Unpacking the Fate of Former Police Officer and Convicted Murderer Steven Arthur Rios

Chris Barilla - Author

Feb. 24 2023, Published 4:39 p.m. ET

When it comes to investigating the chilling murder of a college student, the last place any police unit is likely to look is within their own ranks. However, if the Columbia Police Department hadn't looked inward back in 2004, it would have meant that former officer Steven Arthur Rios might have gotten away with the murder of University of Missouri junior Jesse Valencia.

Dateline shed some light on the harrowing situation, but where is Rios now? Keep reading for all of the known information.

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Where is Steven Arthur Rios now?

Those who are concerned about Rios's current whereabouts need worry no more as the convicted killer is exactly where he belongs: behind bars. After being convicted of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in May 2005, Rios was handed a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He then received an additional ten years on top of that. Per the Columbia Missourian, he was retried in 2008 over hearsay claims, which led to another second-degree murder charge and armed criminal action.

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From that retrial, Rios was slapped with another life sentence plus an additional 23 years. He is being held at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, per the Columbia Daily Tribune. On that secondary conviction, Steven will be eligible for parole in 2035.

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What did Steven Arthur Rios do?

While working as a campus police officer sometime in April 2004, Rios responded to a noise complaint at Jesse's friend's home. The latter was given multiple court summons, which led to the two beginning an affair that Jesse seemingly thought would lessen his legal woes, per The Advocate-Messenger. After Rios did nothing to help Jesse's summons, the college student threatened to make their relationship public. Rios, who was married at the time, decided to make sure Jesse couldn't expose him.

During the early hours of June 5, 2004, Jesse was murdered, and his body was discovered by students on the college lawn that morning. DNA under Jesse’s fingernails as well as arm hair both matched Rios. Furthermore, bruising on his body was also consistent with official police chokehold techniques. Therefore, Rios was arrested for the killing. During Rios's trial, several other victims came forward saying that the former officer propositioned them to have sex with him after he arrested them.

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