PHOENIX -- One of the four men linked to the killing of Reds outfielder Dernell Stenson was a member of the federal witness protection program, the Arizona Republic reported on Friday.
The suspect, identified as Robert Lee Maye, has disappeared after posting bail and being charged with hindering the Stenson murder investigation. Federal authorities are trying to locate him.
The man identified by police as Maye testified for the prosecution in a case against key members of a Chicago gang, top-level investigators, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Republic.
Police arrested Maye, 32, at his home Saturday, three days after Stenson was found dead on a Chandler, Ariz., street. He had been shot in the head and chest with his hands and feet bound.
Reginald Allen Riddle, 19, of suburban Chicago, and David Griffith, 20, of Arizona's Salt River Reservation, were charged with Stenson's murder on Monday.
Riddle's half-brother, Kevin G. Riddle, 43, of Hammond, Ind., was charged with automotive theft and hindering prosecution.
According to court records, Maye, whose real name is unknown, was accused of trying to rent a motel room for Reginald Riddle shortly after Stenson was killed. He isn't considered a suspect in Stenson's death, according to the Republic.
"I cannot confirm or deny that any individual is in witness protection," U.S. Marshal David Gonzales told the newspaper.
But two other high-ranking investigators from separate agencies confirmed Maye came to the area five months ago as part of the program.
Under the Witness Security Program, more than 7,500 witnesses and 9,500 family members have been protected, relocated and given new identities since 1970. In addition to housing, protected witnesses receive medical care, job training, employment and, when necessary, full-time security.
If protected witnesses commit a crime, U.S. Marshals spokesman Dave Sacks told the newspaper, "then they're no longer in the program."
Sources told the newspaper that Maye had been a key informer in the prosecution of members of the Gangster Disciples, a Chicago gang noted for its violent enforcement of rules while running a crack-cocaine ring in the Rockwell Gardens public housing complex. Thirty-one gang members have been convicted, including two kingpins who were found guilty Wednesday, according to the Chicago Tribune.