Homicide Officers Klementich and Colbert chosen HPOU’s Investigators of the Month for February

Tom Kennedy

In HPD’s Homicide Division, partners Robert Klementich and Todd Colbert have a 100 percent clearance rate. It’s easy to see a major reason why when you hear the details of their apprehension of a vicious killer in an investigation that resulted in the two being named HPOU Investigators of the Month.

Homicide Sgt. J. D. Rhoads read those details in the HPOU’s February general membership meeting in which both officers were honored.

Rhoads got to the point: “In this specific instance, with no obvious suspects, their perseverance in locating unknown witnesses, finding video surveillance and following up on tips allowed these investigators to take a demented murderer off the street before he could strike out again.”

In the late afternoon of April 29 a woman residing in the 7800 block of Hiawatha was confronted by an intruder who began strangling her in her garage, attracting the attention of her husband, who was inside the house reading a newspaper.

“The husband grabbed a golf club and continued swinging it at the suspec5t in an attempt to free his wife,” Sgt. Rhoads said. The suspect was armed with a large kitchen knife. When the suspect locked himself in the bathroom with the woman, the husband ran outside and tried to call 911 on his cell phone but didn’t make connections due to his nervousness.

He then found his wife lying on the kitchen floor covered with blood. When 911 and HFD responded, the woman was pronounced dead despite her husband’s attempt at CPR.

Klementich and Colbert were assigned the investigation and didn’t miss a beat. The next day they located security videos from several nearby businesses. One of them provided a possible suspect. An investigation of a nearby halfway house turned up nothing.

A neighborhood security patrol advised the officers that a suspicious homeless male had been seen on the day of the deadly assault by two witnesses.

“Through much endeavor, Officer Klementich and Officer Colbert located those two witnesses,” Rhoads said. “and which would prove fruitful later in the investigaton.”

Then the two officers asked for the assistance of the award-winning HPD Homeless Outreach Team (HOT), which supplied the names of the local homeless.

A tip from Midwest Patrol resulted in the name of a homeless individual who frequented the area in question. The officers put his picture in a photo array but the two witnesses could not positively identify the individual.

They then brought the husband to HPD to assist in the development of a forensic sketch. “The sketch was then shown to the husband and the two witnesses, who identified the sketch as very similar to the suspect,” Rhoads explained. “The investigators also met with community leaders in an effort to calm fear and bring assurance.”

Meanwhile, the two investigators received information from Officer P. A. Hinojosa that he had arrested a burglary suspect, whom a witness identified as the same person who had confessed to him that he had strangled to death a woman. This suspect was wearing clothing that matched the description of the suspect given by the husband and the two witnesses. A knife handle was also found on the suspect’s person.

The investigators submitted a photo array that included the suspect’s picture to the husband and the two witnesses, all of whom identified the suspect. As a result, Capital Murder charges were filed against the suspect, Cavalas Prater.

“Both Officer Klementich and Officer Colbert displayed a keen resolve, determination, and ability to successfully bring the perpetrator to justice and restore calm to the neighboring community,” Rhoads said.