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Moises Sandoval MENDOZA





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 18, 2004
Date of birth: January 26, 1984
Victim profile: Rachel Tolleson, 20
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Collin County, Texas, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on July 1, 2005

The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas

opinion ap75213


TDCJ Number

Date of Birth

Mendoza, Moises S.



Date Received

Age (when Received)

Education Level




Date of Offense

Age (at the Offense)







Hair Color






Eye Color

5' 09"



Native County

Native State

Prior Occupation




Prior Prison Record


Summary of incident

On 03/18/2004 in Collin County, Texas, Mendoza fatally strangled a 20 year old white female, took her body to a field behind his house and kept her there for several days until questioned by police.

Mendoza then drove the body to a dirt pit in rural Collin County, set her body on fire and buried her under a brush pile.



Race and Gender of Victim

White Female


Moises Mendoza – Latino, age 20

Sentenced to death in Collin County, Texas

By: A jury

Date of crime: 2004

Prosecution’s case/defense response: Mendoza kidnapped, sexually assaulted and strangled to death Rachel Tolleson. He then burned the body. In aggravation the prosecution proved an escalating pattern of violence by Mendoza that included several rapes and robberies. In mitigation the defense presented family members who described Mendoza as a caring person who began to act differently in his late teenage years as he manifested symptoms of deep depression.

Prosecutor(s): Greg Davis

Defense lawyer(s): Angela Ivory

Sources: Dallas Morning News 6/24/2005, 6/30/2005 (LEXIS, USPAPR file).


Moises Mendoza to file appeal

McKinney Courier-Gazette

October 4, 2006

The attorney for death row inmate Moises Mendoza, 22, of Farmersville, said he plans to file an appeal on his client's capital murder conviction.

John Tatum, Mendoza's appellate attorney, said he plans to file the appeal in the Texas Court of Appeals in November. He said the deadline for Mendoza to appeal is by the 1st week in November, but he said he will probably have to ask for an extension in order to prepare Mendoza's brief for the court.

Tatum said he plans to include several "issues" in Mendoza's appeal in the hopes it will persuade the court to grant him a new trial. He said he could not discuss any of those issues until the appeal has been filed.

Mendoza became the 12th person in Collin County sentenced to death since 1976 back in July 2005. A jury in the 401st District Court found him guilty of capital murder for the death of Rachelle O'Neil Tolleson, 20, whom he strangled, raped and stabbed in March 2004, and tried to dispose of the body by burning and dumping it in an eastern Collin County creek bed.

A date for his execution has not been set, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Collin County First Assistant District Attorney Gregory S. Davis said after the jury gave Mendoza the death penalty that the punishment fits the crime.

"Moises Mendoza is one of the most violent, sadistic men I have ever encountered, and this death penalty is totally justified," Davis said last year. "The jury's decision will ensure that no one in society will ever be victimized by him again."


'Please forgive him': Emotions run high following Mendoza death sentence

July 1, 2005

After 3 weeks of jury selection, 1 week of testimony and 4 hours of deliberation, 6 women and 6 men on Wednesday sentenced Moises Sandoval Mendoza, 21, to die by lethal injection.

Last Thursday, Mendoza was found guilty of the capital murder of Rachelle O'Neil Tolleson, 20, whom he strangled, raped and stabbed in March 2004.

Mendoza tried to dispose of the body by burning and dumping it in an eastern Collin County creek bed, First Assistant District Attorney Gregory Davis said.

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Mendoza is the 12th defendant to receive the death penalty in Collin County since 1976.

Upon explicit instructions from 401st District Judge Mark Rusch, both families tried to show as little emotion as possible after the verdict was read in open court. Pam and Mark O'Neil, Rachelle's parents, shook in complete silence in their seats. Pam cried openly while reading a statement to Mendoza while holding a picture of her daughter and granddaughter, Avery.

"You know what you have done," she said while being held by her husband. "You took our only daughter, Austin's only sister and, most importantly, you took away Avery's mommy. In our eyes, you're worse than an animal. Not only have you hurt our entire family, but you've also torn apart your entire family.

"You took from [Rachelle] what she wanted most," O'Neil said. "She wanted more than anything in life to watch her baby take her first steps, say her 1st word, and she'll never get to hear her daughter call her Mommy."

Mendoza, who appeared in ankle and wrist restraints, was turned over to the custody of the Collin County Detention Center. He showed little emotion during the reading of the jury's decision and O'Neil's statement.

Juan Sanchez, Mendoza's attorney, said Wednesday was not just a sad day for his client.

"It's a sad day for everyone involved," Sanchez said after the trial. "Mendoza's family, O'Neil's family. It's not easy for anybody, even the state, the defense, and it's certainly been hardest on the jurors."

Sanchez said Mendoza feels "sad" and noted the trial and the jury's decision have "taken a toll on him."

During his closing statements, Sanchez recapped the "explanations" for Mendoza's behavior, including the depression Mendoza suffered after a serious injury left his father Jos unemployed and suicidal. Sanchez also spoke about the negative influences placed upon Mendoza by his friends and girlfriend.

Sanchez told the jury that in order to determine a fitting punishment, they had to "have a look at his face and look over his shoulder at where he came from."

He also said a sentence of life in prison would make Mendoza think about his actions and change his behavior and demeanor for the better.

"I think the world is tired of death; I think Texas is tired of death," Sanchez said.

Davis, however, said he was "very relieved" by the jury's sentence. He said he hopes it will bring closure to Tolleson's family and friends in the midst of their grief.

"Moises Mendoza is one of the most violent, sadistic men I have ever encountered, and this death penalty is totally justified," Davis said. "The jury's decision will ensure that no one in society will ever be victimized by him again."

During the state's closing statements, he and Assistant District Attorney Michelle Voirin said the defense's claim of a dysfunctional home "blames and shames" his family.

"It's pathetic to blame the very people who tried to help him," Voirin said to the jury.

She also reminded jurors that Mendoza killed more than 1 person last year by taking the love of a mother that her child will never know.

"It may not bring back her mother's voice," Voirin said, "but when you do what the defendant is forcing you to do, she will remember what the 12 of you did for her [Avery]."

Following the dismissal of the jury and the closing of the courtroom, both families wept openly and comforted the parents. Members of Pam's family held her as they asked her not to cry. Pam responded, "It's something I have to do."

As the Mendoza family exited the courtroom, Mendoza's older sister, Elizabeth Palos, embraced Pam. The two sobbed uncontrollably. Palos begged O'Neil to forgive her younger brother for what he had done.

"We will," Pam told her. "We just need time."



One arrested, several suspected in Farmersville murder

By Joe L Blevins

Mar 26, 2004

MOISES SANDAVAL MENDOZA was placed in the Collin County Jail under a $500,000 bond for the murder of Rachelle O’Neil Tolleson.

Moises Mendoza was a 2001 graduate of Farmersville High School, where the victim also went to school. Even though they went to the same school they did not date, or really know each other until about 6 weeks ago when they met again at Collin County Community College.

Moises Mendoza was seen at a friend’s house Jeremy Neil, and Travis Rose, the same night that Rachelle disappeared. According to today’s press conference, “They were drinking quite a bit and they were visiting and talking Wednesday night, March 17th.” Mendoza had three Grand Jury warrants out for his arrest for aggravated assault, and robbery charges back in November. Why he wasn’t picked up for these warrants, I don’t know. Perhaps if he had been under arrest he would not have been free to assault Rachelle Tolleson at her home that Wednesday night. Mrs. Tolleson was brutally strangled, her body hidden behind Mendoza’s house, and then her body was burned, moved, and placed out off of Highway 380 in the far fields close to Copeville and Greenville.

Rachelle O’Neil Tolleson’s funeral will be held Saturday in Farmersville. The 6 month-old daughter, Avery has a special fund set up for her at First National Bank Farmersville on McKinney Street. Bank president, Craig Overstreet is the contact person if you wish to contribute for Avery’s cause. It is a good cause if there ever was one!

The arrest of Mendoza is soon to be followed by others that were involved. A $20,000 reward is a good cause to help find the truth in this matter. To make it all complete: 11 more suspects are also being considered in her kidnapping and murder.

All these details make for a tough situation: for I know the parents of this accused youth. Moises is the youngest of the Mendoza family. His father “Poncho” Conception Mendoza has been a friend to my family for many years. Poncho worked tirelessly, and harder than I have ever seen a human being work. He helped my father for many years at my family’s orchard. He stood beside me as a friend to console me when my twin brother John was killed in a terrible traffic accident in December 1997. He is the kind of friend that you would want to have beside you, in your corner if there was trouble. He got the job done and he tried harder than anyone I knew to make things work out better for you. When I thought about this being his youngest son, I was just devastated. I feel that sometimes when you try your best to help someone do right, things don’t work out for you. I was a member of “Tough Love” in Garland for about 3 years with some kids of a woman I dated. I saw this same scenario occur many times: A parent, or parents try their best; and no matter what they do, the kid takes their own path and goes against the parent wishes to do evil. “The Prodigal Son.” (Or Daughter.)

So when you say your prayers at night remember that there are many victims here, and that several parents are grieving, along with the rest of us here. Remember them in your prayers also. Those of you that are involved in this murder, or helped by being involved with this; I hope you are sleeping well at night! I hope you are hearing Rochelle’s words, “Help my daughter, she needs me…!” Remember this as you try to sleep.



Police: Friend told of Farmersville killing

Papers say suspect described strangling Farmersville woman

By Tim Wyatt / The Dallas Morning News

Thursday, March 25, 2004

McKINNEY – A 20-year-old Farmersville man told a friend that he strangled a young mother last week and hid her body behind his house, according to court documents filed by police.

Moises Sandoval Mendoza told the friend he dumped the body of Rachelle O'Neil Tolleson at a remote site and set it on fire after police questioned him about her whereabouts, according to the paperwork that police filed to justify Mr. Mendoza's arrest.

Authorities arrested Mr. Mendoza on Wednesday night after matching an account given by friend Stacy Marie Garcia with evidence collected since March 18. That was the day Ms. Tolleson's family notified police that she had vanished from her home and that her 6-month-old daughter had been left alone in the house.

"I have to tell you something; you're going to be mad at me," Mr. Mendoza is quoted as telling Ms. Garcia. "I did it."

According to the statement given to a Texas Ranger and a Collin County sheriff's deputy, Ms. Garcia said Mr. Mendoza told her Tuesday night that he had strangled Ms. Tolleson. He said he picked her up from her home in Farmersville after her baby had fallen asleep.

However, police reports taken at the young woman's home after she was reported missing described furniture in disarray, which led them to believe Ms. Tolleson may have been abducted. The baby was left in a bedroom unharmed.

Hundreds of police and volunteers scoured the rural countryside surrounding Farmersville for five days before her body was discovered Tuesday in far eastern Collin County.

The latest police document did not give any account of why Mr. Mendoza would have killed the 20-year-old woman, whom he knew from high school in Farmersville. But according to Ms. Garcia's recounting of their conversation, Mr. Mendoza implied the two had an ongoing relationship.

The documents also don't explain Ms. Garcia's relationship to Mr. Mendoza. Ms. Garcia could not be reached Thursday night.

Farmersville police offered no comment on the case Thursday, except to say that Ms. Tolleson and Mr. Mendoza were "just acquaintances" who had known each other since high school, said Officer Vikki Pickett.

"Now, two fine local families are grieving over this incident," Officer Pickett said. "These are just good, local people."

Police told a judge who signed the arrest warrant that information in Ms. Garcia's statement included details that had not been released and "could have only been known by someone directly involved with the death" of Ms. Tolleson.

Mr. Mendoza has had three active warrants for his arrest since November for pending robbery charges against him in Dallas.

The Mendoza family did not return phone calls or answer their door Thursday. Mr. Mendoza was being held in the Collin County jail with bail set at $500,000. He declined requests for interviews.

Ms. Tolleson's family declined to comment on Mr. Mendoza's arrest. Her estranged husband, Andrew Tolleson, could not be reached.

Friends of the family tied purple ribbons on trees, stop signs and flag poles across town Thursday in memory of Ms. Tolleson, whose funeral will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church in Farmersville.

Residents expressed shock that one of their own had been charged with such a brutal crime.

Roy Blevins said he remembered when Mr. Mendoza cut grass in the neighborhoods as a younger man, and also worked with his father and older brother on occasion.

"He was a polite, hard-working kid," Mr. Blevins said. "If his father wasn't working, he was in church. A lot of townspeople are having a hard time believing it's him."

Fred and Dixie Bratton, who live across the street from the Mendoza family, had kind words for everyone in the family – except Moises.

"I'm very sorry for his family, he's got a good family," said Ms. Bratton. "But he wasn't a good boy. He never was."

An April 2003 Farmersville police report showed that Mr. Mendoza was charged with misdemeanor assault on allegations that he attacked his sister in the front yard of their home.

But the case was dismissed after his sister said she did not want to take the case to trial, according to court records.

Mr. Mendoza was awaiting trial on three counts of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon in connection with two robberies in March 2003 at Richland College in Dallas, where three people were robbed in a parking lot at gunpoint by a group of four men.

According to the court documents, Mr. Mendoza told Ms. Garcia that he picked up Ms. Tolleson in his red-and-white Dodge pickup truck, had sex with her and then killed her and hid her body in some brush behind his house on Jackson Street, the documents show.

After police questioned him about Ms. Tolleson's disappearance, Mr. Mendoza told Ms. Garcia, he moved the body, wrapped in a tarp, to Brushy Creek on Monday.

A man hunting for arrowheads spotted two feet sticking out of a brush pile Tuesday afternoon and notified police.

The body had been badly burned, and the medical examiner identified it as Ms. Tolleson late Tuesday using dental records.

Mr. Mendoza burned the body to remove her fingerprints, according to Ms. Garcia's statement.



Rachelle Tolleson, the victim.


Moisés Sandoval Mendoza



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