A Navy veteran who was one of US Marshals’ most wanted fugitives was arrested in El Salvador this week after more than six years on the run.
Raymond ‘RJ’ McLeod, 36, is believed to have fled the US immediately after his new girlfriend Krystal Mitchell, 30, was found beaten to death while the couple were visiting friends in San Diego, in California, in June 2016.
Last year, the Marshals Service stepped up the hunt – making him the first-ever fugitive on its “15 Most Wanted” list with $50,000 reward.
“McLeod poses a significant threat to the public and must be brought to justice,” Marshals Director Donald Washington said at the time.
His Wanted poster described him as a 5ft 11in, 245lb “avid bodybuilder and heavy drinker” with “a history of domestic violence”, warning he was likely armed and dangerous.
The mother of the murdered woman, former detective Josephine Wentzelcame out of retirement to join the hunt as McLeod was found traveling through Mexico and parts of Central America.
McLeod was found in Guatemala in 2017 and then in Belize the following year, but always stayed one step ahead of search teams.
A tip eventually tracked him down to a school in Sonsonate, about 40 miles west of El Salvador’s capital, where McLeod was teaching English, a spokesperson confirmed to The Post.
The tipster is potentially eligible to collect the $50,000 reward, the spokesperson said.
Deputy Marshals Francisco Barajas and Luis Ramirez flew to El Salvador to help local and national police arrest him Monday afternoon, officials told Fox News. The couple are bringing him back to the United States, Fox News said.
“WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY!!!!” Mitchell’s mother, Wentzel, wrote on Facebook on Monday, while praising the marshals’ “great job”.
“I had faith and faith in them, and ever since I met Francisco Barajas, I had full faith that this day would come and he would be the one to catch it,” she told Fox. News.
“I said to him, ‘You are my hero. We are bonded for life.
It was a victory for the service, which had vowed to “leave no stone unturned until it is brought to justice”.
“The passage of time will never deter the Marshals fugitive investigation for McLeod,” Marshal Steve Stafford said last year.
“If anything, it fuels our resolve.”