True crime enthusiasts who had hoped the mystery of the February 9 killer would be solved in 2022 may be able to cross that off their bingo card when the alleged murderer was identified this year.
The cold case was opened in 2006 after a woman named Sonia Mejia was raped and murdered in her home in a savage attack that also killed her unborn baby on February 9.
On the morning of her death, Mejia was home alone when witnesses say they saw her talking to an unknown Hispanic male who assaulted her before forcing his way into her front door and closing it behind him.
Mejia’s husband found her strangled, lifeless body after he returned from work that night.
The same killer was also linked to the murder of Damiana Castillo, less than a mile away on the same day in 2008.
Castillo reportedly left work at around 7.30pm but was found dead by her son the next morning.
She had also been strangled and the valuables in her home had been ransacked.
A "John Doe" profile was created by police with DNA and fingerprints that linked the two murders.
The mystery of the February 9 killer went unsolved for over a decade – and it may be finally be cracked after DNA evidence helped link a suspect to the case.
In November 2018, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced that an unidentified suspect was in custody in another jurisdiction and was in the process of being extradited back to Utah to face murder charges.
Juan Arreola-Murillo, 41, from Mexico, was finally identified as the alleged killer in January and now faces murder charges in Utah.
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He was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary.
The suspect had previously been arrested in Salt Lake City in July 2008 for fraud, according to court records obtained by KUTV.
The address provided to authorities after his 2008 arrest matched the apartment complex where Mejia was killed in 2006, but it was unknown if he lived there at the time of her death
Arreola-Murillo was deported from the United States later in 2008 after pleading guilty to the fraud charges.
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Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said: "Once somebody is a foreign national who leaves, we do have certain diplomatic responsibilities.
"In Mexico, we must assure we will not seek the death penalty.
"Whenever you have an unsolved homicide, you leave this wound, you leave this lack of justice. It is about bringing some measure of justice to the victims and some measure of justice to our community as a whole.”
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