Published April 18, 2013
KAUFMAN, Texas – Kim Williams wasn't seen around town much after her health worsened. While in years past the Texas woman occasionally would visit a neighbor for chats on his porch, her arthritis and other conditions eventually kept her inside.
Despite being the wife of a well-known county justice of the peace, county officials rarely saw her in public. Even neighbors called her reclusive. Few of them knew much about her.
But since Williams was charged with capital murder in the deaths of two North Texas prosecutors, an image has taken shape of a woman who allegedly plotted with her husband to take revenge on the people who prosecuted him for theft and ended his judicial career.
"I don't think anyone could have written a novel that would play out like this," Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood said Wednesday after her arrest. He said county employees were relieved the case that had baffled authorities for weeks was moving forward but also were shocked by the developments.
Williams, 46, was arrested and charged Wednesday after allegedly confessing to playing a role in the slayings of Kaufman County assistant prosecutor Mark Hasse in January and District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, last month.
An arrest affidavit alleges she told investigators that her husband shot and killed the victims, but the document doesn't specify what role she played. Investigators said they would not release further details until briefing the victims' families.
The charge was the latest turn in an investigation that had recently focused on her husband, former Justice of the Peace Eric Williams, after authorities searched his home and a nearby storage facility stocked with guns.
Eric Williams, also 46, is a former family lawyer who has not yet been charged in the slayings. He is jailed on $3 million bail on a charge of making a terroristic threat. His wife was being held on $10 million bail.
Records released Thursday by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education reveal that Eric Williams also was an officer with at least 10 different law enforcement agencies in North Texas from 1987 to 2010. That included a stint as a deputy with the Kaufman County Sheriff's Department.
Kim Williams' arrest Wednesday surprised many in this community just southeast of Dallas, though few could offer much insight into her background or personality.
Wood said he met her only once, briefly at a swearing-in ceremony for public officials. A local attorney, Steve Hulme, said he knew Eric Williams' wife had health issues and called her arrest "just shocking."
Richard Mohundro, a next-door neighbor, said Kim Williams used to visit him and talk on his front porch.
"I actually had many more conversations with Kim ... than I ever did with him," Mohundro said. "She is in bad health and hasn't been outside much in the last two years."
Winnie Murrell sold her home to the Williams family in 2001 but returned to the neighborhood frequently because her sister lived up the street.
"They were not real friendly people," Murrell said. "In fact I thought she was a recluse. I stayed up at my sister's house a lot and I never saw her outside or anything."
McLelland and Hasse prosecuted Eric Williams last year for the theft of three computer monitors from a county building. He was convicted, sentenced to probation and lost his law license and his elected position as justice of the peace - a judge who handles mostly administrative duties.
Kim Williams testified at the sentencing phase of the trial, calling him "a loving man" and contradicting the image presented in trial testimony that indicated he made death threats against a former girlfriend and a local attorney.
She testified she suffers from several illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. She said her husband was her sole caregiver as well as the caregiver for her two ailing parents.
"He wouldn't do anything to hurt anybody," she testified, according to a story from the Forney Post. "I'm standing by him 100 percent."
Eric Williams has said that after the McLellands were found shot dead in their home March 30 and after Hasse was gunned down Jan. 31 near the county courthouse, he submitted to gunshot residue tests and turned over his cellphone to authorities.
He was arrested Saturday on allegations he sent an email to authorities - one day after the McLellands' bodies were discovered - implying there would be another attack if authorities didn't respond to various demands.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation previously said authorities were trying to build a case against Eric Williams in the prosecutors' slayings. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.
The official said ballistics experts were testing at least 20 weapons found in a storage locker under Eric Williams' name at a facility near Dallas. A Ford Crown Victoria similar to one recorded in the McLellands' neighborhood around the time the couple was killed was parked at the storage facility, the official said.
A message left with an attorney who had been representing Eric Williams was not returned Wednesday. Jail records did not list an attorney for Kim Williams.