Details released after suspect in Utah 2006 and 2008 homicide suspect extradited from Mexico

Homicide victims Sonja Mejai (left) and Damilla Castillo. Photos: Salt Lake City Police Department

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah, Jan. 10, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office has released details after the suspect in 2006 and 2008 homicides in West Valley City was extradited last week from Mexico.

Suspect Juan Antonio Arreola-Murillo, 41, has been charged with six first-degree felonies:

  • Three counts of aggravated murder
  • Aggravated robbery
  • Two counts of aggravated burglary

Arreola-Murillo was deported to Mexico in 2008, and officials do not believe he had returned to the United States in the years since then, the probable cause statement says.

He is charged in the  Feb. 9, 2006 strangling death of Sonia Mejia, 29, who was found dead in her Taylorsville apartment when her husband returned from work. Mejia was six month pregnant at the time of her death.

Arreola-Murillo was also charged in the Feb. 9, 2008 strangling death of Damiana Castillo, 57, who was killed in her apartment about five blocks away from where Mejia was murdered.

Items found to be missing from Mejia’s location included her car keys and vehicle, a heart-shaped ring, a diamond ring, and a religious pendant.

Found at the murder scene were a Coke bottle and Cheetos snacks, which were food items not normally kept at the house. Tests on the items later revealed a DNA profile that ultimately led investigators to Arreola-Murillo.

In the investigation of the 2008 murder of Castillo, who also died due to strangulation, a DNA profile was obtained from the ligature. The profile matched the one identified in Mejia’s case. In addition, a latent print found on Castillo’s wallet was ultimately linked to Arreola-Murillo, the probable cause statement says.

“The print was entered into the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). A DNA profile was obtained from the ligature around Ms. Castillo’s neck” the suspect’s probable cause statement says. “The DNA profile is consistent with the DNA profile obtained from the ligature around Ms. Mejia’s neck and the Coke bottle from Ms. Mejia’s apartment.

“In 2016, AFIS reported a match of the latent prints obtained from the scene of Ms. Mejia’s and Ms. Castillo’s homicides to the known prints of Juan Antonio Arreola-Murillo.”

“We want to acknowledge Unified Police Department, West Valley City Police Department, and our prosecutors for their diligent work on this case,” the SLCo District Attorney’s office statement says, adding its thanks to all partner agencies “who helped bring Mr. Arreola-Murillo back to Utah.”


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