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"He is a viper": Mother of slain woman pleads for help finding fugitive ex-Marine

LOS ANGELES — The mother of a Phoenix woman killed in San Diego pleaded for the public's help Tuesday to find her daughter's boyfriend, a former Marine charged with murder in the case. Josephine Wentzel, a former police detective who has been helping in the hunt for 34-year-old Raymond McLeod, said she's seeking justice for her daughter and her two grandchildren, who were just 5 and 6 years old when their mother was killed.

"I have to bring peace to my grandchildren," Wentzel said through tears. "I want them to know that Nana did everything possible to bring justice to the man responsible for the death of their mother."

McLeod is charged with killing his girlfriend of just three weeks, 30-year-old Krystal Mitchell, a single mother who lived in Phoenix with her children.

Mitchell's battered and strangled body was found in a San Diego condominium on June 10, 2016. She had been staying at the condo on vacation with McLeod, who fled before police arrived and has eluded them since.

McLeod went to Mexico but later was spotted in Belize, said Steve Jurman, commander of the U.S. Marshals Service's fugitive task force in San Diego.

McLeod was last seen in March 2017 in Guatemala, he said.

"He is charming, he is deceiving, he is a liar, and he is a viper," Wetzel said of McLeod at a candlelight vigil for Mitchell in San Diego on Tuesday night.

Wentzel, a Vancouver, Washington resident who used to investigate robberies, thefts, and sometimes murders for the Guam Police Department, said she began her own inquiries into her daughter's death about six months after her killing when she didn't see enough progress in the police investigation.

Wentzel started a website dedicated to finding McLeod, posted wanted fliers on social media channels in Mexico and Central America and has reached out to hostels and newspapers in those regions.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said at a news conference that Wentzel, who is now raising her grandchildren, has been "extremely helpful" generating tips in the case.

"This is not a mother you want to mess with," she said.

In her work on the case, Wentzel said she learned of McLeod's disturbing past and warned other women to be on the lookout for him.

At the time of Mitchell's killing, McLeod had a pending case in Riverside County, California, in which he was accused of strangling his wife. She survived. He had also been convicted in Phoenix of domestic violence against another wife, according to San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan.

In the Riverside County case, Stephan said a roommate interrupted the strangling, Stephan said.

"That set the scene for what would be a deadly trip to San Diego," she said.

Jurman said that the Marshals Service believes that McLeod likely is hanging out among other Americans in a coastal area of Central America, adding that McLeod enjoys spending time at nightclubs.

McLeod is known to use cocaine and marijuana and enjoys strip clubs, according to a previous Marshals Service news release.

McLeod has a number of distinguishing tattoos on his chest and arms, including a Marine Corps logo, skulls and guns.

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