Crime

Key witness ducking South Florida authorities in suspected serial killer case

Suspected serial killer Henry Lee Jones
Suspected serial killer Henry Lee Jones Broward Sheriff’s Office

Suspected serial killer Henry Lee Jones, already on Death Row in Florida for one murder and suspected of another in Fort Lauderdale, is facing an upcoming trial in Tennessee for the brutal slaying of an elderly couple outside Memphis.

But the case in Tennessee could be in jeopardy because a key eyewitness is nowhere to be found — he is believed to be in the South Florida area, ducking authorities and subpoenas.

A Miami-Dade judge on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for Tevarus Young, a one-time accomplice of Jones who testified against the man at an earlier trial.

If investigators catch up with Young, he’ll be sent to Tennessee to provide crucial testimony against Jones, who is familiar to police, although his story is not well known to the public.

Nicknamed “Bam,” Jones was a drifter from Fort Lauderdale who spent much of his life in and out of jail. As a young man, he served prison time for armed robbery. After his release in 1997, Jones was arrested on a charge of raping a mentally disabled boy, a case later dropped by prosecutors.

Police believe his first murder victim was 24-year-old Keith Gross, who was found in September 2002, naked and hogtied, his throat slashed inside his Fort Lauderdale custom kitchen showroom.

Jones was never charged in the Gross case, although authorities have said his footprint matched one found in blood at the crime scene.

“He is the prime suspect in the Fort Lauderdale killing,” Miami-Dade prosecutor Christine Zahralban told Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez on Wednesday.

Authorities had enough evidence to charge Jones with the 2003 murder of 19-year-old Carlos Perez, found inside a Melbourne motel. Perez had been tied up, raped and killed with a slash to the throat. Last year, a Florida jury convicted him and he was sentenced to death.

In the Tennessee case, Jones is accused of killing Clarence and Lillian James, ages 82 and 67, respectively, in August 2003. Found inside their suburban home, the two had been tied up, stabbed and strangled.

In 2009, a Tennessee jury convicted Jones and sent him to death row. Young, who witnessed the murder and helped him clean up the crime scene, pleaded guilty and testified against Jones at the trial. Then last year, Tennessee’s Supreme Court overturned the verdict, saying jurors should not have been told of the Melbourne slaying.

As for Young, he spent more than 13 years in prison before his release and move back to South Florida, where his mother lives. She had told investigators Young does not want to participate in any more trials against Jones.

“We’re doing all we can to assist Tennessee,” Zahralban told the judge.

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