Phoenix, AZ – Authorities arrested a murder suspect on Aug. 31 after a Phoenix mother helped them track down the man wanted for the murder of her 30-year-old daughter six years ago.
Krystal Mitchell was found dead inside an apartment while visiting friends in San Diego with her boyfriend, Raymond Samuel McLeod Jr., in June of 2016, ABC News reported.
Mitchell was found by a friend after she had been strangled to death in a bedroom.
McLeod, the last person seen with Mitchell, was nowhere to be found, ABC News reported.
The U.S. Marshals put the bodybuilder on the country’s list of the 15 Most Wanted fugitives.
Authorities think McLeod fled the United States via Mexico and there were reports he was spotted in Guatemala and Belize over the years, ABC News reported.
“On Saturday August 20th, the U.S. Marshals Service received a tip through the U.S. Marshals website, indicating someone resembling McLeod’s characteristics may be working as an English instructor at a school in El Salvador,” U.S. Marshals Service Chief Deputy Joseph O’Callahan told reporters at a press conference announcing McLeod’s apprehension.
U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted fugitive Raymond McLeod, 37, wanted by the San Diego Police Department for the 2016 murder of 30-year-old Krystal Mitchell, was taken into custody Monday afternoon by El Salvadoran law enforcement authorities. #usms #pswrftf #fugitive #sandiego pic.twitter.com/D1qyu6tcvm
— Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force (@USMS_PSWRFTF) August 31, 2022
#Breaking San Diego murder suspect Raymond McLeod will be arraigned Friday morning. The Marine fugitive, caught in El Salvador, faces one count for the June 2016 Allied Gardens death of his girlfriend Krystal Mitchell. He was booked at 230 this morning with a no bail hold. pic.twitter.com/iX1IBoWg8y
— Phil Blauer (@PhilBFox5) August 31, 2022
The murdered woman’s mother ultimately played a huge role in tracking down her daughter’s killer, KTVK reported.
Mitchell’s mother, Josephine Wentzel, is a former police detective who has been raising her daughter’s two children since her murder.
Wentzel took classes to learn how to better search for her daughter’s killer using social media and never stopped investigating Mitchell’s death, KTVK reported.
“It was years of hard work, and to be honest with you, I wasn’t sure,” she told reporters at the celebratory press conference.
The former detective said it was the public attention that brought about McLeod’s apprehension, ABC News reported.
“The most important thing is to get their faces out in public,” Wentzel explained.
Authorities have credited the mother with keeping the case on their radar screens and not letting it slip to the bottom of the “Cold Case” pile, KTVK reported.
“She never let Krystal’s murder be forgotten,” San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said. “She was the driving force, staying involved, chasing down tips, making certain the case never went stale, making certain talking with district attorney and U.S. Attorney’s office, to make sure we could find McLeod.”
Wentzel said she saw McLeod’s apprehension as the end of one chapter and the start of another, ABC News reported.
“This is one chapter closed. Now I have another chapter that I have to be involved in, and that’s the justice system,” she said.
“I told the prosecutors that I hope they do their due diligence; I’m there to help make sure the case goes through… and do whatever you can to make that happen because my family deserves that justice like that,” the mother added.
Wentzel isn’t done pursuing justice for her daughter and plans to work as hard for McLeod’s conviction as she did for his apprehension, KTVK reported.
“I will be satisfied when he is convicted for brutally murdering my daughter, and that he’s sentenced to life in prison,” she said. “I will be just as much involved as I was in the search to see this happen.”