After nine years and more than 60 leads, authorities have arrested a Laurie woman and charged her with the brutal stabbing death of a Camdenton man in April 2004.
Officers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Camden County Sheriff's Department and Camdenton Police Department arrested Clara J. Rector, 36, on April 21 in relation to stalking and harassment charges not associated with the homicide. While in custody, Rector confessed to the April 28, 2004 homicide of 48-year-old Tommy Hope.
An acquaintance found Hope at 6:30 a.m. April 29, 2004 lying on the floor of his home on First Street in Camdenton covered in blood. An autopsy performed at Southwest Missouri Forensics in Springfield indicated eight stab wounds to Hope's torso and left arm and a laceration along his neck.
Lake of the Ozarks Major Case Squad officers interviewed Rector in April and May 2004 in connection with Hope's death, but were unable to establish a connection between Rector and the crime.
During questioning in 2004, Rector admitted to using illegal substances with Hope and to being at his home prior to Hope's death. DNA tests corroborated Rector's statement, but the case the grew cold and investigators made no arrests in the case.
In a confession to detectives on April 22, 2013, Rector admitted to having an affair with Hope. According to the probable cause statement, Rector indicated she went to Hope's home on the evening of April 24, 2004 to obtain and use drugs.
Rector allegedly became upset with Hope when he did not save any drugs for her and grabbed a butcher knife from the kitchen to inflict stab wounds to Hope.
"I was high and not thinking," Rector allegedly told investigators during the confession.
Hope then allegedly checked his wounds in the bathroom of his home, and as he approached Rector, she stabbed him again, saying "I HATE YOU... I HATE YOU..."
Following the attack, Rector allegedly stole Hope's wallet with the intent to purchase and use drugs.
Years later, Rector became the author of a Christian blog and turned to local media to warn people of the dangers of unchecked drug use.
In a June 2012 interview with Lake Media reporter Amy Wilson, Rector admitted using synthetic drugs in the past.
"I thought because it was legal, it was ok," she said in the interview. "You can become addicted after just trying it just one time. Then you want more and more."
Rector told Wilson that drugs become so addictive, people commit crimes to pay for it.
Clara Rector was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. She is being held in the Camden County Adult Detention Facility. Bond has been denied.
Page 2 of 2 - Rector was originally arrested April 21 for harassment and stalking charges unrelated to the Hope homicide.
On April 21, Camden County Sheriff's Department officers took a report from Jerry Sousley, pastor of the Camdenton Bible Baptist Church, concerning a stalking and harassment case involving Clara Rector that began in July 2012.
A separate probable cause statement indicated that Sousley received multiple notes and phone calls from Rector and that he had rebuffed her advancements.
Sousley allegedly found a notebook on April 19 at his workplace with a handwritten story from Clara Rector detailing a fantasized sexual relationship between her and Sousley.
Sousley stapled the notebook in an envelope and gave it to the church secretary, who is Clara Rector's mother-in-law. The secretary gave the notebook to Rector's husband, Jason, who disposed of the notebook at the Hillbilly Fairgrounds in Laurie.
Clara Rector then allegedly sent a text message to Sousley April 21 asking for the notebook back. Sousley told Rector not to contact her again.
Rector tried to gain entry into Camdenton Bible Baptist Church, where she was arrested for harassment and stalking.
While in custody under those charges, Rector admitted to Hope's murder.
Officers arrested Jason Rector and charged him with felony tampering with physical evidence in relation to the harassment and stalking charges. He is being held in the Camden County Adult Detention Facility. Bond has been denied.