Former neighbors and churchgoers reacted to news that Colorado Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements had been shot and killed Tuesday in his new home, more than 700 miles away.
Clements, his wife Lisa and their two daughters spent years living in Columbia’s Highlands subdivision. At the time, Clements was working for Missouri’s Department of Corrections. The family left for Colorado about two years ago.
News of the supposed murder spread quickly to his former home, most neighbors knew by Wednesday morning.
“His personality was just so nice,” remembered neighbor Pat Fancher. “Anyone could go up and talk to him and just enjoy being around him.”
Fancher and Clements bonded over cycling, often riding 20 to 30 miles through Columbia. Fancher said his former neighbor was always active and outdoors, which made his move to Colorado a nearly perfect fit.
Clements even started the bike club at Woodcrest Chapel on Nifong Boulevard in Columbia. He had been a member there fore nearly 15 years when he moved.
“He was a really others-minded person,” said senior pastor Pieter van Waarde. “I think even his profession was a reflection of his belief that people could be redeemed and make it better for themselves.”
Van Waarde described Clements as a natural complement to wife Lisa. He was steady and focused, but took a back seat to her strong leadership in the church.
And he never talked about work outside of work.
“When you were there, he was there. I think that’s a great reflection of the faith he professed,” van Waarde said.
Clements found faith in the nature and outdoors he loved. His Cullen Court neighbors almost all said Wednesday that the Clements had introduced them to Woodcrest, and they almost all still attended.
Lisa Schaffer and her husband has known the family for 13 years, their children grew up together. Schaffer said she had left a message for Lisa Clements and was felt like she lost a family member.
Former Columbia Public Schools board president Chuck Headley lives across the street from Clements’ old house. He too noted how friendly the man had been; the two would do chores for each other when their families were on vacation.
“My neighbors two houses down and I were talking about it after I learned and we just couldn’t believe that that would have happened to him,” Pat Fancher said, standing near his bicycle. “It’s just very rough.”
As a manhunt got underway Wednesday in Colorado, Tom Clements’ friends and former neighbors hundreds of miles away were also waiting, looking for answers.