Today's the day. More than three years in the making, IN PLAIN SIGHT hits brick-and-mortar and Internet booksellers. This is such a fascinating case, I'm struggling with where to begin.
Let's start where I did, when I first heard about the case. In January 2013, I was home working on my last book, POSSESSED, when my husband shouted at me to come to the living room. Something big had happened, and news reports were breaking into regular programming to announce that a block from the courthouse in the center of the small town of Kaufman, Texas, someone had gunned down an assistant district attorney named Mark Hasse. It happened as the workday began, in broad daylight. "Who would do that?" my husband wondered out loud. "I mean, who'd shoot an assistant DA, especially in such a public place?"
"Wherever you are, we'll find you!" I heard Mark Hasse's boss, the Kaufman County DA, threaten the killer the following afternoon. Clearly angry, Mike McLelland had the demeanor of a man who wasn't making idle threats. With every ounce of his being, he intended to corral the gunman and take him down.
For weeks after, I was mesmerized by the case. Every morning, Good Morning America had an update. In the evenings, the national news reports mused about the possible killers. Most of the media attention focused on the Aryan Brotherhood or the Mexican Cartel. Then the news reports faded, and we were left wondering: What happened?
Incredibly, two months later, on the day before Easter, it happened again. Suddenly a breaking news bulletin flashed across TV screens and Internet sites: KAUFMAN COUNTY DA AND WIFE FOUND MURDERED.
Mike McLelland, the big man in the black cowboy hat who'd threatened his friend's killer, had been slain in his suburban home, along with his wife, Cynthia.
From that point on, the case became the top law enforcement priority across the nation. President Obama monitored the investigation's progress in the White House. Someone had murdered an innocent woman and two prosecutors, declaring war on law enforcement throughout the nation. Again, the rumors swirled, speculation mounted, TV pundits railed about the dangers of the Aryan Cartel. But no arrests were made. Who could be behind it? And why?
Then, finally, answers. A month after the McLellands died TV news helicopters hovered over a one-story brick home on the outskirts of Kaufman, while inside a crime scene unit conducted a search. When it ended, Eric Williams, a former justice of the peace, was brought down to the county jail for booking. Days later, his wife, Kim, joined him.
Such unlikely suspects. They weren't at all what the experts predicted. It seemed those who were supposed to know had been wrong about everything except for one aspect of the killings: the motive. There the experts hit the proverbial nail on the head when they said the killings reeked of revenge.
Sometimes a case pops up that piques my curiosity. I wonder why things happen, and why the people involved made the decisions they did. What led to the murders? Why would a former lawyer and justice of the peace, along with his wife, plot three such terrible crimes. I had to find out. I wanted to understand.
The result is IN PLAIN SIGHT. And with this book, I got very lucky. The two people at the center of the killings had turned down all requests for interviews, until I asked. Then over a period of a year and a half, I spent nine hours in prisons interviewing Eric and Kim Williams. These are their only interviews to date.
In the end, that made such a difference. IN PLAIN SIGHT is a behind the scenes look at three of the most notorious murders of the century.