A Long Island trucker unwittingly gave an alleged killer a lift from Tennessee to New York — and even had him over to his home for dinner with his family.
Manuel Velasco didn’t realize that the man he had befriended was wanted by authorities in Tennessee until a faulty E-ZPass spurred a traffic stop by Port Authority police at the George Washington bridge last night.
“ The last thing I was expecting was for this guy to be a killer. He was so respectful,” Manuel Velasco told the Post. “He didn’t even curse. I bought him food to eat. He didn’t have money. I even paid for him to take a shower at a stop and then I gave him my clothes because he didn’t have any.”
The driver even had Kelly over for dinner at his Valley Stream home, where he dined with his wife and three kids for two nights — enjoying a pork chop dinner one night and steak the next.
“There were some discrepancies in his story. He initially said he worked for Velasco,” said Port Authority police spokesman Al Della Fave.
Officers Raymond Rodriguez and Steve Pisciotta ran his license and discovered that Kelly was considered a person of interest in the May death of Johnny Arwood, 47 in White Pine, Tenn.
Cops in his home county say a grand jury indicted him on murder charges on Aug. 27.
Kelly, a repeat offender back in Tennessee, was also wanted for parole violations for theft and forgery charges.
“We are familiar with Randy Kelly. He has been incarcerated here in our jail several times,” said Jefferson County Sheriff G.W. “Bud” McCoig.
Kelly, who was staying at Alwood’s house at the time, knocked his buddy over the head, then left the dead on the couch, covered in a blanket, McCoig said. He then took off in his pickup truck, he added.
“Ever since that day, we’ve been looking for Randy Kelly to try to question for him for it,” McCoig said.
Velasco picked Kelly up on Sunday at a gas station on Rt. 81 in Tennessee.
Kelly and another man asked him for a ride, but Velasco said he could only take one and offered the ride to Kelly since he approached him first, cops said.
Velasco was planning to drop Kelly off in Virginia, but the men became friends and the two traveled to Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York as Velasco made stops along the way, said Port Authority police spokesman Al Della Fave.
“The officers found a knife in the glovebox of the truck when they pulled it over. Manuel said it wasn’t his and he had no idea how it got there,” Della Fave said.
“Who knows what could have happened.”