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Key suspect in Colorado prison chief slaying had 'bad streak'


16:46, March 25, 2013

DENVER, the United States, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said Sunday "all the signs" in the murder of the state's prison chief pointed to a white supremacist recently released from jail.

Evan Ebel, 28, is the lone suspect in a bizarre, five-day spree that started in Colorado with the March 17 shooting death of a pizza delivery man and included the execution-style slaying two days later of Colorado prison chief Tom Clements as he answered the front door of his El Paso County home.

Two days and 700 miles (1127 km) later, Texas police gunned down Ebel after he had shot an officer during a traffic stop, fled in a black Cadillac, reaching speeds over 100 miles per hour (160 km per hour) in a shootout and chase that ended in a spectacular crash and fatal gun battle.

The deadly saga played out like a TV police drama and included an uncertain motive and complex plot, with the father of the alleged assassin, and the murdered prison chief, both being friends of Hickenlooper.

"From the beginning, his (Ebel senior's) son just seemed to have this bad streak, a streak of cruelty and anger," Hickenlooper told CNN's "State of the Union" program Sunday.

Two years ago, when Hickenlooper hired Clements for the top prison job, Ebel's father, a Denver lawyer and lifelong friend of the governor, was petitioning the state for prison reform, citing his son's solitary confinement as destroying his "psyche". The young Ebel had a long history of violent crime and psychological problems. It is not known if Clements knew either Ebel.

Under Clements, several prison reforms were enacted, such as eliminating solitary confinement and programs reducing the number of prisoners returning to jail. Of the 58-year-old Clements, devoted husband and father of two girls, Hickenlooper wrote on Facebook, he had "never worked with a better person."

The bizarre "wild west" plot thickened with the motive for Clement's murder.

Police and the FBI are investigating whether Ebel was ordered by a white supremacist gang called "211s" to do a "hit", a source told The Denver Post on Thursday.

Clements' actions as Colorado prison chief are now under scrutiny by investigators. He recently denied the application for Saudi national Homaidan al-Turki to be transferred to a Saudi Arabian prison.

Al-Turki was convicted in 2006 after prosecutors said he repeatedly sexually assaulted an Indonesian housekeeper and kept her as a virtual slave in his Colorado home for four years. His sentence was eight years to life in prison.

Prison officials said Saturday there were others who might have a "motive."

Domino's Pizza deliveryman Nathan Leon, a 27-year-old father of three, was found dead last Monday from multiple gunshot wounds, the Denver coroner's office confirmed Friday.

Police said they believed the same 9mm handgun was used in both the Clements and Leon slayings. Police also said a Domino's jacket and pizza box were found in Ebel's wrecked car.

Leon's body was found in Golden, a suburb of Denver, on Monday. Investigators say he was shot Sunday. Clements was killed at his home in Monument, Colorado, about 50 miles (80 km) away, on Tuesday.

Police said Ebel, driving a black "box-type" Cadillac that fit the description of a car seen near Clement's house, was stopped by Texas highway patrol officers in Montague County Thursday, and began firing on the officer who pulled him over. The officer was hit several times in the chest, but was protected by his vest.

The injured officer alerted other law enforcement, triggering a high-speed shootout with deputies in a pursuit through Montague and Wise counties.

Finally, after smashing the Cadillac into an 18-wheel truck, Ebel emerged from the wreckage brandishing an automatic weapon and fired "20 to30" rounds at police before he was dropped by a shot to the head.

Clements was heralded by Hickenlooper and others for a long list of reforms in his two-year term, including reducing the number of inmates in administrative segregation and reducing the state's recidivism rate.

Clements oversaw the closure of two prisons in the past two years and was planning to close others in response to a drastic drop in the number of inmates.

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