One of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives was recently arrested in Mexico, where he reportedly lived under an assumed identity and taught yoga classes. Jorge Rueda Landeros had been on the lam for over a decade after allegedly murdering university professor Sue Marcum in her Maryland home on Oct. 25, 2010.
His arrest came as a surprise for those who knew him under a different name — León Ferrara — in the Mexican city of Guadalajara as a seemingly mild-mannered hippie and world traveler.
Students of the yoga teacher became concerned when he suddenly disappeared while walking his dogs in mid-December. They filed a missing persons report with the police, but soon discovered that León Ferrara didn’t exist and the man who lived under that name was arrested and behind bars on an outstanding warrant by Interpol, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Rueda Landeros, a dual citizen of both Mexico and the U.S., is the prime suspect in the murder of Marcum, an accounting professor at American University in Washington, D.C. Marcum’s body was discovered in the basement of her Bethesda, Maryland home with signs of violence.
Landeros originally met Marcum at a Spanish class that he taught, and the two began “both a personal and financial relationship,” according to the FBI. The two reportedly shared a life insurance policy, which authorities believed to be the motive behind the crime. Soon after Marcum’s murder, Rueda Landeros fled to Mexico.
While on the run, Rueda Landeros reportedly called The Washington Post to deny his role in the murder, although he admitted that the two shared financial ties and that his DNA would be all over Marcum’s house.
“I understand what they see from their end,” Rueda Landeros told The Washington Post in 2011. “They’ll find me all over the place if they look hard enough … I drank wine from glasses there. I drank water from the glasses there. I’ve eaten with the forks there. I slept in that bed and the sofa.”
“It doesn’t look good,” he reportedly said. “That’s why I’m here in Mexico.”
Rueda Landeros then disappeared for over a decade.
El Pais spoke to Rueda Landeros from prison after his recent arrest, and he continued to deny his involvement.
“I’m innocent… not of everything, obviously. But of what I’m being accused of,” Rueda Landeros told El Pais. He said that he hadn’t followed the case in the news over the past decade. While in hiding, he also went by the Indian yogi name Sadhu León, and sometimes pretended to be Brazilian, or the son of Turkish diplomats.
“Once I disappeared from the radar, I completely forgot about [the investigation]. I still have difficulty responding to the name ‘Jorge’ – I hardly have any of him inside of me anymore,” Rueda Landeros told the Spanish newspaper.
Rueda Landeros is expected to be extradited to the U.S. to face charges, where authorities believe they have a firm case against him.
Marcus Jones, chief of the Montgomery County Police Department in charge of the case, called Marcum’s murder a “heinous crime” and accused Rueda Landeros of committing the “cold-blooded” murder during a press conference to announce the arrest.
“We are happy they were able to snatch him after all the years,” said Jones, praising the collaboration of Mexican authorities and the FBI in the arrest.
Alan Marcum, the brother of the victim, told The Washington Post that he was “pleased” by the arrest.
“Assuming he in fact did this, and that he is convicted and goes to prison, he will never be able to do this to anyone else. That’s what I’ve always wanted,” said Marcum.
For those who knew Rueda Landeros as the peace-loving yoga teacher León Ferrera, the arrest has reportedly been a shock.
“I feel like I’m grieving. I know León, but I don’t know who Jorge is,” one of his students told El Pais. “If I ever have the opportunity to sit down with him, I’ll have to ask him a lot of questions.”
“León is innocent… but Jorge, I don’t know,” she said.