A Hailey man charged with murder in Twin Falls was an informant for the Blaine County Narcotics Enforcement Team.
John Henry McElhiney, accused of killing an 18-year-old Twin Falls man and hiding the body in a barrel, assisted police with drug investigations in Blaine County, the director of the Narcotics Enforcement Team confirmed to the Idaho Mountain Express.
Steve Harkins, who is also a detective with the Blaine County Sheriff's Office, stopped short of calling McElhiney a confidential informant, but referred to him instead as a "cooperative individual."
Harkins said McElhiney did not assist the narcotics team in a major county drug bust on April 11 of this year, but declined to discuss investigations in which McElhiney did assist police.
The Narcotics Enforcement Team, sometimes referred to as NET, is a special Blaine County drug investigation team composed of officers from Idaho State Police, the sheriff's office and other local police agencies.
Police often recruit people associated with illegal drugs to assist with drug investigations. These people are typically referred to as "confidential informants." They are also sometimes called "narcs."
McElhiney, 31, had lived in Hailey for several years but was staying in Twin Falls at the time of his arrest on the homicide charge. He and Cameron Watts, a 29-year-old Gooding man, have been indicted by a Twin Falls County grand jury on first-degree murder charges for allegedly killing 18-year-old Dale Miller, whose body was discovered Sept. 12 in the garage of an apartment where McElhiney was living on Morningside Drive in east Twin Falls.
Authorities in Twin Falls have not released information on the cause of Miller's death.
A jury trial for McElhiney and Watts is scheduled for March 3-14, 2008. Twin Falls County Prosecuting Attorney Grant Loebs is not seeking the death penalty for the two suspects.
Loebs said on Friday, Dec. 21, that he is aware that McElhiney was an informant for the Blaine County narcotics team, but said it has no bearing on the murder charge.
"I certainly wasn't aware of it at first, but I became aware of it later on," Loebs said.