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Three men charged in Ely's Landing assault

John Joyce
505-5432/@JohnJoyceYD
  • Police say three men beat and tried to drown a man at Ely's Landing May 30 after negotiating a drug deal.
  • Two suspects swam to an island on the river to escape police, but one was caught. The other man hid out overnight.
  • The victim suffered a broken jaw and a concussion and had several items stolen from his vehicle.

Three men are charged in connection with a robbery and assault that took place May 30 at a popular boat landing along the Susquehanna River in York County.

According to the charging documents, one defendant was arrested at the scene as he tried to drive away. The second defendant had to be coaxed out of the woods by a river rescue team and a Northeastern Regional police officer after the man swam to an island in the middle of the river and refused to come out. The third defendant — who according to the documents also swam to the island and managed to elude the river rescue team, the police officer and a state police helicopter equipped with a forward-looking infrared radar system — hid out on the island overnight, swam to shore the next morning and went to work.

He later spoke to investigators over the phone.

LOGO arrest

Charges have been filed against Jason Beck, 30, of Linglestown, and Jordan Getz, 29, and Brady Harris, 21, both of Harrisburg. No arrests have been made, however, according to court records. The list of charges include aggravated assault, robbery, reckless endangerment, making terroristic threats and theft from a motor vehicle.

According to the charging documents, the three defendants were fishing on the date of the incident and went floating down the Susquehanna River because they got hot. They then got out of the water to drink beer with three other men near Ely's Landing in the area of Gut Road, but things took a violent turn when someone said the wrong thing during a conversation about the price of weed, according to the documents.

Shots fired calls lead to drug, gun charges for York men

What happened next remains unclear, but there was a fight, a possible assault with a bat and a possible attempted drowning of the victim, who suffered a broken jaw in the attack.

Sgt. Arthur Archambeault, the officer in charge of the investigation, said via an administrative assistant at the Northeastern Regional Police Department that no information beyond what is in the charging documents will be released.

Beck: In an interview with police, Beck said two of the men at Ely's Landing wanted to buy marijuana from him.  He said he couldn't recall what was said, but he became infuriated when the victim, Robert Hefflefinger Jr., age unlisted, said something. Beck told the officers he wanted to beat Hefflefinger up, the documents said.

Beck said he and Getz fought with Hefflefinger, but he denied ever trying to drown him and made no mention of a bat being introduced into the fight, the documents said. When Beck heard the police sirens, he fled into the water and hid until the rescue team and Archambeault negotiated with him to come out, according to the documents.

Report: Rescue crews search for person in Susquehanna River

Harris: According to the documents, Harris denied taking part in the fight during his interview with police. He said he heard the conversation about the price of the marijuana. He said Beck mentioned feeling like "something isn't right," and then ordered Harris to use his van to block Hefflefinger and his friends from leaving the area in Hefflefinger's Mazda pickup truck. He said Beck dragged Hefflefinger out of his truck, that Hefflefinger punched Beck and ran off, and that Beck and Getz chased after him. He then heard "the screaming of the fight."

Harris said he tried to step in and say that Hefflefinger had "had enough," but he was waved off by the other two men and so he decided to leave. Police stopped his van as he was leaving and found a bat in the vehicle, but he said it was only there for protection and was not used in the fight.

Getz: Getz managed to evade capture but called police the next day to say he was OK, the documents said. He said he swam across the river, hid out on the island overnight and then swam back to shore the next morning and went to work. He agreed to come in for an interview at a later date but did not and has failed to answer or return phone calls.

Initially Hefflefinger made no mention of the bat, the attempted drowning or the theft of $250 from his wallet during the fight when he spoke with Archambeault, according to the documents. Archambeault only learned of the missing money and the attempted drowning after speaking with Hefflefinger's father. When asked specifically about them, Hefflefinger denied them, according to the documents.

Later on, after his broken jaw started to heal, Hefflefinger told police he had a concussion after the attack, so he did not remember everything during their first conversation. In the later conversation, he said Beck had tried to push his face into a puddle a couple of times during the fight and said he was going to kill him. He also reported the $250 as stolen, along with a fishing pole and several other items belonging to him and his friends that were taken out of the back of his truck sometime during or after the fight..

— Reach John Joyce at jjoyce2@yorkdispatch.comor on Twitter at @JohnJoyceYD.