Mike McLelland second Texas prosecutor killed in two months: Tom Clements murder link?
The investigation into Evan Ebel, the man thought to have gunned down pizza-delivery man Nathan Leon and Colorado Department of Corrections executive director Tom Clements, has taken another bizarre twist in a continuing series of them. On Saturday, Texas prosecutor Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia were murdered -- and authorities are now looking into the possibility of a link between Ebel's shocking acts, the most recent slayings and the assassination of another Texas prosecutor in January. Details, photos and videos below.
At first blush, a connection seems unlikely. After all, Ebel is dead, having been gunned down after shooting a deputy and leading authorities on a wild car chase that ended with him being shot in the head; he only lived long enough afterward for his organs to be harvested.
Evan Ebel's Cadillac.
Then again, these last events took place in Texas -- and the weaponry and bomb-making equipment found afterward in Ebel's 1991 Cadillac suggests at least the possibility that he had other crimes planned.
Moreover, the Denver Post has floated the theory that Clements's killing may have been the equivalent of a hit placed on him by the 211 prison gang, of which Ebel is said to have been a member. The suggested reason: retribution for transferring leaders in an effort to dilute the strength of the group.
Afterward, the Department of Corrections put out a statement decrying this hypothesis. Wrote spokesperson Alison Morgan:
No one from the DOC would comment on the shuffling of specific inmates or groups of inmates at CDOC because it would endanger our staff and inmates. That being said, inmates are shuffled through our prison system constantly for a myriad of reasons -- classification (behavior) progressing or regressing, program needs, security needs, etc. As evidence to this point, 25 person of our inmate population is shuffled over the course of a year. It is irresponsible for the Denver Post to issue the report regarding our tactics of shuffling the 211 security threat in an effort to jar their organization.
However, Deputy Joe Roybal, speaking for the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, confirmed to ABC News that the slayings of the McLellands and Mark Hasse, killed in January, are definitely on the EPCSO's radar. An excerpt from the ABC News report:
After Clements' murder, authorities in Colorado had made contact with Texas investigators to look for possible links between his murder and that of Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse....
Joe Roybal, a deputy with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office in Colorado, said investigators had laid off of the case for a while, but re-contacted their counterparts in Texas after they heard about McLelland's murder.
What led to the deaths of the Texas trio?
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At around 9 a.m. on January 31, according to the New York Daily News, Hasse, a 57-year-old assistant district attorney in Kaufman County, had parked his car in Kaufman, a town with just 7,000 residents, and was walking to the courthouse when he was approached by two suspects.
The pair then opened fire, striking and killing Hasse before fleeing the scene in a vehicle described as a a brown or silver Ford Taurus.
Afterward, McLelland, Hasse's immediate supervisor in Kauman County, commented on the killing. From the Daily News: "District Attorney Mike McLelland confirmed that his department has been involved in Aryan Brotherhood cases in the last two years."
Granted, Hasse wasn't currently prosecuting anything related to the Brotherhood, a well-known white-supremacist organization. But suspicions about linkage have only increased since the killings of McLelland and his wife, under circumstances similar to those involving Clements, who was shot to death after opening the door at his Monument home.
The deaths of the McLellands took place at around 6 p.m. Saturday in Kauman. Thus far, authorities have kept most of the details to themselves, but sources told a Dallas TV station that a police officer who was friendly with the couple stopped by their house on Saturday evening to find the front door ajar.
Cynthia McLelland's body is said to have been found in the front room, while her husband's was in the hallway in a position that suggested he'd been trying to flee.
To say these factors offer no definitive proof of a tie to the Clements killing is to understate the obvious. The evidence that's been released to the public thus far is not only circumstantial but vague.
Moreover, local sources speaking to Westword have raised questions about the 211 prison gang conspiracy theory offered by the Post.
Then again, the Ebel tale has already had more than its share of bizarre coincidences. Consider, for example, that Ebel's dad, Jack Ebel, was a longtime friend of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who hired Clements. In this story, writing off a development as too far-fetched is unwise.
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