Search warrant: Kaufman County DA, wife shot multiple times

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by JONATHAN BETZ / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on April 1, 2013 at 1:52 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 12:14 PM

KAUFMAN –– Armed officers escorted workers into the Kaufman County Courthouse as they returned to work Monday morning following the shooting deaths of District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia.

Their bodies were found Saturday night at their home in Forney.

The fatal shootings took place two months after Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was fatally gunned down just steps from the Kaufman County Courthouse.

A search warrant released Monday afternoon revealed that family friends found the McLellands' bodies at 6:45 p.m. Saturday. 

The document says shell casings were observed nearby. Both Mr. and Mrs. McLelland had been shot multiple times.

The search warrant said the last time anyone spoke with the district attorney or his wife was at 7:30 p.m. on March 29, one  day before they were found dead. 

An FBI detective was also granted a court order forcing AT&T to hand over the phone records of both Mr. and Mrs. McLelland, the document shows. 

At a news conference Monday morning, Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood said it felt surreal when he received news from the sheriff Saturday night that the couple had been found dead in their home.

"We're still in shock," he said. "I guess that's the best way to describe our feelings about this latest incident. I've searched all weekend to think of the right word to describe, and I can't come up with a single word. 'Unbelievable, this really didn't happen,' but it did. This whole thing is shocking to all of us." 

In Austin, Gov. Rick Perry said the process to replace McLelland had begun. Josh Havens, a spokesman for the governor, said the appointment would happen "as soon as possible."

Assistant District Attorney Brandi Fernandez will serve as the county's top law enforcement official in the interim. 

Fernandez prosecuted in the 86th District Court, and is expected to fill the role for 21 days until Perry's appointment. 

"Our prayers are with the McLelland family, their friends and the people of Kaufman County as they try to make sense of this tragic situation," Perry said in a written statement.

The governor also urged Texas residents to be extra cautious following the weekend killings, "whether they're public officials or otherwise." 

"There is a clear concern to individuals who are in public life, particularly those who deal with some very mean and vicious individuals, whether they're white supremacy groups or the drug cartels that we have," Perry said. 

The governor said the FBI and the Texas Rangers are assisting the Kaufman County Sheriff's Department with the investigation. Judge Wood said several county officials are under protection and district attorney's offices in Dallas, Tarrant, Denton and Collin counties all confirmed that they've enacted extra security precautions, while declining to discuss specifics. 

"We're very much on alert," Wood said. "We obviously have some folks that are out to do harm to elected officials." 

FBI agents are continuing to interview neighbors and residents. The street where the McLellands' home is located was closed for 36 hours as FBI agents went door-to-door interviewing neighbors. Residents had to show identification to enter and exit the neighborhood. 

Neighbor David Crone said Cynthia McLelland had expressed concern that more violence was imminent. However, he said she told him she did not feel that she or her husband were in danger.

"She made the statement to me that she didn’t think that was going to be all the killings, the guy that killed over there, " Crone said, referring to the murder of Assistant District Attorney Hasse. "And I said, ‘What about Mike? You think he’s safe?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, I’m not worried about about Mike.’ In the long run, that didn’t prove to be true.”

While the murders hang over the county, neighbors and children did return to school and work on Monday. The bodies of Mr. and Mrs. McLelland have been moved to a funeral home in Grand Prairie, where a large crowd of people gathered to pay respects.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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