Officials work to build case against Kaufman suspect

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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KAUFMAN -- Texas authorities investigating three high-profile killings in Kaufman County spent 2 1/2 hours Monday talking with the manager of a storage facility where about 20 weapons were seized Saturday.

A Ford Crown Victoria similar to one seen in the neighborhood on the day that Kaufman District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were killed also was found at the locker in Seagoville, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.

The locker was rented by Eric Lyle Williams, 46, a former Kaufman County justice of the peace who was prosecuted last year by McLelland's office.

Williams, who grew up in Azle and worked for several years in law enforcement in Tarrant County, was arrested Saturday and remained jailed Monday on $3 million bail.

For now, he is held on suspicion of making a terroristic threat. Authorities say he emailed an anonymous threat to law officers from his personal computer on March 31, one day after the McLellands were found dead in their home. The email implied that if authorities didn't respond to various demands, there'd be another attack, according to a probable cause affidavit released by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Department.

Investigators are focused on trying to build a case for capital murder against Williams, according to the law enforcement official.

The weapons are being tested by ballistics experts.

Justin Lewis, Kaufman County Sheriff's Department spokesman, declined to discuss the weekend developments.

Williams grew up near Azle and graduated from TCU in 1989 with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice. At TCU, Williams was also involved in ROTC, according to his alumni profile page.

Records at the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education show that Williams served 14 years as a peace officer and more than five years as a reserve officer. As a peace officer, he worked in Lakeside, White Settlement, Springtown, Roanoke, the Hood County Sheriff's Department and the Tarrant County Hospital District.

But hospital district officials said they had no record of Williams' employment even though TCLOSE records said he worked there from December 2004 to November 2005. TCLOSE officials say entities are required to maintain records for only five years after an employee's departure.

Roanoke officials also said they had no recollection or record of Williams, where state records indicated he worked from March 1993 to January 2004.

In Hood County, Williams was listed as a reserve deputy from February 2003 to December 2004, but Sheriff Roger Deeds said he made little impression on other deputies. "He was supposed to teach classes but apparently he never did and he never came around," Deeds said. "Nobody around here remembers him."

Williams graduated from Texas Wesleyan Law School in 1999 -- where McLelland also obtained his law degree -- and was listed as a reserve officer with the Kaufman County Sheriff's Department until Dec. 31, 2010.

In March 2012, Williams was sentenced to probation after being convicted of burglary of a public building and theft of three computer monitors. The conviction is under appeal. But it resulted in his removal from his JP post and the loss of his law license and left him in financial straits.

McLelland and Mark Hasse, an assistant district attorney, both participated in the prosecution of Williams and both gave closing arguments. They questioned his character and suggested he was prone to threatening others.

Hasse was gunned down Jan. 31 as he walked to the Kaufman County Courthouse.

The storage locker where the weapons and car were seized is in Seagoville, about 15 miles west of Williams' home.

Staff writer Bill Hanna contributed to this report.

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