Man charged in death of 65-year-old woman ordered held without bond

Arrest announced about 9 ½ months after woman’s body was found in Mandarin home on Valentine’s Day

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

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man arrested in connection with the death of a woman whose body was found in a home in Mandarin on Valentine’s Day made his first appearance on Thursday.

Jonathan Wanchik, who is charged with second-degree murder in the 65-year-old woman’s death, was ordered held without bond.

In court on Thursday morning, it was said that Wanchik is also charged with grand theft auto and unlawful possession of a stolen credit or debit card. For the grand theft auto charge, bond was set at $500,000, and it was $50,000 for the unlawful possession of a stolen card charge.

His next court date is set for Dec. 22.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday announced the arrest of Wanchik — about nine and a half months after the 65-year-old woman, who was identified in court records as Cynthia Smith, was found dead.

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 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 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.

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.