Criminal Justice

Probe of Colo. prisons chief murder focuses on other slayings, possible gang involvement

A continuing investigation into the killing of the Colorado prisons superintendent is focusing on at least two questions: Whether the deceased suspect in the case, Evan Spencer Ebel, could be responsible for any other murders. And whether 211 Crew, the white supremacist gang of which Ebel was said to be a member, could have had a role in the slaying of prisons chief Tom Clements, 58.

The Jan. 31 assassination of a Texas prosecutor, Mark Hasse, 57, in a parking lot near the Kaufman County courthouse where he worked, is among the slayings authorities are looking at. They have already found a connection between Ebel and the murders of Clements and a Colorado pizza deliveryman.

Ebel, 28, died after a shootout with law enforcement officers in Decatur, Texas, following a traffic stop in another county and a high-speed chase. He “was here for a reason of some kind, we guess, and now we’re just trying to put it all together,” Wise County Sheriff David Walker told the Dallas Morning News.

“The Dallas and Denver offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are comparing the homicides of Mark Hasse and Tom Clements to determine if there is any evidence linking the two crimes,” said Kaufman Police Chief Chris Aulbaugh said in a written statement provided to the Dallas Morning News. “This is part of routine investigative work when two crimes occur under somewhat similar circumstances. If any link is found, or a possible link is disproven, that information will be released at the appropriate time.”

A review of ballistic evidence determined that casings from the same gun were present at Ebel’s shootout with authorities in Texas and at the scene of Clements’ murder in Colorado.

The Associated Press reports that bomb-making materials were found in Ebel’s black Cadillac after the shootout, as well as handwritten directions, duct tape and zip ties, among other items.

Meanwhile, Fox 31 Denver reports that unidentified sources say the vehicle also contained what the station calls a possible “hit list” of attorneys and law enforcement officers who may have been involved in the prosecution of 211 Crew members.

The Denver Post reports that authorities are looking into whether 211 Crew might have had any role in promoting the killing of Clements. However, a UPI article reports that both the state governor and Colorado’s department of corrections have said they don’t believe there is a connection between the gang and the death of Clements.

And another Associated Press article reports that, in general, those who work at prisons worry about potential violence at home and when out in the community, from the gang members they supervise at work and their associates. Family members also can be targets, the article points out.

Ebel’s father, a lawyer, testified to lawmakers two years ago that solitary confinement had played a role in destroying his son’s psyche, the AP reported. However, another lengthy Associated Press article says that Ebel, who had been troubled for years before he wound up in prison, was also adversely impacted by the accidental death of his younger sister in a traffic accident in 2004.

Clements, ironically, was known for seeking to reduce the amount of time that troubled inmates spent in solitary. He was shot to death last week when he answered the doorbell at his home.

Additional coverage:

Denver Post: “Documents: Woman who sold Evan Ebel gun should’ve known he was felon”

Reuters: “Suspect in Colorado prison chief killing spent bulk of sentence in solitary”

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.