She lived to help victims of crime. But after two years as a crisis counselor for Texas police, Samantha Dean tragically became a victim herself.The 29-year-old Austin woman was seven months pregnant when deputies discovered her body in the parking lot of a vacant shopping center. She had worked for the Kyle Police Department, where co-workers were planning a baby shower for her future daughter, whom she’d named Madeline.Dean’s life was cut short sometime before 2 a.m. on Feb. 4, when a deputy found her shot in the head three times—once at close range, an autopsy showed. A black plastic bag covered her face. The back seat of her Dodge Charger had been removed.The alleged motive for her murder is chilling: VonTrey Clark—the father of her unborn baby—allegedly hired hit men because Dean refused to have an abortion and wanted child support, authorities charge.On Wednesday, more disturbing details of the alleged hit job were revealed in a search warrant for Clark’s locker at an Austin police substation.Texas authorities and the FBI early on named Clark as the chief suspect in Dean’s slaying but haven’t charged him with a crime.Clark allegedly offered $5,000 to have Dean killed, the latest search warrant affidavit charges. Investigators say Clark’s associate, Aaron Lamont Williams, 32, told them that Clark drove Dean to the parking lot where she was found slain.
Williams allegedly claimed that Clark’s buddy and former roommate Kevin Watson—in jail on an unrelated drug charge—admitted to killing the mother-to-be with the help of a man named Freddie Smith. The hit men wanted to make it look like a drug deal gone wrong, according to the affidavit.
Cops also arrested Watson’s girlfriend, Kyla Fisk, on charges of tampering with evidence for her role in allegedly hiding the clothes Watson wore the night of the slaying, the Austin American-Statesman reported.Evidence suggests Dean feared her longtime lover before she was murdered. In a January 21 diary entry, Dean described an encounter in which Clark handcuffed her while wearing his uniform and gun. “Dean felt at one point Clark was going to kill her,” authorities said in a July search warrant affidavit.Dean reportedly also told Kyle Police Department colleagues that if something happened to her, Clark was behind it.The couple was on-again, off-again for the last six years, Clark said, according to court documents. He allegedly told investigators their relationship was a secret because he was with another woman.Police say his whereabouts were mostly unaccounted for the night of the murder. His girlfriend told cops he left his house at 8:30 p.m. on February 3 after they had a fight, and she found it bizarre that he left his cellphone and pager at the residence.Clark told investigators he drove to a nearby school and sat in his car before walking around, according to a search warrant. Police say there is no surveillance footage of him doing so. He checked into a police substation around midnight, court documents reveal.
Police said a Los Angeles-area number called Dean the night of her death, and text messages seemed to lead her to the abandoned shopping center. Authorities placed four cellphones, including Dean’s own, near the crime scene and said they were active around the time of her death, the American-Statesman reported.
Meanwhile, five days after Dean’s murder, Williams sent threatening text messages to an Austin Police Department crisis counselor, authorities charge in court records.
“I [expletive] got her. I am going to get him, then I’m coming for you,” the text said. “I will show you what a crisis is.”
According to the warrant, parties including Clark, Watson, Fisk, and Williams had conversations in which they discussed not snitching to police and distancing themselves from each other, KXAN reported.
In July, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo announced that Clark was suspended indefinitely for refusing to attend an in-person interview, then skipping an Internal Affairs hearing days later. Pending the investigation, Clark was not permitted to leave his home without permission, Acevedo said.
Cops soon discovered Clark flew to Indonesia—a country that does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.—on July 17.
“If you have any dignity, any semblance of humanity, Mr. Clark, get back on that plane and come back to Austin,” Acevedo said during a July 23 news conference.
Clark’s attorney, Bristol Myers, told KXAN that the former officer flew to Indonesia for a medical procedure.
“Officer Clark booked an international round-trip flight in his own name, used his own passport, and was easily located. These are not the hallmarks of a fugitive,” Myers told the TV station.
This month, authorities announced the FBI captured Clark in Indonesia but that he’s being held on a visa-related issue. It’s unclear when he will return to the U.S. Some relatives of Dean said they didn’t know Clark and had never met him. “Throughout the pregnancy, she had nothing to do with him,” Michaela Garth, Dean’s cousin, told The Daily Beast. “We didn’t know much of him until this situation happened. Nobody really knew who the father was.” Dean’s mother, Kimberly, declined to comment on Clark. She would only tell People that her daughter and husband discussed the father of Dean’s child. “We were a little concerned initially, mostly about the financial end of it,” Kimberly told the magazine last week. “But she was a very good person and a great daughter, so we told her it was going to be okay. We’d do what we needed to do.”
Kimberly Dean told The Daily Beast that her daughter—who had two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s—wanted to be a detective. But after overcoming a rare form of cancer in her elbow at age 18, she could not pass physical tests required to become a police officer.
Instead, she took a job as the Kyle Police Department’s first and only victims’ services coordinator.
“My daughter was a wonderful person,” Kimberly Dean said. “She let people feel they could be whoever they wanted to be and do whatever they wanted to do… she was a moving motivational speaker for everyone that she met.”
The grieving mom said one of her daughter’s biggest accomplishments was staying in school throughout 15 separate surgeries, along with chemotherapy and radiation treatments, after being diagnosed with cancer.
She later attended New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice for her master’s in forensic psychology, commuting four hours each way from Virginia to attend classes, Kimberly Dean said.
Kimberly didn’t want to discuss the murder investigation or the headlines surrounding Clark.
“It’s tragic, and it’s sad,” Kimberly Dean said. “It’s something that could happen to anyone. That’s what people need to be aware of—it could happen to anyone.”