Woman arrested, accused of buying gun used to kill Colorado prison chief
(CNN) — A 22-year-old woman is accused of buying the gun used to kill Colorado prison chief Tom Clements last week and funneling the weapon to the alleged shooter.
Stevie Marie Vigil of Commerce City was arrested Wednesday night, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation said. Authorities said she made a “straw purchase” from a weapons dealer and gave the gun to Evan Ebel, a convicted felon who could not purchase his own firearm.
Vigil faces one count of unlawful purchase of a firearm. If convicted, she could face between two and 16 years in prison.
Clements was shot to death at his home outside Colorado Springs on March 19. Ebel, 28, was killed two days later in northern Texas in a gunbattle with authorities that left a sheriff’s deputy wounded.
Authorities have said the bullets that killed Clements came from a gun that was found with Ebel, who had handwritten directions to the prison chief’s house in his car.
Police have also said there is a “strong connection” between the killings of Clements and that of Nathan Collin Leon, a pizza delivery driver who was found dead in suburban Golden, Colorado.
No clear motive has emerged in either case.
But investigators said they are looking into all possible angles, including Ebel’s onetime membership in the 211 Crew — a white-supremacist prison gang.
Even as a teenager, Ebel’s behavior suggested he was interested in white supremacy, said Kurt Frey, who knew Ebel from a boot-camp-type program in Samoa.
“He was very proud of his Sicilian heritage, and he always talked about wanting to kill so many people that he’d make Hitler jealous,” Frey told CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”
“He really was racist, but at the same time he did hang around with African-Americans at the camp. So it was very contradictory.”
Clements remembered as effective leader
The corrections chief earned widespread recognition not only for prison reforms but also for a crackdown on prison gangs, including the white supremacist 211s — who once counted Ebel among their ranks.
“Tom Clements was a remarkable person. He oversaw all of the coldest, darkest of worlds with the warmest and … most tender of hearts,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said.
“One of the things Tom fought for was we have too many people in solitary confinement with mental disorders like Evan Ebel, and we release them — we won’t release them in prison, we release them into the general public,” he said.
The governor said Clements was on a “quiet crusade” to identify and treat mental illness among prisoners.
Hickenlooper, a longtime friend of the suspect’s father, said Ebel “had an anger and a cruelty” from an early age.
“He had a bad streak, and they tried everything,” Hickenlooper said.
Ebel got out of prison in late January after serving seven years — three for felony menacing, robbery and assault, another four for assaulting a guard. He spent five years of that time in solitary confinement.
It was his second stretch in prison, after doing one year of a three-year term for armed robbery.
Investigators are looking into whether Ebel might have conspired with other inmates to kill Clements.
CNN’s Dana Ford and Holly Yan contributed to this report.
™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.