The Killers and the Hitchhiker

This sounds like a movie. Read it now, or watch in a couple of years on our Sunday Matinee.

A few days before he met Hanes and Nelson, Jones was released from jail. He said he’d spent a stint in jail after an officer in Hemet, California, discovered a 20-year-old outstanding warrant for his arrest. Jones said he’d been sentenced to less than a month in jail and was released at the end of July.

Before that, Jones — who said he had lost his job earlier in the year — said he’d been homeless and at times living with friends. While staying with a friend, he’d gotten a call from his sister telling him that his mother in Missouri had breast cancer.

Hanes and Nelson told Jones they were in California to “see the sights” and they needed someone to show them around. The men also told Jones they’d planned to travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after California and could drop him off in Missouri. The deal sounded good, Jones said, because he didn’t have any money but he wanted to visit his mom. Plus, Hanes and Nelson were buying the meals and hotel stays, Jones said.

. . .

During their cross-California travels, Jones said a particular incident began to make him uneasy. The group was in Bakersfield, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles. It was there that Hanes approached him, proposing they carry out a bank robbery. Hanes bragged he’d robbed a bank at age 6 with a toy gun, according to Jones.

But Jones declined.

Later that night in Bakersfield, the three got a hotel room. Jones slept on the floor, but he happened to wake up in the middle of the night to find Hanes was awake, too, holding a gun in his lap.

“He was on the edge of the bed, and I could feel him looking at me,” he said.

And then they drove to New Mexico.

Jones said he was sleeping and listening to music and was sitting directly behind Hanes, who was driving, when they got pulled over by a Hatch Police officer. Jones said he doesn’t know what violation prompted it.

. . .

Jones said he heard the officer say to Hanes: “What’s that in your hand?”

“Within seconds, he whipped around and fired one shot into the officer,” Jones recounted.

And then there’s a narrow escape from death.

Read the whole story in the Las Cruces Sun News.

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