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Manhunt for Tom Clements' killer

6:23 AM, Mar 21, 2013   |    comments
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Tom Clements (Photo from Department of Corrections website)

MONUMENT, Co (KUSA) - Department of Corrections Executive Director Tom Clements has been murdered in his Monument home.

Authorities say Clements was shot in the chest when he answered the door of his home just after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Police are not releasing what type of weapon that was used.

Lieutenant Jeff Kramer with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office says a family member who was home at the time made the 911 call. He is not releasing which family member made the call. He is also unaware of where Clements' family was during the shooting.

Kramer says they do not have a suspect identified or a suspect description. However, Kramer said they have a vague, vehicle description. Kramer says a witness saw an unoccupied vehicle around 8:30 p.m. The witness described the vehicle as a 1990s-model, two-door, dark-colored, boxy car. The witness said there were dash lights that appeared to be green.

A few minutes later, the vehicle was gone from the area, according to the witness. However, a few minutes later, a witness say the same vehicle driving around Jackson Creek Parkway. The witness said there appeared to only be one person in the car.

A possible second witness is being sought by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. Investigators want to talk to a speed walker who may have seen the vehicle. The witness is described as a white female, 30 to 50 years of age. She was wearing a light pants, a dark wind breaker and a hat. She is being asked to contact investigators at the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

Although the killer is on the run, authorities do not believe the neighborhood or area where the shooting happened is in danger. Police canvassed the area and informed neighbors about the crime. No reverse emergency notifications were sent out.

Police do not have a suspect description either. Authorities brought in multiple units and a K-9 unit to help with the search around the crime scene. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is also assisting in the investigation.

Kramer says Clements' position may have made him a target. Kramer specified he was not aware of any threats made against Clements recently. A law-enforcement source told 9NEWS security is being increased at Governor John Hickenlooper's home. Read more about the security increase here.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD

The 58-year-old lived on Colonial Park Drive near Higby Road in an upscale neighborhood of large lots northwest of Fox Run Regional Park. He leaves behind his wife Lisa and his two daughters Rachel and Sara.

It would have been simple to find Clements' house. It took two clicks to get his correct street address through a publicly available Internet locator service Wednesday morning. The listing also included his previous home address in Missouri.

"We will be at work today," Alison Morgan, the spokesperson for the DOC, told 9NEWS. "That's how we honor and respect Tom's memory and that's how we will do it every day."

Tom Clements was appointed to serve as the DOC Executive Director by Governor Hickenlooper in January 2011.

As the executive director, he's responsible for all state and private prisons and parole operations.

SAUDI ARABIA CONNECTION?

While Clements generally kept a low profile, his killing comes a week after he denied a request by a Saudi national to serve out the remainder of a Colorado prison sentence in Saudi Arabia. He cited Homaidan al-Turki's refusal to undergo sex offender treatment.

Al-Turki insisted the case was politically motivated. He owned a company that some years ago sold CDs of sermons recorded by Anwar al-Awlaki, killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011. His conviction angered Saudi officials and prompted the U.S. State Department to send Colorado Attorney General John Suthers to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah, Crown Prince Sultan and al-Turki's family.

Henry Solano, one of al-Turki's attorneys, said he has not been contacted by investigators and declined to comment on the shooting.

Clements also recently requested chemicals to execute Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted of killing four people during a 1993 shooting rampage at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant and is scheduled to become the second person executed in Colorado since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Clements is at least the second state prisons chief killed in office. Michael Francke, director of the Oregon corrections department, was stabbed to death outside his office in 1989 in what prosecutors described as a bungled car burglary. A former Oregon prison inmate was found guilty of aggravated murder in 1991 and sentenced to life in prison.

Before taking the top job in Colorado he served for 31 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. The DOC in Colorado is a huge department with more has a $700 million annual budget and some 6,000 employees.

FAMILY, GOVERNOR RELEASE STATEMENTS

The family of Tom Clements released the following statement:

"We are thankful for the overwhelming support and concern that we have received in the wake of Tom's death. Our family has lost a devoted husband and a beloved father. There are no words at this time to describe our grief and loss. We thank our friends and those praying for us here and across the nation. Your well-wishes and prayers bring us strength. We appreciate your continued respect for our privacy during this terrible loss."

Hickenlooper sent a statement to the employees of the Department of Corrections:

"Last night, Tom Clements was killed at his home in Monument. I can hardly believe it, let alone write words to describe it.

As your Executive Director, he helped change and improve DOC in two years more than most people could do in eight years. He was unfailingly kind and thoughtful, and sought the "good" in any situation. As you all know, in corrections that is not easy.

We have no more details than that. I am so sad. I have never worked with a better person than Tom, and I can't imagine our team without him.

Tom regularly spoke of your professionalism and dedication to the department. It is during times like this that we must stand together to meet the Department's public safety mission and to honor Tom's memory.

I know that you all join me in sending prayers and support to Tom's wife, Lisa, their two daughters and their family. For the next few days, please allow them to grieve with their family in private."

With all our heart,
John (Hickenlooper)

Hickenlooper ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff at all public buildings statewide in memory of Clements. Flags should be lowered from sunrise to sunset until the day after his funeral. Those arrangements are pending, according to the Governor's office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorado Workers for Innovations and New Solutions released the following statement in response to Clements' death:

"Tom Clements was a leader who looked out for those he led. As we worked on any number of issues facing the Corrections workforce, we always knew we had a reasonable and enlightened man at the other end of the table who wanted to reach a fair solution . He was a friend of this union and we are shocked by this tragedy."

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)

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