Gov. John Hickenlooper unknowingly referenced Evan Ebel in statement about Tom Clements' death

Apparent tragic irony for the governor

DENVER - When Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke on the morning after the murder of prison chief Tom Clements, he unknowingly referenced the family of Clements' possible killer.

Hickenlooper was speaking about a conversation he'd had while interviewing Clements for the job.

"I'd had an old friend whose son had gone on the wrong track and been arrested and put into administrative segregation for a long period of time  --  you know, solitary confinement," Hickenlooper said.

Although Hickenlooper never mentioned Evan Ebel or his father, Jack Ebel, by name, the governor's office confirmed that Jack Ebel was who Hickenlooper had been referring to.

In March 2011, Jack Ebel testified before a committee of the Colorado Legislature regarding a proposal to require prisoners spend time outside solitary before leaving prison.

"He's served six years of an eight year sentence and (in) all but five months of the six years, he's been held in solitary confinement," Jack Ebel said about his son.

Jack Ebel also told lawmakers he noticed his son's behavior change during the two times Evan was incarcerated.

"Even though he's well-read and he's a good conversationalist and gentle  -- he started out that way, what I've seen over six years is he has become increasingly ... he has a high level of paranoia and (is) extremely anxious. So when he gets out to visit me, and he gets out of his cell to talk to me, I mean he is so agitated that it will take an hour to an hour-and-half before we can actually talk," Ebel told lawmakers.

While speaking about Clements Wednesday morning, Hickenlooper said the slain prisons chief had spent a lot of time thinking about the use and impact of solitary confinement.

"Tom had thought deeply about it before he ever came to interview with us in his own experience in Missouri and saw how it was doomed to failure, that number of people and in many cases people who had been in administrative segregation - solitary confinement - for years would be released directly into the community, which is a very, for those individuals, really emotionally traumatic," Hickenlooper said. "He laid out a plan by which to analyze the issue, get what the facts were and make sure we moved in the right direction."

Jack Ebel and Hickenlooper have been friends for a long time. In fact, Ebel's father contributed $1,050, in two installments, to Hickenlooper's campaign for the governor's office in 2010.

The governor's office told 7NEWS Evan Ebel was released on Jan. 28, 2013 after serving a full sentence. He was placed on mandatory parole.

 

-- Governor Hickenlooper's statement --

"Every killer has a mother and father, usually with broken hearts. I met Jack Ebel some 30 years ago when working for an oil company soon after moving to Colorado. Jack is one of the most kind and generous people I know. His son had a bad streak that I know he tried desperately to correct.

"Although Jack loved his son, he never asked me to intervene on his behalf and I never asked for any special treatment for his son. Based on information we received today, we understand that Evan Ebel served every day of his original sentence and was released on mandatory parole at the end of the time he was ordered to be incarcerated.

"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. 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. We are most appreciative for law enforcement at all levels in Colorado and Texas and are anxious to learn more as the investigation continues."