A former Marine on the U.S. Marshals Service’s 15 Most Wanted fugitives list was captured Monday in El Salvador, more than six years after his girlfriend was found dead in a San Diego apartment.
U.S. and Salvadoran authorities arrested Raymond Samuel McLeod, 38, of Phoenix, at around 4:30 p.m., an agency spokesperson said. Authorities got a tip that he was teaching English in Sonsonate, a city in the southwestern part of the country.
McLeod had been on the run since June 10, 2016, when San Diego police responded to a 911 call that a woman was not breathing in an apartment in the 7600 block of Mission Gorge Road in San Diego, the Marshals Service said in a news release.
The woman, later identified as Krystal Mitchell, 30, of Phoenix, was pronounced dead at the scene. She had been strangled, authorities said.
Detectives determined that Mitchell was last seen alive with McLeod, leading authorities to issue a warrant for his arrest on a murder charge, the Marshals Service said. The couple were in the city visiting friends when Mitchell died, according to the agency, which was asked to join the manhunt for McLeod in December 2016.
He was added to the Most Wanted list in 2017.
“I am extremely gratified to hear the news of Raymond McLeod’s arrest without incident,” U.S. Marshals Director Ronald Davis said in a statement.
“It is our sincere hope that his capture brings some sense of relief to Krystal Mitchell’s family, especially her mother, Josephine Wentzel, who has worked so diligently with law enforcement these past years to see this day of justice arrive.”
A “wanted” poster says McLeod left the state immediately after Mitchell’s death and was believed to be in Mexico. It also described him as “an avid body builder and a heavy drinker.” He has a history of domestic violence, according to authorities.
The Marshals Service intensified the search in April 2021, offering a reward of $50,000 for any information leading to his arrest. It was the largest reward offered for anyone on the 15 Most Wanted list at the time, the Marshals Service said.
Authorities believe McLeod fled to Central America through Mexico after Mitchell's death. There had been sightings of him over the years, including in Belize in 2018 and Guatemala in 2017, officials said.
Details of McLeod's capture were not released.
McLeod is in custody in El Salvador and will soon be taken back to California to face charges, authorities said.