A former Mississippi sheriff’s deputy and his New Jersey friend face extradition to the Netherlands over claims they were hired as hitmen to kill a struggling farmer over his debts.
Thomas Schwarz was found dead at his home in Bergen in November 2019. The organic farm owner, in his 30s, is said to have owed money to Lukas Fecker.
Schwarz’s front door was found open and ‘the door handle stained with blood’, court documents say. He had been stabbed and his throat slashed.
Now Dutch police are seeking the extradition of William Lyle Johnson, 34, and Jacob Mazeika, 38, over claims they were hired as hitmen by Fecker to kill Schwarz, The Daily Beast reports.
Johnson was employed by the Forrest County Sheriff’s Office from May 2017 to April 2019 and was sheriff’s deputy in 2018.
The two American men have been accused of crimes relating to murder, manslaughter and hostage-taking by Dutch officials.
Johnson, of Hattiesburg, was arrested in the US at the end of last month is being held without bail in the US; Mazeika will appear in a US court June 23.
Fecker, 51, owns Innovation Brain which buys companies ‘on the verge of bankruptcy’. He is detained in the Netherlands, awaiting trial. It is unclear what charges he faces.
Court documents state: ‘Dutch authorities believe it likely that the [Schwarz] and Fecker had a business relationship, and that the victim possibly owed Fecker money. Fecker is currently detained and awaiting trial in the Netherlands.
A third American man, Justin Steven Causey, from Colorado is also named in court filings but it is not clear if he is directly accused of any crime in this case.
Court documents detail how Schwarz was warned to settle his debts just weeks before his death by two English speaking men.
Mazeika and Johnson are then said to have joined Causey at a hotel close to Schwarz’s home in the November, days before the killing. Their flight reservations from the US are said to have been made by Fecker.
And neighbors recall seeing a a Volkswagen Polo – rented by Causey and Fecker – outside Schwarz’s home on the morning of November 26. Two men in hats were later seen going into the home, according to court documents.
And after Causey returned the hire car without its mats he ‘stated he had cleaned the floor mats but had forgotten to put them back in the car before returning it’.
The car had ‘trace amounts’ of Schwarz’s blood, authorities say. Mazeika and Johnson returned home to the US two days after Schwarz’s death.