Texas District Attorney And Wife Slain Just Two Months After Asst. DA Murdered

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I have 20+ news apps on my iPhone, and alerts cross my screen at all times of the day and night. I always glance down at them, share screenshots with my Facebook friends if it’s something of interest, and go back to whatever I was doing. It’s not often that I get an alert and glance down to see that it’s about something that’s going on in my own neighborhood. Keep in mind that I don’t live in a large metropolitan city where there is stuff happening all the time. I live in a tiny rural town in East Texas. But alas, that’s what happened tonight. At 10:02 p.m. CST, I received an NBC News alert on my phone. What I saw made the hair stand up on the backs of my arms. Our small rural county has seen yet another murder of a member of our prosecution team, and this time it was our District Attorney.

It has been confirmed by Lieutenant Justin Lewis of the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department that Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia McLelland, were found fatally shot at their home near Forney, Texas Saturday evening. Their deaths follow the Jan. 31 slaying of Kaufman County District Attorney Mark Hasse.

“It is a shock,” Kaufman Police Chief Chris Albuagh said late Saturday. “It was a shock with Mark Hasse, and now you can just imagine the double shock and 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.”

WFAA reports that the door of the couple’s 3,000 square foot home was kicked in. KBTX  reported that McLelland was shot multiple times with an assault rifle and his wife, Cynthia McLelland, was shot once, but the KBTX report says that there were no signs of forced entry, which contradicts the WFAA report.

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Mike and Cynthia McLelland

On January 31st – nearly exactly two months ago – Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, 57, was ambushed and gunned down in the parking lot of the Kaufman sub-courthouse as he was arriving at work. I was informed via a text message from my teenager, whose school was on lock-down. Our children spent the entire day on the floor and in the dark at their schools. The problem is, in Kaufman, the elementary school, pre-K, and middle schools are all within a couple of minutes from the courthouse where Hasse was gunned down, and the junior high and high schools are about five to ten minutes away by car. A murder at that courthouse puts everyone in the town in imminent danger.

Mark Hasse, 57, was murdered on January 31st outside the Kaufman County courthouse as he was walking from his car into work.

Hasse’s friends and family do not believe that his murder was random. See video:

Like most country towns across the U.S., Kaufman is no longer “Mayberry, RFD.” While generally a quiet little place, there is a definite underlying flurry of criminal activity. Mark Hasse was talented and successful and did his job well. He prosecuted members of the Texas Aryan Brotherhood, members of white supremacy groups, meth makers, drug dealers, members of the Mexican Mafia, and more. At the time of Hasse’s murder, McLelland called him a “stellar prosecutor” and vowed to put away the “scum” who murdered his assistant.

“I hope that the people that did this are watching, because we’re very confident that we’re going to find you,” McLelland said at a news conference on the afternoon of Hasse’s murder. “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.”

Efforts in apprehending the men (some witnesses said it was one man) who gunned down Hasse have been unsuccessful. Early reports suggested a link between Hasse’s murder and the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. McLelland had hoped that the extensive reward money collected would help them find Hasse’s murderers and bring them to justice.

“The main thing I want to do is get the reward fund up to an astronomical amount so that whoever this scum is, they can’t hide from it,” McLelland said. “The more money that stacks up, the better the things that come in,” he said. “Sooner or later, this idiot’s going to say something to somebody. If there is sufficient motivation out there, that will get back to us.”

District Attorney and wife shot at home

McLelland speaking at Mark Hasse’s memorial service in February. (Kaufman Herald)

McLelland and his staff spent hours pouring over Hasse’s files trying to find leads.

“All of my prosecutors said: ‘You’re not going to leave me out of this, boss,’” McLelland said. “I said, ‘You’re in it, don’t worry about it.’” McLelland added that prosecutors all over Texas had offered assistance. “Everybody wants to get their licks in on these guys,” McLelland said.

McLelland wasn’t afraid for his safety, he said, but took basic precautions. Neighbors report that sheriff’s deputies were parked in McLelland’s driveway for a month after Hasse was shot. (Source)

“An old TAC officer at Fort Sill told me a long time ago, ‘Son, the details will get you killed.’ And so I’ve shifted up my details some, but otherwise I can’t do that much,” McLelland said. “There’s no holes for me to hide in, and that’s not my style anyway.”

I know Texas, and I know Texas men. And no, it’s not their style to “hide in” holes. For all of the negative spotlight Texas has received in the last couple of years for its “redneck-ness,” the fact is, our men, and particularly our lawmen, truly are tough guys. They’re the kind of guys you’d want to be with you if the world suddenly came to an end. But it’s not their practice to put their families in harm’s way. They’re larger than life, in a way, and though they may have worries, they tend to keep them to themselves. They take care of their wives and children.

Cynthia McLelland at the quilting shop where she met friends frequently.

A psychiatric nurse at Terrell State Hospital in Terrell, Texas, Cynthia McLelland said shortly after Mark Hasse’s death:

“Mark was my husband’s good friend as well as his employee; he’s grieving,” she said. “It’s very sad. I feel like my husband could be in danger, too.”

It probably wouldn’t have occurred to her to worry about her own safety.

Mike McLelland was a cowboy, the only son in a ranching family. He attended junior college on a football scholarship, and completed a degree in history at the University of Texas at Austin. Following graduation, he commissioned in the Regular Army of the United States as a second lieutenant. He served as a branch qualified infantry officer for twenty-three years, including Operation Desert Storm. While in the military, he received a master’s degree in counseling psychology, and was later employed by the State of Texas as a diagnostic psychologist. He earned his Juris Doctorate in 1993. McLelland practiced law for 18 years as a criminal defense attorney, mental health judge, and special prosecutor for Family and Protective Services.

Mike McLelland wasn’t your stereotypical redneck gun-swinging Texas prosecutor. Mike McLelland was an American hero who dedicated his entire life to service. Cynthia McLelland was a psychiatric nurse at a state hospital. Together, they raised five children.

The Texas Rangers, the FBI, and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol , Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives have been involved in the Hasse investigation. WFAA reports that the Texas Rangers, the FBI, and the Forney, Texas police are all involved in the investigation of the McLelland murders. Kaufman’s going to be keeping all of these folks busy for a while longer.

So was this random? I don’t think so. Not in Kaufman, Texas. As we say in Texas, “the s*** just got real.” Stay tuned.

 


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I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, visit my blogsubscribe to my public updates on Facebook, or follow me on TwitterFind me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.