Des Plaines cops honored for nabbing 1999 murder suspect once featured on 'America's Most Wanted'
Two Des Plaines police officers who helped capture a murder suspect 21 years after the crime were honored by the city Tuesday.
Sgt. William Rochotte and officer Alfonso Galvan received formal commendations for the work that culminated in the 2020 arrest of Luis Rodriguez-Mena, who's charged with first-degree murder in the 1999 slaying of local resident Young Kavila.
In remarks at the start of Tuesday's city council meeting, Police Chief David Anderson credited the duo's "tireless efforts" and for their dedication to the case.
Kavila, 30, was found stabbed to death in her apartment in the Colonial Park Apartments complex on Nov. 30, 1999.
Rodriguez-Mena, who lived in the same complex, fled to Mexico with his then-girlfriend after the murder.
Rodriguez-Mena was identified as a suspect after police said a relative told them in 2007 that he had bragged about the murder and threatened to kill anyone who gave him up.
Police later tracked down the girlfriend after she left Rodriguez-Mena with their son.
In 2008, DNA found at the murder scene was identified as Rodriguez-Mena's using the son's DNA, police have said. Fingerprints also tied Rodriguez-Mena to the crime, they've said.
U.S. and international law enforcement agencies tried several times to grab Rodriguez-Mena in Mexico through the years, but his family kept moving him around.
The murder was featured on an episode of the television show "America's Most Wanted" in 2012.
Rochotte, then a detective, was assigned the case in 2018 after police got another tip about Rodriguez-Mena's whereabouts. He spent months preparing and organizing reports, warrants and evidence that would be needed to extradite Rodriguez-Mena if he was apprehended, Anderson said.
When a confidential source came forward with information about Rodriguez-Mena, Rochotte asked Galvan, who speaks English and Spanish, to assist.
Galvan communicated with the source for months, relaying information to Rochotte and the FBI, Anderson said Tuesday. That information led to Rodriguez-Mena's arrest in Mexico in June 2020.
Rodriguez-Mena was extradited to the U.S. that December and turned over to the FBI.
Rodriguez-Mena remains in custody, without bail, awaiting trial. A status hearing is scheduled for March 8 in the Skokie branch of Cook County circuit court, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state's attorney's office said.
After Anderson described their work on the case, Rochotte and Galvan received plaques from Mayor Andrew Goczkowski and handshakes from the aldermen and other city officials.