The retired detective who helped track down her daughter’s bodybuilding killer said the job wasn’t over until he was in prison for life.
Josephine Funes Wentzel, 63, came out of retirement to spend six years hunting Raymond “RJ” McLeod, 36, for the 2016 murder of their daughter Krystal Mitchell, 30.
Former Marine McLeod – considered so dangerous that US Marshals put the highest bounty on his head ever – was finally arrested on Monday in the small El Salvadaor town of Sonsonate after six years on the run.
Determined to make sure the case didn’t go cold, Wentzel worked non-stop until a woman in El Salvador read an article about the case that Wentzel had widely circulated and McLeod recognized.
“Obviously I’m thrilled that it’s been found and that part is over, but at the same time it’s a reminder of why you’re there in the first place,” Wentzel told The US Sun.
“There’s no victory until he’s sentenced to life imprisonment, and now that’s going to be a whole different journey, a new chapter.
“I am grateful to be able to close this chapter, as are my family and my grandchildren.”
Josephine Funes Wentzel, 63, came out of retirement in 2016 to spend six years tracking down the killer of her daughter Krystal Mitchell, 30
Former Marine Raymond “RJ” McLeod, 36, spent six years on the run in Central America after allegedly choking Mitchell to death in a hotel room
Krystal Mitchell, 30, was killed in a San Diego apartment in June 2016 and her new boyfriend McLeod then went on the run
She expressed her gratitude to the US Marshals who invested time and money in the six-year case and “showed us that Krystal is worthy of justice.”
McLeod had told people he was Canadian and used the false name “Jack Donovan,” according to a Spanish-language Univision special about his case that aired across Central America, where he was believed to be in hiding.
He was arrested Monday outside his class full of students at Direct English School, where he was being paid $1,000 a month in the small town of Sonsonate.
The arrest was the result of six remarkable years of tireless effort, working side-by-side with US Marshals, risking her own life by traversing Central America, tracking leads, and handling the case.
At one point she was threatened with a knife at the Guatemalan border and at another point brutally attacked by a wild dog.
The trail led them first to Guatemala, where it was sighted in 2017, and then to Belize, where it was sighted again the following year.
Krystal Mitchell, 30, of Phoenix, had only been dating McLeod a few weeks when he killed her
McLeod has been described as armed, dangerous, an “enthusiastic bodybuilder” and “heavy drinker”.
Mitchell is pictured with her mother, Josephine Wentzel, a retired detective who worked on the case and was instrumental in tracking McLeod
Wentzel said she’s been in Guatemala for a long time — he was seen in a video clip dancing with a woman at a bar at the Almost Famous hostel in the seaside town of Livingston at Christmas 2016 — but said she hasn’t particularly focused on El Salvador.
“Obviously, my daughter cannot be brought back, but I am relieved that this man is no longer a threat to women in Mexico and Central America,” she told Univision.
“I’ve looked in El Salvador, but I’ve never really focused on that country,” she said.
“A Hispanic friend told me, ‘He’s not going to El Salvador — they’re going to kill him.’
“But there he was — in the same community as the person who told me that.”
Wentzel said local authorities received a tip from a local woman.
“There was an official complaint. A woman in El Salvador recalled reading an article on Univision’s website and seeing the man.
“She called to report him.”
Wentzel said she, too, widely circulated the Univision article in hopes of tracking it down.
Raymond “RJ” McLeod is pictured in El Salvador Monday after being arrested after six years on the run
McLeod is seen Monday after being arrested by Salvadoran police with the help of US Marshals
McLeod is seen being taken away by police in El Salvador on Monday
“I shared this article because it was in Spanish and explained everything.
“I sent it out to several people on social media.
“He was hiding in a small town in El Salvador, pretending to be Canadian. You could go straight to his classroom and arrest him.”
An administrator at another nearby school said it was common practice for staff identities to go unchecked.
“They hire teachers and they don’t ask for ID,” the administrator told DailyMail.com.
“They don’t even check if they’re licensed to teach. Many of the teachers there have tattoos.”
Mitchell was found strangled after visiting a bar with McLeod, who got into an argument with another man, also an ex-Marine.
All three were thrown out of the bar. McLeod and Mitchell returned to the rental apartment, and Mitchell was found dead the next day with obvious signs of struggle.
McLeod made his escape through Mexico and Marshalls asked for help but warned he was considered “armed and dangerous” – describing him as “an avid bodybuilder and a heavy drinker”.
Marshals said McLeod can be recognized by his distinctive skull tattoos
When he made the top 15 list in 2021, Marshal Steve Stafford of the Southern District of California said they would never give up and gave credit to Wentzel.
“Great credit goes to the victim’s mother, who never gave up the search for her daughter’s killer and worked closely with our office and other law enforcement agencies to make this arrest possible,” he said.
McLeod has a violent history and is currently in custody in El Salvador, where he is expected to be extradited to the US to eventually face charges in Mitchell’s murder.
At the time of her murder in 2016, McLeod was on bail for a felony charge of injuring his estranged wife in Riverside, California.
He had also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in 2009 of aggravated assault and violating a restraining order.
Those charges were later dismissed as part of a plea bargain that required the killer to complete a domestic violence counseling program.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11168321/Retired-detective-helped-violent-monster-accused-killing-daughter-calls-justice.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 A retired detective who helped find a “violent monster” accused of killing his daughter is demanding justice