DENVER — Since Tuesday, investigators looking into Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements’ murder have told reporters they are considering numerous angles.
One is that Ebel, a former member of the 211s — a white-supremacist prison gang — might have conspired with other inmates to kill Clements, Paula Presley of the El Paso County, Colorado, sheriff’s department said.
On Saturday, spokesman Lt. Jeff Kramer with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said that the evidence gathered in Texas provides a “strong lead” linking Ebel with Clements’ murder.
Kramer said investigators have not confirmed the link between Ebel and Clements’ death, but Ebel is being called a “person of interest” in the investigation.
On Saturday, the El Paso County Sheriff’s office tweeted, “We hope to have lab results back on ballistics from the shooting early in the week.”
Ebel’s father, Jack Ebel, released the following statement on Saturday:
“I am profoundly saddened by the recent events involving my son, Evan Ebel, and offer my most sincere condolences to all of those individuals and families who have suffered from his actions. I ask for privacy for me and my family during this time as we grieve for the loss of life that has occurred and for all of those affected.”
The Department of Corrections told investigators that Ebel was a prison gang member.
Clements earned widespread recognition for not only prison reforms but for a crackdown on prison gangs, including the 211s.
Citing media coverage of the shooting and its possible connection with the 211s, authorities locked down Colorado’s prisons on Friday, said state Department of Corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan.
“We are on full lockdown over the weekend, no visitation or volunteer programs,” she said.
Suspect’s troubled past; Family ties to Gov. Hickenlooper
Friday night Gov. John Hickelooper announced he knew Ebel’s father Jack Ebel.
In a statement, Hickenlooper said “I met Jack Ebel some 30 years ago when working for an oil company soon after moving to Colorado. Jack is one of the most kind and generous people I know.”
“His son had a bad streak that I know he tried desperately to correct,” Hickenlooper said, adding that Evan Ebel was released after serving his sentence .
The Ebels, according to Hickenlooper, were devastated by the news about their son.
The governor said he never intervened on behalf of the younger Ebel, and he said Jack Ebel never made such a request.
Ebel had lengthy prison record
In 2003, at the age of 18, Evan Ebel was charged with felony armed robbery after brandishing a gun and threatening to kill a man unless he handed over his wallet, court documents show.
“I’m not playing. … This is not a joke,” Ebel said as he pointed a gun at the victim’s head, according to witness statements at the time.
Ebel pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to three years in prison, serving just over a year.
Just months after his release, he was arrested again. This time for felony menacing, robbery and assault. He pleaded guilty to those charges in 2005 and was sentenced to another three years in prison.
In 2006, while in prison, Ebel was charged with assaulting a detention officer, records show. He pleaded guilty and received an additional four years on his sentence.
Ebel spent five years of his sentence in solitary confinement, Hickenlooper said. While the governor said he never discussed the younger Ebel by name, Hickenlooper did say he told Clements that he knew someone in solitary confinement.
“One of the things I told Tom Clements was that his family was concerned that it was doing more harm than good,” he said.
That statement is supported by Ebel’s mother, Jody Mangue, who detailed a visit with her son in a post on memorial website she created for her 16-year-old daughter, who was killed in a car accident in 2004.
“Evan is in Canon City, Colorado in CSP, the state prison. He has over three more years left. He has pretty much been in solitary confinement for 5 years. How he has managed this ceases to amaze me, but he has used his time wisely and is quite disciplined, conditioned,” she wrote.
“When we visit, I sit across from him, he in a chair on the other side of the thick glass. He is brought in in shackles. He spends 23 hours in his cell.”
Ebel served his entire sentence and was given mandatory parole on January 28, 2013, according to the state Department of Corrections.