Jesse Valencia Bio, Wiki
Jesse Valencia was a 23-year-old junior at the University of Missouri who was murdered near his college campus on June 5th, 2004. He was found dead with his throat slit on a lawn near campus. The 23-year-old was lying face up and wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. His story will be told tonight, April 24, on NBC’s Dateline, which airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) April 24, 2020
Jesse Valencia Mother interviewed in NBC’s Dateline
In tonight’s episode of Dateline, Keith Morrison interviews Jesse’s mother, Linda Valencia, Officer Steven Rios, Jesse’s friends, and Detective John Short. Valencia told his mother starting at a young age that he believed he would die young.
“He said ‘Mom, I’m not gonna live to be – very old,’ he said, ‘I’m gonna die at a very young age,’” she tells Morrison, later adding that he never said where those thoughts were coming from.
Jesse Valencia Wrote a Poem Prior to His Murder
Jesse had written a poem about how he may die soon and left it in his wallet ahead of the murder. Her mother told the “An Unexpected Killer,” which aired on Oxygen back in 2019, that her son had a fortune from a cookie saying that he was going to pass on soon in his wallet as well as the poem.
“And there was a poem that Jesse had written a few days before about his own death and that he was going to die soon and he was describing the farm that we lived on, it was beautiful.”
She had him buried near the path he spoke about in the poem, and said that it may have been his way of telling her that “it was going to be okay.”
Jesse Valencia Death & Cause
On the afternoon of June 5, 2004, when the University of Missouri junior Jesse Valencia was found dead with his throat slit on a lawn near campus. The 23-year-old was lying face up and wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts.
“The cut to his neck was … so deep the blade of the knife had also nicked the spine,” said Boone County Special Prosecutor Morley Swingle, adding that Valencia had a series of bruises across his breastbone and between his shoulder blades.
Multiple sources say that Valencia’s body was found just a block away from where he lived. When the residents nearby were interviewed, one man reported hearing an argument take place around 4 a.m. inside of Valencia’s apartment where he lived alone.
Valencia had a series of bruises across his breastbone and between his shoulder blades, according to Boone County Special Prosecutor Morley Swingle. She said, “The cut to his neck was … so deep the blade of the knife had also knocked the spine.”
Police eventually surmised that Valencia had run away from an argument in his home and then placed in a chokehold before having his throat slit.
Jesse Valencia Boyfriend (Steven Rios)
According to the Oxygen documentary, Valencia had many friends who came forward after his death to tell investigators about Valencia’s life. They said that Jesse had told them he was having sex with a Columbia police officer identified as Steven Rios.
Andrew Schermerhorn, Valencia’s “friend with benefits,” came forward to confirm the story, adding that the three of them had a sexual encounter at Valencia’s apartment just a few weeks prior to the murder. He was able to look through the Columbia Police Department’s yearbook and identified the man in his story as Patrolman Steven Rios, who was 27 years old.
When he was initially arrested by the police about the alleged affair, he denied it. Later, though, he admitted he had a sexual relationship with Valencia, though he maintained he had nothing to do with the murder. There was a lack of physical evidence at the crime scene, so no charges were filed at that time.
Steven Rios Arrest & Charges
Valencia was arrested at the home of a friend after asking police officers for probable cause when they broke up the party as per Swingle. The prosecutor said Rios gave Valencia a municipal court summons for “obstructing a government operation.”
Valencia’s mother added that Rios asked Valencia personal questions on the way down to the station, and the attention didn’t stop there. Rios showed up at Valencia’s apartment the very next day, claiming that he had more questions that he needed answered. Linda said that “they went out a few times after that, and he would come back to Jesse’s apartment… even when he was in uniform.”
According to a close friend of Valencia’s, Joan Sheridan, he believed the charges against him would be dismissed when he went into court because of his relationship with Rios, but that wasn’t the case.
“It had not been dismissed, and that had angered Jesse,” Swingle said. “So Jesse had told Joan that the next time the police officer comes over, I’m going to tell him that I have a little secret the chief of police might want to know.”
Police Captain Schwartze received a phone call from Rios who said he’d “done a bad thing,” saying he was 150 miles away in Kansas City with a shotgun he had purchased. The Captain believed he was going to kill himself, so she pleaded with him to come back to Columbia, which he did.
When he was back in Columbia, Rios was taken into protective custody and put on a 96-hour hold at a mental facility. He managed to escape from the facility, making his way to the roof of a parking garage nearby where he again threatened to kill himself. Police were able to talk him off the ledge again, bringing him back to a mental facility.
During his stay at the facility, forensic evidence returned from the lab that found loose hairs on Valencia’s chest matching Rios’ arm hair. Rios was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, pleading not guilty.
In 2005, a jury found Rios guilty of first-degree murder, a crime that held an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole. Jurors recommended an additional, mostly symbolic of 10 years for the charge of armed criminal action related to Rios’ use of a knife in the crime.