‘Grandpa’ accused of murder-for-hire plot

A 66-year-old Grand Junction man awaiting trial on charges he ran a methamphetamine and cocaine ring out of his apartment is accused of attempting to hire a hit man to kill two witnesses, one of whom is his nephew.

Authorities on Wednesday served an arrest warrant to Robert Joseph Hakel, alleging two counts of criminal solicitation to commit first-degree murder. Hakel, who is being held on $310,000 bond on multiple drug and weapons charges, is expected to make his first appearance in court this afternoon in the murder-for-hire case.

A jail inmate contacted Mesa County sheriff’s investigators on Nov. 24 and reported that Hakel had approached him in jail and asked if he knew anyone he could hire to kill Hakel’s nephew, Joe Jarvis, and a witness, Blaine Ellifritz. Ellifritz and Hakel were both arrested in March in connection with a drug ring allegedly operated by Hakel, who was nicknamed “Grandpa,” according to an arrest affidavit.

Hakel told the inmate, who asked to remain anonymous, that both Jarvis and Ellifritz had implicated him and that Ellifritz had stolen meth from him. Both men are listed as witnesses in separate felony cases pending against Hakel, who said he would give two cars as payment for the killings, the affidavit said.

Investigators introduced the inmate to an undercover police officer acting as the hit man and asked the inmate to tell Hakel that the officer would meet with him.

On Dec. 4, investigators intercepted a letter Hakel wrote to his wife, telling her he might give one of the vehicles to someone as payment for a favor, the affidavit said.

“I don’t want to discuss the favor but let’s just say I’ll be getting even,” Hakel wrote.

Hakel, who was given a phone number and address for the officer, wrote a letter in which he said he needed “some yard clean up done,” referring to the killings, and asking him to keep the plot between the two of them.

The officer visited Hakel in the jail on Dec. 14. Hakel gave the officer information about Jarvis, including his place of employment, his car and directions to his house. Hakel told the officer Ellifritz would be harder to find but gave him possible locations and associates’ names, the affidavit said.

The officer visited Hakel again three days later, telling Hakel he wanted to be clear that he planned to shoot Jarvis twice in the head and dispose of the body in the river. Hakel agreed and told the officer to use a “personal touch” by telling Jarvis, ‘You (expletive) up and bet you didn’t think this could happen,’” an investigator wrote in the affidavit, quoting Hakel’s comments to the officer.

Hakel also encouraged the officer in a letter to space out the killings of Jarvis and Ellifritz to avoid suspicion, the affidavit said.

In a Dec. 20 letter, Hakel talked about taking steps to avoid law-enforcement detection, according to the affidavit.

“Are you using your real name on my visiting list, if so I guarantee you they are going to want to know the connections when this investigation starts,” Hakel wrote to the officer. “Are we using the car? We need to have our stories straight so let me know why you visit me. If the body is ever found I guarantee you you’re going to get questioned eventually once they start trying to tie me to the crime.”

In several other letters and during several other jail visits, investigators say Hakel attempted to persuade the officer to commit other crimes.

One involved a series of robberies of drug dealers, the proceeds of which Hakel wanted the officer to split, with Hakel’s share being delivered to his wife. In another instance, Hakel wanted the officer to break into the home of a man who is married and has a young child and steal guns, jewelry and cash. Hakel suggested holding the wife and child hostage for ransom, the affidavit said.

Hakel, who told the officer he figured he was headed for prison, also encouraged the officer to purchase drugs and ferry them to him in prison, the affidavit said.


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