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'Person of interest' emerges in slayings of Texas prosecutors

April 02, 2013|By Richard A. Serrano | This post has been updated. See the note below for details
  • Law enforcement officials remained on high alert in Kaufman County and the rest of Texas in the wake of the killing of two prosecutors.
Law enforcement officials remained on high alert in Kaufman County and… (Tony Gutierrez / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- Officials investigating the deaths of two prosecutors in Kaufman County, Texas, have turned their attention to a former local official there who lost his job in a corruption probe and had allegedly made several threats against the two victims, according to a federal law enforcement official who has been briefed on the case.

The local official was arrested for alleged possession of stolen property after he was caught on surveillance cameras, the source said.

He apparently sought to work a plea deal but did not prevail, and since losing his job has issued a number of threats, including retaliation against the two prosecutors who were killed in Kaufman County. They were the ones who prosecuted him.

PHOTOS: Kaufman County killings

He also allegedly threatened to burn down the home of another local official.

According to one law enforcement source, he is "emerging as a person of interest."

The source declined to be identified because the investigation is ongoing.

Authorities are investigating the deaths of Dist. Atty. Mike McLelland, 63, who was found fatally shot over the weekend with his wife Cynthia, 65, at their home in Forney.

Their killings followed the death of Assistant Dist. Atty. Mark Hasse, 57, who was shot on his way to the courthouse Jan. 31.

In another development, search warrant records from the home of the top prosecutor and his wife include this language:

"Saturday March 30th at approximately 6:45 after several failed attempts to get in touch with the McLellands, family friends located Mike and Cynthia McLelland deceased inside their residence.

"Sheriffs arrived and saw shell casings inside the residence near the bodies and observed both victims had been shot multiple times. Family members last spoke to them by phone on Friday March 29th."

[Updated, 8:43 p.m. PDT, April 2: David Sergi, an attorney for the person of interest, said his client denies making threats against the prosecutors and that he was interviewed by authorities Saturday night and agreed to a gunpowder residue test. He also said that prosecutors, not his client, had sought a plea deal. As for threatening for burn down a house, Sergi said a heated conversation his client had with an attorney, not a local official, had been "way overstated."]

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