The York County Drug Task Force informant who first alerted police to a York businessman accused in three murder-for-hire plots — and who worked undercover for investigators in the case — is now a fugitive.
Calvin L. Jones Jr. was called simply "Informant 1" when he testified against Gregory Allen Hess at the businessman's preliminary hearing in May.
His testimony helped prosecutors prove enough probable cause exists for Hess to stand trial in York County Court on the first set of murder-for-hire charges.
Jones' own criminal trial was supposed to start Monday in York County Court. His charges include being a convicted felon in illegal possession of a firearm.
But the informant was a no-show.
Warrant issued: Presiding Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn issued a bench warrant for Jones' arrest and ordered his bail be revoked, according to court records. He remained on the lam as of early Tuesday evening.
In a text message, Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office, declined comment about Jones, "other than we called the case for trial, the defendant failed to appear and a (bench warrant) was issued.
"No different than any other case," King wrote.
Jim Rader, Jones' public defender, did not return messages seeking comment.
'Not shocked': Defense attorney Farley Holt, who represents Hess, said he wasn't surprised Jones skipped out on his trial. He has said he suspects Jones is trying to "work off" drug charges, either for himself or someone close to him.
"With the caliber of the individual that Mr. Jones appears to be, I am not shocked at all that he didn't show," Holt said.
Hess, 47, of 1950 Hoff Road in North Codorus Township, remains in York County Prison on a combined $20 million bail, believed to be the highest ever set for a criminal defendant in York County. He is charged, in total, with three counts of solicitation to commit homicide and related offenses.
The background: Hess, who co-owns Keystone Restorations & Builders Inc., is accused of paying Jones $1,900 to kill Christopher Ward, who was romantically involved with Hess' wife.
Holt maintains that while there might have been an agreement between Hess and Jones, it wasn't for a murder.
Hess was charged with solicitation to commit homicide and initially denied bail. York County Common Pleas Judge Thomas H. Kelley VI later set bail in the case for $10 million.
Hess' family and friends raised a non-refundable $100,000 to pay a local bail bondsman, who then posted bond for Hess, who was initially locked up from April 18 to May 30. The judge revoked bail when Hess was re-arrested for his second case, and he returned to prison on June 11.
Second case: In the second case, police allege Hess offered a fellow York County Prison inmate $15,000 to kill Jones.
Hess was charged a third time after he allegedly tried to hire fellow prison inmate Deansae Bryant, 29, of York City, to kill a second police informant.
Police allege Hess instructed his son, Toby Allen Hess, to give $500 to Bryant's girlfriend as partial payment on the agreed-upon hit.
Toby Hess, 18, is charged with conspiracy to intimidate a witness for allegedly taking a photograph of Informant 1 during his father's May 9 preliminary hearing. He remains free on bail.
Bryant also remains in prison, charged with solicitation to commit murder and related offenses.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.