A district attorney and his wife were found shot dead in their Texas home on Saturday, a chilling crime that has become a murder mystery. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez reports.
Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia were found shot to death inside their Forney home Saturday, nearly two months to the day after his top assistant was gunned down on his way to work earlier this year.
Kaufman County Sheriff's Department investigators confirmed the deaths to NBC 5 Saturday evening, but officials have had little else to say about the investigation since. Sources close to the investigation told NBC 5 Saturday evening that McLelland and his wife were found at about 4 p.m. that day by a concerned relative or friend who had gone to the house after being unable to reach the couple. Other sources told NBC 5 that the McLelland's front door had been forced open and that gunshots had been fired and that an assault rifle was used in the murders.
On Sunday afternoon, Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes spoke with the media, but offered little on the investigation thus far and wouldn't confirm details released by sources. Byrnes also wouldn't speculate on whether the murders are connected to the Jan. 31 slaying of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse saying, "there is nothing to indicate that, for sure."
While there remains no immediate, confirmed link between Saturday's murders and Hasse's murder, the similarities between the cases prompted county officials to conduct welfare checks on all employees in the district attorney's office Saturday. All were OK, though one former Kaufman County prosecutor was "in hiding" Saturday evening and said others were as well.
Meanwhile, as a connection between the Hasse and McLelland murders is explored, investigators continue to search for possible connections between Hasse's murder, the slaying of Colorado prison official Tom Clements and the shooting of Montague County Sheriff's Deputy James Boyd that sparked a wild car chase that ended with the fatal shooting of Evan Ebel last week in Wise County.
Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland
Byrnes also refused to comment on whether security measures have been put in place for the staff of the district attorney's office other than to say they are taking precautions. Byrnes did say that there would be an increased and visible security presence at the Kaufman County Courthouse on Monday.
"It's unnerving to the law enforcement community and the community at large. That's why we're striving to assure the community that we are still providing public safety and will be able to do that," Byrnes said, about the McLelland murders.
A tip line has been set up for the investigation and anyone with information to share with investigators is asked to call 1-877-847-7522.
McLelland Vowed to Catch Hasse's Killer
While police officers are frequently the target of violence while trying to apprehend criminals, attacks on prosecutors are extremely rare, though not unheard of. McLelland said as much in January when speaking about his slain friend when he said Hasse was aware of the dangers associated with being a prosecutor.
At the time, he described Hasse as a really, really good man that was an excellent friend and a spectacular prosecutor who wouldn't be easily replaced. He also vowed to catch Hasse's killers saying, "I hope that the people that did this are watching. Because we're very confident that we're going to find you, pull you out of whatever hole you're in, bring you back and let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law."
FBI agents and Texas Rangers, who were still investigating the unsolved slaying of Hasse, are now leading the investigation into Saturday's murders, according to a federal law enforcement source.
McLelland and his wife, Cynthia Woodward McLelland, have five children including two daughters and three sons. One of the sons is a Dallas police officer.
NBC 5's Ray Villeda and Scott Gordon contributed to this report.
This story was originally published on Sun Mar 31, 2013 3:22 PM EDT