Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
District attorney, wife killed in Texas Prosecutor in same office slain 2 months ago; wider plot feared
BY MANNY FERNANDEZ, New York Times
HOUSTON -- The district attorney of a largely rural county southeast of Dallas and his wife were found shot to death at their home on Saturday night in Forney, Texas, two months after the county's lead prosecutor was shot and killed as he walked to his office.
The fatal shootings of the Kaufman County district attorney, Mike McLelland, 63, and his wife, Cynthia, 65, shocked law enforcement officials and local residents, many of whom were still stunned by the murder of one of McLelland's prosecutors, Mark E. Hasse, 57, who was killed on Jan. 31 as he walked to work in a parking lot near the county courthouse.
The authorities said it was too early to say if the deaths of McLelland and his wife were connected to the shooting of Hasse. But the timing of the shootings -- and the killings of two prosecutors in a county of 106,000 people in the span of eight weeks -- appeared to many officials to be more than coincidence.
"It is a shock," Chris Aulbaugh, the Kaufman police chief, told The Dallas Morning News. "It was a shock with Mark Hasse, and now you can just imagine the double shock. Until we know what happened, I really can't confirm that it's related, but you always have to assume until it's proven otherwise."
In the shooting of Hasse, the authorities said one or two gunmen had gotten out of a gray or silver sedan, opened fire and fled. Witnesses told investigators that the suspect or suspects appeared to have had their faces covered and were wearing black clothing and tactical-style vests. No arrests have been made.
After Hasse's killing, McLelland appeared alongside the county sheriff and the Kaufman police chief, vowing to find those responsible and referring to the suspect or suspects as "scum."
"I hope that the people that did this are watching, because we're very confident that we're going to find you, we're going to pull you out of whatever hole you're in, we're going to bring you back and let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law," he told reporters.
One of several angles investigators have been exploring is whether Hasse's killing involved members of the Aryan Brotherhood. Prosecutors in McLelland's office had assisted in investigations of the gang, including a recent case that had dealt a major blow to the Aryan Brotherhood's leadership.
In November, a federal grand jury in Houston indicted more than 30 senior leaders and other members of the whites-only gang on racketeering charges. The indictments stemmed from an investigation led by a multi-agency task force that included Kaufman County prosecutors and officials from three other district attorney's offices.
Investigators also had been pursuing any possible links between Hasse's murder and the death of Tom Clements, the Colorado state prison chief, who was shot and killed at his home in late March.
The suspect in Clements' killing, Evan S. Ebel, 28, died after a shootout and high-speed chase with Texas police officers and sheriff's deputies northwest of Dallas on March 21. There were a number of reports that Ebel had joined a white-supremacist gang known as the 211 Crew while he was in a Colorado prison.
McLelland was a 23-year veteran of the Army who served in the first Iraq war. He also worked as a diagnostic psychologist for various Texas government agencies.
He served for 18 years as a criminal defense attorney, mental health judge and special prosecutor for the family and protective services. He and his wife had five children, including one son who is a Dallas police officer.