“Years ago I just began picking up crime scene tape at crime scenes I was covering for KVOA and after a while I thought what on earth am I going to do with all this crime scene tape?,” Murillo told the Arizona Daily Star in 2014. “And then, while I was working out at the gym, it came to me.” In 2009, Murillo began building her own home out of the yellow tape, and finished it five years later.
Murillo came to Tucson and joined KVOA-TV in 1978 after several years working with KRGV-TV in Weslaco, Texas. Upon her graduation from the University of Texas–Pan American, Murillo joined KRGV-TV where she became the first female Hispanic broadcaster in South Texas. “I remember one time walking into the break room and the guys were drinking their coffee and smoking their cigars,” told the Arizona Daily Star in 2008. “One of them said, ‘What is this world coming to when we are letting women into the business?’”
What the world was coming to, at least in Weslaco and then for the last 39 years in Tucson, was that it was getting not only a great reporter, but someone would become a fixture in Southern Arizona. As a general assignments reporter, specializing in crime reporting, Murillo has interviewed celebrities and death-row inmates and covered homicides and drug busts. Her efforts have earned her numerous awards, including several prestigious Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press honors. Murillo has also been active in the community, giving her time to numerous organizations and charities like Las Familias, the People With AIDS Coalition of Tucson, the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon and, the professional organization, Concerned Media Professionals. She also sits on the Governor’s Violence Against Women’s Commission.
“There is no harder worker than Lupita Murillo,” says her long-time co-worker, former KVOA anchor Kristi Tedesco. “Even on the toughest days, she digs deep and gets it done. She leads by example, she’s more connected than anyone I know, and she makes a rum cake you wouldn’t believe. If you get one, you know you’ve done something right. Lupita is the epitome of Southern Arizona finest and I absolutely love her.”
“I’m certain whomever coined that phrase, ‘The best things in life come in small packages,’ must have been talking about Lupita Murillo,” says KVOA news director Cathie Batbie. “At 4’10, she is the queen of crime fighting, a connoisseur of the high heel shoe, the best teacher of every Spanish word that you never learned in school and a force to be reckoned with when it comes to journalistic integrity. At the end of the day, she’s the person you want to go into battle with on a news story and we have been lucky enough to have had her on the KVOA team for over 35 years. The best of the best in the world of journalism — that’s Lupita Murillo.”
Murillo never expected to be at one station for almost 40 years. “My goal was to be here for two years at the max and then go back to Texas,” she said. “I guess the Catalinas kept me here.”
Murillo was inducted into the Silver Circle in 2017.