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Friends gather to mourn slain soccer coach

Friends and colleagues embrace after a memorial service

Friends and colleagues embrace after a memorial service held for Michael Jones at First Baptist Church in White Plains. (Oct. 10, 2012) Credit: Rory Glaeseman

As friends of a popular youth soccer coach gathered for a memorial service in a White Plains church Wednesday, the NYPD asked the FBI in Mexico to help locate a day laborer who fled there after he allegedly slashed Michael Jones to death in Manhattan over the weekend, a police spokesman said.

The NYPD wants the FBI office in Mexico to seek information from Mexican officials in the search for Orlando Orea, 32, who had been in the U.S. illegally. Orea is thought to have flown to Mexico City just hours before investigators identified him as a suspect in Jones' killing, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

A spokesman for the FBI in New York couldn't be reached for comment late Wednesday. FBI legal attaches in foreign countries often assist U.S. police in international investigations. Browne also said the Manhattan district attorney's office has contacted federal marshals in case extradition proceedings are needed. A spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office had no information about the case Wednesday.

Little is known about Orea, who Browne said lived for a time on Long Island and worked as a day worker in construction. A spokesman for the Nassau County district attorney's office said Orea, under the alias Orlando Gutierrez, was arrested twice in June 2003. He pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, and received 21 days in jail and 3 years' probation, said spokesman Chris Munzing. In the second case, Gutierrez pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment, a violation, and received a conditional discharge, Munzing said.

A check of address databases indicated that Orea lived in Massapequa, as well as Ridgewood, Queens.

At Jones' memorial service Wednesday in the First Baptist Church, friend Cathryn Kaehr said the West Harrison youth soccer coach made every minute count.

"I can remember chatting before games and [he would] look at his watch and say: 'I gotta go. I only have a little time that I can change their lives,' " she said.

Jerome De Bontin, general manager of the New York Red Bulls, which employed Jones as a youth trainer in Armonk and Bedford, said the Liverpool, England, native had a knack for conveying his love of the game to those around him.

"He was such a good coach that he turned baseball fans, parents and children, into soccer fanatics," De Bontin said.

Jones' body will be returned to England.

In an interview with the BBC, Jones' father, Perry, said that his son had hoped to stay in the United States.

"He loved New York and he loved the lifestyle and was working, hoping to get a visa so he could stay there full time," he said.

With Sarah Armaghan

and Nik Bonopartis

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