Here’s a quick repost of a book review I wrote of In Plain Sight, a book written by true crime author, Kathryn Casey. This review was written and originally appeared in April 2018.
True crime writer Kathryn Casey has just published her latest book, In Plain Sight: The Kaufman County Prosecutor Murders. I purchased it on April 2nd, just a few days after it was first made available on Amazon.com. I make a habit of reading Kathryn Casey’s books. Her writing reminds me a little bit of the late Ann Rule’s. While Ann Rule focused her books mostly on cases in the Pacific Northwest, Casey’s mostly focus on Texas. In Plain Sight is no exception. This book is about three murders that took place in Kaufman County, Texas.
On January 31, 2013, former attorney and Justice of the Peace, Eric Williams, shot and killed Assistant District Attorney Mark Haase. Two months later, the day before Easter, Williams murdered prosecutor Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, as they slept. On April 18, 2013, Eric Williams and his wife, Kim, were arrested for all three murders. Eric Williams is currently on death row. His wife was sentenced to forty years in prison. She will be eligible for parole starting in 2033.
On the surface, Eric Williams had seemed like a very solid, dependable, and most of all, intelligent, man. He was a member of Mensa and had served in the Army before he worked for a well-known judge who encouraged him to go to law school. Williams became a lawyer and worked on a lot of cases involving child custody. For years, his career seemed to hum along, despite the fact that he had been diagnosed with diabetes.
Williams married his wife, Kim, and for the first three years, their marriage seemed to be going well. But then Kim developed medical problems that left her in pain and disabled. She quit working and soon began taking a lot of medications that caused her to sleep all day. The couple experienced financial problems when Williams’ custody and CPS cases were curtailed. Meanwhile, Williams carefully hid a dark side. He collected weapons, ammunition, and even had homemade Napalm. He never forgot a slight, even though in person, Williams looked rather harmless.
Williams eventually decided to run for Justice of the Peace. Against the odds, he won the election. Six months after the election, Williams ran afoul of procedure when he was caught on video surveillance taking $600 worth of computer monitors with plans to use them in an unauthorized manner. Williams was arrested, and Haase and McLelland zealously prosecuted him after Williams refused to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. Because he was found guilty, Williams lost the right to practice law. He also lost his health insurance, which was very important because both he and his wife had serious health problems. While he didn’t quite lose everything, Williams lost enough that he was left enraged.
Many people felt the zealous prosecution against Williams did not fit the crime. Williams’ legal career was pretty much ruined, which gave him a motive to murder Haase. Williams gunned him down in broad daylight. For weeks, it was assumed that Haase was murdered by members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, since Haase was a tough prosecutor who had sent many people to prison. But then there wasn’t a break in the case.
Haase’s boss was District Attorney Mike McLelland, who, like Eric Williams, had been in the Army. McLelland was also a gun enthusiast. With Haase dead, Williams had a score to settle. He got his wife, Kim, to drive the getaway car to McLelland’s residence. There, Williams massacred Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, even though Cynthia had done nothing to Williams. In fact, Cynthia was a well-respected and much loved nurse who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and enjoyed quilting. But because she was with her husband when Williams decided to kill him, she died too.
Kathryn Casey has done a really good job with this very interesting and convoluted story. It’s a classic tale of a psychopath with a well hidden dark side. Williams was a self-proclaimed genius, yet he made many stupid and careless mistakes that led to his downfall. Many people who are super smart make the mistake of assuming that they are smarter than everyone else is. They get overly confident and that causes them to trip up. In Williams’ case, his wife, Kim, also testified against him.
Casey interviewed both Eric and Kim Williams in prison and she describes Kim as someone who is embarrassed and remorseful about where she is. Although she was heavily under the influence of narcotics when the crimes were committed, she now only takes medication for rheumatoid arthritis. The clarity she has now, thanks to being off the drugs, has made her realize that she made a terrible mistake. As for Williams, Casey writes that he has a wry sense of humor and seemed somewhat impatient when she’d ask him to repeat himself. It’s like he’s impatient with people whose intellect doesn’t match his… or the intellect he thinks he has, anyway.
Anyway, if you like true crime, I think In Plain Sight is well worth the read. It’s well-written, well-researched, and very compelling. And it also shows just how nuts about guns a lot of people in Texas are. Some pictures are also included.
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