Man arrested in death of 65-year-old woman whose body was found in Mandarin home on Valentine’s Day: JSO

Police say J. Wanchik has been arrested in connection with the death of a woman in February. (Jacksonville Sheriff's Office/WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nine and a half months after a woman was found dead in a home in Mandarin on Valentine’s Day, a man has been arrested in connection with her death, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday.

Officers said they were called about 6:45 a.m. Feb. 14 to Big Feather Trail, near the intersection of San Jose Boulevard and Crown Point Road. That’s where police said they found a 65-year-old woman, who was identified in court records as Cynthia Smith, dead inside a home.

Police said the body was first found by a family member who came to check on the woman because she had not been responding to calls that morning.

On the day the body was discovered, investigators said one other person, a family friend, lived at the residence but had not been found or accounted for yet. The identity of that person is still unclear.

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According to investigators, it appeared that the woman had been deceased for several days, and the evidence at the scene suggested that foul play was involved.

Detectives said they identified Jonathan Wanchik as a primary suspect, learned that he had an active arrest warrant from another county and requested the assistance of U.S. marshals in locating him. According to JSO, Wanchik was arrested by U.S. marshals on an unrelated warrant, and on Tuesday, he was sent back to Duval County and interviewed.

Police said Wanchik, 38, is now charged with second-degree murder in connection with the 65-year-old woman’s death.

According to court records, Wanchik was arrested in 2020 in St. Johns County and charged with domestic violence. He was accused of threatening a family member with a knife. He pleaded no contest and was placed on four years of probation. He was arrested on Feb. 15 of this year and charged with violating that probation. His defense lawyer filed a motion of incompetence, but a mental competency evaluation determined he was competent for prosecution. He pleaded guilty to the violation of probation and was released from the St. Johns County jail in July. At that time, his address was listed as 622 West Union Street in Jacksonville — which is the Trinity Rescue Mission homeless shelter.

It’s uncertain how Wanchik and Smith became acquainted.