Murder-for-Hire Suspect Arrested at Wind Creek Bethlehem, Accidentally Released to Terrorize Ex

Posted on: August 9, 2023, 03:38h. 

Last updated on: August 9, 2023, 03:58h.

A Newark, NJ man arrested in February 2021 at the Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino for allegedly hiring a hitman to kill his ex and her brother was accidentally released from a Pennsylvania jail six months later.

Dominic Escalera, Wind Creek Bethlehem
Dominic Escalera, above, was arrested at the Wind Creek Bethlehem in February 2021 as a suspect in a murder-for-hire scheme. He believed he was establishing an alibi while a hitman was murdering his ex and her brother. (Image: Essex County Correctional Institute)

That’s according to a gross negligence lawsuit brought by the ex-girlfriend of Dominic Escalera, 39, after he allegedly attacked and terrorized her in her Allentown, Penn., home during his unexpected bout of freedom.

Escalera was indicted by a federal grand jury in August 2021 on two counts of hiring a hitman and one count of possessing a firearm as a felon.

Prosecutors allege Escalera agreed to pay an individual in cash and illegal drugs for the killings, and provided him with a weapon. He then headed to the Wind Creek Bethlehem to establish an alibi while he believed the hit was being carried out, according to prosecutors.

But “the hitman” turned out to be an undercover Pennsylvania State trooper, and Escalera was arrested inside the casino.

Terrifying Assault

Escalera faces up to 30 years in prison on the charges. On Aug. 18, 2021, a federal judge denied him bail, determining he was a flight risk and a danger to the community, according to court filings. He was ordered to remain incarcerated at the Lehigh County Jail throughout the pretrial proceedings.

Yet, inexplicably, he was released two days later, and he headed straight to his ex-girlfriend’s house.

“I told you I would get out,” he told her, chillingly, when she found him standing in her kitchen, according to the lawsuit.

For the next two hours, Escalera proceeded to assault the plaintiff, while threatening to kill her and her family, according to the lawsuit.

Fortunately, she managed to send covert texts alerting authorities to her predicament, which led to Escalera’s rearrest.

‘Worst Nightmare’

The victim’s suit names Lehigh County, jail warden Kyle Russell, and the county’s corrections director, Janine Donate. The plaintiff claims she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder because of her ordeal and lives in constant fear that Escalera will reappear in her home and attempt to kill her.

It’s literally any victim’s worst nightmare,” the plaintiff’s lawyer, Josh Karoly, told The Washington Post. “The crime that this gentleman was accused of committing is the worst possible offense to be released from for the woman who was the target of his alleged plot.

“It’s heroic how she was able to deal with the situation and get him back into custody, but she should’ve never been in that position in the first place,” he added.