James Jordan murder trial: Phone tripped pair, police say

Two suspects allegedly made calls after shooting Michael Jordan’s father.

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Larry Martin Demery, who has pleaded guilty to murdering and robbing James Jordan, father of Michael Jordan, leaves the courthouse in Lumberton, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 24, 1996, after testifying at a hearing in the Daniel Green murder trial.


This story was originally published in the Chicago Sun-Times on Aug. 16, 1993.

The two men charged Sunday with killing James Jordan were caught because they left electronic footprints, police said.

Larry Martin Demery of Rowland, N.C., and Daniel Andre Green of Lumberton, N.C., both 18, were charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery on Sunday, three weeks after they allegedly could not resist using Jordan’s cellular phone.

The suspects are being held without bail.

Jordan’s murder was portrayed by law enforcement officials in North Carolina as a case of his being in the wrong place, and not a case of his being the father of Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan or because of any financial or personal problems.

“What happened to Mr. Jordan was the kind of random violence that all the public are concerned and afraid of,” said Jim Coman, director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations.

“The men were waiting to commit a robbery and Mr. Jordan just happened to be the victim,” said Joel Schulte, an FBI agent.

Green, who was paroled from a North Carolina prison two months ago after serving time for armed robbery and assault, turned himself in to Robeson County, N.C., authorities in Lumberton about 9 p.m. Saturday, Sheriff Hubert Stone said. Demery, who is under indictment on other armed robbery charges, surrendered about 3 a.m. on Sunday, officials said.

They are scheduled to appear in court on the murder charges today. Police would not say which of the men they believe fired the shot that killed James Jordan.

Jordan’s disappearance became public Thursday when police in North Carolina announced that his 1992 Lexus had been found stripped and vandalized.

Sometime between 2 and 3 a.m. July 23, Jordan ”pulled off the side of the road obviously to rest awhile,” said Capt. Art Binder of the Cumberland County (N.C.) Sheriff’s Department.

Jordan was winding up a long day that included attending the funeral of an old friend, Willie J. Kemp, and then driving another friend, Carolyn Robinson, to Wilmington, N.C.

After leaving Robinson’s home, telling her that he was going to Charlotte so he could catch a plane for Chicago the next day, Jordan made a fatal mistake, police said.

He fell asleep with his car’s right window down, enabling his killers to enter the car. Demery and Green allegedly were “out in the area for the purpose of robbing someone,” Binder said. They allegedly shot the sleeping Jordan once in the chest with a .38-caliber weapon.

The senior Jordan died in Lumberton, off Interstate 95’s Exit 14 on a shoulder of Highway 74. There were no signs of a struggle and no blood found in the car, police said.

After rummaging through the car’s contents, police said, the suspects realized that the dead man was the father of the world’s most famous basketball player.

The two men drove the Lexus about 150 miles in two hours with the body, police said. Then they allegedly dumped Jordan’s body in Gum Swamp, just over the border in South Carolina. Police said the body was found less than a mile downstream from where it was dumped.

Police said the suspects used Jordan’s cellular phone between July 23 and July 26 as they criscrossed North Carolina in their victim’s car.

“One of the things that helped us the most was the car phone,” Binder said. “They took (the phone), they made telephone calls, and we traced them.”

They allegedly parked the car on a road outside Fayetteville, N.C., where it remained between July 26 and Aug. 5 for vandals to strip.

Jordan’s body was found near McColl, S.C., by a fisherman on Aug. 3, snagged on a branch. It was badly decomposed and officials said they could not identify him.

The body was cremated three days later because, officials said, the Malboro County, S.C., coroner did not have the resources to keep a decomposing body. But dental impressions were made and they led to the identification of the body. Cumberland County officials identified the remains as Jordan’s on Friday.

Jordan’s family reportedly was not concerned with his extended absence. That he never made it to Chicago in July did not raise any questions because he would take extended trips without regularly checking in with his family, police said.

Four other young men have been charged with stealing and vandalizing Jordan’s Lexus.

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