American living in UK accused of Texas band saw massacre
Wednesday April 10, 2002
An American living in Barton-upon-Humber, Lincolnshire, was yesterday accused of having shot dead two Mormon missionaries and dismembered their bodies with a mechanical band saw.
Robert Kleasen, 69, appeared before Bow Street magistrates court to hear James Lewis, representing the US government, outline a claim for his extradition to face charges of murdering Gary Darley, 20, and Mark Fischer, 19, in Austin, Texas, in 1974.
Their bodies were never recovered, Mr Lewis told the court, but blood, hair and other evidence found in and around Kleasen's trailer home tied him to their murders.
Kleasen sat listening to proceedings in a wheelchair with two walking sticks hung on one side, and wearing sandals.
Before moving to Britain he had been convicted of murdering Fischer, spent 2 years on death row in Texas, and then had his conviction quashed on a technicality.
In Britain, he married a policeman's widow he had met through a pen pal scheme while in jail in the US on separate firearm offences. His wife became alarmed by his stockpiling of weapons at their home, and told police.
Given three years for firearms offences, on his release from UK jail in October 2001 he was arrested by police acting on a US warrant for the murders of the missionaries.
Mr Lewis told the court that new DNA evidence tied Kleasen even more firmly than before to the murders.
The court was assured that Texas, the US state that executes more inmates than any other, had promised not to put Kleasen to death; without such a guarantee Britain and other EU states will not extradite to jurisdictions where the death penalty is in force.
The court heard the missionaries had befriended Kleasen and, on the night they disappeared, he had invited them to his trailer home for a supper of venison killed by himself. Darley and Fischer, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, had been told by Church elders to stop seeing him.They became aware he bore a grudge, believing the church had neglected him while imprisoned previously for poaching buffalo. The prosecution said they were going to see Kleasen to tell him why they would break off contact.
Mr Lewis told the court that blood stained trousers bearing Kleasen's name were found near his trailer. DNA tests found it 99.99% certain the blood was that of Mr Darley.
Kleasen's trailer was behind a taxidermy, where he worked as a cleaner and had keys to the shop, said Mr Lewis. Mr Darley's hair was found on a band or mechanical saw in the shop: "It is the prosecution's allegation that the band saw was used to cut up the bodies."
Near the trailer the missionaries' name tags were found with bullet holes shot through them. Mr Darley's prayer book also had a bullet hole. The weapon used was of the same calibre as one found on the back seat of Kleasen's car.
The hearing was adjourned until May 14.
It is not religious persecution for an informed person to expose publicly a certain religion as being false, thus allowing persons to see the difference between false religion and true religion.
WT 11/15/1963 page 688 paragraph 3