Hickenlooper knows father of man at center of Clements' death probe

DANIEL CHACÓN Updated: March 22, 2013 at 12:00 am • Published: March 22, 2013

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is longtime friends with the father of a parolee at the center of the investigation into the shooting death of state prisons chief Tom Clements.

Hickenlooper said he met attorney Jack Ebel about 30 years ago when they worked together at an oil company. Hickenlooper is a former geologist.

“Jack is one of the most kind and generous people I know,” Hickenlooper said in a statement Friday. “His son had a bad streak that I know he tried desperately to correct.”

Evan Spencer Ebel, 28, was shot and killed in Texas after a chase and shootout Thursday.

The younger Ebel, who authorities say belonged to a white supremacist prison gang, is under investigation for the Tuesday night shooting of Clements, who was shot in the chest when he answered the door at his home in Monument. Ebel also is a suspect in the killing of Nathan Leon, a pizza delivery driver whose body was found Sunday in Golden.

Evan Ebel was paroled Jan. 28 after serving his full prison term, state prisons spokeswoman Alison Morgan told The Associated Press.

Hickenlooper said Jack Ebel never asked him to intervene on his son’s behalf and that he never asked for any special treatment for Evan Ebel.

“The events of the past few days have been devastating for all involved. I am in shock and disbelief about how everything seems connected in this case. It makes no sense,” Hickenlooper said in the statement.

“Tom’s death at the hands of someone hell-bent on causing evil was tragic in every way. It also now appears Tom’s killer may have had another victim. Our hearts and prayers are with Nathan Leon’s family as well,” he said.

Two years ago, Jack Ebel testified before the Colorado Legislature in favor of a bill to limit inmates’ solitary confinement, among other requirements. The bill failed, but Clements had made significant reforms since taking the top job in January 2011.

Under a review that Clements ordered, 485 of 1,500 prisoners had been moved out of solitary confinement as of this January. After being moved into the general population, they had access to mental health and drug treatment, education and pre-release programs, prison officials told Colorado Public News.

Jack Ebel testified that his son had spent years in solitary confinement, according to a report from Colorado Public Radio.

“He’ll rant a little bit. He’ll stammer. He’ll be frustrated that he can’t find the words,” Jack Ebel is quoted as saying. “And I let him get it out, and eventually, because I’m his father, he will talk to me. And I’m convinced, if any of the rest of you were to go talk to him, he wouldn’t be able to talk to you.”

Contact Daniel Chacón: 476-1623

Twitter @danieljchacon

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