Racist Gang Leader's Death Impacts One of State's Biggest Murder Mysteries

Benjamin Davis's death was confirmed on August 27.
Benjamin Davis's death was confirmed on August 27. Colorado Department of Corrections
Update: The Colorado Department of Corrections has announced the results of an autopsy performed on Benjamin Davis, the white supremacist gang leader at the center of the post below. The Carbon County Coroner’s office has "confirmed that offender Davis’s death was a suicide," a CDOC release states. Continue for our previous coverage.

Original post: On August 27, the Colorado Department of Corrections revealed the death of inmate Benjamin Davis, one of the state's most notorious prisoners, at Wyoming State Penitentiary, to which he'd been transferred. Davis, who is suspected of committing suicide, was the reputed leader of a white-supremacist prison gang known as the 211 Crew and a potential player in the 2013 execution-style murder of CDOC executive director Tom Clements.

No charges have been pressed to date in Clements's slaying because his suspected assassin, Evan Ebel, an alleged 211 member who'd been released early because of a clerical error, was gunned down in a battle with law enforcers in Texas. But confidential sources told investigators that Ebel had acted on orders from Davis, who may have taken the real story of the Clements killing to his grave.

Our Alan Prendergast provided insight into Davis by way of his February 2011 feature article about the rape and extortion of inmate Scott Howard.

Prendergast noted that Davis was thought to have launched the gang at a prison in the Arkansas Valley circa the early 1990s after he received "a racial beating." The crew's "211" was a reference to the code for robberies in the California penal code. Davis subsequently insisted that he'd distanced himself from the crew, Prendergast wrote, but a Denver jury didn't buy this claim. In 2007, he was convicted of racketeering, assault and conspiracy, earning an additional 96 years in stir as a result.

click to enlarge Tom Clements, center, in the company of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a personal friend of Jack Ebel, Evan Ebel's father. - FILE PHOTO
Tom Clements, center, in the company of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a personal friend of Jack Ebel, Evan Ebel's father.
File photo
Davis also figured in a more recent feature, Joel Warner's "Colorado's New Prison-Gang Program Draws From Inmate Efforts," published earlier this month. Warner revealed that prison officials had recruited Davis to take part in a program designed to reduce gang violence in state correctional facilities.

In the end, Davis's participation in the latter effort doesn't appear to have borne much fruit — and at the time of his death, as noted above, he was being confined at the Wyoming State Penitentiary, located in Rawlins. Prendergast observes via email that Rick Raemisch, Clements's successor as CDOC's executive director, "has made it a point of shifting high-profile violent inmates, gang leaders and disciplinary problems out of state under the Interstate Compact. Being stuck in Rawlins, far from his homies, may have contributed to Davis's death."

In the meantime, questions about Davis's possible complicity in the Clements case were still hanging over his head when his body was discovered.

The latter theory is based in part on a report about Ebel assembled by the Texas Department of Public Safety under the auspices of the venerable police force dubbed the Texas Rangers. The 77-page document, accessible below, contains numerous witness statements asserting that Davis had ordered Ebel to take Clements's life.

In the report, Davis is occasionally referred to by his nickname, "Leprechaun," while his 211 Crew associate, James Lohr, who had been named a person of interest in the Clements investigation, is identified as "Jimbo." For his part, Ebel is generally called "Evil."

click to enlarge A booking photo of Evan Ebel, nicknamed "Evil." - COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
A booking photo of Evan Ebel, nicknamed "Evil."
Colorado Department of Corrections
Here's an excerpt from a statement by a confidential informant that involves all three:
[Deleted] stated that he would be willing to provide information about CLEMENTS' murder to Colorado authorities in consideration for assurances that [Deleted] would not be prosecuted. [Deleted] stated he knew, through direct communication, that "LOHR," a "211" General, ordered the murder of CLEMENTS and that "LOHR" had ordered [Deleted] to assist EBEL in Texas. [Deleted] stated that his information could be corroborated through phone records that would show his communication with "LOHR" and "Hog," a "211" Captain. [Deleted] stated he would provide specific information that could be corroborated to Colorado officials in consideration for not being prosecuted. [Deleted] stated he had no prior knowledge of CLEMENTS' murder and was not involved in the plot to murder CLEMENTS. [Deleted] stated EBEL had "fucked up" and "pissed off" "211" General Ben DAVIS, and that EBEL had to murder CLEMENTS because of a debt he (EBEL) owed DAVIS....

EBEL had gotten into trouble with Ben DAVIS, a "211" General, while passing on communication from a "211" General named "JD." DAVIS placed EBEL back on "Prospect" status because EBEL had written his own opinions on "211" communication. Because of EBEL's actions, EBEL "had to do something" for DAVIS.

EBEL told [Deleted] (while in prison) that he (EBEL) would have to do some "wild shit" for DAVIS while he (EBEL) was released from prison....
With both Ebel and Davis dead, we may never know if this account is accurate or if it was simply a fantasy concocted by a prison source looking to benefit in some way by spinning a yarn for authorities. But as Warner's article makes clear, the 211 Crew continues to live on, even if its "general" has drawn his last breath.

In a news release about Davis's death, CDOC states that "prison authorities along with the Office of the Inspector General are reviewing this incident." Click to read the Texas Rangers' report about Evan Ebel.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts