A former Columbia, Mo., police officer was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the slaying of a University of Missouri-Columbia student from Kentucky with whom he acknowledged having had a gay relationship.
Steve A. Rios, 27, also was charged with armed criminal action in the June 5 slaying of Jesse James Valencia, 23, a junior history major from Danville, Ky. DNA matching that of Rios was found under Valencia's fingernails, Columbia police detective John Short said in a statement filed Thursday in Boone County circuit court.
Valencia was last seen leaving a party near the campus early June 5. His body was found later that day in a yard near his apartment. His throat had been cut. Rios had acknowledged a gay relationship with Valencia after agreeing to be interviewed by investigators in June, police said. Short's court statement said the last physical contact Rios acknowledged having with Valencia was more than one week before the student's death.
"It is unlikely that DNA from one person would remain under the fingernails of another person for over a week if the person showers and/or washes his hands frequently. Witnesses state that Jesse James Valencia showered frequently and washed his hands and face daily," Short wrote.
Short also wrote that a witness told investigators Valencia planned to tell Columbia police chief Randy Boehm about his relationship with Rios, who is married.