Mother of victim in Steven Rios case searches for son's belongings
COLUMBIA - The mother of the murder victim in the 2004 Steven Rios case is searching for her items taken during the investigation, after she lost all of his other possessions when her home caught fire. However, she is having trouble pinning down who has the items and can authorize their release.
Linda Valencia's home in Perryville, Kentucky burned to the ground about a year ago.
She not only lost her home but also lost every item of Jesse Valencia's she saved to remember him by.
MU student Jesse Valencia was murdered by former Columbia police officer Steven Rios in 2004, in an attempt to hide their homosexual relationship.
Linda Valencia said she arrived in Columbia Saturday to gather Jesse Valencia's belongings that were taken by police during their investigation.
She said she doesn't want her son's clothes, but does want his pictures and computer.
Former Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said he left Jesse Valencia's property behind when he left the office a few years ago.
Linda Valencia said she spoke to someone from the Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney's Office who told her the Columbia Police Department has the belongings.
Linda Valencia said she then called the Columbia Police Department and was told it does have the items, but that Cape Girardeau Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Limbaugh requested the police do not release any of it.
Swingle said he recommends the Columbia Police Department keeps the evidence used in the trial, but let go of any other items that weren't used as evidence.
"My advice to the Columbia Police Department would be 'don't release anything we actually used from the actual trial,'" Swingle said. "But it's my understanding that's not what Linda is looking for. She just wants pictures and his computer, so I don't see the reason why they wouldn't be releasing that, since we didn't use it in the trial."
Swingle said he would be willing to talk to Columbia Police about what evidence was used and what should be released to Linda Valencia.
"I told her that the Columbia Police could call me and I would talk to them about the property being released," Swingle said.
KOMU 8 News spoke with the Columbia Police Department Property and Evidence Unit and was told the Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney's Office must issue the release of Jesse Valencia's items.
Linda Valencia said she called different numbers at the Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney's Office and was told Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Limbaugh would call her back. She said she still hasn't received a call.
KOMU 8 News spoke with a secretary at the prosecutor's office and was told no one could speak on the matter besides one attorney that was busy at the time.
KOMU 8 News then left a voice mail with the specified attorney but received no call back.
Linda Valencia said she's not leaving Columbia until she gets Jesse Valencia's computer or pictures that weren't used as evidence in the trial.