She thought her mother’s drinking had killed her — then a convicted killer confessed, according to Austin police

Sonia Houston wasn’t sure what killed her mother four years ago. If anything was to blame, Houston believed it was probably her drinking — until Wednesday.

At the time, authorities in Austin, Texas announced that convicted murderer Raul Meza Jr., 62, had confessed to multiple murders, including the 2019 death of Houston’s 66-year-old mother, Gloria Lofton.

“Had he not confessed, she would have been just another unknown,” Houston said, blaming authorities for not properly investigating her mother’s death.

Meza, who was the victim of a manhunt in the May 20 killing of his 80-year-old roommate, gave his confession last month After he called a city hotline and was handed over to a homicide detective, police said.

“My name is Raul Meza and I think you’re looking for me,” Meza said, according to an affidavit in support of Meza’s arrest filed Wednesday in Travis County District Court.

Meza, who served 11 years in prison for the 1982 murder and sexual assault of an eight-year-old girl, has since been charged with murder in both deaths. Austin Police say they are investigating links between Meza and up to 10 unsolved 1990s murders.

The revelation has enraged Houston at authorities for conducting the investigation — an investigation she says has yielded few answers for years and appears to have missed key evidence, including a used condom she said she found in her mother’s kitchen, according to Houston had found.

According to the affidavit, authorities charged him with sexually assaulting and strangling Lofton — an allegation partially supported by a swab taken from Lofton at the time of her death, which provided a DNA match to Meza in 2020.

But in the months after her body was found, the Travis County Medical Examiner listed her cause and manner of death as “undetermined,” according to the affidavit. And Houston said she never heard from authorities until May 24 when Meza told the detective he was responsible for the murder of a “lady” on Sara Drive.

“It would have been different if she was white and on the other side of Austin,” Houston’s older sister Christina Fultz said in an interview. “It would have been resolved in a week.”

Gloria Lofton was of Mexican descent and lived on the east side of Austin.

A spokesman for the Austin Police Department said in an email that Chief Joseph Chacon had recently been briefed on the details of the case and had launched an administrative review of “possible investigative errors.”

The spokesman declined to comment further.

A Travis County spokesman said he could not comment on how the coroner’s conclusion came, citing an ongoing investigation. According to the affidavit, the day after Meza’s call, the medical examiner updated Lofton’s behavior and cause of death to murder by strangulation.

An attorney for Meza who is being held at the Travis County Correctional Complex Charged with capital murder, did not respond to a request for comment.

A motive for Lofton’s murder remains unclear. According to the affidavit, Meza told authorities he had been promised 25% of the money that Lofton’s nephew would inherit. But Houston said her mother had no nephews.

Houston said she had no idea if her mother knew Meza.

A complicated relationship

Houston described her relationship with Lofton as complicated. Her mother was smart, Houston said, and introduced her to books, music, and movies. Lofton also worked hard with administrative, accounting and other clerical work to get her daughter into a private Catholic school, Houston said.

But Lofton is concerned, Houston said. She was mentally and physically abused by men and never dealt with the “demons” Houston called “demons” who seemed to fester with age, her daughter said. (Houston said her father, who served in the Army and Air Force, was “very respectful” and only stayed with Lofton until their daughter was 4.)

Lofton quit work in her late 40s, spent much of her time drinking, and moved in with her father, Houston said.

She said she last saw her mother on May 8, 2019, when Lofton sent her to buy a pack of cigarettes and beer. Houston said she reluctantly agreed after pushing her mother to eat.

The next day, when Houston returned home, she was met by police officers who told her about her mother’s death, she said. According to the affidavit, authorities found her in her bedroom, naked from the waist down and with the two shirts she was wearing pulled over her head.

They gave few details about what happened and after about 24 hours, authorities returned her mother’s house keys and told her she could return to the house, she said.

A disturbing scene

Houston’s older sister Fultz accompanied her to the house. Lofton had put their older daughter up for adoption when she was a newborn, but in the years leading up to Lofton’s death, the sisters became closer.

“We sat outside and watched people walk away from the scene with bags and they didn’t say anything to us,” Fultz recalled. “You didn’t warn us. They didn’t say, ‘Hey, by the way.’”

“It was so insensitive,” Fultz said. “It was terrible.”

Inside, the sisters found a home that appeared to have been ransacked, Houston said. There was a bloody pillow and blood spatter in the hallway, Houston said. Fultz said they found lube, a condom and a sheath in what appeared to be a detective’s latex glove in the kitchen.

Houston ran outside and burst into tears, Fultz said, adding, “It was the worst cry ever. I could only hug her.”

The spokesman for the police department did not respond to a request for comment.


Despite the scene, Houston came to believe that her mother’s drinking was likely responsible for her death.

“Is she drunk and hit her head?” said Houston. “She’s home alone. Anyone who is drunk can have accidents. Did she try to crawl into bed?”

Houston was stunned by the inconclusive autopsy results, but after Lofton’s death, she remained focused on getting her mother to settle down and get her affairs in order — and did not seek legal counsel, some have suggested.

Now she wants justice for her mother.

“They wanted us to solely blame the perpetrator, the criminal, and yes, I can say how I feel about Raul all day,” she said. “Karma is a very serious woman.”

She added: “Should I say besides him they handled this to the best of their ability? From the looks of it, they didn’t.”

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