had been identified early on as a suspect in the killing, but allege he went on the run.

Mena, now 46, lived in a nearby apartment at the time of Kavila's killing, with his pregnant girlfriend.

Luis Rodriguez-Mena
Luis Rodriguez-Mena
| Credit: Des Plaines Police Department

Police allege he fled to Mexico, moving locations several times as authorities tried to close in.

Kavila was stabbed to death, and her roommate discovered her body upon returning to the apartment they shared.

Investigators said Mena was apprehended in Mexico months ago, but he had been fighting extradition to the United States.

Authorities said Thursday they received a tip a decade ago about Mena having a son in Illinois.

A DNA swab was taken from the boy, and compared with DNA evidence recovered at the scene.

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"This DNA profile was compared through the Illinois State Police forensics laboratory to blood evidence at the scene and came up as a 99.98% match," declared Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner at the presser.

Rodriguez-Mena is being held without bond on three counts of first-degree murder.

His arraignment is set for later this month, at which time he'll be asked to enter a plea to the charge against him.

It was unclear Friday if he has legal representation.