tv Dateline MSNBC July 10, 2021 12:00am-2:00am PDT
then at 8 am eastern. that is it for our broadcast for friday night. brian will be back here on monday, and on behalf of all of my colleagues here, at nbc news, goodnight. like >> a tough assistant da gunned down near the courthouse. >> we saw gentlemen, he just got sloppy shot. >> but it wasn't over. the dead man's boss and his wife were next. >> whoever went in there had a mission. >> did you start to think it was a? list >> oh sure i don't think there was any doubt in our mind that this was a psychopath we were dating with. >> someone had declared law on law enforcement. >> my husband, i can't keep putting him at risk. >> my wife had to guns out, i said unless it's me coming through the, door she was ready
to use. >> it would stretch from coast to coast. >> was it some sort of anti-government militia group? i no idea what we are dealing. with >> before leading investigators back home. >> my thoughts where, it's someone we know. >> was he living a double life? >> i think he. was >> here making him sound like kind of elector. >> it was just, wow. the courthouse the moral center of every. american city in town. the place we go to settle differences. resolve disputes, find justice. what it's the place where the story usually ends, but not this time. we're not in kaufman texas,
where life is legally and no one's a stranger. >> oh my gosh, someone just saw shot someone. >> it was just bam, bam, bam. >> this time, it's where the story begins. >> someone was trying to send a message. it's just so bold. >> a story that quickly got too big for this texas town. and like a prairie fire, spread across the nation. >> we have some new information this morning -- >> involved in the brazen murder of a. >> the in this town, the hunters became the hunted. >> i have kids. my husband. what my family. >> my wife had two guns out, i said, unless she knows it's me coming through the, door shall be ready to use them. >> shannon hebert never
expected to be in danger when she started the career she wanted. practicing law. >> why did you want to be a? lawyer >> and second grade, a judge came to my class and i fell in love with that, i wanted to be a judge or a lawyer. >> her dream came true. by 2008, shannon had passed the bar exam and got her first job as a prosecutor at the kaufman, at the courthouse at the center of town. >> i love the office, the people around me were all knowledgeable. >> one of those lawyers from dallas was mark, a man who did his job. >> did you know? him >> yes of course. we would go to him for almost everything. >> that was because he prosecuted some of the worst criminals in texas. >> he was an intellectual, he was tenacious, he was quick on his feet. >> marcus bush is with the
department of justice. in the eighties, he and mark hasse were in the crime section of the da's office. >> mark was not afraid of taking on a fight. some of the defendants, some of the cases were very bad people. and mark had the personality to stand in the breach and prosecute the worst of the worst. >> why did mark move out of dallas? >> he wanted a place where you get some room, so he bought a house with eight acres, he just loved being around animals, and he left the space. >> besides animals and wide open spaces, mark had another passion, flying. back in 1995, he almost killed him. >> mark did have a bad accident. >> mark had a terrible accident. >> of highflying commemoration of world war ii ends this month. >> mark was part of this monroe model of vintage planes when something went terribly wrong. >> i believe the engine had failed and he made a forced landing, ran off the end of the
runway, he survived, but he had a very severe brain injury. >> did he decide to fly again at any point? >> he did. >> why do you think you want to fly again, humans? died >> it's like being thrown from a horse. he wanted to be the person he was before. >> and he did. >> he did. but it took a long, long. time >> marks colleagues in the da's office admired his strength to fight through adversity, but they also got a kick out of his weakness. his love for sugary's next. >> he had a sweet tooth and he would mostly eat everyone stuff. so we would have weekly meetings every monday and we would get donuts for them, and he would always get their first and steal them. >> in 2011, mark and shannon got a new boss who seem to fit right in with their office family, the newly elected district attorney mark mclelland. >> i am mark mclelland i am the district attorney for kaufman county. >> his daughter said he loved the job. >> i think he enjoyed the
people he worked with. he would talk about, oh this person did this and i was really proud of them, and this person did this and i was very proud of them. >> everything was new to him, he just took it over. >> was he tough? >> i wouldn't say he was tough on us at all. the greatest thing about him was he let us do what we do best. >> and mike quickly formed a bond with mark hasse, the experience prosecutor. >> he was his best friend in the office. >> mark's wife cynthia fit in the office to. she was almost like a mother, she worked as a nurse but found time to bake cakes and cookies for the staff. sylvia was also a quilter we. and raising two young children. >> should bring fabrics and show me, is this going to match the nursery? and then she quilted it for me. it was stunning, very beautiful. at >> and that's how it was, a happy, humming office in a quite small town.
until january 31st, 2013, just before 9 am. at that moment, the calm serene morning, and the lives of everyone in the da's office, would be shattered. >> i heard what i thought to be gunshots. police officer jason were outside of the courthouse, he and his partner were investigating a burglary when something caught is attention. >> there were still mythical shots it was just, bam, bam, bam, bam. and there was a little pause, i guess you'd say. and then three more shots after that. >> shannon was inside the courthouse when she heard the sound of sirens. >> that's not unusual because there's a police station just a block away, there's a hospital a few blocks down street. that siren was jason squad car. i called my partner and i said,
those are gunshots, so we packed up really quickly and hopped in the car. the car camera was rolling as he and his partner drove toward the gunshots. about halfway over, we got a radio that a man had been shot. >> 9-1-1? >> there is a gentleman on grove street and he just got shot. >> that's just a block away from the courthouse. shannon notice that her secretary was looking at the window at some commotion on the street. >> my secretary turned around and she was crying. initially i just wanted to comfort her, i can even imagine which was crying about. but when she turned from the window all, she said was its mark. >> mark hasse, her friend and colleague. >> my natural instinct was to think that he got hit by a car. but she said no, he was shot. >> who is? >> its mark hasse. >> coming up, get another
breath. ms is almost here. the ambulance. coming >> a dedicated prosecutor, shot right outside the courthouse. stunning onlookers, and the police. >> it is something you could prepare for. >> who would even attempt such a brazen attack? >> that could tell you that those two new each other. >> it seemed very personal to me. >> when dateline continues. ne continues i love my rv, but insuring it is such a hassle. same with my boat. the insurance bills are through the roof. -[ sighs ] -be cool. i wish i could group my insurance stuff. -[ coughs ] bundle. -the house, the car, the rv. like a cluster. an insurance cluster. -woosah. -[ chuckles ] -i doubt that exists. -it's a bundle! it's a bundle, and it saves you money! hi. i'm flo from progressive, and i couldn't help but overhear... super fun beach day, everybody.
a beloved prosecutor, mark had been shot outside of the courthouse in the kaufman, texas. >> we run our. >> way officer jason was one of the first on the scene. >> when i pulled, up i saw mine he was lying in the street. >> you see the dramatic images from the officers camera. >> there was a woman who was over him looking like she was
doing cpr. >> that woman had notice the shooting from her car, saw the shooter flee, then try to help mark. now he was taking over, going off instinct and adrenaline. >> it's one of those things that when you pull, up it's nothing you can prepare for. >> he knew right away, it was bad. >> he got shot in his face. >> he looked at me, and then he stopped breathing. but that's when i started cpr. there you go, there you go, he breathing. i got him to take seven breaths, i remember that. >> as his car cam kept rolling, the mike got his pleas to get mark to hold on a little longer. ems is almost the hair, the ambulance is coming. i tried my best to tell him, you're doing good, you're doing good. key breathing, the ambulance is coming. >> officer was there with for
ten minutes before the ambulance came up. >> back in the courthouse, sharon was getting updates on. mark >> i did know how much time went by once the prosecutor came back to the courtroom saying about it was. >> about an hour earlier, shannon how walked from the wall parking lot to the courthouse. that was the distance that mark would walk before he got shot. now too afraid to go out, she stayed inside praying for him. now we're just waiting to hear if he's going to live. >> that news travels fast. >> it didn't take long before someone came back into the courtroom shaking their head and crying, at the timing. you >> i can imagine how horrible it is. >> it was horrible, i will always remember that. >> there is not a day that goes by that i don't go buy here and think back to that day and exactly what happened and
exactly what i saw. >> mark hasse was dead at 57. gunned down on his way to work, just beside the courthouse. >> people in kaufman are shocked by the deadly attack. >> it was just nothing that we could've expected. one of our prosecutors, let alone someone who was new, to be lying down on the dead. >> with one of their own dead, she came we -- >> didn't have time to breathe about it, we did not have time to talk about our feelings. it was time to go to work. >> lieutenant steward and others canvassed the area but's information was hard to come by. witnesses say that the shooter helped hopped into a passenger side of the car and sped away. there were two people involved.
that the car was also reported to be silver, maybe a four torres, but with no license plate. >> we were just going around looking for the car. >> i don't think i've ever noticed how many silver four door sedans there are. >> and even though the killer had brazenly attack during the morning rush, witnesses say he covered up. >> one of the witness described him as wearing a hoodie that was black and covered their face. another person who saw him from a distance said all black, dark clothing. >> but there was something more, a witness in the garage right across the street heard the victims last words. >> mark said no, no, i'm sorry. and that was after a shoving match. >> did that tell you that these two knew each other? >> that seemed very personal to me.
>> no weapon was found at the scene, and no shell casings either. >> did that tell you anything that there are no shell casings? >> yes it told us that it was gonna have to be a revolver. >> that's because revolvers keep bullet casings inside the gun after firing. >> i can only imagine how terrified mark might have been in those final moments. >> mark was doing what he did every day, just going to work. >> now his fellow prosecutors feared that he died for that work and they could be next. no one felt safe. >> all of us were scared. we didn't know if there was a bunch of people waiting just trying to shoot us. >> the courthouse was locked down in the morning, then closed for the day. prosecutors and office staff were given extra security. >> they were working us to our cars, carrying guns. >> when it did start to sink in for you that you -- you walked into work with mark, you're offices were there.
>> i think that was the immediate fear, we were -- >> lost a very good man. >> district attorney will mark one -- >> i hope -- because we are very confident that we're gonna find you, we're gonna pull you out of whatever hole you are in, we will bring you back and let the people of kaufman county calm prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. >> mark stepdaughter watched the press conference with immense pride. >> that's not an unusual thing for him. he truly felt deeply about people, then he was gonna make a stand for it. he was gonna make a stand for his beliefs and really try to do the right thing. >> but bringing this killer, or killers, to justice, it would
take a lot more than tough talk. this was just the start of a crime spree that would terrorize the very people who protect us. now, no one was safe. coming up, that investigation would also present an overwhelming challenge, thanks to a suspect list including the hundreds of defendants marked had put away. >> i immediately started thinking about the murder cases that we'd all prosecuted, many of those people were starting to come out. >> any one particular came in your? head >> when dateline continues. elin continues. ♪you've got the brawn♪ ♪i've got the brains♪ ♪let's make lots of♪ ♪uh uh uh♪ ♪oohhh there's a lot of opportunities♪ with allstate, drivers who switched saved over $700. saving is easy when you're in good hands. allstate click or call to switch today.
him. it was devastating when he was gone. >> monday morning, four days after the murder of mark hasse, fellow persecutor shannon hebert return to work with a heavy heart. >> of course it was a difficult for our morning meeting without. mark we the whole office was devastated. his door was closed. >> security remained tight in and around the courthouse where people inside took on a bunker mentality. >> forks are trying to deal with whatever that -- no one has ever deal with this before. this is new territory for everyone. >> his colleagues were terrified, and many wanted to carry guns for protection.
district attorney mark mclelland we made it easier to get gun licenses. >> we -- >> did you get a? gun >> no i didn't. >> did you think about? >> it oh yes. >> it's a kind of thing that people do when they're scared and panicked but, the justice system under attack. the murder brought an all-star army to the case. the trick we shares center was full of police, texas rangers, and federal agents from the f. d. f and the fbi. >> that's what's most amazing from this case was federal officers and -- we >> advising this team we jason shook and toby williams. >> your professional training
kicks. and that's what tobin and i stepped up. >> the crime seem to be wet every prosecutor feel, a revenge hit for putting away a bad guy. that struck a chord that reverberated from kaufman to dallas and beyond. >> i think every judge, every prosecutor, every defense attorney has that in the back of their mind. >> does that send a chill whenever you look see someone like that guy killed? >> yes. what makes you think of what you do for a living and your family members, and your own personal safety. >> the initial theories whereas numerous as the hundreds of cases mark hasse had one done. the first one was right in kaufman county where mark was a prosecutor for three years. >> the question that we had were, who has he prosecuted presently?
>> for investigator stewart was involved from day one. >> it could've been someone who got upset, so we started delving into his cases. >> investigators started looking into every local case market prosecuted. there are robberies, drug prosecutions, and even a theft that it was involved a week -- they didn't find anything that led to a suspect. u.s. marshals pulled in anyone with an outstanding arrest warrant, nothing there either. so the task force widened the scope of the investigation beyond kaufman. we had >> we had not had a lot of violent crimes in kaufman so we naturally assumed it was someone from dallas. >> dallas, the big city less than 30 miles away, we've had a big lifestyle away. remember, back in the 19 eighties, mark and marcus busch locked up some tough customers
there. >> i was starting to think about the murder cases that we prosecuted, people who had life sentences, who are starting their pearl out. >> someone who got out of jail, had its grudge where -- >> you've been though investigators were convinced that he was murdered because of his job as a prosecutor, they didn't stop there. >> you still have to interview friends, family members, associates. >> he wasn't married, he didn't have any children. those extensive checks came out empty and his background. >> there was nothing there. he loved his mother, he spent a lot of time with her in dallas, to go out to dinner. >> all of these checks into mark's personal life were not planning out. frustration was sitting in, we because cases become harder to solve after 48 hours. two full days in, mark's murder had reached that crossword road. one >> insiders tell us there is simply no promising leads in
this case right now. with this is turning into a real whodunnit? >> will anyone who can give us information on who did this, will be greatly appreciated. we mclelland had an office to run while looking for good friend. >> how hard was it to get back to the office after the shooting? >> with his buddy gone, it was hard to go back and. >> and the case was about to get a lot bigger with another brazen murder. only this one crossed another line. a very sacred line. coming up. another member of law enforcement gunned down. >> the colorado head of corrections was shot here at his front door. >> had mark's struck again? when dateline continues. when dateline continues.
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happening, president biden signed -- the wide-ranging order covers everything from federal agencies to crack down on big tech, to making hearing aids more accessible and drug prices more competitive. and the cdc is calling for schools to reopen in the fall that it by local health data. even if they're unable to take all the necessary measures to avoid the spread of covid-19. they recommend masks to avoid the spread towards students, staff, and teachers. back to dateline. >> marshall afternoon in kaufman county where hundreds attended the funeral of mark hasse's makes cookies for the office about once a month and. >> he would run out and about
12 minutes. >> mark's longtime friend, marcus busch, also memorialized him. >> this world is a better place because of mark, and so are we. >> the world lost a bit van. someone who was resolute, always knew the difference between right and wrong, and would fight for that. >> now, special prosecutors, we toby shook and we williams wirskye would fight for mark. searching for his killer, but not coming up with easy answers. because he was so close to his friend an employee, we d.a. mclelland had to bow out of the investigation. investigators had to do what they could. >> anything that anyone can think of there are going to do it. >> marks checks in his personal background don't go anywhere. so they looked in his professional cases, from 30 years ago, to a few weeks ago.
>> how did you go from it could be this person? or this? person >> you see if they're locked out up, you see where they are, their whereabouts. there's usually something specific about someone's case that could give them cost to have a grudge. >> four weeks into the investigation, a tip came into the crime stoppers tip line which looked like a big break. >> the tipster said that they had been in a bar in a small town and kaufman and overheard to white men talking about the hasse killing and talking about how they did it. >> so they use the crime stopper system, the tipster remained anonymous, this was gonna be a game-changer. investigators would need more invent mission or luck. >> you're still looking for the big break or lucky traffic stop. someone who knows about the murder will know about it and
that will be the magic phone call. >> there was something that could lead them to the killer. the killer had been lying in wait. mark was shot at point blank range, execution style. all this lead investigators to believe these were we -- >> mexican drug cartels, prison gangs. >> we are open to every avenue right now. >> nbc's channel five covered the has sea case from the beginning. he was there for it all. >> drug cartels were suspected immediately because hasse have been involved in drug cases over the years. >> investigators also suspected another group, most publicly known, most dangerous, the ferry in brotherhood, a group of white supremacists.
>> there was some thing that their we've heard about the aryan brotherhood that they want to get even with on forsman. >> federal of fischel's had announced that alleged aryan brotherhood had been indicted for racketeering. among others the kaufman county 's for its role in the investigation. >> so people are putting too into together. >> it's one thing who if it's one individual goes for mark, it's another if it's a group. >> we're terrified that if this is the aryan brotherhood we, are all targets. >> and then, seven weeks after hasse's, another assault on law enforcement. it looked like it was open season on the criminal justice system. >> the head of correct -- he was shot on. >> the man's name was tom clements he was the head of
colorado's prison system. and like mark hasse, a publicist servant. >> well it seems like clements had a lot of. enemies >> it was an attack and in front of the front door. what evidence pointed to toured a foreign, one to a former inmates ebel, he was part of a group that was similar to the aryan brotherhood. now he was on the run from colorado authorities, he was armed and dangerous. with texas deputies would find out just how dangerous. the deputies stopped this car because the license plate didn't match the vehicle. they had no idea that the driver was evan ebel. as you will see, ebel had no hesitation of what using his gun again.
the unsuspecting deputy was -- he died in an explosive shoot out in wise county. investigations -- wise county is just 100 miles away from kaufman. could evan ebel kill another public servant in texas seven weeks earlier? >> the invest fbi is now investigating this case. they want to see if ebel it's connected to hasse's murder. >> someone seemed to be targeting law enforcement at point blank range. coming up, as the investigation grows more urgent, some concerns about the a mark mclelland and his wife. >> so i tried my dad, and then i try my mom and i didn't answer. >> so i said i would go over. there >> and then concern
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on law enforcement in a small town. >> nbc fives can we kalthoff suspected that this murder in texas was especially intriguing to investigators. >> it made people wonder if there could be some connection with the hasse murder. >> they did tests on ebel's weapon. but then the texas task force found out that ebel was's not the gun that killed mark hasse. what is more -- >> than ebel was not said to be in kaufman the week that hasse was killed. >> it weeks in, the hasse was not going anywhere. the command post was shut down, leaving just a small group to the work full-time on the case. >> slowly, we trickle back to our daily duties. >> the passage of time was a
allowing shannon hebert to get her co-liberty and back. >> i wasn't checking my windows all the time, i wasn't worried about someone pulling into my garage. you let your guard down. >> same thing for hard-nosed the a, mclelland one. >> did you feel like something was coming back to normal? >> yes i thought that it was a something along the lines of, we haven't found anything yet. life moves on. >> for the mclelland family, it meant spending time with family. it was something that he enjoyed since he married cynthia when his daughter was just ten years old. we >> he would pick me up and say, oh he but i'm 22. >> are you happy you have mark
as a stepdad? >> yes are filters are quite often sometimes. >> what mark relied on the support of his wife cynthia who is always doing something that she loved, quilting and cooking. >> she's the old school cook, she doesn't use back edges. she because if she makes everything from scratch. >> clearly by his physique he was enjoying the food very much. >> what made them a good match? >> it's funny, she supported him very greatly in what he was doing. but he was the conservative, and she was very liberal. i think was a lot of balance. the balanced each other very nicely. >> cynthia also wanted her daughter to find love and wasn't shy about playing matchmaker. with a guy she thought was a good fit. >> she looked at him and as, do you believe in a range marriages? and i had to believe -- i felt embarrassed. it's very weird.
>> at the end of march, easter weekend, the mclelland's were looking for trebek dinner that cynthia was making for friends. a time to relax and not dwell on the tragedy of mark hasse's murder. >> was there any fear that yet to be on high? alert >> i don't think so. >> christina spoke to her mom and stepdad on that night. >> my mom was making easter baskets, i heard what she was doing, putting the little peeps on sticks and she wasn't quite getting them and making a huge mess. just the normalcy of one, cynthia you need to take a break, you're getting tired and you need to just give it a minute. and mom saying, oh i'm fine. >> the next morning, saturday, the sun rose over the mclelland house. it was cynthia's day to prep. >> she was -- >> liu phillips and her husband,
close friends of the mclelland war's, was going to join them for dinner. >> she made these baskets and then made easter clothes and hit the baskets. >> that's elaborate. >> it was very elaborate. >> leah, who was meant to drop sums vegetables to cynthia texted her. >> and she never answered back. >> did you think that was? odd >> the only thing i could think of was that she did go to work, or that she can answer the phone and text me back. >> leah called mark's phone and the house phone, no one responded. but she wasn't the only one. >> christine -- >> by now, it was late afternoon. so liu took matters into her own hands. >> so i said, okay, i'll go on over. there >> she did go over, and now, nothing would ever be the same again. >> coming up, >> the door just
opened in slow motion. >> inside the mclelland house, a heart stopping discovery. >> i screamed and my knees buckled, and i just heard crying. >> when dateline continues. ontinues once in a while. [brad makes a snoring sound] and cockadoodle-dooskie- wakey-wakey... that should clear out the digital cobwebs for a few months or so. apartments-dot-com. the most popular place to find a place. are you one of the millions of americans who experience occasional bloating, gas, or abdominal discomfort? taking align can help. align contains a quality probiotic to naturally help soothe digestive upsets 24/7. try align, the pros in digestive health.
before easter, leah phillips was unable to reach a good friends, cynthia and mark mclelland you. she had refused to drop over to cynthia, but she thought something was odd when she pulled into the driveway. >> the newspaper was still in the yard, and cynthia's car was still there. >> so subtle clues. >> subtle, but i was thinking that they went to the movie with someone. >> she called her son and told him which he'd seen. >> and i said, you stay where the you're at. don't go inside that house. >> it was one c.j.'s cops ends
kicking in, he's a dallas police officer. >> my feeling was something wasn't right. it just wasn't right. >> a few minutes later, we c.j. drove up along with his dad. >> we went to the door and c.j. knocked on the door, three or four times, there was no answer. >> they were messing with the key and they were all standing behind me, and i just reach down to save the door was open. and, yeah, it was unlocked. and i'll never forget how the door opened. >> the door just opened like in slow motion. >> i took a couple of steps in and, that's when mom hit the ground. and started crying. >> and i screamed, c.j. we -- my niece buckled and i had the ground, i just started crying. because there is a meant to be shell casings in someone's
doorway. >> i looked down and sure enough, they wish to shell casings right inside the front door. at that point, something's really wrong now. something is bad. so i try to take a couple of steps more inside, and i see cynthia living there. >> cynthia mclelland was dead. her body was lying in a pool of blood in the living room floor. leah went back to her car. meanwhile, c.j. went's further into the house and found the bullet riddled body of mark mclelland. >> the coffman district attorney and his wife cynthia had been shot to death. >> you never expect to see someone like that that she knew, that she loved, to whom you are close, and i think that was the most, and still is, obviously,
it's difficult. >> because she hadn't been able to reach her parents one, christina decided to drive to the house as well. her mom's friend leah met her with the news she was dreading. >> i just had the feeling there were dead. and i said both of them? >> and she said yes. and it occurred to me that, oh my god, this is going to hit the news and my grandmother watched the news every day. somebody needs to stop her before she turns on the tv. >> mike was a high-profile? >> yes he was. >> and i didn't want somebody else to tell her that some this at happened. >> looking at the scene, c.j.'s police training told him that the killer, or killers, or along on. he knew what he had to do. >> there was no reason to go back into the house. we close the door, we didn't call 9-1-1. there was no need for paramedics to go in there.
>> they called the kaufman county sheriff. >> the things and that house were important and they needed to be preserved until the right people showed up. and they. did they showed up. >> i was at my house and we had just finished -- >> at about 8 pm, prosecutor to be shook got a call from wirskye. he said hey the mclelland's were found murdered. it scared me to death. i left the house and bill came to pick me up, my wife had to guns out and that's it, unless she knows it's me coming through the door, she'll be ready to use. that >> the prosecutors race to the scene. >> it was surreal, the front yard slip up and at the yellow crime scene tape, there's a lot of sheriffs officers, texas rangers, and fbi. >> sheriff kevin burn withstanding on the lawn.
>> he's a pretty legendary guy. he was a famous texas ranger. and he was shaking up, and if he's shaking, up that scared the hell out of me. it was eerily quiet amongst them because they were dealing with something i don't think anyone had ever seen before. >> aside from the obvious, two people are dead, what was shaking them up so badly? >> i think the big question is, who's next? because everyone's assumption was standing outside of that yellow tape is that it could've been any one of us. >> cynthia's murder escalated the danger not just for law enforcement but now for families. >> that man had crossed the line with by what murdering a family member. >> it sure seemed like the hasse and mclelland were connected. and everyone was afraid that the killings were not over. >> did you think it was a list? >> oh sure, there was going to
be another victim. >> saturday night, shannon hebert was shopping for easter dinner when she was surprised by phone call from her office. >> and i thought, who was there on a saturday on easter weekend? >> but her phone kept ringing. it was another prosecutor from her office. >> and i knew then at that point that something is going on. and i answered, and she proceeded to tell me that the mclelland's were found in their house, shot. >> it must have been the biggest shock in your life? >> it was. it's hard to imagine anyone you know being killed. i was frank tick, it was terrifying. >> her colleague told her to watch her back. >> we don't know who's next, we don't know if they're more -- just get home and be safe. she met, watch out. >> are you all feeling now that we're targets? >> we all felt that. >> including, the people she loved most in the world. >> i think that's what was so scary, it's not just me anymore,
i have kids. my husband. my family. and, i mean, i can't keep putting them at risk. we were all in danger. >> as local deputies began around the clock around shannon's house, something kept nagging her about the mclelland murder. >> there was no way that cynthia could open her door to anyone. it was someone we know or someone just up as the police officer. it was really concerning. >> yeah that someone would be just up in a fake police uniform? >> it was mark, like his entire staff, was still vigilant ever since his chief prosecutor was gunned down. the wary d.a. kept guns at near the front door but never have the chance to use them. >> did it feel like all bets were against you because they
were going after family members? >> to go after prosecutors family was a line that we didn't think we would see crossed. coming up, just to could pick up law enforcement just like this? >> it was a straight-up whodunnit. >> we were hoping there would be a magic clue in that crime scene or that house that would solve this riddle for us. >> when dateline continues. n dateline continues plus, its delicious beef flavor is #1 with dogs. ask your vet about nexgard. [swords clashing] - had enough? - no... arthritis. here. new aspercreme arthritis. full prescription-strength? reduces inflammation? thank the gods. don't thank them too soon. kick pain in the aspercreme. did you know diarrhea is often caused by bad bacteria in food? don't thank them too soon. try pepto® diarrhea. its concentrated formula coats and kills bacteria to relieve diarrhea. see, pepto® diarrhea gets to the source,
♪ me and you we are the same ♪ ♪ me and you have all the fame we need ♪ ♪ indeed, you and me are we ♪ ♪ me and you singing in the park ♪ ♪ me and you, we're waiting for the dark ♪ the murders in kaufman, texas, were bold. first, prosecutor mark hasse gunned down in a public square in broad daylight. two months later, district attorney mike mcclel land and his wife cynthia killed before dawn in their home. investigators hoped this latest crime scene would provide more leads than the hasse killing did. they already knew they had shell casings. would there be other clues inside the house to help catch
the killer? texas ranger eric has per was part of the team who entered the home. >> the front door was not kicked in. the door was unlocked: shell casings are 223 caliber. >> that told them the killer used an ar-15 or mr-type semi-automatic like this one. >> it started when the door opened. mr. mcclel land and mrs. mcclel land were retreating, trying to get away from the gunfire. >> sin they's body was clearly in the middle of the living room. she was trying to get dressed. there were shell casings next to mike's body, indicating the killer had finished him off at close range. >> he finished him off, stood
right over him. >> it was an ambush like the hasse murder. >> did the scene speak to you at all? >> i felt like whoever went in there had a mission, and they did it quickly and did it efficiently and they were out. >> later, records from the home security company would confirm stewart's observation. the killer entered the house at 6:40 a.m. and was gone just two minutes later. 20 shots fired in 120 seconds. >> that was a pretty brutal way to go. >> lieutenant stewart couldn't help but be affected by the sight of cynthia shot in the head at close range. >> just looking at her there on the scene, she was targeted, you know. that -- i mean, she didn't have a dog in this fight. >> investigators talked to neighbors. surely someone had heard the shots.
assault rifles aren't quiet. >> the weapon used in this murder, you should have been able to hear it outside no problem. >> no one heard or saw anything. by the end of easter weekend, special prosecutor bill worski said they in nothing. >> we were just trying to figure out what to do next, and we're hoping against hope there's going to be a magic clue in that crime scene or in that house that will answer this riddle for us. >> they were looking for that clue, and all of a sudden it drove by. coming up, a mysterious tip arrives. but after so many false leads, is this one legit? >> would anyone other than the killer have known that? >> no. >> when "dateline" continues. els more....beginners' yoga. u namaste... ...surprise parties. aww, you guys. dupixent helps prevent asthma attacks... ...for 3!... ...so i can du more of the things i love.
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♪ hello, colonial penn? what should have been a slow easter news day in dallas, now had a lead story that didn't involve chocolate bunnies or egg hunts. >> we're following some breaking news right now in kaufman county, where county district attorney mike mclelland and his wife cynthia have been found shot to death. >> the news touched off a
firestorm of public concern. tips started flooding into the reopened kaufman county sheriff's command post. some tips still cited the aryan brotherhood of texas. >> special prosecutor bill worski -- >> with the added media attention after the mclellands were murdered, we got hundreds of tips a day. >> it was like drinking out of a fire hose during this whole thing. >> lt. jolie stewart of the sheriff's department was right in the middle of it. hundreds of investigators from multiple agencies had swooped in. >> this was all hands on deck. >> uh-huh. >> this became the number one case in the bureau at that time. >> fbi special agents michael hillman and laurie gibbs were coordinating teams from the task force, each team looking into different aspects of the case. >> you have to look at everything. >> so you decided to just divvy it up. everyone could focus on their individual tasks. >> exactly.
>> right, and some of these teams had 25, 30 people on them. and there was a team that looked at all of the victims and what they may have in common. >> they believed the killing of d.a. mike mclelland was linked with the shooting of prosecutor mark hasse back in january. but it was all one big collective hunch, until a tip came through that would confirm the connection. >> through the crime stoppers web-based tip line, we get a tip that claims credit for the mark hasse murders. >> the electronic message came in easter sunday night. it began, "do we have your full attention now?" "we" suggests more than one person. did you think maybe it's a group? >> in my thought i thought is it -- how big is this group? what is this group? is this some sort of anti-government militia group? is this white supremist? i -- i had no idea what we were dealing with. >> law enforcement wrote back, "you have our attention." >> and we wanted him to tell us what he wanted. >> while they waited anxiously for an answer, computer experts tried to trace the tip back to the source. no luck. that's because the system is set up to protect the anonymity of all tipsters. when a message comes in, the sender is identified only by a
unique number. after 12 hours of nail-biting, there was finally a response that told investigators this person was the real deal. mark hasse was killed with .38-caliber ammunition fired from a .357 five-shot revolver. would anyone other than the killer have known that? >> no. this person knew way more than anybody would have. >> the killer also wrote, "your act of good faith will result in no other attacks this week." in return for that pledge, the killer made a demand. >> they wanted one of the judges in kaufman county to step down by the end of the week. or the killings would resume. so, the fact that this tip came in and named these specific judges in kaufman told us it was somebody local. >> that all but ruled out the aryan brotherhood, drug cartels and those old cases from dallas. the killer's message ended this way, "we are not unreasonable, but we will not be stopped."
it's almost sounding like a game now. >> i think in his mind it was a big chess game. i think it was just for fun, to see if he could really exert complete and total control over the criminal justice system in kaufman county. >> by monday morning the story was topping the national news. perhaps that's exactly what the killer wanted. >> nbc's gabe gutierrez is in kaufman, texas, for us this morning. gabe, good morning to you. >> savannah, good morning. there will be stepped up security here at the county courthouse today. the district attorney's office will be closed to the public. this entire community is on high alert. >> that morning when shannon hebert came to her office, she had an armed escort. there's no leader at your office anymore. >> there's nothing. no one. >> when you come into work, how do you go forward? >> we had to move forward. we couldn't let them win. we couldn't. and we had to fight, and -- for the honor of mike and mark. >> everyone in the office was on edge. >> my husband. i mean, he stayed up all night with a gun in his hand.
>> i know that i start carrying a gun. sleep with a gun under my pillow. >> even shannon, who wouldn't carry a gun before, now slept with protection nearby. >> we had a big ol' shotgun sitting on our dresser ready to go just in case. >> the killer's threat to unleash more violence in kaufman county kept the task force working around the clock. a special team scoured the surveillance video collected near the mcclelland crime scene, hoping for a new lead. >> so many people now have surveillance cameras on their house. so, we're trained to go in and collect that sort of evidence. >> and, finally, the video team's painstaking search seemed to pay off. they found images of a car that didn't belong, a white ford crown victoria, cruising near the mcletland clel land home during the time of if murders. no one in the neighborhood owned a car like that. but the crown vic model is popular with law enforcement. so the fbi jumped on that angle.
was there ever a thought that maybe this is one of our own? maybe this is a police officer doing this? >> that was not out of the realm of possibility. coming up -- investigators recheck the cases handled by mark hasse, this time to see which ones mike mcclelland also worked on. and -- >> there was only one common denominator for those two prosecutors. >> which was? >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues n br young homeowners turning into their parents. you ever think about the storage operation a place like this must rely on? -no. they just sell candles, and they're making overhead? you know what kind of fish those are? -no. -eh, don't be coy. [ laughs ] [ sniffs, clears throat ] koi fish. it can be overwhelming. think a second. have we seen this shirt before? progressive can't save you from becoming your parents. but we can save you money when you bundle home and auto with us. but you know what? i'm still gonna get it. home to great appliance brands like lg.
a few minutes of weightlessness some 55 miles above the surface before descending back to earth. now back to "dateline." six days after the murders of mike and sin thee a mcclelland, hundreds of mourners packed this church for their funeral. the flag-draped casket contained mike's body and cynthia's ashes, together for eternity. their extended family, united in grief, bid them an emotional farewell. >> i carry a lot of things from them with me. they taught me very well. >> they helped a lot of people before they left this world. >> they really did. they made a large impact on a lot of people. >> a beefed-up multi-agency task force vowed to catch whoever
killed the mcclellands and mark hasse. investigators had seen that ford crown victoria on video roaming near the mcclelland home and thought it might be a police car. the terrible possibility it might be one of their own had to be ruled in or out immediately. >> we checked with every law enforcement agency in the area and identified where every police car was in the area. and none of them were even close to where this image was captured. >> next, they looked for anyone who for any reason had issues or disputes involving both prosecutors. >> there didn't seem to be anybody in that group of people that were upset enough that they would want to commit homicide. >> but there was one defendant involved in a felony they couldn't ignore. >> there was only one common denominator for those two prosecutors. >> which was? >> that was eric williams. >> eric williams? who was eric williams? he was a former deputy sheriff and longtime attorney with an
office right across the street from the courthouse. in 2010, he was elected by the people of kaufman to be justice of the peace. shannon hebert worked with him and said he had a sharp legal mind. in fact, he was a member of mensa, the organization for people with superhigh i.q.s. >> he was a great judge. i liked having him in there. he would understand the law. i thought he was very fair. >> i mean, everyone respected him. >> williams, married for 15 years with no kids of his own, was a strong advocate for children and specialized in child abuse cases. lt. jolie stewart often worked with him on those cases. >> how do you think he was perceived amongst his fellow colleagues, other attorneys? >> i think that he had a lot of respect with his peers. he was kind of the go-to guy for family law. >> i know he had a love for children. >> tera williams-bellemare knows that better than anyone. she's eric's sister. >> he was a good uncle to my
kids. never missed their birthdays. i never had to remind him. >> she says, growing up, her big brother was her inspiration. he made eagle scout, went to college, law school, and became a successful attorney. he also served as a captain in the texas state guard. >> he was driven, he was ambitious. he wanted to make us feel proud of him. >> so tera and the legal community were stunned in 2012 when her brother, the newly-elected justice of the peace, got into trouble with the law. williams was accused of stealing three computer monitors for his personal use from the county i.t. department. here's surveillance video showing him carrying boxes of computer equipment. it just seems odd that someone like that would bother to steal a few computer monitors. >> exactly. it was just kind of shocking that someone would go and do that.
>> williams found himself on the wrong side of this police interrogation. >> okay, judge. before we get started, i'm going to read the miranda warning. you're an attorney, you're a judge, so you know as well as i do. >> i know you got to read it. i understand. >> williams tried to explain he took the monitors because he claimed he needed new equipment for his office but never got it. >> that's been an ongoing kind of thing, where i'd tell the i.t. people that i need to keep improving things. >> i understand. but you hadn't put any kind of written request in, nothing like that that's been documented at all. >> no. >> mark hasse and mike mcclelland knew eric williams as a colleague in kaufman's small legal community. as boss of the d.a.'s office, mike rarely tried cases, but because williams was an elected public official, he made an exception and teamed up with mark to prosecute the case. christina says her step-dad believed williams had violated the public trust.
>> i think it did offend mike on a basic level. these people elected you. you're supposed to be doing good things for the community, not stealing from it. >> a jury found williams guilty of theft. he got probation, but lost his job and license to practice law. and now, a year later, both men who prosecuted him were dead, and williams was under suspicion. >> did you bear either of those men any kind of grudge? >> no. absolutely not. >> the media got wind of the interest in williams. and just days after the mcclelland murders, he was interviewed by nbc affiliate kprc. he strangely swept in on his segway. >> has anyone connected with this investigation suggested to you that you're a person of interest in the investigation? >> no. >> after the denial, his sympathies. >> my heartfelt condolences go out to both the mcclelland family and the hasse family because they were in public office doing the right thing, and for some reason that we're not aware of, they've paid the ultimate price for that. >> williams was known to be a
bit of an odd duck, but a murder suspect? it seems so farfetched that a justice of the peace, a man who had served his county not only as an attorney, a judge, but also as a -- as a deputy sheriff, would then suddenly turn into this serial killer. >> uh-huh. yeah, no -- no one wants to think a lawyer would do that, a person who was a public servant would do that. >> in fact, he was among the many people investigators had already looked at after the hasse murder. >> what was his alibi at the time? >> he said he had been at home either caring for his wife or his in-laws down the street. >> he also had his arm in a sling when law enforcement came to talk to him, and his excuse was he had frozen shoulder, and wasn't able to use his right arm. >> he even took a gunshot residue test at his house and passed. and after the mcclelland murders, investigators checked whether he owned a ford crown victoria, the car captured on video lurking near the mcclelland murder scene. records showed he did not.
the case was still stalled. but soon, the task force would get one of those lucky breaks they'd always hoped for. it came out of the blue and gave the investigation some much needed juice. coming up, a special prosecutor goes on high alert. >> i get on the phone and tell my wife to make sure she knew where the kids were, get inside, and keep the doors locked. and a stranger calls with a stunning revelation. >> i could tell when i listened to his voice, "this is it. this is the real thing,". >> when "dateline" continues. t >> when "dateline" continues it's air care, redefined. air wick essential mist. connect to nature.
>> eric williams was making the tv interview rounds. but he hadn't sat down for a formal interview with investigators. because of his connection to both mark hasse and mike mcclelland, investigators had to take a serious look at him. >> on the surface it may seem implausible because he's a lawyer and a judge and successful. the more we learned about him, the more viable in our minds he became as a suspect. >> just the year before, williams had been prosecuted for theft by hasse and mcclelland. >> you must be champing at the bit to talk to eric williams. >> obviously, we wanted to talk to him. the problem with that was he was still represented by lawyers. >> lawyers who kept williams from talking. but then, two weeks after the mcclel lands were killed in their home, the special prosecutors got a big opening they hadn't seen coming. >> we get an email back from the lawyers basically saying, "we do -- no longer represent eric williams." >> they figured this was their one window to talk to him, and
they knew they had get it right the first time, before he lawyered up again. so fbi profilers came up with a strategy, send over a top-level texas ranger so williams would be more likely to let him in. >> was the idea that that would fit with his ego? >> he would view a major with the texas rangers as someone equal on his intellect that perhaps he would talk to. if you sent someone of lower rank, then he would just dismiss them. >> the ranger and a local cop familiar to williams went to his house carrying a hidden tape recorder. >> did it work? >> it worked great. >> williams let them in, without a search warrant. the subject quickly got around to guns. williams said he'd been forced to sell his weapons to raise money since he could no longer practice law. >> i been in your house. i know you got lots of guns. >> yeah. >> okay. >> how do you think i've been living? >> selling guns? >> yeah, for two years. >> you don't have anymore? you got rid of all of them? >> i have one gun that i'm trying to sell, and it's just
hard as hell to try to sell. >> he said, "i don't have any guns, except one gun." and so, he let them look around. and -- and they began finding gun parts. >> gun parts. some very specific gun parts that appeared to match the type of automatic weapon used in the mcclelland killings. and at the same time, the fbi discovered williams had done computer searches on hasse and mcclelland before the murders. >> he specifically told them that he had not ever searched the two victims before the murders. >> now you've got him lying. >> yeah. >> that lie and those gun parts were enough to get a warrant for a more thorough search of his house. investigators, including a crack fbi evidence team were back the next day. they went room to room, then to the garage. and, bingo! >> in a filing cabinet in the garage there was a manual for a ford crown vic. and there was also a title to a crown vic. >> the task force, of course, had been looking for a crown victoria.
this one was registered under a false name. that must have been a real big moment, finding that registration. >> that was huge. >> outside, special prosecutor w irs ky was on hand to give legal advice. >> one of the fbi computer techs came out and said, "mr. wirskye, i don't mean to alarm you, but eric williams has been searching you and mr. shook on his computer." >> what's the first thing you did when you heard that he had been searching you? >> get on the phone with my wife and tell her to make sure she knew where the kids were and to get inside and keep the doors locked and don't answer the door for anyone up to and including a police officer. >> what did she say? >> i could hear the fear in her voice, and i knew right then we had to put him in jail for something. it became very personal and a matter of life and death for us. >> back inside, searchers found something interesting, a scrap of paper with two handwritten numbers. >> so they collected it because it was near the computer and they thought it might be important. >> and it was. a sheriff's deputy recognized
the user i.d. for the county crimestoppers' anonymous tip line. the first number corresponded to a tip from early in the hasse case. the tipster claimed to have overheard two men in a bar saying they'd killed mark hasse. that meant the tip came from williams' computer. a follow-up computer search also revealed williams had searched several how-to websites. >> one of the websites was how to throw the police off an investigation by sending in fake tips. >> the second number on that scrap of paper was even more important because it turned out to be the real thing. it matched back to that computer message that gave details about the hasse murder weapon and also threatened more killings. >> so we knew right then that that tip that had come into the command post was sent by eric williams. and we knew right then we were going to be able to put eric williams in jail. >> he was arrested, not for murder, but for making a terrorist threat about killing a judge.
>> we just didn't know if we had enough evidence to convict him. >> they just had to figure out where the evidence might be. >> did you think that eric williams had a hiding place? >> we began to suspect pretty early on if it's eric williams and we know what cars were used, there may be a storage unit or some secret storage place that he may have access to that we haven't found. >> at least now, 10 weeks after hasse's murder, the investigation was finally on a roll. >> we go home that night to get a good night's sleep, and i actually wanted for the first time in weeks to see my son play a little league game. >> but the next morning, his parenting plans were dashed by work again. his phone rang. it was a friend of eric williams who'd heard about his arrest. >> he said, "mr. w irs kye, i have something to tell you about eric williams. i think i may have rented him a storage unit." >> we'd been looking for a storage unit and i could tell when i listened to his voice, this is it, this is the real
thing. >> little league was out for the day? >> unfortunately it was. little league was out. my son went three for three. >> but you were headed to a storage unit. >> this is too important. so, i got on the phone with the texas rangers. and i said, this is it. i think we've found it." coming up, found what, exactly? even seasoned investigators would be blown away: >> this is one of those moments that i'll never forget because it was just "wow." >> when "dateline" continues. es are you one of the millions of americans who experience occasional bloating, gas or abdominal discomfort? taking align every day can help. align contains a quality probiotic developed by gastroenterologists. it adds more good bacteria to your gut to naturally help soothe your occasional bloating, gas and abdominal discomfort. support your digestive health with align, the #1 doctor recommended probiotic. try align today. and try new align fast acting biotic gummies. helps soothe occasional digestive upsets in as little as 7 days. ugh, these balls are moist. or is that the damp weight of self-awareness you now hold in your hands?
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investigation was now a run-of-the-mill storage unit -- number 18 to be precise -- in seagoville, texas, just 14 miles from the mcclel land house. eric kasper of the texas rangers was part of the task force caravan racing to unit 18. >> everybody is running and gunning. you know, everybody wants to be there. >> so we're all just filled with expectations. we're making bets, "okay, the white crown vic's gonna be
there." "no, it's not." "we're gonna find the murder weapon." >> ranger kasper did the honors, lifting the heavy, steel door. >> this is one of those moments that i'll never forget because it was just wow. >> what did you see? >> we saw the white crown vic, the car that we'd been looking for for all those days and all those man hours, and there it was. and we knew finally we had eric williams. >> but there was so much more. police uniforms and bullet-proof vests, more than a half dozen police badges, thousands of rounds of ammo, and enough guns to supply a small army. >> the guns and ammo were sent off to the lab for testing. inside this treasure trove of bad intentions, there were also pickle jars filled with liquid, later identified as homemade
napalm. >> it was just unbelievable. it was like a tactical operator's closet. >> but they'd soon be dealt a serious blow. the lab results came back on all those weapons. nothing matched. the murder weapons were still missing. that's got to be extremely frustrating when you feel like, well, one of these guns i'm sure has got to be the murder weapon. >> oh yeah, deflating. we were positive one of those was going to be the murder weapon. >> even without the guns, the prosecutors believed there was enough evidence to finally go forward. on april 18th, 2013, ten weeks after mark hasse was gunned down and three weeks since the mcclellands were killed, eric williams was charged with three counts of capital murder. prosecutors said the motive was revenge. >> one thing i found out about eric williams, the first big thing that went wrong in his life, this is how he was going
to react, with rage and homicidal violence. >> it all seemed so senseless to the mcclellands' daughter, christina. >> this all started over three computer monitors. and now we're talking about three murders. >> yeah. i mean, you know, normal people don't do that. >> god bless the united states and the great state of texas. >> eric williams went on trial for murder in december. >> be seated please, ladies and gentlemen. the court calls state of texas versus eric williams. >> williams wasn't on trial for the murder of mark hasse or mike mcclelland. in a surprise tactic, this trial was only for the murder of cynthia mcclelland. >> not guilty, your honor. >> why not just try the murders at the same time? >> what if something went wrong in the first trial? we wanted to have the ability to be able to try him twice and make sure he got justice. >> christina sat in court and had to relive the deaths of her parents. what gave you the strength to go to the court every day? >> i showed up every day for the three people who gave their lives for something good.
they stood up and they did what they were supposed to, and they died for it. >> this is my chance to tell you the story of the murders of mike and cynthia mcclelland. >> prosecutor bill wirskeye thought if he could prove eric williams had killed cynthia, that would obviously show he killed mike. >> you'll hear the story of a massive law enforcement investigation -- state, local, federal agencies working together to build an airtight case. >> one of the first witnesses called -- c.j. tomlinson, dallas police officer and friend of the mcclellands. c.j. told the jury how he and his parents found the mcclellands. >> i took a couple more steps inside the residence, i was hollering for mike. "mike, mike!" >> for three days, prosecutors brought a blizzard of witnesses. they told the jury williams had been linked to that tip that came in after the mcclelland murders.
>> he sent an e-mail in to law enforcement claiming credit for the murders, thinking law enforcement would never figure it out. but he was wrong. >> investigators didn't have the murder weapon, but they had something else, a bullet they found inside a bag taken from williams' storage unit. >> you know this is what you and your team recovered. >> yes. >> a ballistics examiner compared that single unfired bullet to the shell casings found at the murder scene and came up with a match. >> that live round was ejected from the same weapon that killed the mcclellands. so that was a big moment for us. >> and prosecutors thought this security video outside the storage unit nailed the case down. they said it traced the movements of eric williams and the crown vic on the morning of the murders. >> approximately 6:00 a.m. real time. >> that's when williams in his black suv pulled up to the entrance of the storage unit, according to the prosecution. at 6:12 a.m. the white crown
victoria pulled out. by 6:42 investigators knew the mcclellands were dead or dying on the floor based on the motion detectors in the home security system. at 7:00, here's that white crown vic coming back through the entrance. and 17 minutes later, that black suv pulled out. >> he committed this crime. his acts alone and his acts alone condemn him to be found guilty of capital murder. >> the prosecutors said they had a lot of circumstantial evidence, including the crown vic and that matching bullet. >> ladies and gentlemen of the jury -- >> but the defense was about to tell the jury what the prosecution didn't have. >> -- eric williams did not commit these murders. >> defense lawyer matthew seymour laid into one of the
state's star witnesses, that ballistics expert. he reminded the jury investigators never found the murder weapon. >> you didn't actually have access to that firearm? >> correct. >> he tried to poke holes in the prosecution's matching bullet theory. >> someone of different experience could come along and say they're not a match. is that true? >> yes, potentially that is true. if i could break the chain from the live round recovered from the storage unit and the mcclelland shooting scene, i might stand a chance. >> the defense didn't see the need to call any witnesses. >> our position was the state had not fulfilled their obligation to prove the elements of the indictment. it was just that simple. there is no known murder weapon in this case. there's no one who can place eric williams in that scene at the mcclelland home. no one. >> finally, this case that had rocked the justice system was about to be decided by the jurors. they needed only 90 minutes to reach a verdict. >> we, the jury, unanimously find the defendant, eric lyle williams, guilty of capital murder as charged in the indictment. >> guilty of capital murder in
the death of cynthia mcclelland. >> you heard the word "guilty?" >> it was a gift. it was a gift for all of us. it's probably a gift for everybody else because i don't believe that this would've stopped at the end of these killings. >> there's a sad postscript to this case that raises a painful question. could williams have been stopped after the hasse murder and before the mcclellandings? did they have to die? in a haunting irony, mike mcclelland always thought williams was likely the killer. >> he certainly suspected it was eric williams after mark hasse was shot. and he made no secret of what his opinion was. and i had numerous conversations where he said, "bill, it's eric williams. >> williams was one of a handful of possible suspects early on in the hasse case, but there was no evidence on him. and even with his conviction for theft, he'd had a good reputation. >> we had several discussions about it.
of course, eric's name came up in the discussions burkes if you can't prove it, then it doesn't matter. it doesn't matter what you think, if you can't prove it. >> and now this former justice of the peace was a convicted murderer. how? why? was he living a double life? >> i think he was. most people were fooled by his exterior. he looked so normal. he looked so average. he had the trappings of success, being a lawyer and a judge. but behind that mask was a homicidal psychopath. >> just angry at the world? >> yeah. i think he had a very dark, cold heart. >> but this case was far from over. prosecutors had won, but they were saving their best witness for last. investigators always suspected eric williams did not act alone. and he didn't. you're about to hear from his accomplice, someone who will take you inside the mind of a murderer. coming up -- >> you just can't make this stuff up. you would think this was a hollywood movie. >> a moment-by-moment account of
we, the jury, unanimously find the defendant, eric lyle williams -- >> they'd won a guilty verdict against eric williams, but prosecutors didn't have time to celebrate. the jury would now decide whether he should get the death penalty. in a rare legal move, prosecutors had saved some blockbuster evidence and a star witness for just this moment. as investigators figured all along, williams hadn't acted alone. he had an accomplice. it was this woman.
>> the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth -- >> his wife, kim. they'd been married for fifteen years, but now she was about to testify against her husband. >> it was a cold day, and there was excitement in the air. >> witnesses to the hasse murder, you remember, said the shooter jumped into the passenger side of the getaway car. so police always suspected williams had help. soon after he was arrested, kim williams was brought in for questioning. >> investigators spent hours talking to her. >> prosecutor wirskye was watching the interview. >> she was just not going to give up any information. she talked about her husband and what a great guy he was and how he wouldn't hurt anyone. >> then, an fbi interrogator, growing impatient, got tougher. >> he raised his voice with her and was telling her that she knew that those people had been killed. >> then she broke, and what she told them was startling. she said, not only did she know
something about the murders, she helped her husband carry them out. now, during the penalty phase, prosecutors planned to use her testimony to make sure the jury would give him a death sentence. >> she led us to a lot of evidence. and i think it was important for the jury to see and have all their questions answered. >> he came up with the plan to dress like law enforcement. >> they were a husband-and-wife murder team, and they went through a dress rehearsal the night before the mcclelland murders. >> he was modeling it for me. >> describe to the members of the jury what he was modeling for you the night before. >> he looked like he was in the army or s.w.a.t. >> he had a bullet proof vest with "sheriff" on the front. more than likely mrs. mcclelland was going to answer the door, and he was going to introduce himself as a policeman. >> and the next morning, she said, she was lookout in the crown vic, as her husband went inside to murder the
mcclellands. >> if someone came, was this -- was there a plan for what you were supposed to do to alert eric? >> yes. he told me to honk the horn. >> but if these had been revenge killings of mike mcclelland and mark hasse, why did cynthia mcclelland have to die? >> because she would be there as a witness, and he described it as collateral damage. >> and prosecutors wanted the jury to know how callous eric and kim williams were after killing two people in cold blood. >> we had steaks on the grill, and eric cooked those. >> at my parents' house. >> were y'all celebrating with steaks? >> that's correct. >> the prosecutors couldn't tell jurors about the hasse case during the cynthia mcclelland trial, but now they were free to use mark's murder to cement their argument for the death penalty. >> we had an airtight circumstantial evidence case on the hasse murder. >> kim williams said on that morning outside the courthouse, she drove the getaway car. >> as you're driving away from the scene of the hasse murder,
what is his mood like? >> happy. >> what is your mood like? >> happy. i so believed in eric and everything that he told me. his anger was my anger. >> who was he mad at? >> he was mad at mark hasse. he was mad at mr. mcclelland. he was angry because he thought that they were trying to set him up. >> what did that tell you about this incredibly bizarre relationship, that these two were in cahoots with each other? >> i think it proved beyond any doubt that eric williams was a psychopath and this was a horribly toxic, screwed up marriage. i think it lets you know what type of darkness was going on inside that house, you know, inside their hearts. >> yes -- >> kim williams also said she helped her husband dispose of key evidence in the case. she recalled driving to this bridge one night and watching eric toss a black bag into the lake. >> do you know what was in the bag? >> i knew that it was guns. >> it had taken 12 months of searching the lake before divers found the bag.
fbi agent laurie gibbs was there. >> opens this up, and there's two guns. this is it. >> inside the bag were two revolvers. forensics would show one of those guns killed mark hasse. and one more thing -- that bag those guns were in, it wasn't a bag at all. it was really a terrifying halloween mask. >> grim reaper-type halloween mask? >> exactly. >> kim williams said her husband wore it to conceal himself when he shot mark. >> and you can imagine the terror that was going through mark hasse when he recognized and heard the voice. >> she also told jurors that her husband had more mayhem in mind. >> judge ashworth. >> he wanted to kill a judge in a special way with a special weapon. >> with a crossbow. >> that's correct. >> kim williams said he also brewed up a concoction just for the judge. you may remember there was
homemade napalm in pickle jars inside the storage unit. >> what was the napalm for? >> i guess to drive in an extra kind of [ bleep ] it was going to bore a hole in his stomach and pour it in. >> it's one thing to say, "well, eric williams did this, fine. but that his wife was along for the ride? >> you can't just make this stuff up. you would think this was a hollywood movie, but these people are living every day together and talking about murdering people. >> my name is christina foreman. >> now, christina, in her victim's impact statement, would finally get her chance to vent her feelings as she turned to her parents' killer. >> pretty much the only thing i have to say is -- "[bleep] you, eric williams." that was pretty much the only thing i could think of to say to him. >> did it feel good? >> it did. it did feel good. a nice sock in the face would probably feel a lot better. >> the defense countered by
calling dozens of character witnesses -- >> very smart young man -- >> from williams' scoutmaster to his high school friends, but the jurors weren't swayed. >> it is ordered by this court to carry out the sentence of death -- >> he was sentenced to die by lethal injection. he's appealing his conviction. given the death penalty decision, prosecutors decided not to try him for the murders of mark hasse or mike mcclelland. williams pleaded not guilty to both. mark hasse's longtime friend, and federal trial attorney, marcus busch, believes williams will still be dangerous even on death row. >> eric williams is a master manipulator, he is a very intelligent human being, and he's a very deadly, proficient killer. i think he's going to be a threat to the prison guards and i think he's going to be a threat to anybody else in prison. >> you're making him sound like
hannibal lector. >> this is a man who killed three people in cold blood simply because they prosecuted him for stealing computer monitors. >> kim williams pleaded guilty to the murder of cynthia. and for her cooperation, the other charges were disposed of. she was sentenced to 40 years in prison, avoiding the death penalty. >> i'll never forget mike and cynthia or mark. >> will you ever be over this? >> no. i'm not over it. i never-- i know i never will be. i don't think any of us will be ever. >> but as tragic as all this was, believe it or not, something good came out of it. during the long ordeal, christina and that cop from dallas, c.j. tomlinson, fell in love. their families had been great friends for a long time. cynthia mcclelland had always tried to play matchmaker. >> cynthia pretty much told me that was going to happen, and she was right. she got me. >> i can only imagine how happy your mom would be -- >> oh, god. >> -- if she's looking down, that you two are together. >> i can't-- i can't even imagine.
she would be just doing some sort of weird dance that "i told you so." and you know, i'm sure she's thrilled. we got married on her birthday, so that would have made her ecstatic. this is "dateline." >> my mother called and said michelle is dead, how is it possible what happened? >> a young mother found brutally murdered, her little girl left to wander in her mother's blood. police had a suspect, and they say, he had a motive. >> we had an intimate relationship. inad h >> ended up having sex. >> could they prove he was the killer? >> it was a circumstantial casel >> except for that witness, the girl who left thosfo