A man who traveled the world as part of a Christian ministry has been arrested for murder in connection with the Valentine’s Day death of his wife during an incident allegedly staged to look like a burglary.
Nathan Leuthold was apprehended about 8:15 a.m. Wednesday during a car stop in Pekin. Police had been monitoring him and took him into custody after he left a home in the area where he had been staying.
He was booked into the Peoria County Jail on a charge of first-degree murder, though he has not yet been formally charged. Nathan Leuthold will have to make an initial appearance before a judge to be charged and have his bond determined within 48 hours or be set free.
“We believe the husband committed this murder, and it was staged to look like a burglary,” Chief Steve Settingsgaard said Wednesday at a press conference announcing the arrest.
Few additional details were released Wednesday morning because the investigation is still active and ongoing, the chief said.
A Baptist missionary who traveled frequently to Lithuania over the past 15 years with his wife and children to start churches and sports- or music-centered outreach efforts, Nathan Leuthold called police about 3:15 p.m. Feb. 14 to his in-laws’ home at 700 Mossville Road.
The incident was initially reported as a burglary, but police found 39-year-old Denise Leuthold’s body just inside the front door with a single gunshot wound to the head.
Some items were missing from the home, and Denise Leuthold’s vehicle was missing, though it was discovered shortly afterward parked about a quarter mile away in a parking lot of Robinson Park.
It appears police suspicion centered on Nathan Leuthold from the very beginning of the investigation.
“There were indications early on that he may have been involved,” Settingsgaard said. “We found his behavior and his actions to be a little unusual at the time.”
Court documents indicate Nathan Leuthold had a large amount of foreign currency and his passport with him in his vehicle when police responded to the reported burglary. Police also sought a temporary restraining order preventing him from accessing two local safety deposit boxes for about a week.
The Leutholds had been back in the United States for more than a year, living with Denise Leuthold’s parents, while Nathan Leuthold traveled the country raising money for additional missionary work overseas.