|Search Warrants Reveal Details in Shooting Death of Texas DA|
|By RUSSELL GOLDMAN (@GoldmanRussell)||Apr 1, 2013, 11:33 AM|
A Texas district attorney and his wife were found dead by family friends Saturday after the friends were unable to get in touch with them, according to a search warrant issued for the victims' home.
Authorities noted that Kaufman County, Texas, district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were shot multiple times and that they found multiple bullet casings near the bodies when they went to the home to investigate the scene, the warrants said.
Investigators also requested phone records for two numbers potentially tied to the case, according to the warrant. It was not immediately clear if the numbers belonged to the victims or potential suspects.
Family friends of the McLellands initially found the bodies in the home at approximately 6:45 p.m. on March 30 after several attempts to get in touch with them failed, the warrants said.
Relatives of the McLellands told police that the last time they spoke with the district attorney was the evening of March 29.
As police admitted they had few clues to indicate who was behind the shooting deaths, a new acting district attorney was appointed today in the Texas district.
Brandi Fernandez, currently Kaufman County's chief assistant district attorney, was named acting D.A. to replace McLelland.
Fernandez will act as the district attorney for 21 days, or until Gov. Rick Perry appoints McLelland's successor, according to a news release from Kaufman County.
"During this time frame, the office will continue moving forward to serve the community while working through these tragic events, which have affected the lives and families of this office," the release read. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Mike and Cynthia McLelland. They will be deeply missed."
Already, sheriff's deputies are providing security to the new district attorney. A black SUV and a police patrol car were parked outside her home, just blocks from the courthouse.
Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood said today he believed the slayings of McLelland and Hasse were not "random" but connected to each other.
"It would seem to me this is not a random act," Wood told reporters today. "There has to be a connection in my way of thinking. It has to be more than coincidence, I'd think."
As of now, investigators have found "no physical evidence" linking Hasse's death with the McLellands', the judge said.
Law enforcement officials are also investigating a possible link to the execution-style killing of Colorado Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements, who was killed in his home less than two weeks ago.
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 from wounds sustained in a shootout with Texas police.
Investigators said they are working to determine if Ebel had links to white supremacist "[prison] gang members" who could shed light on any of the cases.
Wood today would not comment on any potential links to the Aryan Brotherhood, calling it "part of the investigation."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said dangerous groups, including white supremacists, present a real threat to those people charged with bringing them to justice.
"A clear concern to individuals who are in public life, particularly those that deal with some very mean and vicious individuals whether they are white supremacy groups or whether the drug cartels that we have," Perry said.
Police have increased security for employees in the Kaufman County prosecutors office and others at the courthouse, including the judge.
Wood said he was given a police bodyguard, and that other staff members were receiving protection.
McLelland began regularly carrying a gun following Hasse's murder in January. He had sworn at Hasse's funeral that he would track down the person or people responsible for his death.
Sources told ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas that a police officer friend went to check on the McLelland's Saturday night and found the front door of their home open. When he walked inside, the sources said, the officer discovered Cynthia McLelland dead in a front room of the house and Mike McLelland dead in a hallway, as though he had tried to escape the assailant.
Neighbors were left shaken by the acts of violence.
"We've lived here for years and we've never had anything like this happen before and for it to happen so close to home is very, very scary," neighbor Vanessa Hernandez said.
The task force created to investigate Hasse's murder was also at McLellands' home, police said.
ABC News' Alexis Shaw, Gina Sunseri and Pierre Thomas contributed to this report.