At about 8:40 a.m. on Thursday, January 31, 2013, slim, brown-haired, and bespectacled assistant district attorney Mark Hasse, 57, was walking from his car to the Kaufman County Courthouse when approached by two men, both dressed in black. After what witnesses have described as a very brief confrontation, Hasse was repeatedly shot with a revolver and killed in a parking lot just a block from the courthouse and in front of people on a public street.
The area was soon filled with police officers. However, the men who had approached Hasse were gone. In an interview with the Dallas Morning News, attorney James Lee Bright said, “When you hear a DA at 8:40 in the morning is gunned down by two people, I think there’s a reasonable presumption it’s not random. Within two or three minutes, the whole square was literally flooded with officers. I just went inside and by the time I got inside, the information it was actually a shooting and who it might be was just barely starting to filter into the courthouse.”
At a press conference, Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes said, “We understand that we may come into contact with violent people but this is the next level. You are not supposed to attack at this level.”
County Judge Bruce Wood described Hasse to a reporter as “just an outstanding person individually” as well as a “very well known and very well respected prosecutor.”
Hasse had worked under District Attorney Mike McLelland, a heavyset, mustachioed, and florid man who wore a black cowboy hat at the press conference, praised Hasse as a “stellar prosecutor” and asserted that authorities would do everything possible to find those responsible for Hasse’s killing. “I hope that the people that did this are watching because we’re very confident that we’re going to find you,” McLelland declared. “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.” Kaufman County is a county in Texas and is part of the greater “Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.”
Hasse was a bachelor who was described as “well liked” by acquaintances. However, as a prosecutor he had inevitably made enemies so it was reported that he usually carried a gun for his protection. He began working under District Attorney McLelland in 2010, shortly after Hasse had recovered from injuries suffered in a plane crash. He had previously worked as a prosecutor in Dallas on what a reporter described as “mob cases.”
Hasse had been involved in the prosecution of Aryan Brotherhood members who pled guilty in a Houston courtroom just hours after Hasse was gunned down so some people speculated that the Aryan Brotherhood may have been involved in his slaying. The Aryan Brotherhood is a well known white racist organization that started as a prison gang for Caucasian inmates. It is still a prison gang but is also a criminal organization active in the free world.
On March 30, 2013, just two months after District Attorney Mike McLelland promised at a press conference to bring Hasse’s slayers to justice, McLelland, 63, and his wife Cynthia McLelland, 65, were murdered in their home.
McLelland frequently walked to the Texas Country Smokehouse and Home Cooking restaurant during work lunch breaks to enjoy some barbecue. Another regular at that eatery, Lesa Metcalf, sadly said, “He’s going to be sorely missed.” She later remarked, “When I heard Saturday night [about the McLelland killings], it made me sick and I’m still in shock.”
As was true of Hasse’s murder, there was speculation that the Aryan Brotherhood might have been behind the McLelland murders. NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez wrote, “The Texas Department of Public Safety released a statewide bulletin late last year warning that Aryan Brotherhood of Texas was planning retaliation against law enforcement officials after a series of indictments in Houston.” However, former prosecutor Pete Schulte said that the Kaufman County DA’s office was “involved in the peripheral” of Aryan Brotherhood prosecutions so it is puzzling that the group would single out members of that office.
Gutierrez also reported, “Authorities have been exploring the possibility that drug cartels could have been involved in the district attorney’s murder, but so far that theory has not been conclusive.”
Investigators into the Hasse murder and the McLelland murders are examining many cases that the Kaufman County’s DA’s office prosecuted. They questioned former Justice of the Peace Eric Williams, 46, who lost his elected office in 2012 when convicted of stealing three computer monitors from a county building. Hasse prosecuted Williams who was sentenced to probation. Williams’ job as Justice of the Peace primarily entailed handling administrative duties. Upon his conviction, Williams also had his license to practice law suspended. He is appealing the conviction.
In an interview with an NBC affiliate, the overweight, double-chinned, and graying Williams said investigators contacted him only hours after the McLellands were murdered. He elaborated, “They did a gun residue test. I gave them my cell phone so they could get all the info they wanted.” He strongly denied having anything to do with the killings but acknowledged that investigators had reason to interview him. “If I was in their shoes, I would want to talk to me,” he said. “In the investigators’ minds, they want to check with me to do their process of elimination.”
Investigators searched Williams’ home. Police arrested him on April 13, 2013, on the charge of making a “terroristic threat.” He was arraigned that morning. The probable cause affidavit justifying his arrest alleged that investigators into the McLelland deaths received a “terroristic threat” through “electronic communication” and that the “threat implied [that] unless law enforcement responded to the demands of the writer, another attack would occur.” The affidavit also stated, “During the investigation, it was learned that the author of the electronic communication possessed unique identifiers to send the electronic communication” and that the search of Williams’ house disclosed that “the defendant had utilized these unique identifiers to send the threat” from the computer in his home. The search warrant affidavit has been sealed. The affidavit further asserted that both Mark Hasse and Mike McLelland “believed that Eric Williams blamed them for his removal from office” and that both “regularly carried handguns after the Eric Williams jury trial because they believed Eric Williams to be a threat to their personal safety.”
Bail for Williams was set at $3 million. Williams’ lawyer David Sergi released a statement asserting Williams “has cooperated with law enforcement and vigorously denies any and all allegations.”
On April 17, 2013, Williams’ wife, Kim Lene Williams, 46, was arrested and charged with capital murder in connections with the deaths of Hasse and the McLellands. According to an arrest warrant affidavit, she confessed her involvement in the murders when interviewed by investigators on April 16, 2013. The affidavit states, “Kim Williams described in detail her role along with that of her husband, Eric Williams, whom she reported to have shot to death Mark Hasse on January 31, 2013 and Michael and Cynthia McLelland. During the interview, the defendant gave details of both offenses which had not been made public.”
When Kim Williams was arrested, her husband Eric was still in jail after having been booked three days previously. Writing for the Associated Press, Danny Robbins reported that the affidavit was “unclear on who she said committed the shooting.” However, Erin Fuchs reported in Business Insider that an NBC affiliate reported that Kim Williams told investigators her husband had pulled the trigger.
People acquainted with Kim Williams say she seems an unlikely accomplice to murder. One neighbor praised her as a “real friendly gal” and a lawyer who knew her said she never “heard [Kim Williams] utter a bad word.”
An animal lover, she lavishes love on her beloved dog, a Pomeranian. She is said to have claimed she knew Eric was the man for her because her Pomeranian liked him. On a Facebook page, she wrote with enthusiasm about Eric Williams, stating, “Before I met him, I had practically given up on finding someone like him but we found each other . . . guess it’s called fate. It’s HARD to find someone u like and love at the same time!”
In another Facebook entry, she expressed moral outrage at someone who placed a kitten in a freezer, writing, “I still get . . . surprised that there are these types of people living amongst us . . . I don’t understand how anyone could harm an innocent kitten or puppy.”
Interested observers await investigative developments that will show whether or not Kim Williams is the sort of person who could be complicit in the murder of three human beings. Those developments should also reveal the role Eric Williams played in those deaths and the possible role other individuals may have played in the tragic and violent killings of Mark Hasse, Michael McLelland, and Cynthia McLelland.
Sources on following page.