Security Tight, Schools Closed In Small Area Town For Funeral Of Slain DA, Wife

WORTHAM (April 5, 2013)—Security was tight and schools were closed Friday in the small Freestone County town of Wortham where funeral services were being held for slain Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland, 63, and his wife Cynthia, 65.

Mike and Cynthia McLelland (Courtesy photo)

Mike McLelland grew up in Wortham and graduated from Wortham High School.

A family funeral service was held Friday morning at the First Baptist Church of Wortham and the McLellands were laid to rest in Wortham Cemetery.

Wortham police searched the church Wednesday night after authorities received a bomb threat.

A woman said her daughter was turned away from the church as she arrived for visitation Thursday evening.

No bomb was found, but the church was guarded overnight, authorities said.

A posting on the Wortham ISD’s website said schools were closed Friday, but said junior high track, baseball and softball would go on as scheduled.

“In response to some phone calls, we want you to know that we are working closely with the Wortham Police Department in continuing to assure that appropriate measures are in place for the safety of our campuses,” the posting said.

The Honor Network said dozens of representatives of law enforcement agencies from across the country and around the world were expected to attend the services Friday.

Mike McLelland was a University of Texas graduate who earned a master’s degree in psychology from Ball State University in Indiana and a law degree from the Texas Wesleyan Law School.

He retired from the Army as a major, worked as a clinical psychologist and then began his legal career, practicing privately in Dallas and Corpus Christi and as a public defender in Dallas.

He was elected district attorney in 2010.

Cynthia McLelland grew up in Oklahoma and in Highland Park, graduated from Austin College, earned a master’s degree in psychology from Texas Women’s University and a degree in nursing from Del Mar College.

She worked as a clinical psychologist before becoming a nurse.

The McLellands were found dead on Saturday in their home near Forney.

Both of them had been shot repeatedly and authorities found casings near their bodies, a search warrant affidavit said.

The Texas governor’s office is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the murders.

Gov. Rick Perry announced the reward Thursday in Kaufman, where he made an appearance to help bolster the investigation into the slayings.

“Words cannot describe the shock and grief this community has suffered over the last several months. The criminals responsible for these murders will be caught, convicted and will pay the price for these horrific crimes,” Perry said.

“I have full confidence that this investigation will lead to the conviction of whoever perpetrated these insidious crimes, and it is my hope and expectation that these rewards will help convince those who may be holding onto important information to come forward.”

Kaufman County Crime Stoppers is also offering $100,000 reward for information in the deaths of the McLellands and the shooting death of Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse who was killed on Jan. 31 as he walked to his office.

Perry also spoke at a memorial service Thursday afternoon for the McLellands at First Baptist Church of Sunnyvale in Mesquite, who will be buried Friday in Central Texas.

“In recent years, they were both certainly aware of the danger Mike’s profession brought along with it, and the death of assistant DA Mark Hasse three months ago was as heavy on their minds as it was on their hearts,” he said.

“Still, Mike didn’t turn away from his duties, and didn’t let it diminish his determination to do right by the people of Kaufman County,” he said.

“We owe it to Mike and Cynthia’s memory to continue the work he began, and uphold the tradition of public service they personified.”

Investigators have not discussed a motive for the murders, which happened two months after Hasse was killed in a parking lot near the Kaufman County Courthouse, but an official said the attack on the couple did not appear to have been random.

McLelland said in an interview less than two weeks ago that he was taking no chances after Hasse’s death, carrying a gun everywhere he went, and taking extra care when answering the door at his home.

The 23-year Army veteran said he was "ahead of everybody else" because he was a soldier.

David Krone, a neighbor of the McLellands, said Cynthia McLelland had expressed a premonition last month that there would be a repeat of Hassen’s killing.

Crone said she told him, "I really think there's going to be more of this."

When he asked her if she was concerned about her husband's safety, Crone says McLelland told him, "No, I don't fear for Mike. I think he's OK."