OC woman sentenced to 21+ years for murder of man who was shot and dumped into ocean

A San Juan Capistrano woman was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison for her role in the murder of man off the coast of Dana Point who was found shot in the back in the Pacific Ocean.

Sheila Marie Ritze was sentenced Tuesday to 262 months, or 21 years and 10 months, in federal prison for her role in the murder of James Dao on Oct. 15, 2019. At her sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge David Carter called Ritze's crimes "horrific and horrendous."

On that day in 2019, Ritze and Hoang Xuan Le of Fountain Valley took Dao out on Ritze's boat for what she and le described as a "late-night lobster-fishing trip," according to court documents. According to testimony, Dao apparently owed Le between $30,000 and $40,000.


After Ritze drove the three of them out into the ocean, Le shot Dao in the back. Dao went overboard, and Ritze drove herself and Le back to Dana Point Harbor while Dao drowned. Dao's body was recovered miles northwest of Oceanside on Oct. 16, 2019.

Ritze was convicted earlier this month of second degree murder making false statements to federal investigators. Le was found guilty of first degree murder in December 2021. 

"Ritze’s crime has left a grieving mother, grieving widow, grieving brothers, a grieving sister, and two fatherless small children," prosecutors argued in a sentencing memo. "Ritze continued on with her life after murdering Dao as though nothing had happened, continuing to party with Le…and assisting Le with tracking [the victim’s] grieving widow with GPS trackers."

Le is scheduled to be sentenced on July 17 and faces a mandatory sentenced of life in prison.