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Suspect in slaying of Colorado prisons chief had dodged parole

Evan Spencer Ebel is shown in this undated Colorado Department of Corrections booking photo. REUTERS/Colorado Department of Corrections/Hand
Evan Spencer Ebel is shown in this undated Colorado Department of Corrections booking photo. REUTERS/Colorado Department of Corrections/Hand

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A white supremacist parolee suspected of killing Colorado's prisons chief and a pizza delivery man last month skipped out on his parole days before the slayings, state Department of Corrections documents released on Tuesday show.

Ex-convict Evan Spencer Ebel last contacted parole officers on March 14, three days before Domino's pizza driver Nathan Leon was found slain in suburban Denver, according to parole records released by the Colorado Department of Corrections.

The state's prisons chief, Tom Clements, was shot to death on March 19 when he answered the front door of his home near Monument, Colorado, about 45 miles south of Denver.

Ebel, 28, had been ordered to check in with parole officials daily. He died in a roadside gun battle with police on March 21 following a high-speed chase through Decatur, Texas, and was later named a suspect in the murders of Clements and Leon.

Court officials said earlier this week that Ebel had been mistakenly released from prison in January, four years early, due to a clerical error.

Despite checking in by telephone with parole officers on March 14, an alert received that day showed tampering with Ebel's electronic monitoring bracelet, according to the parole records. Parole officials tried unsuccessfully to contact him over the next week before determining he had violated parole and obtaining a warrant for his arrest on March 20.

Colorado court records show Ebel had been arrested at least seven times between 2003 and 2010 for such offenses as burglary, unlawful weapons possession, assault, menacing, robbery and trespassing.

While incarcerated, he was a member of a white supremacist prison gang, the 211 Crew, and records show that at the time of his release from prison his tattoos included a swastika on his stomach, lightning bolts on his hands and wrist and the words "White Pride" on his arms.

Authorities have said they were looking for ties between the murder of Clements and the January 31 slaying in Texas of Mark Hasse, a prosecutor in the Kaufman County District Attorney's Office. Kaufman County is east of Dallas.

However, parole records indicate Ebel submitted to urine analysis in Colorado on January 31 - the same day as the Texas slaying - as a condition of his parole. The test came back negative. He was also under electronic monitoring at the time.

Public interest in the Hasse killing was heightened on Saturday when Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were found shot to death at their home near the Texas town of Fourney. Fourney Mayor Darren Rozell has called the couple's slaying a "targeted attack."

A search of Ebel's car following the shootout with Texas police turned up a pizza deliverer's shirt, visor, pizza box and heat bag. Ballistics tests established that the same gun he fired at police during that gun battle matched the weapon used to kill Clements in Colorado.

Also found in the Cadillac were bomb-making materials and instructions for building bombs, according to Texas authorities.

(Writing and additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Matthew Lewis and Todd Eastham)

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