Elmont trucker picks up hitchhiker wanted for out of state murder


If not for an E-ZPass mishap at the toll plaza of the George Washington Bridge, Elmont-based truck driver Manuel Velasco might never had realized the passenger he was carrying was wanted for murder in Tennessee. Velasco and the hitchhiker, Charles Kelley, were stopped on Sept. 20 following the E-ZPass malfunction and questioned by Port Authority Police.

Police said they ran Kelley’s identification after questioning both Velasco and Kelly. The pair’s stories didn’t match up as to how they knew each other. Police quickly learned that Kelley had an outstanding warrant for arrest in Jefferson County, Tenn.

Velasco, 37, told police that he had picked up Kelley at a gas station in Tennessee and offered him a ride because he claimed he was looking for work outside of Tennessee. Velasco and Kelley rode together for nearly five days and Kelley had dinner with Velasco’s family at their Elmont home.

Kelley was arrested at the toll plaza and will be extradited back to Tennessee as soon as possible. Velasco was ticketed for not paying the toll.