Clara Rector acknowledged that her Christian faith gave her the strength to overcome drug addiction.
âI believe that Jesus died on the cross for the redemption of all, even me,â she wrote on her blog, Kansas City Star reported in 2013. But as she managed to quit using drugs, she eventually ended up in jail for the murder of Tommy Hope.
Tommy D. Hope was born in 1955 and raised in Texas as one of three siblings. Abandoned by their parents for several days, the Hope children were finally placed in foster care.
“There has been a lot of abuse in these foster homes,” friend Brenda McCabe told “Snapped.” Sundays at 6 / 5c at Oxygen. âHe was neglected. He was beaten.
As soon as he was old enough, Hope enlisted in the military. He left in his twenties and worked odd jobs to make ends meet. In his early forties, Hope lived in Camdenton, Missouri, a small town near the Lake of the Ozarks, where he made many friends from the local bar scene.
But at 6:30 a.m. on April 28, 2004, Hope’s friends Cindy Christenson and Brian Norton visited him. No one had heard from Tommy for several days, which was unusual.
After knocking on Hope’s door and getting no response, Christenson crawled through a window. Inside, she found Tommy: he was lying dead on the ground in a pool of blood. They went to a friend’s house and called 911.
âHe’s lying on his stomach, but then there’s blood on the mat and stuff too, right around his face. Like, you know, he was bleeding from his head, âNorton was heard to tell the 911 dispatcher on the tapes of the call obtained byâ Snapped â.
âI approached the body and at that moment I could see that his shirt was soaked in blood. There was also the stiffening of the body. He’s obviously been lying there for a while, âCamdenton Police Chief Jeff Beauchamp told producers.
Luminol discovered bloody footsteps leading to a window. Footprints were also found on the window frame, where the killer had come out of the house.
An autopsy revealed that Hope died from eight stab wounds to the chest and left arm and had a laceration to her neck, the Chillicothe News reported in 2013. The medical examiner determined he had died three or four days earlier, either on the night of April 24 or the morning of April 25.
Hope’s friends told investigators he used drugs to deal with the traumas he suffered in his youth and in the military.
âHe’s always had drugs. Mostly lots of users and people would party together and use Tom’s drugs. There were a variety of drugs; methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, âBeauchamp told producers.
Another friend, Patricia Strouse, told investigators that Hope recently saw a married woman named Clara Rector. Her husband, Jason, knew about the relationship and didn’t like it.
âTom told me a few days before he was killed that Jason had threatened to stay away from Clara or he would be sorry,â Strouse told producers.
Clara was born in 1976 in California and, like Hope, had been taken out of a dysfunctional household as a child. She was later adopted and moved with her new family to Lake of the Ozarks.
At 19, Clara got married, but her first husband died in a car crash shortly after learning she was pregnant. The day after her death, she began to use drugs and eventually married Jason Rector, with whom she had two children. Jason and Clara were regular drug addicts, but Jason eventually got sober, while Clara still struggled with addiction.
In Tommy Hope, Clara found someone who could relate to what she had been through and a willing drug buddy. She will leave Jason and move in with Hope before going to rehab in 2003 and reconciling with her husband.
Clara admitted to investigators that she had not been able to maintain her sobriety. Behind Jason’s back, she was sneaking around to take drugs with Hope.
Investigators spoke to Jason, who was outspoken about his dislike of Hope. He blamed Hope for his wife’s drug use and admitted he warned her to stay away from her.
âWhen they interviewed him, he said, ‘I didn’t but I’m glad he died,’â prosecutor Brian Keedy told ‘Snapped.’
Jason and Clara were both alibis for each other, claiming they were together the entire time Hope could have been killed. Without evidence or new leads, the case came to nothing. Nine years would go by without arrest.
Then, in April 2013, Lt. Scott Hines, then Camden County Sheriff’s Office, was called to Camdenton Bible Baptist Church. Pastor Jerry Sousley told Hines he was being harassed by another devotee named Clara Rector.
Sousley claimed Clara had texted him “regarding inappropriate matters of a sexual nature,” according to The Kansas City Star. These included messages left on her car windshield and a notebook she left him in which she detailed her sexual fantasies about him.
After pushing back his advances, Clara blasted. âShe said, ‘Jerry, if you tell the law what you know about me, I’ll destroy you. I’ll destroy you, âSousley told detectives in a videotaped statement obtained byâ Snapped â.
Clara was referring to a prior counseling session with the pastor where she admitted to killing a man. Sousley became concerned for his safety and that of his family.
“She started telling me about how she left Jason and the kids and started doing drugs and got mixed up with this guy and she just put her head down and said, ‘And I killed him.’ “Sousley told detectives.
Sousley begged Clara to go to the police and admit what had happened, but she refused.
On April 21, 2013, Clara was arrested and charged with harassment and stalking, according to the Chillicothe News.
The detectives who worked on Hope’s murder were brought in to question him. After discussing her current case, they looked back on the events of 2004. She seemed relieved to confess.
“I snuck out of my house in the middle of the night because I really wanted to get high,” Clara told detectives over the videotaped statement obtained by “Snapped.”
When Clara arrived at Hope’s house, he didn’t let her in at first, so she crawled out a window. After Hope and Clara ran out of their dwindling cocaine stores, they got into a fight. Clara said she grabbed a knife and jumped onto Hope’s back and slit her throat. Then she continued to stab him.
âI started out like, ‘I hate you, I hate you!’ and he was standing there against the wall and then he said, ‘You know, I think you’re killing me, I think I’m dying,’ and he just fell, “Clara told detectives.
Clara explained that she took Hope’s knife and wallet and ran out the window. When she got home, Jason was waiting. After hearing what had happened, he helped her get rid of any incriminating evidence.
Clara and Jason Rector were arrested on April 24, 2013, nine years to the day since the murder of Tommy Hope. Clara was charged with first degree murder and criminal action with a weapon while Jason was charged with falsifying physical evidence, Columbia, Missouri, subsidiary of ABC KMIZ reported at the time.
The charges against Jason Rector were ultimately dropped because the statute of limitations had expired.
Clara Rector was sentenced to 15 years in prison on November 10, 2014, according to local newspaper the Lake Sun Drive. She is eligible for parole for the first time in January 2024, when she turns 47.
To learn more about this case and others like it, watch “Snapped”, broadcast Sundays at 6 / 5c at Oxygen or stream episodes here.