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A Suspect Has Just Been Arrested in the 1999 Slaying of a United Airlines Flight Attendant

A Suspect Has Just Been Arrested in the 1999 Slaying of a United Airlines Flight Attendant

A suspect accused of the 1999 murder of a United Airlines flight attendant will face trial for her slaying more than 20 years later after he was eventually tracked down in Mexico. Luis Rodriguez-Mena fled abroad a day after Young Kavila, who was just 30 years old at the time of her death, was sexually assaulted and murdered in her apartment.

Homicide detectives from the Des Plaines Police Department held a news conference on Thursday where they explained how family members of the accused had recently come forward with new information, leading to a “significant investigative breakthrough” in the arrest of Luis Rodriguez-Mena, 46.

Young Kavila Photo Credit: Des Plaines Police Department

Young Kavila was brutally murdered in the small apartment she shared with a roommate not far from Chicago O’Hare International Airport in Des Plains, Illinois on November 30, 1999. She had just returned home from grocery shopping when she found the suspect in her apartment.

Authorities allege that Kavila was beaten and sexually assaulted before her throat was slit with a boot knife. The suspect wiped his bloodied hands on her bed covers before leaving the apartment. Her lifeless body was found on the floor of their kitchen a short time later.

Rodriguez-Mena, who was Kavila’s neighbor in the same apartment complex at the time of the murder, fled to Mexico with his then-pregnant girlfriend a day after the slaying. He wasn’t formally identified as a suspect until 2007 when relatives told police he had boasted about the murder and threatened to harm them if they told investigators where he was hiding.

When Rodriguez-Mena’s girlfriend returned to the United States she helped detectives investigating the crime and gave consent for DNA to be compared from their son and the crime scene. The DNA profiles were a 99.98 per cent match with Rodriguez-Mena.

Police were later able to link his fingerprint to one found at the crime scene after he was arrested for a separate matter in Mexico. Despite working with the FBI to track Rodriguez-Mena down, authorities say their search was hampered because some of his relatives were helping to move him around Mexico.

He was eventually arrested in June and extradited back to the United States on Tuesday. He faces three counts of first degree murder.

View Comments (2)
  • This is so stupid. Digging yourself deeper in the hole. You should not be burglarizing someone’s place. If you do and are caught, flee or surrender, don’t kill the person living there. Likewise, if stopped by the police on a routine traffic stop, do not make matters worse by killing the police officer. So dumb. And tragic.

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