They had shot out his tires, and for miles he had driven his truck on its rims. Now stalled on Interstate 45, just outside of Dallas, with helicopters hovering above and what seemed like a hundred squad cars surrounding him, Dale Clayton Jameton realized there was no way out.
He pulled a pistol from his waistband, turned to his girlfriend in the passenger seat and told her they wouldn't take him alive. "I love you," he told her. "Now get out of the truck."
Instead, she asked him for a hug. And as they embraced, for what he thought would be the last time, she took the gun from his hand and threw it out the window.
"I'm not going to let you die," she said.
Now more than a year later, Jameton is in prison, facing two capital murder charges and looking at life behind bars. Police say he and other members of a Texas-based cell of the Aryan Brotherhood killed Anthony Ormwell Clark and an unidentified female last August in the Mesquite area. Police found Clark's body floating in a pond in the Trinity River bottoms; it had been wrapped in a chain-link fence and weighed down with cinderblocks. But they have not yet found the body of the woman, who was strangled, doused with acid and then dumped in Lake Ray Hubbard in a plastic tub covered in cement.
Jameton admits to his involvement in both killings, but he says the stories of those crimes have not been told accurately in police affidavits, and he wants to set the record straight. His motive is as old as time: love.
"I did the murder," Jameton said recently from the Dallas County jail. "But my wife is innocent of all charges."
Jameton's wife is Jennifer Lee McClellan, one of seven people arrested in connection with the two homicides. McClellan is also in the Lew Sterrett Justice Center, and Jameton says he will do whatever it takes to get her out of jail, even if it means taking the fall for both murders. He says he has already told the district attorney that he is responsible for both killings, but prosecutors are delaying the start of the murder trial because they want Jameton to testify against his six co-defendants, who make up the leadership structure of a 20-member subgroup of the Aryan Brotherhood, a prison-based gang with some 15,000 members nationwide. A successful prosecution of all seven defendants would effectively cripple an organization that had brought a new level of violence to the sale and distribution of methamphetamine in the Mesquite area. The Dallas Country District Attorney's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The case comes at a time when law enforcement organizations across the nation are trying to crack down on the prison gang, which they say orders murders from within prison walls. In October, the FBI released a bulletin warning the Dallas Police Department that the leader of Jameton's group, 32-year-old Jason Hankins, had ordered Aryan Brotherhood members who had once worked as police informants to gather names of federal agents, state troopers and local police officers. Those names would then be put into a database and cross-referenced to find out where police officers lived, according to the alert. What the Aryan Brotherhood would do with that information is unclear. Hankins, who is one of Jameton's co-defendants, is also in the Dallas County jail.
Jameton insists the FBI is making up this report to put pressure on members of the group to turn on each other, but he will never testify against his co-defendants, he says. And because of that, he says, the district attorney's office is using his wife as leverage against him even though they have no evidence against her.
"They have no case," he says. "Only I know the real truth about what happened."
It all began last summer when Jameton was released from jail after serving six years on burglary and drug charges. Within weeks he had reunited with Hankins, the "general" of their Aryan Brotherhood subgroup. Hankins introduced Jameton to Anthony Ormwell Clark, whom he had met in a Tarrant County jail. Clark claimed to know Jameton, but Jameton didn't know what to make of the 43-year-old.
"He said he knew me personally when I was a kid. He put me in certain places, he knew names of my family, but I didn't know him from Adam," Jameton recalls.
Jameton wondered if Clark was a cop, or an informant, but he initially kept his suspicions to himself. He says Clark tried to become involved with the organization by claiming to be someone he wasn't. Once, for example, he claimed to own a strip club, but Jameton already knew the real owner. Eventually, Jameton says, Clark began to rub his far-flung network of associates the wrong way, and it began to affect business.
"He scared people away. They thought he was a cop. People that had known me for years split. I got calls from Washington and New York, I can't say who they were, but people I know, major players in the drug world, saying, 'What the fuck's going on?'
"He shut down a lot of shit. Things pretty much came to a halt."
Jameton says he told Clark he knew he was either a cop or an informant and told him he needed to "get lost" for his own safety, but Clark wouldn't listen.
On one afternoon in August of 2006, he says, he picked Clark up from a Bedford hospital and took him to a house in Mesquite where a group of friends were having a barbecue. At some point that afternoon he says he became upset with Clark and took him out on the back porch and beat him (according to a police affidavit, a group of Jameton's associates beat the man until he was unconscious). After the beating, Jameton says, he told everyone at the house to leave.
He then put Clark into a Ford Explorer and told him: "This is your final warning. Get the fuck out of here."
"But by that point," Jameton says, "I had already made up my mind. 'Fuck it. I'm just going to take care of it.'"
He says he laid Clark down in the backseat and drove him to a friend's house near Dowdy Ferry Road, where he stole a tarp and some chain-link fencing. He says he rolled Clark, who was still alive, in the tarp and then rolled him in the fencing and used a winch to hoist his body into the back of a truck. He says he then drove to a pond in the Trinity River bottoms and swam Clark out to the middle, where he slit his throat and let him sink. He had previously tied cinderblocks to his body.
As for the other murder, he is less forthcoming. He will only say that a woman (who police have identified as Hankins' former girlfriend) was sexually tortured for two and a half hours in a Mesquite-area house and then strangled. He wouldn't say who killed her other than insisting that McClellan had nothing to do with it.
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A few days later, Jameton said he forced McClellan to come with him to collect money from two associates who owed him on a drug transaction. After taking $700 from the men and a plasma screen TV, Jameton says he drove the men to an ATM and forced them to withdraw as much cash as they could. He then put zip ties around their necks. He says he wasn't planning to strangle them; the zip ties were connected so if one tried to run the other would have to follow.
He says he was returning to his house when he saw that it was surrounded by police officers. Not knowing why they were there, but figuring it had something to do with the murder of Clark or the unidentified woman, he let the men go near a Mesquite park and fled. He says he and McClellan went to Corsicana and checked in to a motel room, where they stayed until a friend beeped him on his pager, telling him he was needed back in Dallas. It was on his way back to Dallas that the chase began which ended with the cops shooting his tires out. He had planned to go out like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, guns blazing, until McClellan snatched his gun and threw it out the window.
That act sealed their love, and now Clark is determined to do whatever it takes to get her out of jail. He says he will never testify against his co-defendants, but he could help the police in other ways.
"If they would drop the charges against my wife, I could help them find the body [of the unidentified woman]," he says. "I know where it is. And that would give her family closure."