Calif. Man Arrested in Cold-Case Fla. Murder of His 16-Year-Old Stepdaughter, Killed in 2004
Dilcia Mejia was killed 5 days after her 16th birthday
Nearly 16 years to the day after she was killed, Florida investigators say they've cracked a cold murder case, arresting the stepfather of a teenage girl who was found brutally murdered in 2004.
Miami-Dade Police announced the arrest of Raul Mata, 46, on Thursday, PEOPLE confirms.
Mata is charged with first-degree murder in the Sept. 17, 2004, slaying of 16-year-old Dilcia Mejia.
Police officers were called to a Miami-Dade home that morning, finding Dilcia with a deep laceration to her neck.
Dilcia was killed 5 days after her 16th birthday.
Mata was in the home at the time, and even allegedly directed officers to the girl's body.
Days later, the medical examiner's office ruled Dilcia's death a homicide, but no arrests were made at that time.
The arrest comes after investigators allege Mata was a match for the DNA recovered from Dilcia's fingernails by forensic specialists.
An arrest affidavit accessed by PEOPLE further alleges the stepfather had a strained relationship with Dilcia.
The affidavit also alleges Dilcia had told a school counselor that Mata had made inappropriate sexual advances toward her.
"This individual had established a whole new life in California, was remarried, had a child," Miami-Dade Police Maj. Jorge Aguiar told reporters during a press conference Thursday. "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 State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said the arrest, coming nearly two decades later, should serve as some solace to other families awaiting justice.
Mata is awaiting extradition to Miami-Dade County. He has not had a chance to enter a plea, and it was unclear if he was represented by an attorney.
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Mejia's cousin, Trinidad Gonzalez, also spoke to reporters, saying the arrest offers some relief.
"It's been horrific and no family should be able to go through this," Gonzalez said. "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."