Family relieved after arrest in 17-year-old Arizona murder case

Sep 27, 2018, 1:04 PM | Updated: 7:23 pm
El Mirage Police Chief Paul Marzocca (KTAR Photo/Kathy Cline)...
El Mirage Police Chief Paul Marzocca (KTAR Photo/Kathy Cline)
(KTAR Photo/Kathy Cline)

PHOENIX — A suspect is under arrest in a 17-year-old Arizona cold case.

During a press conference Thursday, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said Frank Gallas Mendoza is facing murder charges in connection with Richard Cacero Lucero’s 2001 homicide in El Mirage.

Director Col. Frank Milstead said newer technology was able to match a crime-scene print and DNA to Mendoza.

Mendoza was arrested at his Fresno, California, home Monday. He’s expected to be extradited to Arizona soon. Milstead confirmed Mendoza’s prints were in a national database from past arrests.

Felix Jimenez, Lucero’s brother-in-law, said the family is relieved.

“You have to have faith, you have to have hope. And there was always a will,” he said.

“[The family] always figured that faith will come in, and the job would get done. Justice would be served one way or another.”

El Mirage Police Department Chief Paul Marzocca thanked the DPS for its help in getting the case solved.

“For smaller agencies such as ourselves, we are dependent upon the state to provide services,” he said. “Without the … Department of Public Safety, this case never would have been solved.”

Lucero was found dead in his home in December 2001. DPS took over the investigation and was able to obtain some evidence, but investigators exhausted all of leads.

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Family relieved after arrest in 17-year-old Arizona murder case