SAN DIEGO — A former Marine accused of murdering his girlfriend in San Diego more than six years ago pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Friday.
Raymond McLeod spent years on-the-run and was arrested Aug. 29 in El Salvador.
He’s accused of beating and strangling his girlfriend, 30 year-old Krystal Mitchell, who was found dead on June 10, 2016.
Local authorities held a news conference after the arraignment to discuss how McLeod was tracked down.
“The number one thing for this conference is ‘Yes, I got him!’ And he’s not gonna get away again – he’s never going to be released from jail if I could have something to do with that,” said Josephine Wentzel, the victim’s mother.
Authorities say McLeod and Mitchell just started dating when the two traveled from Phoenix to visit friends in San Diego.
Mitchell was found beaten and strangled at an apartment in Allied Gardens.
“This strangulation was so violent that there were three separate fractures to her voice box,” San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said.
McLeod was quickly identified as the suspect, launching a manhunt that put him on the U.S. Marshal’s Most Wanted list.
Authorities say he escaped to Mexico, then spent time in Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador for the past two to three years.
The 37-year-old McLeod was arrested in El Salvador at a school where he was teaching English.
“El Salvadorian law enforcement officials took McLeod into custody inside the classroom from where he was teaching,” said Chief Deputy Joseph O’Callaghan with the U.S. Marshals Service.
McLeod was deported the following night.
“Are you satisfied you got him? No, I will be satisfied when he is convicted for brutally murdering my daughter and that he’s sentenced to life in prison,” Wentzel said.
McLeod is held without bail and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for January.