Retired Detective's 'Mama Bear' Instinct Helped Catch Her Daughter's Murderer

Retired Detective's 'Mama Bear' Instinct Helped Catch Her Daughter's Murderer

Mother, Josephine Wentzel mentioned how it was the motherhood instict that kept her motivated for six years to find the criminal.

Solving a six year old case, retired detective Josephine Wentzel finally caught the criminal involved in her daughter’s death. The US Marshals Service called her a “driving force” in solving the case. The man arrested named Raymond Samuel McLeod Jr. was accused of murdering Krystal Mitchell in June 2016, according to ABC News. While Wentzel is a retired detective, she credits her solve to her ‘mama bear’ instinct that helped her pursue leads and help investigators on the case. 

"It's not about being a former detective. It's about being a mom," Wentzel told Good Morning America. "It's that mama bear. It's that mom determination that I gave birth to this child and, so help me God, I'm going to take care of this child until I die." The accused McLeod had been on the run for six years. He was placed on the U.S. Marshals' list of 15 most wanted fugitives ever since then. A former bodybuilder and U.S. Marine, the accused was the person last seen by the victim before she was brutally strangled to death in San Diego, they were actually living in Arizona but had gone to the city to visit some friends.



"He really laid low and didn't pop his head up a whole lot," Joseph O'Callaghan, chief deputy of the U.S. Marshals Service, said in a press conference announcing McLeod's arrest. "He obviously had some training in clandestine operations and things like that that I'm sure he referred to." Since then, McLeod has been reportedly sighted in Central American countries like Guatemala and Belize. Additionally, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office had mentioned that Wentzel, “has been instrumental in helping authorities search for McLeod.” Also noting, “Wentzel has generated leads for law enforcement and helped spread word about the international manhunt on social media.” The mother had taken multiple classes on how to track people on the internet and use social media to find people, even though she remained unsure that this would lead to an arrest.



McLeod was arrested on August 29, 2022, when O’Callaghan was tipped off to find that he was teaching English under an assumed name in El Salvador. He originally pled not guilty during the first court appearance and was given custody with no bail. "It was years of hard work, and to be honest with you, I wasn't sure," she said, adding that ultimately public attention helped. "The most important thing is to get their faces out in public." Krystal Mitchell was a mother to two children, to whom Wentzel is now a guardian. However, Wentzel notes that this is only one part of the case that has closed. 



“This is one chapter closed. Now I have another chapter that I have to be involved in, and that's the justice system," said Wentzel. "I told the prosecutors that I hope they do their due diligence; I'm there to help make sure the case goes through ... and do whatever you can to make that happen because my family deserves that justice like that.” Born to a family of 15, Wentzel has seen her share of trauma. She has seen family members violently killed, be in accidents and murders. Her thirst for helping the community is what sent her to Vietnam to volunteer in the Guam Naval Hospital. Later she also joined the Guam Police Department where she rose in the ranks to become a detective. She has also won multiple awards like the very first legislative award for capturing four murderers who escaped from the penitentiary unsuspected. Josephine received a meritorious award, commendation award, and an award for excellence in service, relating to capturing the escaped prisoners and singlehandedly apprehending a burglar in progress and robbery in progress. Even now, Wentzel has immersed herself into the community hoping to make a difference in American lives.