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California man arrested in 17-year-old Arizona cold case murder

Frank Gallas Mendoza (l.) is arrested in the cold case killing of Richard Cacero Lucero in El Mirage, Ariz., in December of 2001.

(Arizona Department of Public Safety)

Cold case detectives have announced an arrest in the murder of an Arizona man in his house 17 years ago.

Richard Cacero Lucero was found dead on Dec. 20, 2001, by El Mirage police performing a welfare check.

Investigators charged Frank Gallas Mendoza, of Fresno, California, with murder, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said Thursday. He was arrested Sept. 24 in Fresno.

December 20, 2001, Richard Lucero’s life was taken. Since then, his family mourned his death. Now, 17 years later, they will celebrate knowing a suspect behind bars. Cases like these are the reason why we do what we do, we will never give up! pic.twitter.com/JZR0CQifJC

— Dept. Public Safety (@Arizona_DPS) September 27, 2018

“Progress in the latent print, and DNA testing helped our detectives make an arrest in this horrific and as yet unsolved murder,” DPS Director Col. Frank Milstead said.

Lucero’s brother-in-law said that his family finally has some closure after 17 years, Fox 10 Phoenix reported.

“We know that the police officers, detectives, the DNA of people, it always takes a whole team to come together and all the information to answer these questions,” Felix Jimenez said, according to the station.

“We are now finally at a point in our lives where there is closure for us and for the rest of the family that are not here at this point,” he said.

Click for more from Fox 10 Phoenix.

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