The day before Easter Sunday in 2013, a former justice of the peace in Kaufman County, Texas, entered the home of District Attorney Michael McLelland, 63, and his wife, Cynthia, 65.
He was carrying an assault rifle, and the unsuspecting McLellands would soon lie dead, with multiple rounds in their bodies.
Authorities soon connected the double-homicide to the murder of an assistant prosecutor just months before, and, on April 18, 2013, Eric Williams, 47, was arrested for the murders of the McLellands, as well as Chief Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse.
What drove this former justice department official to commit such heinous crimes? The season finale of “Killer Motive” on Oxygen explains.
After Williams was elected justice of the peace in November 2010, he was frustrated by his workplace’s outdated technology, according to the Dallas Observer. He often complained about the courts’ unwieldy systems, and had been hoping to set up a videoconferencing network that would allow him to conduct hearings remotely.
In May 2011, surveillance cameras caught Williams walking out of a county building with three computer monitors, according to CBS News. After he was arrested, prosecutors offered him a plea deal: He could avoid trial by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.
“Eric never went through official channels,” true crime writer Kathryn Casey told “Killer Motive” producers. “Eric thought he should be able to do what he wanted to do.”
McLelland set one of his most aggressive prosecutors, Mark Hasse, on Williams’s case. When Williams turned down the plea deal, they slapped him with a felony charge, according to the Dallas Observer. Williams lost the case, was stripped of his position as Justice of the Peace and also lost his license to practice law, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Shortly after his conviction, Williams began to plot his revenge, his wife, Kim, testified, according to court documents. Although Kim didn’t take her husband seriously at first, by late 2012, it became apparent that he was planning to kill several of his former justice department coworkers.
County Defense Attorney Dennis Jones told the jury that he overheard Williams making death threats against another attorney, according to court documents: “I’m just gonna kill him, kill his wife, kill his kids. I’m gonna burn his house down, stab him.”
Williams began to tell his wife about his plans in increasingly vivid detail.
“He said he was gonna wait for [Judge Ashforth] and shoot him with a crossbow, and then bore his stomach out, and put napalm in it,” she told a jury, according to court documents. He also “thought about kidnapping him and bringing him back to the house and putting him in the freezer … he was going to die, and he was going to be buried in the backyard — in the flower bed next to the backyard,” she testified
On the morning of Jan. 31, 2013, a gunman dressed all in black approached Hasse on the sidewalk while Hasse was on his way to the Kaufman County courthouse, according to CBS News. The gunman shot him in broad daylight, then drove off in a getaway car before anyone could react.
Because of the enormous number of people who may have a motive to kill a prosecutor, it wasn’t until the McLelland murders in April that investigators were able to single out Williams as the most likely suspect. Hasse and McLelland had worked only one case together: Williams’s trial in 2011, attorney Bill Wirskye told “Killer Motive” producers.
Investigators found a mountain of evidence against Williams. They discovered a storage unit Williams had asked a friend to rent out for him containing 61 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammo, a crossbow, jars full of homemade napalm, police tactical gear and a vehicle that appeared to be the getaway car used in Hasse’s murder, according to court documents.
Williams’s wife, Kim, also testified against him in court, telling jurors he allegedly still had a hit list of people he had grievances with, which included another judge and another attorney, according to ABC News.
Kim testified that she and her husband were “excited” before Hasse’s murder, although she couldn’t watch the actual execution herself, local paper the Kaufman Herald reported.
When it came time to murder the McLellands, Williams was so excited the night before that he was modeling the bulletproof vest and army pants he planned to wear, she testified.
“He was in a good mood, a very good mood,” Kim said, according to the Herald.
“She was the most helpless, the most defenseless of the victims,” Wirskye told “Killer Motive” producers. “There was just absolutely no reason Cynthia McLelland had to die, and we thought a jury would see that instantly.”
Williams pleaded not guilty, and was smirking up to the moment the verdict was read, according to the Kaufman Herald. Williams was sentenced to death, while his wife, who was charged with murder for her role in the killings, pleaded guilty to the murder of Hasse and received a sentence of 40 years, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Williams is currently working to appeal his case. He told “Killer Motive” producers that he remains hopeful a jury will find him innocent if he receives a new trial.
For the whole story of Williams’s brutal revenge plot, watch the season finale of “Killer Motive” at Oxygen.com.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.