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Gun linked to Colorado prison chief slaying leads to woman's arrest

Colorado Bureau of Investigation via AP

Stevie Marie Vigil, 22, of Commerce City, Colo., was arrested on March 27, accused of illegally transferring the gun authorities say was used to kill Colorado's prison chief.

Police arrested a Colorado woman suspected of illegally transferring a handgun used by a white supremacist and linked to the shooting of Colorado’s top prison official, authorities said.

Stevie Marie Vigil, 22, was arrested on Wednesday, the Colorado Bureau of Investigations said in a statement. Investigators say that she is suspected of illegally transferring the firearm to ex-convict Evan Ebel, 28, after purchasing it from an Englewood, Colo., firearms dealer. 

Investigators worked with the El Paso County Sheriff’s office and the licensed firearms dealer to track down the gun’s purchaser. While Vigil’s purchase of the gun was legal, her transfer of the gun to Ebel was not, investigators said.

The gun was recovered by police after Ebel was killed in a shootout with Texas deputies that followed a car chase near Decatur. The same gun has been linked to the death of Tom Clements, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Clements was shot dead on March 19 apparently after answering the doorbell at his home outside Colorado Springs.

“Oftentimes referred to as a ‘straw purchase,’ investigators believe Vigil purchased the firearm from a licensed firearms dealer in Englewood, and allegedly transferred the weapon to Evan Ebel, a convicted felon who could not legally possess a firearm,” the CBI said in the statement. “The licensed firearms dealer has been extremely cooperative with investigators, and had no knowledge of Vigil’s alleged actions following her legal purchase of the gun.”

In court records filed March 22, authorities said that shell casing from the same type of ammunition was used in Clements’ slaying. On Monday, the El Paso County Sheriff’s office said that a review of the casings collected in Texas confirmed that the gun was a match.

“The analysis done by ballistics experts has concluded the gun used by Evan Ebel in Texas was the same weapon used in the shooting death of Tom Clements,” the sheriff’s office said in a written statement.

“The confirmation goes well beyond acknowledging the same caliber and brand of ammunition being used, but rather is based on unique, and often microscopic markings left on the casings at both scenes,” the sheriff’s office said.

Ebel is also suspected in the March 17 killing of a Domino’s pizza delivery man, Nathan Leon, outside Denver.

Police have said that Ebel was connected to the 211 Crew, a white supremacist prison gang that is known for its violent behavior. The gang is thought to have as many as 1,000 members, many in Colorado prisons, according to Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The man “drifted into a dark period” after the death of his teenage sister, Ebel’s mother Jody Mangue wrote in an Internet posting. “His life deteriorated after that and he just became numb and lost his direction altogether,” she wrote.

Arrest records for Vigil are sealed. She was placed in the Arapahoe County Jail on Wednesday and bond was set at $25,000, the CBI said. She could face charges for the unlawful purchase of a firearm.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.