George called the Cook County sheriff's police and told all. The police put him into protective custody and had his wife Marion announce that he was missing. Grod was instructed to place a phone call—taped—to Si to report that George had been killed. Grod and Si discussed the matter in code, but in the excitement the code broke down and Si said enough for him to be indicted by a Cook County grand jury for "solicitation" of a crime. The prosecution believed it had a strong case, but at the trial the tapes were ruled inadmissible, and Grod, for reasons known only to Grod, suffered a sudden loss of memory. The charge against Si was dismissed.
During all this time, to add injury to attempted injury, Si was also striking at George in business. Patrick Butler, a well-to-do horseman (he owns Sloopy, the mount Neal Shapiro rode to a bronze medal at Munich), recalls the occasion George gave him such a buildup on a Canadian horse named Happy Landings that he was ready to buy at almost any price. George told Butler the horse would cost $18,000 and that the payment was going to have to be in cash because the owner was in tax trouble. Butler paid the cash and got the horse. Happy Landings won only one major championship for Patrick Butler, and Butler suspects that the win was rigged by George's bribing of a judge. It is certain that Happy Landings was older than he was represented as being and that he had been "nerved," that is, a foot had been surgically anesthetized. On top of which, Si came around to report to Butler that George had swindled him on the price. The price, he said, had been only $8,000 and the owner had not been in tax trouble: George had upped the figure to $18,000 and asked for the money in cash so that he could pocket $10,000 on the deal. Butler checked with the Canadian owner and found Si to be right.
In early 1967 Si and George attended a family meeting expressly arranged for the two of them to discuss their differences. According to Si's testimony at his murder trial last spring, his quarrel with George, which he claimed ended at this meeting, had originally stemmed from George's doping of horses. "You could take a very cheap horse, a horse that was worth nothing, if you didn't work hard on it and give it a shot, a tranquilizer; it would work just as good as a horse that was trained, then when you sold it to a customer, the customer was cheated," Si testified virtuously. As Si recalled, he told George it would be a "terrible disgrace" for the family, or anyone named Jayne in the horse business, if George ever got caught fooling with doped horses. At the 1967 meeting, Si went on, he said to George, "If you straighten out and fly right, we will just shake hands and forget about all this." He also testified that he told George, "I can help you, and you can help me," and added, "I did help him after that."
George nevertheless remained uneasy, and after dynamite was thrown at his house he hired a bodyguard—Frank Michelle Sr., a former private police chief. Michelle deemed it prudent to place an electronic beeper in Si's car so that George would be warned if Si happened to drop by. A ghastly byproduct of this arrangement was that Michelle's son, Frank Jr., was shot and killed by Si, who later claimed that young Michelle, who had a criminal record, had fired shots at him through the door of his home in Elgin. Although Si at the time was sitting watching television, he happened to have loaded .32 and .22 caliber pistols on hand when the shots whistled by. As might be expected of a man of Si's temperament, he defended home and hearth with gusto, loosing one salvo in the direction of the door and another through a window.
He got his man. The wounded Michelle crawled off, but Si grabbed a handy carbine, caught up with Michelle and pumped several more rounds into his body. At the time Si himself described the killing somewhat mysteriously as "a great victory," adding, "I'm going to stay right here and wait for the next one." Si claimed young Michelle had been hired to kill him, but Marion Jayne points out that Michelle's wife and child had gone to the Jayne house with him, unlikely companions on a hit, even in Chicagoland. Whatever the truth of the matter, Si was not charged with anything at all.
George Jayne was murdered in his home late the following year on the occasion of a family celebration. There had been a birthday party for George Jr., who was to be 16 the next day. After dinner George, Marion, daughter Linda and her husband went downstairs to the basement rec room to play bridge. They cut the deck for partners, and as a result of the cut made little jokes about how the women were going to beat the men. While George was shuffling the cards a shot was fired through a window opening directly down upon him and he died almost instantly from a 30-06 rifle bullet that entered his right chest and came to rest in his lower back.
In May 1971 a plot Byzantine in its intricacy began to unfold when agents of the Illinois Bureau of Investigation broke the case. Acting on an anonymous telephone tip, the IBI zeroed in on one Mel Adams, 39, of suburban Posen. Investigation revealed that Adams was a friend of Edward Nefeld, chief of detectives in nearby Markham, a town notorious for its corrupt police. Further gumshoeing disclosed that Nefeld was in the horse business and close to Si Jayne. In short order, Nefeld and Adams began to talk. Nefeld told authorities that Si had originally offered him the contract to kill George, but that he had withdrawn in favor of Adams. (In April 1972 Nefeld pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder and is now serving three to 10 years.) Adams, given immunity for turning state's witness, told all.
Dishonorably discharged from the Air Force after serving three years at Leavenworth for credit-card forgery, Adams went to work for a meat processor in the Chicago Stockyards and settled in Posen. He had talked himself up as a local tough guy, and in 1969 Nefeld told him that a man named Si Jayne had offered him the hit on his brother George up-county. Nefeld inquired if Adams knew of anyone who would like to take over the contract. Adams wanted more details, and Nefeld introduced him to Joe LaPlaca, a pal of Si's. LaPlaca lost no time in offering Adams $10,000 to kill George, but said there would be no front money because a previously hired killer had run out on the deal. Adams expressed interest, and LaPlaca showed him around Palatine, a newly developed suburban area with numerous dead-end roads 50 miles north of Markham. With LaPlaca as guide, Adams familiarized himself with the area. He also discovered that George—whom he had yet to see—was a man of no fixed habits.
LaPlaca arranged for Adams to meet Si. At the meeting, which took place in Si's car, Si and Adams agreed that George should be killed at home, along with any witnesses, such as his wife and children. (Adams testified that he did not think much of Si's suggestion that he machine-gun George on the highway or capture him, load him in the trunk of his car and deliver him alive for burial on Si's farm in Elgin.) At this meeting Si gave Adams a .38 revolver, later lost, and a .30 caliber "Enforcer" with the serial number filed off. The IBI later used acid to raise the number and traced the gun to Si.
For all the advice and armament so helpfully provided by Si, Mel Adams had yet to lay eyes on George by April of 1970 and so, with LaPlaca acting as finger man, he decided to stalk George on the horse show circuit. The two spotted him at a show in San Antonio, but Adams could not make the hit there. In New Orleans, on the first night of the show at the fairgrounds, Adams followed George out of the ring into the parking lot. He had the .38 in his pocket, ready to blow George's brains out, but later said, "I didn't have the courage, or whatever it takes."