Columbia policeman charged in slaying of college student

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Associated Press WriterCOLUMBIA, MO. (AP) -- A former Columbia police officer was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the slaying of a University of Missouri-Columbia student with whom he acknowledged a homosexual relationship.

Steve A. Rios, 27, was also charged with armed criminal action in the June 5 slaying of Jesse James Valencia, 23.

Columbia Police Investigator Mike Martin said in a statement that Rios was arrested and is in custody. He said authorities would have no further statements until a 1 p.m. news conference in Columbia.

Rios' attorney, Rusty Antel of Columbia, did not immediately return a call Thursday morning from The Associated Press.

Rios recently resigned from the Police Department, where he had been an officer since November 2001. He had previously been on paid leave after telling investigators of his relationship with Valencia, a junior history major from Danville, Ky.

Rios had arrested the student in April for interfering with him and another officer as they answered a police call about a loud party. Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm has said that was apparently the first time the men met.

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.

The charges were filed by Special Prosecutor Morley Swingle of Cape Girardeau.

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