OK. I have found some info on a trip to MD, DE, VA.
Three land records that refer to Ezekiel Joynes (yes it IS Joynes or Joyns, not Jones):
1) Deed Book L, No. 11, Sussex County, Delaware:
No. 144. John Clowes, Sussex Co., from Ezekiel Joynes (Joyns) [which the indexer has tried to turn into Jones],ofWoster (Worcester) Co., Maryland, yeoman. 13 Jan 1771. Tract in Broadkill Forrest adjoining Jane West's marsh and on land now in the possession of Foster Donavan and Andrew Heavelo which said tract was surveyed to said Ezekiel Joynes by virtue of a prorpietors warrant bearing date at Philadelphis of 1 Nov 1758. Beginning with a maple standing in the marshes of the Bever Dam ... to lands formerly surveyed for Richard Dobson now in the possession of Foster Donavan. 92 acres for 25 pounds. Wit. John Ellegood, Thomas Ellegood. Within deed ackn. 8 May 1771.
2) No. 153 - 8 May 1771, Foster Dulavan purchased 16 acres out of the Ezekiel Joynes tract.
3) No. 259 - 5 Aug 1770, Andrew Heavelo, Sussex Co., yeoman, purchased from John Clowes 92 acres of land in the Broadkill Forrest on the head of Dobson's Marsh and surveyed by virtue of a proprietors warrant dated 1 Nov 1758 for Ezekiel Joyns and called Many Trials which said Ezekiel Joyns by his deed of sale conveyed to afsd. John Clowes who conveyed same to Foster Donavan 16 acres thereof and conveys to said Andrew Heavelo the remaining 76 acres, bounded by a line of land formerly surveyed for Richard Dobson. Within deed of sale ackn. 5 Aug 1772.
4) Ezekiel Joynes also witnessed a deed in 1764, I think, but I left my notes at home.
So, he did not leave the area after the murder of the sheriff, but was still there as late as 1771 or so (although the dates of sale dont' match each other).
I searched for a day in records from Somerset and Worcester Counties in Maryland, but there's no mention of any Joyneses, and not of Ezekiel. There is an Ezekiel Jones who appears in Nanticoke Hundred, MD, as a laborer on someone else's farm in the mid-1700s.
We need to locate the proprietors warrant issued to Ezekiel for the Sussex County land in 1758. He had only owned the land briefly before the murder. Sussex was at the time part of PA not DE, and the Mason-Dixon line that established the boundary firmly was not done until after the murder, but had been done by the time he sold the land.
There's also still Wocomico County, MD to search.
Does anyone have easy access to any of these records?
I think this is definitely our Ezekiel. We need to locate him between 1771 and 1778. Also, there was a DE regiment that fought in the Battle of Eutaw Springs. I don't know if that could somehow have influenced Ezekiel's move to NC by 1778.
I also found an account of the murder in the PA archives, which has slightly different details from the MD account. For example, the sheriff was being paid so much per person that he brought in.
I drove through the general area where the land would have been located. There's a Gravelly Branch Road and a Coverdale's Crossroads. It's nice farm land.