Suspect in 17-year El Mirage cold case back in Arizona

A man identified in the murder of an El Mirage resident 17 years ago is back in Arizona after authorities tracked him to California.

Frank Gallas Mendoza, 56, was extradited to Maricopa County and booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail Tuesday afternoon, according to records.

Frank Mendoza (MCSO)ar-

The Arizona Department of Public Safety and El Mirage police in September announced Mr. Mendoza as the murder suspect in the death of Richard Lucero in December 2001.

Authorities matched a fingerprint found at the scene of the crime to Mr. Mendoza’s using the FBI’s Next Generation Identification system, which was not available the early 2000s.

DPS learned Mr. Mendoza was living in Fresno, California. Along with police there, DPS took Mr. Mendoza into custody Sept. 24 without incident at his residence.

He is in jail in lieu of a $1 million. An arraignment hearing is scheduled Oct. 18.

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