Accused murderer and one of the U.S. Marshals’ Top 15 Most Wanted, Raymond “RJ” McLeod, who has been on the run in Central America for years, was finally captured Monday following an almost six-year search.
McLeod is accused of killing his girlfriend, Krystal Mitchell, in June of 2016 in San Diego. The two lived in Arizona but were visiting friends in California and had only been dating for a few weeks at the time of her death. She is survived by two children.
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McLeod, a former Marine, was arrested around 4:30 pm Monday by Marshals and Salvadoran police, who received a tip that he was teaching English at a Sonsonate school near San Salvador. He was 5’11” and 230 pounds at the time of the murder, and he appears to have thinned down some since that time. He was described as “an avid bodybuilder and a heavy drinker.”
He had a history of domestic violence before he murdered Mitchell, and there was a $50,000 reward being offered for information leading to his arrest. It’s unclear if the person who reported the tip will be receiving that reward.
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Fox Nation host Nancy Grace had done a story on the hunt for McLeod. After he was arrested, she said, “RJ McLeod does not deserve to be called a U.S. Marine. He savagely murdered Krystal and then, like a coward, went on the run.”
On June 10, 2016, 30-year-old Krystal Mitchell was found dead in San Diego. There were “signs of a struggle” where her body was located. She and McLeod had been dating for a few weeks at the time, and probable cause was developed for McLeod’s arrest.
Police obtained a warrant for McLeod’s arrest quickly, but he hadn’t been brought into custody by local authorities by December of 2016. That’s when the US Marshals were brought in to assist.
He was profiled by psychologist Dr. Michael Bourke, who told Grace, “He enjoys hurting women for its own sake. He’s not someone that’s doing it for some other purpose. He simply enjoys it.”
McLeod was spotted in Guatemala in 2017 and in Belize in 2018. In April of 2021, Marshal Steve Stafford of the Southern District of California said, “The passage of time will never deter the Marshals’ fugitive investigation for McLeod. If anything, it fuels our determination. We will leave no stone unturned until he is brought to justice.”
Mitchell’s mother, Josephine Wentzel, was a retired detective who started working the case in an effort to locate McLeod. Following his capture, Wentzel praised the agents involved, including regional U.S. Marshals Task Force Chief Frankie Sanchez, Francisco Barajas, and Luis Ramirez, saying they did “excellent work.”
“I have had faith and trust in them,” she said, “and ever since meeting Francisca Barajas, I had full confidence that this day would come, and he would be the one to catch him. I told him, ‘You are my hero. We are bonded for life.’”
Wentzel has worked tirelessly for the last six years assisting in locating McLeod. She started a website, Angels of Justice, dedicated to the effort. The description of the site says, “Angels of Justice was formed by Josephine Funes Wentzel, who lost her daughter to murder. Krystal Jaye Mitchell just turned 30 years old when she met a man who charmed her off her feet only to murder her. Please help me find justice for Krystal and for her two children, who are now motherless. It is with great anticipation that Angels of Justice will continue on seeking justice for other families after Krystal’s murderer is found. Please share this and invite others to share and join.”
She released a book in October 2021 called The Chase: In hot pursuit of my daughter’s killer.
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In a series of social media posts following McLeod’s capture, Wentzel said, “CAPTURED!!! THEY JUST CAUGHT #RaymondMcLeodJr TODAY!!,” “YESSSSSSSSSS!!!!! WE DID IT!!!!!,” and, “GOD IS GREAT!!! WHAT A GREAT DAY!!!! GOD IS FAITHFUL!!!!!”
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