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Suspect arrested in Watsonville for Miami homicide dies of self-inflicted injury

raul mata mug
Miami-Dade Police Department

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION) The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office said a murder suspect has died of a self-inflicted injury.

The Sheriff's Office said injured himself in the left groin while in the Santa Cruz County Jail on Sept. 28 and was hospitalized. He was treated for several weeks before his death.

"When something like this happens it is investigated thoroughly as to how it happened and why it happened. We will do anything we can in the future to prevent it from happening," said Ashley Kheen, spokesperson for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.

46-year-old Raul Mata was arrested in connection to the murder of his teenage stepdaughter in Miami back in 2004.

Miami-Dade police were called to a home for a report of an unresponsive female. When they got there, the victim's stepfather, Mata, took them to 16-year-old Dilcia Mejia's body. Investigators said she had lacerations on her neck, and her death was ruled a homicide.

According to the CBS affiliate in Miami, the arrest affidavit said investigators told Mata that they learned that a school counselor was about to tell Mejia's mother that he had made inappropriate advances toward her. It also said that Mata and Mejia had a strained relationship.

No arrests were made at the time of the murder, but Miami-Dade police said they were able to eventually use DNA from the victim's body to identify Mata as the primary suspect.

CBS4 reports that the arrest affidavit suggests that Mata's DNA was found on Mejia's fingernails. When DNA reportedly led investigators to identify Mata as the prime suspect, the affidavit said in May 2020 the investigators requested Mejia's fingernail clippings that were collected during her autopsy to be retested.

After the murder, Mata moved to Watsonville, where he got remarried and had a child. He was arrested in Watsonville for first-degree murder with a deadly weapon last month.

Crime / Santa Cruz County / Top Stories

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.

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