A bodybuilder and U.S. Marine veteran wanted in connection to the 2016 killing of his girlfriend was arrested after six years on the run, thanks in large part to the victim’s mother, a former police detective who came out of retirement to get justice for her daughter, officials said.
Josephine Wentzel has been hunting Raymond McLeod ever since her 30-year-old daughter, Krystal Mitchell, was found dead on June 10, 2016.
Mitchell and McLeod, who were both from Phoenix, Arizona, had been on vacation in San Diego when Mitchell was killed.
Police responding to a 911 call of a woman not breathing discovered Mitchell, a mother of two, strangled to death in the apartment where she and McLeod were staying. McLeod, who was said to be a heavy drinker with an explosive temper, was nowhere to be found, officials said.
Now, years after making the U.S. Marshals’ Top 15 Most Wanted List with a $50,000 reward on his head, McLeod, 37, has been found overseas and leading a new life under another name.
“They (authorities) called me, they said, ‘You did it. You did it,’” Wentzel told Inside Edition.
Wentzel, who served as a detective in the U.S. territory of Guam, devoted her life to tracking down McLeod.
“I pursued it and I started digging up all the tips. People started calling left and right,” she said, noting she was using the skills she developed as an investigator to enlist informants.
And in 2018, when authorities held a news conference about the manhunt, Wentzel was front and center. “I know finding him is not going to bring my daughter back but it’s going to save the life of your daughter, your granddaughter,” she told cameras.
The big break in the case came when Wentzel posted a Spanish-language story about the case on social media. That led to a tip from a woman in El Salvador, who thought she recognized McLeod. It turned out he was teaching English at a school about 40 miles west of San Salvador near the Pacific Ocean, authorities said.
A photo taken when McLeod was taken into custody showed him wearing a shirt that read, “Coach, Changing Lives.”
“He sure as hell changed our lives and it wasn’t a good thing,” Wentzel said.
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan commended Wentzel for her dogged pursuit of justice in her daughter’s killing, saying, “Huge credit goes to the victim’s mother who never gave up searching for her daughter’s killer and worked closely with our office and other law enforcement to make this arrest possible.”
Wentzel is now raising her daughter’s two children.