Kaufman County Murders: Eric Williams, a Segway-Riding Justice of the Peace, is the Top Suspect

Categories: Crime

EricWilliamsMugShot.jpg
Williams
After Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife were gunned down in their home last month, just two months after McLelland's deputy, assistant DA Mark Hasse, was murdered in broad daylight, law enforcement officials pledged to search far and wide to bring the killer, or killers, to justice.

Turns out, he may have been hiding in their own backyard.

The focus of the case has now turned to Eric Lyle Williams, a former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace who was arrested Saturday morning on a charge of making a terroristic threat. That's a relatively minor charge, a misdemeanor in most cases and the same one that's already gotten two non-murderers thrown in jail. But his bond's been set at an astronomically high $3 million, and the Morning News, which has done an excellent job covering the case, reports that Williams will be charged with the murders this week.

To answer your questions about Williams and his possible involvement in the Kaufman County killings, we've put together this Q&A.

So who the hell is this alleged cold-blooded killer?

Williams is 46 years old, TCU grad who went on to get a law degree and settle down in Kaufman County, where he served for a time as a justice of the peace. He lives in Kaufman, where he cares for his ailing wife and father-in-law, who lives down the street. When he worked at the courthouse, he commuted to work on a Segway. Friends and coworkers describe him as jovial, caring, an all-around good guy.

What makes police so suspicious of Williams?

Authorities began to suspect Williams after an anonymous threat was emailed to county officials in the wake of the McLelland murders, promising similar violence if the writer's demands were not met. According to the News, authorities traced the missive back to Williams' personal computer.

And Williams has motive. He was booted from his Justice of the Peace post -- and lost the associated county health benefits he relied on to care for his wife -- after being convicted of boosting three computer monitors from the county's IT department.

Williams insisted that he was using them for work (two of them were recovered from his office) and that the prosecution was political, since he had supported McLelland's opponent in the DA's race several years before, and the bad blood had lingered.

Indeed, McLelland and Hasse seemed to have savored the opportunity to go after Williams, calling him a "liar," "crooked official" and "thief," and lobbying for prison time.

Is he capable of such a thing?

EricWilliamsNBC5.jpg
NBC 5

Who knows. But he's a former cop and member of the Texas State Guard who has considerable weapons training, not to mention a storage shed full of guns. So he would have had the training and the equipment to carry out the attacks.

He has also been known to threaten violence in the past. The Morning News reported over the weekend on two cases, the first of which involved an ex-girlfriend who says he flashed a gun after she refused to get back together with him. In the second, a defense attorney testified in court that he had overheard Williams threatening to burn a man's house down and murder his family, though the attorney doesn't seem to have taken the threat seriously, considering he also testified that he didn't feel Williams posed a threat to the community.

But everyone seemed so certain that the murders were the handiwork of an unholy alliance of violent white supremacists, Mexican narco-terrorists and Kim Jong Un.

They did, but that was mostly a product of the media, which, faced with a shortage of facts, spun tiny scraps of information into potential storylines.

Members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas were reportedly interviewed during the investigation, but the speculation was kicked off when an unfortunately timed press release from the U.S. Department of Justice listed the Kaufman County DA's office as one of the agencies that had helped in a massive takedown of the gang. The death in Texas of Evan Ebel, a member of a white supremacist prison gang in Colorado, further fanned the flames.

But this connection was always a tenuous one, since, as we reported two weeks ago, the ABT is too busy mainlining meth and murdering each other to coordinate sophisticated attacks on public officials.

The involvement of Mexican drug cartels was raised most prominently by Governor Rick Perry, who suggested that the country's porous border might be to blame for the murders. And North Korea is still far too occupied deciding how best to wipe Austin off the face of the earth to coordinate attacks in rural North Texas.

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49 comments
lzippitydoo
lzippitydoo

Show him the same mercy he showed his victims!

esabrina16
esabrina16

As others here have noted,  it looks like Williams should have been the only suspect from Day One.   He's presumably had plenty of time to plan,  why would he leave so many trails quickly leading to him. if you like to know more please visit http://ow.ly/k6feq

texasdave601
texasdave601

I had the misfortune of being jailed in Kaufman County back in 2003.  One of the jailers there and then said "Get out of this county, from the top down, they're bad".  'nuff said

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

As if it wasn't obvious from the beginning that someone known to the victims was the killer?

halldecker
halldecker

I donno.  There's something about this that makes a red flag pop up.  It's TOO comprehensive.

It doesn't answer the Q,  all official statements have been the first hit was from two men in a Taurus.   With no license plate.

PD has now found a Crown Vic,  with no license plate. It looks like all the evidence to arrest is from the McLelland murder.  There's no hint of  who and where the Taurus driver might be.

As others here have noted,  it looks like Williams should have been the only suspect from Day One.   He's presumably had plenty of time to plan,  why would he leave so many trails quickly leading to him. White-hot anger is one thing,  it doesn't always cause reckless stupidity.    Williams is described as highly-computer-savvy.   Somebody with that knowledge wouldn't send a terroristic threat from their own computer.  Definitely not.  No way.

And,  if you drove up in a Crown Vic to kill the DA,  would you really stash it in Seagoville?   Seems to me you'd park it in Forney with the windows down and keys in the ignition,  wiped clean of prints.

I donno.   It seems like it's just too perfect ...



pak152
pak152

"a product of the media which, faced with a shortage of facts, spun tiny scraps of information into potential storylines." too bad this was buried way down in the story. it should have been the lede IMHO

iltsg2001
iltsg2001

Does anyone else think the whole "conversational Q & A" format is an incredibly douchey way to write an article?

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

The public information side of the case is one thing .And like the proverbial Mushroom it seems we were fed shit and kept in the dark . 

I readily admit Real life crime isn't like a procedural Crime Drama on TV . But as this unfolds I have to wonder why those within Law Enforcement based on the information they had then that is becoming public  now didn't keep a Tighter ring of protection around the District Attorney.?


Wendy Jacquelyn Finch
Wendy Jacquelyn Finch

He's a former police officer and lawyer - you'd think he would be smarter than this......

Hulon Pate
Hulon Pate

Think it all seems a bit too easy

Scott D Jones
Scott D Jones

wow, that's a lot of death and carnage over $500 worth of computer monitors.

Jon Jackson
Jon Jackson

So he's the guy that's going to take the fall in other words.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I have to wonder whether they felt Williams was the perp all along.  They knew he had the motive and knew the territory.  All they needed was some cold hard evidence.  Or did they actually think, like OOPS, that Mexicans or the ABT were responsible?  I can't wait for all this to unravel.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bvckvs DA's don't convict anyone, they prosecute them.  A jury convicted him.  He wasn't innocent, there was video of him heisting the computer equipment (county owned) which was later found at his home and at his office.  The two DA's may be corrupt, and probably are Republicans, but, I have to ask; As an avowed liberal, are you condoning firearms violence and murder in this situation?

I just knew you'd have a good ride on the crazy train today.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@bvckvs 

You're speculation is as meaningless as what the media was drumming up on this case last week.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@halldecker Answer this question:  If you pulled off the first hit in a Taurus would you pull off the second hit in a Taurus?

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@pak152  Not to pick on you, pak152, but It's long since time to retire IMHO, which probably should never have been invented in the first place. It's dishonest, an affectation, it means nothing, and it's too cute by a mile. 

We know it's your opinion. There's practically nothing else on this forum BUT opinion. And they are, few of them, very humble. Tagging them with IMHO does nothing to take the opinionator off the hook.Sin bravely. Declare your opinion, then get out of the way so that the rest of us can have at it. 


valerielundberg
valerielundberg

@iltsg2001Yep. It comes off as unprofessional, and irritating to read, IMO. That and the many typos seal the deal. Even the bolded text isn't immune...for example, I'm pretty sure they intended to write "riding" here: "Wait, back up a second. They seriously think this Segway-rising individual is a cold-blooded killer?"

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@oakclifftownie"And like the proverbial Mushroom it seems we were fed shit and kept in the dark ."

You expect maybe for law enforcement agencies to lay all their cards on the table during an active, ongoing investigation? 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz according to more news reports this morning, Mclelland had told people within his office that he knew it was this guy that had killed Hasse.  Like Eric said, the news people made the ABT a story more than anyone because a small town murder by an ex JP just doesnt play to the FEAR the news wants you to have

crimjunkie
crimjunkie

@TheCredibleHulk @bvckvs Not only that, but the implication appears to be that the death penalty is an appropriate response to wrongful conviction.

I can't pretend to know what's going on in this sad situation, but I liked Eric Nicholson's quick-and-dirty.

observist
observist topcommenter

@bmarvel @pak152 I'm the most humble person here by a long shot.  Probably in all of Texas, for that matter.

G_David
G_David

IMO is just as silly as IMHO.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@valerielundberg welcome to the DO, and congrats on your first comment here, nice one word sentence, used IMO, and an ellipse all while editing the writer, well done.  You will fit in just fine around here

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin OMG!  Then, if that's true, the authorities might have made it possible for the McClellands to get the hit.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bvckvs @RTGolden1 You really don't get things, do you?  Sticking your fingers in your ears (or eyes) and sticking your tongue out saying 'nanananana Republican' does not give you any kind of credibility.  

You still did not answer the question: In your comment you basically said the DA and ADA deserved to get gunned down in cold blood.  How do you defend that statement from a liberal standpoint?  Forget liberal, how do you defend that statement from a human standpoint?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@bmarvel yep bill, I read it, i was tellinng Myrna thats where i found this stuff at, so while I bag the DMN, I still read it.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Myrna - deeelighted that you still take the time to read the old-fashioned dead-tree media.It still delivers the goods, mostly.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin The News had a huge takeout on this Sunday. For those three or four who still want to be fully informed.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Theory?  I don't know.
Read this from the DMN:

County Judge Bruce Wood said Sunday that McLelland repeatedly told him that McLelland believed Williams was behind Hasse’s slaying. The first time was in the emergency room in the hours after Hasse was shot down by a mysterious gunman dressed in black.

“He was distraught,” Wood said. “He very pointedly said to me, ‘I know who did this.’ I said, ‘Well, who, Mike?’ He said, ‘Well, Eric Williams.’”

McLelland, who worked for years as a diagnostic psychologist, described Williams as “a narcissistic psychopath” during that conversation and others. Wood said McLelland never elaborated on why he thought Williams was involved.

On March 27, Wood said he met with McLelland in the county judge’s office. “I said, ‘Are you still convinced that it’s Eric Williams?’” Wood recalled. “He said, ‘Absolutely.’”

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin Wow.  That begs the question, "Was there someone at McClelland's party who could have told Williams that the guns were put away?".

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz In another story, its said the Mclelland kept many many guns in house, in fact, had guns in every room, but the night before he was murdered he had hosted a small party and had put all of his guns away.

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