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SportsColumnistsBob Herzog

NYPD, FBI look to close in on Michael Jones alleged killer in Mexico

Michael Jones, a native of Liverpool, England, a

Michael Jones, a native of Liverpool, England, a coach with the Red Bulls Youth Training Program and a West Harrison resident, was fatally slashed near Union Square. Photo Credit: Handout

The NYPD has turned to the FBI and Mexican authorities for help tracking down a day laborer accused of killing a West Harrison youth soccer coach in Manhattan on Sunday, police said.

Orlando Orea, 32, paid cash for a one-way ticket to Mexico on Tuesday morning, hours before detectives identified him as the man who allegedly killed Michael Jones.

Jones, 25, a native of Liverpool, England, was living in West Harrison while working as a youth coach for the Red Bulls.

Police efforts to track down Orea came as mourners, some clad in black and some wearing Red Bulls jerseys and scarves, jammed a White Plains church Wednesday morning to remember Jones -- affectionately known as "Jonesy."

Police are still piecing together the series of events that led to a confrontation in which Orea allegedly stabbed Jones and slashed his throat on 14th Street near Fifth Avenue. Surveillance camera footage shows Orea walking near Jones, and the two men may have had a conversation before the fatal 4:30 a.m. attack, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Police believe the attack stemmed from an earlier bar brawl, but they're not sure Jones was the intended target -- Orea may have confused Jones with another man, Kelly said.

NYPD detectives have asked the FBI for cooperation because agents stationed in Mexico work closely with their counterparts in Mexican law enforcement, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. The Manhattan district attorney's office also has contacted federal marshals, who would work to extradite Orea if he's caught, Browne said.

An FBI spokesman could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Though Jones' life was cut short, his friend, Cathryn Kaehr, said he 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.

Jones' girlfriend, Bryeanna Murphy, 23, was surrounded by family and friends as she was ushered out of the church through a side door after the service. A tearful Murphy, in a sleeveless black dress and black pumps, declined to speak to reporters.

Jerome De Bontin, general manager of the Red Bulls, which employed Jones as a youth trainer in Armonk and Bedford, said Jones had a knack for conveying his love of the game.

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

The Red Bulls' game on Oct. 20 will be dedicated to Jones' memory, and he will be honored with a moment of silence.

Jones' body is being returned to England.

The suspect also is known as Orlando Gutierrez or Orlando Estevas, and public records show Orea twice was arrested in 2003 under his Gutierrez alias.

In one case, Gutierrez pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, and received a sentence of 21 days in jail and three years' probation, said Nassau County district attorney spokesman Chris Munzing. In the second case, Gutierrez pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment in the second degree, a violation, and received a conditional discharge, Munzing said.

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 Anthony M. DeStefano and Ann Givens

New York Sports