(NEW YORK) — The killing of a second Kaufman County, Texas, prosecutor in the past two months has prompted authorities in Colorado to renew their investigation into possible links between those murders and the execution-style slaying of Colorado’s state prisons chief.
Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were found shot to death in their Forney, Texas, home on Saturday, Sheriff David Byrnes said on Sunday.
On the surface, the incident bore striking similarities to the killing of Colorado Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements, who was killed in his home less than two weeks ago.
After Clements’ murder, authorities in Colorado had made contact with Texas investigators to look for possible links between his murder and that of Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, who was gunned down outside of a courthouse in January.
Joe Roybal, a deputy with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado, said investigators had laid off of the case for a while, but re-contacted their counterparts in Texas after they heard about McLelland’s murder.
Evan Ebel, a Colorado man who was released from prison in January, was believed to be responsible for Clements’ murder, according to authorities. Ebel died days after the murder from wounds sustained in a shootout with Texas police.
Roybal said investigators are interviewing associates of Ebel, both “[prison] gang members” and others on the outside in the case.
Despite the investigation, authorities have stopped short of linking any of the three incidents.
Byrnes would not definitively say on Sunday whether he believed the murder of McLelland and his wife was related to the Jan. 31 assassination of Hasse.
“We have nothing indicating that for sure,” he said at a news conference Sunday afternoon.
The assistant district attorney was gunned down execution-style outside the Kaufman County Courthouse by one or two unknown assailants as he walked from his car to the courthouse in Kaufman, southeast of Dallas.
Byrnes declined to discuss what security measures were already in place and whether any new steps might be taken, but said people should not be afraid to go to the courthouse, where there would be “visible security.”
“It’s pretty obvious it’s unnerving and its unnerving to the law enforcement community and the community at large, which is why we’re striving to ensure the community we are providing public safety,” he said.
Along with local agencies, the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Texas Rangers have joined the investigation, Byrnes said.
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