A Time To Kill is investigating the savage murder of college student Jesse Valencia, who was killed by serving police officer and secret lover Steven Rios in Columbia, Missouri, in 2004.
On June 5, 2004, the body of 23-year-old Valencia was discovered lying on a lawn outside his apartment near the University of Missouri campus. His throat had been slashed with a knife so deeply that it had left marks on his spine.
The cops were initially baffled as to why anyone would want to kill this popular student in such a brutal manner. However, they got a breakthrough when a university acquaintance of Valencia’s told investigators that the victim had been having an affair with a serving police officer.
Steven Rios had first met Valencia when he busted him for mouthing off at the police when they broke up an off-campus party. The married Rios then embarked on a steamy affair with the college student.
In their seven-week-long secret relationship, Rios had even attended Valencia’s apartment for sex while in uniform when he was supposed to be on patrol.
Steven Rios feared Jesse Valencia would expose their affair
According to Valencia’s friends, the student had expected Rios to get the charges from his arrest dropped. When that didn’t happen, he started to suggest that he would get the officer into trouble by exposing their affair.
It seems that Rios felt his career and his marriage were in jeopardy when Valencia threatened to go public with their affair, so he resorted to murder. Rios’s DNA was found under the student’s fingernails, and three of his hairs were found on the victim’s chest.
There was more evidence against the officer’s character that had been ruled inadmissible in court. Rios had lied to his lover about his name. Valencia had told friends he was dating an officer named Ted Anderson, and he had even called the police department looking for Officer Anderson. A name tag for the real Ted Anderson had recently been stolen.
When the charges were brought against Rios, several women came forward to say that the officer had told them he could make charges disappear in exchange for sex.
When investigators first encountered Rios with the evidence, he admitted to the affair but denied murder. He also threatened to commit suicide by jumping off a roof.
Rios was initially convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life. However, his conviction was reduced to second-degree murder on appeal, and he will be eligible for parole in 2049.
More from A Time To Kill
Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on A Time To Kill.
Kaitlyn Conley had argued with her on-again/off-again boyfriend and decided to exact revenge by killing his mother and her employer, Mary Yoder, with poison.
Joshua Niles and Amber Washburn were due to be married when they were tragically gunned down in the front yard of their New York home. The gunman was former police officer Tim Dean, and he had driven all the way from Texas at the behest of Niles’s ex-wife, Charlene Childers, to commit the murder.
A Time To Kill airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.