APD Officer With Ties to Samantha Dean Fired, Currently AWOL

VonTrey Clark believed to be in Indonesia

VonTrey Clark
VonTrey Clark

The Austin police officer placed on administrative leave for his connection to 29-year-old Samantha Dean, the pregnant crimes victim counselor for the Kyle Police Department found dead in early February, has been fired from APD. Thursday afternoon, Police Chief Art Acevedo also revealed that the man is on the lam.

VonTrey Clark, an APD officer since 2012, was terminated from the department for insubordination, “prohibitive associations,” and neglect of duty. All three violations come in connection with his handling of an internal affairs investigation that began shortly after Dean’s body was found with three gunshots wounds to the head behind a vacant shopping center eight miles west of Bastrop on the morning of Feb. 4. Specifically, Clark was cited for failing to provide pertinent financial information to IA; maintaining a “sustained association,” as Acevedo put it during a Thursday press conference concerning Clark’s firing, with known felons and “people believed to be involved in criminal activity”; and skipping out on a request to report to the department’s internal affairs unit on Saturday, July 18. Shortly after realizing that Clark would not comply with the request, APD learned that he’d boarded a plane bound for Tokyo from Dallas before jumping another flight to Jakarta, Indonesia. His destination poses one logistics problem in particular, as the United States does not currently have an extradition treaty with the island nation.

Clark, 32, was placed on paid administrative leave after Dean’s body was found. Clark was told to stay home unless ordered to post at APD headquarters. Interviews conducted by the Department of Public Safety Texas Ranger Division handling the investigation revealed that Clark, who has a wife, engaged in a six or seven-year on-and-off sexual relationship with Dean and believed he was the father of Dean’s unborn child, notes the disciplinary memo Acevedo filed Thursday afternoon. A May search of Clark’s home produced documentation that indicated Clark urged Dean to get an abortion for the child, saying he believed “his life would be ruined” if she had their baby. It was also revealed, through interviews with Dean’s co-workers down in Kyle, that Dean had forewarned Clark would be responsible if she ever turned up dead.

Clark’s attorney, Bristol Myers, issued a statement on July 13 after that information became public: “The information in the affidavits is new to the public, but it is not new to the investigators. Despite the wiretaps, cell phone records, and texts … here we are sixty days later and there still isn’t enough evidence to accuse him of a crime.”

However, work had already been done to indicate that Clark may eventually be charged with one. As his disciplinary memo notes, Clark had engaged in a series of calls and text messages with three other individuals – Kevin Watson, Kyla Fisk, and Freddie Smith – who investigators believed purchased pre-paid disposable phones “for the sole purpose of facilitating the murders of Dean and her unborn child.” The last time the phones were used was at the time of the murders in the exact area where Dean was found. Four days later, a different phone was used to send a text message from a Bastrop location to an APD civilian employee (and friend of Dean’s). “I fucking got her,” it read. “I am going to get him then I am coming for you. I will show you what a crisis is.” Video surveillance footage from a Walmart in Katy revealed Watson and an accomplice, Aaron Williams, purchased the phone to send that message.

APD’s internal investigation revealed that Watson and Clark were former roommates; Fisk was arrested and charged with Tampering with Physical Evidence after disposing of the clothes Watson allegedly wore at the time of the murder; Williams was arrested and charged with Retaliation for his text to Dean’s friend; and Smith has gang ties to the Hoover Gangster Crips.

Acevedo noted at the Thursday press conference that APD has complied with DPS, Bastrop County Sheriffs, and the Bastrop County District Attorney throughout the investigation but is not the lead agency on the criminal investigation, and thus only has the ability to influence matters of his employment. Though his future with APD had likely taken a hit as soon as he’d been placed on administrative leave, it took a significant hit in early June when he refused to provide Internal Affairs with records related to a particular cell phone he possessed, as well as information indicating that he made a deposit into Watson’s father’s bank account. Clark’s chain of command and APD’s executive staff unanimously agreed that his conduct before July 13 warranted indefinite suspension. His actions since then – skipping out on IA interviews, and ultimately leaving the country for Jakarta – only strengthen their conviction in the decision.

Clark has not yet been charged with any crimes, though the criminal investigation is still ongoing. His CLEAT attorney, Nadia Stewart, signed his disciplinary memo as his proxy. Clark has 10 days to appeal his suspension. Acevedo has urged Clark to return to Austin to “face the music” and prove his innocence.

“The world is not as big as Mr. Clark thinks,” he said. “Especially when his picture starts being disseminated throughout the world. I’m sure that somebody who’s a person of interest in such a heinous crime … will be sticking out pretty quickly.”

A version of this article appeared in print on July 31, 2015 with the headline: Officer on the Lam

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VonTrey Clark, Samathan Dean, Art Acevedo, Kevin Watson, Kyle Fisk, Freddie Smith, Aaron Williams

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