In part two of The Boys on the Tracks, the bodies were exhumed for a new autopsy and it changed the investigation to homicide. A former wrestler, Billy Jack Haynes, says he witnessed the murders of Kevin Ives and Don Henry. He also claims that he was working for a criminal politician who believed police officers were involved in the the theft of drug money. Before Bill Clinton was president, he was the governor of Arkansas. He chose to ignore all of the weird stuff that was going on and protected the state medical examiner, Fahmy Malak, even though his findings were being challenged in several cases. Was this a police cover-up? Government cover-up? Did the boys accidentally stumble across a drug drop? Either way, this episode will make you want to VOMIT!
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Today's story is from Arkansas and it's called, the Boys on the Tracks.
In the mid 1980's, cocaine was a big problem for Arkansas. The police were beginning to suspect that the drugs were coming by several ways of transportation. Informants told police that cocaine was being dropped by trains along the tracks and that airplanes were using Saline County as a drop site. It was convenient because the location is on the outskirts of Little Rock which is the center of Arkansas. Half of the state's population resides within 60 miles in any direction. The residents began reporting some unusual activity and the police were doing stake outs at the local airport. They began noticing that planes would land briefly without shutting off their engines, then they would take off again and this would frequently happen at night. Once the patrol cars started parking at the airport, the planes stopped showing up. The police knew that the cocaine was still flowing in, but the unusual activity stopped.......that is....until the bodies were found.
Seventeen-year-old Kevin Ives and his best friend, sixteen-year-old Don Henry were typical teenage boys. The loved working on their cars and hunting. Don was a natural comedian and on most weekends, the boys would take their girlfriends out on a double date. On Saturday, August 22nd, 1987, they met a group of friends at the commuter parking lot which is a gathering place for local teenagers. Around midnight, the boys went back to Don's house. Kevin waited outside while Don talked to his father, Curtis who said, quote “And he came in at approximately 12:15, and told me where he was going and everything. I told him just to be careful and he took one of my spotlights with him and took his 22.”
The boys went out hunting in a wooded area along the railroad tracks near Don's home in Bryant, Arkansas. They were using a hunting technique that is illegal in Arkansas, called spotlighting. This is where you shine a light in the deer's or other animal's eyes, causing them to stop in their tracks and freeze so you can shoot them. Four hours later, a 75-car, 6k ton cargo train was making its regular night run to Little Rock and was pulling some freight cars and some empty cars. The stretch was over a mile long and the train was traveling over 50 miles per hour.
As the train was rounding the bend and entering Bryant, the engineer Stephen Shroyer noticed something lying on the tracks. About ten or fifteen cars away, there was a dark spot on the rail. Any obstruction on the tracks is a concern, the engineer and conductor realized what they were seeing when they were approximately 100 feet away. Engineer Shroyer yelled out, “Oh, my God!” It was two motionless boys, Kevin and Don and they appeared to be covered by a light-green tarp. Don's 22 rifle was beside him and they were lying parallel on the tracks. Stephen began blowing the diesel horn several times and the boys weren't moving or reacting.
Stephen attempted an emergency stop and the train was screeching and screaming for half a mile, but sadly, it was too late. The cars and tracks vibrated. The crew watched in horror as the boys were hit by the train and killed, dragging the bodies before grinding to a halt.
The conductor, Jerry Tomlin was on the radio notifying an approaching train on a parallel track to stop. He also called the dispatcher. “have you got injuries?” The dispatcher asked, “No,” Tomlin said. “We've got death. I'm sure we've got death. They passed under us. It has to be death.” The engineer, Stephen said, “I started lying down on the diesel horn. And I got no reaction, none at all, not so much as a flinch. And we just.....passed over them. From the time that we had placed the train into an emergency position and laid down on the horn, I would estimate about three to five seconds to impact. And that may not sound like a very long period of time, but when you're bearing down a couple of children, it's an eternity, honestly.” “I allowed my engines to lock up and felt my train operation just going to hell. When that happened, I immediately realized I had to get back to business at hand. I had to get my train under control again. And I did. But when it happened, there was nothing we could do. I just know that, without a doubt, if willpower could have had anything to do with it, that train would have stopped. We would not have run over those boys.”
When a train hits an object on the tracks, there are typically one of two things that happens. Either the scoop on the front of the engine, known as the cowcatcher, will toss the object aside, or the object is sucked into the engine and then eventually tossed back out. The train was slowing to a stop and the crew knew there would be human flesh under the train.
After the train came to a stop, the crew walked about thirty-five cars back and they found the pieces of the boys' bodies scattered around and was spread along a quarter mile of the track. The biggest body part that they located was the chest and head of one of the boys. While the crew was assessing the situation, they noticed something peculiar. The blood wasn't right.....They had reached the bodies within 10 minutes after the impact and the blood wasn't flowing, there was hardly any blood at all. The color of the blood was strange too. The blood was a purplish color. The crew was immediately suspicious of the situation.
The police arrived at the crime scene and initially thought this may have been a double suicide, but when the engineer was questioned, he insisted that the bodies were lying parallel on the tracks and their arms were down by their sides and they were completely motionless and unresponsive. This suggested that they had to have been dead before the train hit. This wasn't the only crucial mistake that happened within minutes of the police arriving.
In diagramming the site, a corner of one of the train cars was chosen as the reference point and everything was mapped in relation to that. Hours later, they allowed the train to leave and the reference point was immediately lost, forever. Remember that train that was told to stop and wait earlier in the story? Well, they were now allowed to pass through which disturbed even more of the crime scene.
Typically, sheriffs would have jurisdiction, while local police work in the city. In this case, the deputies had jurisdiction. Wayne Lainhart of the Arkansas State Police felt that the deputies had an apparent disinterest in the possibility of murder. According to the training, any unnatural death should be investigated first as a possible homicide so the evidence is preserved properly. Wayne did mention this to the deputies and two emergency medical technicians that were on the scene tried to tell them something wasn't right as well. One of the EMT's, said the bodies looked more like mannequins, that there was very little blood at the scene, and that the blood at the impact site was very dark and it was in-fact too dark to be considered normal. There was no fresh blood at the scene.
The EMT's made a very controversial move because they felt so strongly that something was off. They attached a note to the file titled “note of interest”. It said, “Blood from the bodies and on the body parts we observed was a dark color in nature. Due to our training, this would indicate a lack of oxygen present in the blood and could pose a question as to how long the victims had been dead.”
It's worth noting that one deputy at the scene, Cathy Carty, listened to the train crew, EMT's and state police trooper. She agreed that something strange was going on. She confronted her superior officers, Tallent and Richmond and they ordered her to treat the case like a traffic fatality. Since traffic accidents do not require an autopsy in Arkansas, the bodies were sent to a funeral home. Tallent changed his mind within hours and had the bodies redirected to the state crime lab for an autopsy.
Don's father, Curtis had been out searching for the boys. They were supposed to have a sleep over at his house once the boys were back from hunting. He called Kevin's mom, Linda and said, “Get over here quick, they've been shot and tied to the railroad tracks and run over by trains.” Linda felt an odd sense of relief. The words coming out of Curtis' mouth were so absurd, it couldn't be true. She was already thinking they could have been in a car accident or in a hunting accident. This story was just too crazy to be true. Linda hurried over to Curtis' home and saw the boys' cars in the driveway. This seemed like good news, but then Deputy Tallent led her inside to tell her what happened.
I have an interesting, but awful fact that I want to discuss. This whole situation could have been even worse had it not been for a recent change. Kevin Ives' father, Larry was an engineer that worked the exact route the boys were killed on he did the run from Texarkana to Little Rock. He had been switched to another route two months prior to the boys' deaths and Stephen Shroyer took over that route. Had this not happened, Kevin's own father would have been the one to run over the bodies.
A week before Kevin and Don were killed, an unidentified man wearing military fatigues was spotted near the tracks and his behavior raised suspicion. A police officer, Danny Allen stopped to question him and he opened fire on the officer. The area was searched, but the man was never found. On the night that Kevin and Don were killed, witnesses saw the man in military fatigues. He was spotted leaving town and heading down a road less than 200 yards from the spot where Kevin and Don were hit. He still hasn't been located or identified.
The state medical examiner, Fahmy Malak determined that Kevin and Don were under the influence of marijuana. He concluded that they smoked approximately twenty marijuana cigarettes. He believed they were in a drug-induced coma and were hit. He ruled the deaths suicide, but the families believe they were murdered and also didn't believe their boys were involved in drugs. The families were also questioning why the boys would lay down in identical positions if they were so stoned.
They also didn't believe you could sleep through the loud sounds of a diesel horn and Don's father said he didn't believe he would lay his rifle on the gravel because he took great care of it and wouldn't want it to get scratched. Kevin's father, Larry Ives felt that he needed to salvage his son's reputation and find the truth, he said, “ Well, I couldn't believe that Kevin was knocked out on marijuana or into any kind of heavy drugs, anything like that, because I was at home a lot during the day, when Kevin came in from school and Linda was here at night and we'd never seen him in a state that he even act like he was you know, spaced out or however you want to phrase it.”
A week after Kevin and Don were buried, their parents were brought to the office of state medical examiner, Fahmy Malak. The boys' parents had actually done some investigating of their own at the crime scene and they found a large piece of cardboard that had a dark spot on it that looked like blood. They wondered if the cardboard had been used to drag the bodies. They also found pieces of a gun and they wanted the items analyzed. They weren't having good luck with the deputies, so they gave the items to Fahmny Malak to test. In regards to the autopsy, Malak said said that these were two accidental deaths due to THC intoxication. THC is a component of marijuana. His theory was that the boys smoked enough marijuana they they simply fell asleep on the tracks.
The police didn't question his findings. Fahmy Malak was accused by his own staff of keeping outdated crime lab stationary where he allegedly falsified findings in autopsy reports just before certain cases went to court. It was also discovered that the hospital where the boys were taken to and examined, kept no records of their presence there. No EMT records were found and no patient care was rendered. The hospital clerk told the investigator, “That's why the families were not billed.” Now how could this be? The EMT's wrote a thorough and controversial report at the scene of the crime, but now there's no evidence of this? If you're wondering what happened to the the cardboard and gun pieces that were given to the medical examiner.....the cardboard was never examined and the gun pieces disappeared.
Kevin and Don's parents were completely fed up with the investigation on this case. They decided to get a second opinion from a pathologist. Through recommendations, they went with Dr. J. T. Franciso in Memphis, Tennessee. An official at the crime lab agreed to send the samples, but explained they couldn't send urine for Don because his bladder had been destroyed. Several weeks later, Francisco reported that he was able to confirm Malak's ruling. The parents demanded that they get the results in writing. When the results were received, they realized that Francisco hadn't tested the boys' blood, only urine. The only testable urine was from Kevin since Don's couldn't be tested. How could they possibly be holding a letter stating that the THC levels were tested and matched Malak's findings, if they only tested Kevin? They got Francisco to admit that he hadn't run any tests and was only able to confirm that Arkansas crime lab followed standard procedures. He confirmed he spoke to Malak before sending them the findings and never billed the family.
Kevin's family hired a private investigator and every time he tried to question the police or other investigating agencies, he was met with great resistance. They were unwilling to cooperate or change their opinions about the case. Five months after the deaths, Kevin and Don's parents held a press conference as they were hoping to get the case reopened. Luckily, their plan was successful and it was officially reopened.
Prosecutor Richard Garrett had Kevin and Don's bodies exhumed for another autopsy. A new pathologist concluded that they smoked between one and three marijuana cigarettes, not 20 like Fahmy Malak said. He also found evidence that indicated that one of the boys was already dead and the other was unconscious when they were hit by the train. In 1988, the ruling of accidental death was changed to undetermined following the discovery of new information after the second autopsy. A grand jury ruled their deaths as probable homicide.
Richard Garrett started investigating the green tarp that allegedly covered the boys on the tracks. Multiple witnesses on the train confirmed seeing it covering them. The police who were initially on the scene later claimed that Stephen never told them about seeing the tarp. He insists that he absolutely told them about the tarp even though the initial investigators claimed it didn't exist, Richard believes it was there and never found. Richard Garett said, quote “All four of the people on the train who were able to observe the scene prior to the accident, stated that the boys were partially covered by a green tarp.” When the police started questioning the tarp's existence, Richard said quote, “That to me would be like questioning the existence of the boys on the track. Because what's real is real and what's not is not. And...it was there, as well as the boys.”
Train conductor, Jerry Tomlin was enraged about the the fact that Deputy Tallent denied the existence of the tarp. The conductor says, “He said I didn't tell him about finding the tarp, but I did. And I told him where part of it was, at the bridge bulkhead, I remember it as well as I remember him. I'm pretty observant. I catch most stuff. I remember seeing that tarp as well as I remember how Tallent was dressed that morning. He had on a navy blue or black ball cap that said Saline County Deputy. He was wearing cowboy boots and blue jeans. He had on a belt buckle that also said Saline County Sheriff's office. He had a package of cigarettes rolled up in his shirtsleeve, like a sailor going on leave. And he had his pistol, an automatic, stuck in the back of his pants, like Magnum, P.I.”
The authorities insist that the tarp was just an optical illusion and never really existed. How could the men, all sitting in different spots of the train, experience the same illusion?
I won't dive into this part, but I think it's worth noting that six weeks after the case was reopened, Richard found a similar case in Hodgen, Oklahoma where two young men, Billy Hainline and Dennis Decker were found lying on the railroad tracks and hit in 1984. The pair were positioned almost identically to Kevin and Don and the police haven't found any suspects in their deaths.
Unsolved Mysteries featured a segment on this case in 1988 and Richard was asked to provide his thoughts on the case. He said he thinks the boys saw something they shouldn't have seen and it had to do with drugs. Sheriff Steed refused to allow any funds to be used in the investigation of this theory. He also lied about where he sent the boys' clothes for examination. He said he sent the clothes to the FBI, but actually sent them to the Arkansas State Crime Lab. Steed was not reelected as county sheriff following the involvement with this case.
Richard Garrett ended up having another autopsy conducted on Kevin and Don. There was evidence of stab wounds on Don's shirt and Kevin had been struck in the head with the butt of a rifle. This now changed the investigation to homicide and it was no longer probable homicide.
A former wrestler, Billy Jack Haynes who was well know in the 80's said he witnessed the murders of Kevin and Don. He said in a video, “I come with no mask, I come with no hidden voice. I come to you straight face-to-face because this is reality, man.” He claimed he was compelled to come forward after the shooting death of Seth Richard who was an employee of the Democratic National Committee. He explained that he used to be a drug trafficker and a hired enforcer during the 80's and was introduced to a politician drug dealer in Arkansas. He alleged that the unnamed politician asked him to kill David Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy in 1984.
Billy Jack says, “In August of 1987, I was contacted by the Arkansas criminal politician and was asked to provide muscle at an Arkansas drug stop. The criminal politician suspected that some drug money drops were being stolen.” While he was conducting security during the alleged drug purchase, he claims he witnessed the murders of Kevin and Don. He also claimed that the politician believed police officers were involved in the theft of the drug money. He said the boys were murdered by people working for the same criminal politician.
Witnesses say they saw police officers beating Kevin and Don before tossing them in the back of a truck and speeding off.
Before Bill Clinton was president, he was the governor of Arkansas. For several years, he refused to dismiss state medical examiner, Fahmy Malak. There was of course, a lot of controversy over this topic, including the fact that the medical examiner provided a ruling that helped Clinton's mother, a nurse anesthetist, avoid scrutiny in the death of a patient while she was defending herself in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
After this incident, the medical examiner was protected by the governor and the state crime laboratory board. The laboratory board would have authority over the state medical examiner, but Clinton appointed the board members. Bill Clinton and his board, refused to fine Fahmy Malak even though records showed that he testified incorrectly in criminal cases, his rulings were reversed by juries and outside pathologists challenged his findings. In one case, he misread a medical chart and wrongly accused a deputy county coroner of killing someone. In another case, he based court testimony on tissue samples that DNA tests later indicated had been mixed up with other tissue samples. Three weeks before Bill Clinton announced his presidential candidacy, he pushed Fahmy Malak to resign. The Clinton Administration found him another well-paying job in state government.
A writer, Max Brantley, wrote a column where he said, “We may never know why Malak enjoyed such strong support. Critics will note, accurately, that Malak has made an autopsy finding helpful to Clinton's mother.” Clinton wrote a statement to the Times saying, “There has never been any connection between my mother's professional experiences and actions I have taken or not taken as governor of Arkansas, and I resent any implications otherwise....In fact it was several years after the incident that I became aware, through the media, that the ruling made by Dr. Malak in this case was controversial. I do not have the professional knowledge necessary to judge the competency of a forensic pathologist. For several years prior to Dr. Malak's resignation as medical examiner. I requested that reviews of his performance be conducted and that appropriate action be taken by the Crime Lab Board and/or the Medical Examiner Commission. It was their decision to retain him.”
Over the years, Fahmy Malak's rulings were questioned many times. In fact, there was controversy in more than 20 additional deaths and Ii think we should go over some of them so you can see how fucking awful this guy is.
Allbright case: On June 28th 1985, Raymond P. Allbright was found in his yard dead from gunshot wounds. He was arrested the night before on charges of theft. Malak ruled his death as a suicide, but he had been shot five times in the chest. The weapon was a high powered semiautomatic pistol.
Malcolm case: On June 14th, 1989, Andrew Smith was declared brain-dead at University Hospital in Little Rock and police said he shot himself. Life support was withdrawn and a week later, Malak told officers that the order to end life support was given by a deputy coroner, Mark Malcolm who hadn't consulted the family. Police investigated this and discovered that the attending physician used a symbol on the medical chart that means life support will end after the family has been consulted. The director of the state health department said Malak had mistaken the symbol to mean without family consultation, but don't worry, he apologized for this mistake.
Stephen case: On August 18th, 1990, Gregory Stephens was fatally shot on the front porch of his home. Witnesses said that he had been shot from 40 feet away. Malak took the stand and said he had been shot at point-blank range. They had an evaluation from 3 outside pathologists and they all agreed that Gregory had not been shot at point blank range and one of them stated that is seemed like Malak studied the wrong tissue samples. A DNA analysis confirmed that either blood samples or tissue samples that Malak used, came from another corpse.
This information was presented to Bill Clinton and he kept ignoring the claims. After the grand jury overruled Malak in the case for Kevin and Don, Clinton hired two out of state pathologists to review Malak's performance. They gave him high marks and said he should get a raise.
The Visiting pathologists were paid $20k from Clinton's discretionary fund. They both agreed during meetings with the state officials, not to conduct systematic reviews of Malak's cases. Two months later, Clinton sent a proposal to the Legislature to raise Malak's salary by 41.5% so his salary would be $117,875.
During the hearings regarding the proposed pay raise, there were a few people who felt wronged by Malak's decisions and they began exchanging phone numbers. They formed an organization called....VOMIT, Victims of Malak's Incredible Testimony. They started a petition and collected signatures. For three years, VOMIT says, Clinton's staff refused to let them present the petition to the governor.
OK, I'm going to go over the incident that Clinton's mother was involved in that we talked about previously. On June 27th, 1981, Billy Ray Washington, a black man, was walking home with his wife after a late night at a bar. A car full of young whites rolled past and someone in the car shouted racial slurs at the couple and threw a beer can at Billy Ray and in response, he threw a chunk of concrete. The car windows were open and the concrete slammed into the face of Susan Deer, a 17-year-old single mother who was in the back seat next to a stack of beer cans. Her friends brought her to the hospital and even though she was bleeding profusely, the doctors didn't feel that she needed immediate surgery.
Susan underwent surgery that was described as non-critical, to repair teeth, her nose and her face. During the early portion of the surgery, the records showed that she was stable, vital signs were excellent, stable blood pressure and no abnormalities to cardiac rhythm. Susan's parents arrived and were told repeatedly by the nurses entering and leaving her room that Susan was doing fine and would be out of surgery in a little while. Suddenly, the nurses stopped coming out of the room and her parents were told that Susan was dead. Clinton's mother, Virginia Dwire Kelley was her nurse anesthetist. The records show that the doctor asked her to transfer oxygen tubes from Susan's nose to her throat so they could proceed with the nose surgery. There was difficulty during the transfer and she wasn't able to insert the tubes into her throat. An ear, nose, throat specialist had to take over for her. The records do not show how long Susan was without oxygen, but immediately after the oxygen transfer, her heartbeat slowed and within seconds, she went into complete cardiac arrest. The team tried to revive her for an hour, but she was eventually pronounced dead. Malak performed the autopsy and didn't question any of the medical care she received. He ruled that her death was caused by blunt trauma and said it was homicide.
Based on Malak's ruling, Billy Ray was charged with negligent homicide. Both the doctor and ENT submitted reports and said Malak should have considered the possibility that Susan died due to inadequate care during the surgery. Soon after this incident, Virginia's hospital privilege as a nurse anesthetist was revoked and she filed a lawsuit against the hospital. A year later, she ended up dropping the action and she and the hospital agreed to pay their own legal costs. The hospital said her privileges had been revoked due to the possibility of malpractice. At the time of Susan's case, Virginia was also being sued in another case involving the death of a young mother, also from a lack of oxygen following minor elective surgery.
According to the train engineer, Stephen Shroyer, he noticed the boys were covered by a green tarp. He also said that Don's 22 rifle was laying next to the railroad track, but the investigators claim they couldn't find a green tarp. Remember earlier in the story, I mentioned that there was another case similar to this case? Well, Billy Don Hainline who was 26, and Dennis Decker who was 21, were both found motionless in Kansas City, Oklahoma on the railroad tracks in similar positions to the way Kevin and Don were found. They were run over by a train and killed and autopsies showed that they had alcohol in their systems and were near the legal limit. The county coroner ruled the deaths accidental and believed they fell asleep on the tracks. When the case was reopened a year later, in 1985, investigators focused on the possibility that drugs were involved. A meth lab was discovered one and a half miles from the tracks. We also talked about the mysterious man that was seen in military fatigues near the tracks.
Was this a police cover-up? Government cover-up? Did they stumble across a drug drop? The nearby airport was known as a hub for cocaine operations. Witnesses came forward and stated that the drug traffickers had an arrangement with city officials and even the CIA, with Saline County prosecuting attorney Dan Harmon, who was actually the first one assigned to helping the families and was later charged with federal drug and racketeering charges. Some people believe that Dan Harmon was at the tracks when the boys were murdered.
LET'S GO OVER SOME OF THE OTHER MYSTERIES INTERTWINED IN THIS STORY:
Dan Harmon hired Keith McKaskle to take aerial photographs of the crime scene during the investigation, shortly after, he was murdered.
In 1989, Greg Collins was called to the grand jury concerning the case and was found dead with his face blown off by a shotgun.
A witness, Keith Coney, died in a motorcycle crash.
A witness, Jeffrey Edward Rhodes' body was found in a landfill.
A witness, Daniel “Boonie” Bearden mysteriously disappeared.
The Boys On The Tracks Death, Denial, And A Mother's Crusade To Bring Her Son's Killers To Justice by Mara Leveritt
The Boys on the Train Tracks
Don Henry and Kevin Ives
Over 30 years later, 'Boys on the Tracks' mystery still haunts small Arkansas town
Boys on the Tracks Revisited
Death of Don Henry and Kevin Ives
The Mysterious Case of the Arkansas Train Deaths
The great Arkansas railway mystery
Don Henry and Kevin Ives