DuBois man told friend he would kill black man

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PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. -- State police yesterday said the murders of two young people from Brooklyn, N.Y., were the work of a rural Pennsylvania robber who planned the crime at least two weeks before he pulled the trigger.

The suspect, Jason "Spike" Clinger of DuBois in Clearfield County, told a friend he intended to kill black people who were new to his town and capitalizing on some sort of economic venture, possibly selling illegal drugs.

The allegations against Mr. Clinger, 25, were outlined in a police affidavit that was made public yesterday, two days after his arrest.

Investigators said they had located "an intimate friend" of Mr. Clinger's, Jerri Lynn Nelson, who heard him talk of killing the newcomers to steal their money.

She said Mr. Clinger specifically spoke of shooting one of the people who turned up dead last week on a desolate road in Jefferson County. He was Davon Markeys Jones.

Mr. Jones, 22, went by the street names of "B" or "Banks," and acquaintances said he regularly carried as much as $2,700 in cash. He died of three wounds from a handgun.

Killed with him was 21-year-old Dianikqua Arshell Johnson. She was shot twice.

Police said both were executed Nov. 21 or early the next day on Moore Road, a dirt path in Pine Creek. Their footprints and the prints of one other person were found there, indicating the shooter killed them on the spot. Then, police said, the killer took their money, their two cell phones and a PlayStation video game system.

Investigators linked Mr. Clinger to the killings through interviews with various people who knew him or the victims.

Jeffrey S. Shenkle told police that Mr. Jones and Ms. Johnson had stayed at his DuBois home for two days until the afternoon of Nov. 21, when they left with Mr. Clinger.

In a subsequent search of Mr. Clinger's apartment and vehicle, police found a nine-shot, .22-caliber handgun that they believe to be the murder weapon. They also uncovered a sock containing the two stolen cell phones, ammunition for the gun, including four hollowpoint bullets, and a receipt in his wallet from a Wal-Mart store for $675 in merchandise purchased about 3 a.m. Nov. 22, which would have been shortly after the pair was killed.

Ms. Johnson and Mr. Jones were the first homicide victims of the year in Jefferson County, which has a population of about 45,000.

Police said they identified both from FBI fingerprint files. They would not comment on whether Ms. Johnson and Mr. Jones had police records that led to their being fingerprinted.

But people police interviewed depicted Mr. Jones as a man living a life atypical of a 22-year-old. Scott Lee Smith Jr. of DuBois said Mr. Jones was known to carry a couple thousand dollars on him. Mr. Smith said he worked as Mr. Jones' driver. He took Mr. Jones from DuBois to Brooklyn and back. Mr. Jones always paid for the rides in cash.

Jefferson County District Attorney Jeffrey Burkett said lawbreaking, specifically drug dealing, may figure into what brought two young people from Brooklyn to a rural stretch of Pennsylvania. "We certainly believe that drugs have a role in this case," he said.

Otherwise, police and the prosecutor declined to talk about the victims.

As for the suspect, he had a criminal record in Clearfield County and was on probation. Police twice arrested Mr. Clinger in April on a series of charges that originally included assault, harassment and criminal mischief.

The cases later were reduced to a handful of lesser charges -- reckless endangerment, public drunkenness, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia. Mr. Clinger pleaded guilty in July, spent six days in jail and was sentenced to three years' probation.

He remained in DuBois, a town of 7,000. By the first part of November, Ms. Nelson told police, he was talking of killing Mr. Jones and other black people "by shooting them in the head." On a visit to Mr. Clinger's apartment, she said, she saw the unregistered .22-caliber handgun in his jacket.

Police have charged him with two counts of homicide, kidnapping, robbery and theft. He is being held without bail in the Jefferson County Jail. A preliminary hearing on the homicide charges is to be scheduled before District Judge Richard Beck in Brookville.

Staff Writer Jim McKinnon contributed. Milan Simonich can be reached at msimonich@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1956.


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