The weirdest episode (we hope) in the history of Kaufman County law enforcement took a major step today as a former Justice of the Peace and his wife were charged with killing the DA, his wife and another prosecutor who had helped convict him on a theft charge.
Eric and Kim Williams have been charged with capital murder in the killings of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland, his wife Cynthia and prosecutor Mark Hasse.
The McLellands were killed in their home in a rural section of the county over Easter weekend; Hesse had been shot to death outside the courthouse about two months earlier.
Steven McCraw, head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, issued a statement after the pair were charged:
Today's announcement underscores the outstanding commitment by our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to aggressively track down and capture those cowards who would commit or contemplate such heinous acts. Because these despicable acts undermine the rule of law, we consider an attack on a public servant to be an attack on all Texans.
Numerous law enforcement and criminal justice agencies - notably the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Texas Rangers - have been tirelessly working together in this investigation, and have committed an extraordinary level of investigative resources to collect and analyze evidence, pursue leads, and identify the suspects now charged with carrying out the senseless and tragic murders of three innocent and brave Texans.
Officials had set a $200,000 reward for tips leading to an arrest and conviction, but the DPS did not say if the arrest came from a tip.
In announcing that reward, Perry offered a sentence that firmly set out a policy of not speculating, quickly followed by another sentence raising the specter of Mexican drug cartels storming across our porous border in order to kill prosecutors in Kaufman County:
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"It is very premature to make any statements about who may or may not have been involved with this. There was a report by the DPS that said the greatest threat to Texans' safety were the drug cartels. Obviously that's part of the investigation," said Perry. "We know we have a porous border. We know that the drug cartels, the gangs, both transnational and otherwise, in some cases, are operating together. So, all of that is obviously open for interpretation and investigation."
It is not known exactly what ties Eric & Kim Williams had to either Mexican cartels or porous borders, but we wouldn't want to speculate.
Eric Williams is being held on $23 million bond, his wife on a $3 million bond. Prosecutors say she was the getaway driver in the Hesse murder and rode along for the McLelland killings. Her husband was the triggerman in both incidents, officials allege.