A Small-City Official Was Ousted and Headed to Jail. Then He Vanished.

Invoice Jones had a quick however eventful time period as the highest elected official in his small New York city.

Amongst different issues, he was convicted of official misconduct and a gun cost, went into hiding twice to keep away from arrest, hung out in jail and was in the end stripped of his workplace.

Scheduled for sentencing on the gun cost in October 1997, he ran off once more. This time, the vanishing act succeeded. The path went chilly and it stayed that approach.

Then final month, 23 years later and 500 miles away, a police officer in southern Ohio noticed an older man limping alongside a rustic street and took him to the hospital, officers mentioned. When he couldn’t produce a legitimate picture ID, the officer’s suspicions grew. Extra questioning revealed the person to be William L. Jones, former city supervisor of Mentz, N.Y., and fugitive from justice.

The place had he been for thus lengthy? And doing what?

Credit score…Cayuga County, N.Y., Sheriff’s Workplace

The image that has emerged suggests a ragtag odyssey involving a girlfriend alongside for the trip, two aliases, a trailer hide-out on a farm linked to one in every of Ohio’s grisliest latest crimes and an existence constructed on promoting previous golf balls and different assorted junk.

His life on the run started close to Columbus, the place his girlfriend, Lucy Wilck, had household. She had left New York earlier than him, and he met up together with her there, mentioned Det. Lt. Frederick Cornelius of the Cayuga County, N.Y., sheriff’s division.

After a short time, the couple headed south to Ohio’s Appalachian area. There, the lieutenant mentioned, they spent a number of years “bopping round” as Invoice and Donna Richards, hitting swap meets, yard gross sales and flea markets as they tried to eke out a meager existence.

However after Ms. Wilck was stopped whereas driving and charged with a number of offenses underneath her false title, they moved additional south, to Pike County, Ohio, presumably to keep away from having their true identities uncovered.

There, the couple glided by Bob and Lucy Eagans and lived in a trailer on a horse-, pig- and mastiff-breeding farm owned by Fredericka Wagner, whose household has wound up being extra infamous than Mr. Jones ever was: 4 of her kinfolk have been charged with homicide within the 2016 slayings of eight members of 1 household.

Ms. Wilck made a dwelling overseeing the farm’s kennel and serving to put together tax paperwork, Lieutenant Cornelius mentioned.

Investigators spoke to Mr. Jones and Mr. Wilck and didn’t discover a connection to the killings, in keeping with an Ohio regulation enforcement official who spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of the case continues to be lively. The Pike County prosecutor didn’t return a number of calls.

Fredericka Wagner, who confronted a cost of mendacity to a grand jury within the case that was later dropped, mentioned in a quick interview, “I don’t even know the place Lucy is.” (Not far: Ms. Wilck began a mastiff-breeding enterprise close by final yr, state data present. She didn’t reply to a message looking for remark.)

“Bob didn’t work right here,” she added, utilizing Mr. Jones’s alias.

Mr. Jones, a bookkeeper by commerce, didn’t have a conventional job. He ran errands and was a fixture at two native flea markets.

At one, the 23 Southbound Flea Market in Piketon, he would present up most weekends, pay $10 to $12 to carry down two outside areas and lay out a altering array of motley items, mentioned Abby Montgomery, the supervisor.

“Some days he’d have followers, and a few days he’d have buckets of golf balls,” Ms. Montgomery mentioned. “He nearly all the time had golf balls.”

She mentioned Mr. Jones was “truthfully one of many nicest exterior distributors” she handled, routinely looking for her out to pay his charge when she didn’t cease to gather it. Ms. Wilck, in contrast, was “just a little grumpy,” Ms. Montgomery mentioned.

Mr. Jones “all the time had wads of money in several pockets” and typically dropped payments on the bottom with out noticing, a part of a persistent confusion that made Ms. Montgomery suppose he might need dementia. She mentioned the final time he was on the flea market was Dec. 13.

Every week later, his days as a fugitive got here to an finish when an officer noticed him hobbling close to the Walmart in Waverly.

Mr. Jones’s life in hiding contrasts sharply along with his earlier incarnation as a lightning-rod determine in central New York who was much more divisive as soon as he squeaked into workplace by 18 votes to change into supervisor in Mentz, a city of two,300 individuals that’s a couple of half-hour west of Syracuse.

Lieutenant Cornelius, a newly sworn deputy in these days, recalled an early undercover task that concerned monitoring a city board assembly on the possibility that violence would possibly erupt. He wore denims and a camouflage jacket, and he introduced his gun.

Mr. Jones, he mentioned, was unstable and, at 6 toes 3 inches and almost 300 kilos, bodily intimidating.

“I used to be informed to slot in and to go armed,” Lieutenant Cornelius mentioned, including, “He was positively a man that you just didn’t know what was going to occur.”

Mr. Jones’s profession in authorities started to unravel after a pay dispute with some city staff. When he mentioned he was “ready to take the regulation into his personal palms” at a city board assembly, a choose ordered him to give up his pistol allow and pistols. He refused, was convicted on the gun rely and freed on bail to await sentencing.

Ronald Wilson, a city board member on the time who’s now mayor of Port Byron, N.Y., mentioned in an interview that the final he had heard from Mr. Jones was a name a couple of days after he failed to seem for sentencing.

“He was already gone,” Mr. Wilson mentioned.

And now he’s again.

Mr. Jones appeared on Monday in Cayuga County Courtroom and was ordered held for what was anticipated to be about six weeks, officers mentioned. His court-appointed lawyer didn’t reply to a request for remark.

There was a simple cause for delaying the punishment Mr. Jones had dodged for greater than 20 years: Probation officers wanted time, the district lawyer mentioned, to replace his pre-sentencing report. It was 23 years previous.

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