Authorities are seeking international help, as well as offering an $11,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a Marine veteran suspected of killing his girlfriend two years ago while visiting friends in San Diego.
34-year-old Raymond "RJ" McLeod of Arizona is believed to be on the run in Mexico or Central America and should be considered armed and dangerous, according to authorities. He's suspected of killing 30-year-old Krystal Mitchell on June 10, 2016, inside a friend's Allied Gardens apartment. Previously, authorities had sought McLeod as a "person of interest" in the case, but San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan has announced a murder charge against McLeod, her office said.
Among others speaking at a news conference planned for today at noon will be Mitchell's mother, Josephine Funes Wentzel, a former police detective who's been attempting on her own to track down McLeod. Wentzel's daughter, a divorced mother of two from Phoenix, was found dead that June day in 2016 at the apartment of an acquaintance in the 7600 block of Mission Gorge Road, police said. She was last seen with McLeod, also of Phoenix, who left the area in a white four-door car that was later found abandoned near the border.
Last year, the U.S. Marshals Service said that McLeod "may hold the key" to information about Mitchell's death. "We need the public's help in locating him so we can bring some sense of closure to Krystal's family,'' Deputy U.S. Marshal Frankie Sanchez said in March 2017. A former Marine, McLeod typically goes by the names "RJ," but could be using the aliases "Matt" or "Mateo," authorities said. He's described as 5-feet-11 inches tall and weighing 215 to 245 pounds with a body-builders physique. He has brown hair, hazel eyes and tattoos covering both arms and his collar bone. His birthday is October 3, 1983.
"He has a tattooed, muscular physique and is known to frequent gyms,'' Sanchez said. ``He is also known to use cocaine and marijuana, and seek entertainment in strip clubs.''
Stephan's office said it would make an "international appeal'' today for information about McLeod's whereabouts. A television station in Belize reported last September that McLeod had been spotted there and in neighboring Central American countries including Honduras and Guatemala. Mitchell's mother, the former detective, told the Belize news outlet that her personal investigation has led to contacts in the small English-speaking country on the Caribbean Sea who have seen McLeod ``all over Belize.''
She said it's believed he stays in areas near the coast, like Punta Gorda, where he can take boats in and out of the country without attracting attention. ``He's a charming man from what I understand,'' Wentzel told News 5 in Belize. ``I believe she was killed because she was trying to get away from him. I (have) gotten contacted by several women who said that he's very dangerous ... so if he approaches you, he would approach you with charm but he's very dangerous.'' In late 2016, the U.S. Embassy in Belize issued a bulletin to law enforcement officials and media outlets there to be on the lookout for McLeod.
The United States Marshals Service is offering a $10,000 reward in addition to Crime Stoppers offering a $1,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest of McLeod. Anyone with information is asked to call the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.
Photo Credit: San Diego County Crime Stoppers