(MONUMENT, Colo.) — Detectives investigating the murder of Colorado’s prisons chief appear to be ruling out the possibility that he was a victim of random violence and believe that he was specifically targeted.
“Is it possible this was random? Absolutely,” County Undersheriff Paula Presley told ABC News today. “Then again, you have to look at what the motive would have been if this was a random shooting. At this point, there’s nothing that leads us in that direction.”
“It appears at this point in time that Mr. Clements was obviously the target of this homicide,” Presley said.
Clements, 58, was shot Tuesday night at his home in an upscale neighborhood in Monument, Colorado.
One of the few clues in the case is a dark, “boxy” car that was seen in the neighborhood at about the time of the shooting. One witness said they saw the car parked and running Tuesday night, but nobody was inside. Presley said that at least half a dozen residents in the neighborhood have now come forward to say that they also saw the car, described as possibly a Lincoln or Cadillac.
At least one witness told detectives they may have gotten a look at a suspect.
“One of our witnesses or individuals in that neighborhood stated what they believed to be a white male driving this vehicle but that’s all we have, and we can’t assume that all of that info is accurate,” Presley said. “It’s after dark, and the vehicle was in motion at the time.”
Investigators are also looking into an ad that Clements apparently posted on Craigslist the same day he was shot, for a used $1,200 mountain bike. According to the website, the ad was posted at 6:11 p.m., just hours before Clements was murdered. Authorities say they are aware of the Craigslist ad, calling it one of many potential leads.
Police are also looking at any potential cases stemming from his job running the state’s prisons for a possible motive in his death.
Days before Clements was shot, he had denied the request of a Saudi national convicted in 2006 of false imprisonment and sexual assault to serve his prison sentence in Saudi Arabia. It’s not clear if other cases stemming from Clements’ job as the state’s prison chief are also being eyed by the cops.
Just a week before his murder, Clements wrote a letter on March 11 to convicted Saudi national Homaidan al-Turki, stating that he was denying his request to complete his sentence in his home country. Al-Turki’s application to complete his sentence in Saudi Arabia had cleared reviews by prison officials, ABC News affilaite KMGH reported.
Al-Turki, whose company Al-Basheer Publications and Translations sold CDs of speeches by Islamic militant Anwar al-Awlaki, had complained during his trial that the prosecution was the result of a government conspiracy. Al-Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
In his letter to al-Turki, Clements cited his refusal to participate in sex offender rehabilitation programs.
“Information provided indicates that you have been given multiple opportunities to be screened by the Sex Offender Treatment and Monitoring Program,” Clements wrote to al-Turki dated. “You have reportedly declined based upon religious reasons/conflicts with your Islamic faith.
“I have decided not to support your request for transfer to Saudi Arabia at this time. I would encourage you to reconsider your position regarding participation in required treatment.”
Al-Turki was convicted in 2006 of the sexual assault of his Indonesian housekeeper. According to an affidavit, al-Turki and his wife kept their housekeeper as a virtual slave, allegedly paying her $2 per day and forcing her to sleep on a mattress in his basement.
Al-Turki has been serving a 28 year prison sentence in Colorado’s Limon Correctional Facility since 2009. In February 2011 Al-Turki’s sentence was reduced to eight years to life.
The case attracted international attention throughout his trial, and the conviction was seen across parts of the Muslim world as a result of Islamophobia. Colorado Attorney General John Suther met with Saudi King Abdullah, the Crown Prince and al-Turki’s family in 2006 at the request of the U.S. State Department to put the Saudi royal family’s concerns at ease over al-Turki’s treatment.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Jose Pagliery, CNN
Nora Hart, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com