Evil Among Us
by Ken Driggs
[p.17] While the search was being conducted, other officers had located Bob Kleasen in Burnet, an hour or so away. He was attending a Pentecostal church’s Tuesday night meeting, as was his habit. Lieutenant Jordan, who had coordinated much of the day’s raid, had been in touch with the Burnet County sheriff. Jordan knew Kleasen was “packing” and did not want the suspect arrested in church. No one wanted a shoot-out.
About 9:30 p.m. a Burnet County deputy radioed to the search party that the church meeting was breaking up and that now was the time to move on Kleasen. Jordan, Spillar, and Littleton were already on their way.
Before Kleasen could return to his Rambler station wagon, Littleton peered in the windows. On the backseat he saw an open guncase with a Walther .22 Hornet rifle within easy reach of the driver’s seat. It was later identified as one of the illegally purchased weapons.
Finally Kleasen came out of the church, apparently without noticing anything unusual. He talked to a few people as he left, got into his car, and headed south on Highway 281 toward his Oak Hill home. There were a hundred or more church people still in the area.
Kleasen drove a mile or a mile and a half before officers surrounded him with police cars and forced him to the side of the road. Everyone had their weapons drawn. An obviously surprised Kleasen muttered, “Why are you after me? I didn’t do anything.” He surrendered meekly. Officers quickly moved him away from the car and frisked him.
In the front seat right beside Kleasen was a hunting knife with a five- or six-inch blade. It was underneath some Austin newspapers with articles about the missing missionaries. Under the seat and his [p.18] right leg was a loaded Colt .357 magnum pistol and holster. These were in addition to the rifle in the back seat. Officers first secured the rifle, then the pistol, ejecting the shells. Littleton took the firearms into custody.
Kleasen was arrested and placed in Jordan’s police car for the trip back to Austin. Littleton took Kleasen’s keys and drove the Rambler to a secure storage facility. Kleasen told him the heater didn’t work and it was a cold night out.
When someone is arrested in their car and cannot make arrangements on their own to have it picked up, law enforcement tows and impounds the vehicle. Police often relish this opportunity because it allows them to thoroughly search it without a warrant under the guise of inventorying the contents. The rationale of inventory searches is to protect law enforcement from false claims over property that might turn up missing from an impounded vehicle.
Back at the Austin police department, and after Kleasen was given his Miranda warnings by a state magistrate, Jordan sat down with him. It was now 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning, November 6.
The detective took fingernail scrapings from Kleasen to be used with other trace evidence that might be recovered. He also asked for head hair samples. Kleasen plucked a few strands from his scalp which Jordan put into a small evidence envelope.
By this time Jordan knew about Kleasen’s various identities, and was already thinking there might be more than one personality in play here. “I’m not talking to Bob Kleasen right now, I’m talking to Richard Raadt,” he started. “Where do you think we should look for the bodies?”
Kleasen thought for a moment and answered with a riddle that still troubles Jordan. He said, “I’d look over the barrel and in the bush.” Kleasen was then placed in a jail cell with other inmates. At the time the cramped jail was located on the upper floors of the Travis County Courthouse.
Later that same day Vernon Endicott was placed in the cell with Kleasen and several other black and Mexican males. Kleasen was bragging. He said police were after him for killing two people, but [p.19] they had no evidence, so they had jailed him for carrying a .22 rifle.
Kleasen went on to say he knew one of the boys who had often been a guest at his dinner table, most certainly Darley, but he didn’t know the second one. Endicott talked with Kleasen for about an hour and a half before Kleasen abruptly left for his bunk and went to sleep. He slept most of the remaining time Endicott was in the cell.
Endicott’s son-in-law reported all this to the police a few days later; nothing he had to say added to their case.