Houston sailor held in death of woman who reportedly refused abortion

DeviaA 19-year-old sailor from Houston wanted in the death of a pregnant woman who reportedly refused to abort a child they had conceived last year was arrested Wednesday, authorities said.

Joseph Mike Devia was arrested in the Chicago area Wednesday morning, Jodi Silva, a spokeswoman for the Houston Police Department, told The Times.

Silva said Devia was taken into custody at a Navy training area at the Houston Police Department's request and was in the process of being turned over to local authorities late Wednesday for extradition to Texas.

Devia was arrested on suspicion of capital murder in the August 2010 death of Omoyeme Obehi Erazua.

Erazua's body was discovered on a Houston street. An autopsy showed she had been stabbed in the neck about 20 times.

A purse found with the body contained a cellphone that showed calls and text messages between Erazua and Devia indicating Devia believed he was the child's father. The messages also indicated Devia wanted Erazua to have an abortion and that she had refused, according to a complaint filed by the Harris County district attorney's office cited in the Houston Chronicle.

Erazua had been staying at the Mission of Yahweh women's shelter days before her death but left the facility Aug. 21 with several men, telephoning the shelter later that night to say she was stranded in Galveston, according to the Chronicle.

When investigators interviewed Devia in June, he denied knowing Erazua well, according to the complaint. He said Erazua called him the night before her body was discovered and asked him to pick her up downtown, but Devia said he told her he would pick her up at St. Joseph Hospital. When he got to the hospital, Devia said, he never found her.

Police took a DNA sample from Devia that matched blood found on clothes Erazua was wearing when her body was discovered, according to the complaint. The sample also showed Devia was likely the father of Erazua's child.

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-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Los Angeles

Photo: Sailor Joseph Mike Devia, 19, of Houston was arrested at a Chicago-area training facility Wednesday. Credit: Houston Police Department

 
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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal


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