Police in Texas have identified a "person of interest" in their investigation of the slayings of two district attorneys, but this new lead could take the case in another direction. According to Richard Serrano of The Los Angeles Times, the person in question is a former local official who allegedly threatened the victims after he was fired in a corruption scandal. DA Mike McLelland and his Assistant DA Mark Hasse were the prosecutors on his case.
Of course, "person of interest" is not the same as "suspect," and there are several other leads the police are reportedly pursuing. CNN reports that investigators are focusing on clues left near the scene, including tire tracks found on the road not far from the McLelland house. Houston news station KPRC also spoke to another man who says he was one of the first people contacted after McLelland and his wife were found dead. The man was another local official who was convicted by the two DAs last year for stealing computer monitors from a county building. He says he cooperated fully and holds no grudge against the victims.
Neither of these men appear to be connected in any way to yesterday's prevailing theory, that the lawyers were targeted by white supremacist gangs. That doesn't mean that theory is being abandoned, of course. The problem for all law enforcement officials is that they make a lot of enemies while doing their job, so when something happens to them, almost everyone they've dealt with at work is a potential suspect. It then becomes a long and complicated process to eliminate them all as suspects, and for now police are mostly keeping the details of the investigation under wraps.
The story also still has officials all over the country on edge. In Colorado, where the head of the state Department of Corrections was killed two weeks ago, an intruder was shot dead after breaking into the home of a couple, one of whom is a deputy district attorney and the other, a police officer. The incident doesn't appear to be related to the other killings, but given the circumstances, people could be forgiven for connecting them in their minds. Meanwhile, a U.S. attorney in Houston has withdrawn from a large racketeering case that is targeting the Aryan Brotherhood, because of concerns over safety.
As for the person of interest that we first mentioned, the lawyer for that man says his client was interviewed, but denies making any threats against McLelland and Hasse. He also added that another allegation that his client threatened to burn down the home of a third local official was "way overstated."
The memorial service for McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, will be held today and all government offices in the county will be closed.