How Did Boys End Up on the Tracks?
On the night of August 23, 1987, high school seniors and best friends, Don Henry (16) and Kevin Ives (17) spent time with friends at a popular hangout, a local commuter parking lot. They arrived at Don’s home around midnight to retrieve spotlights and a .22 rifle. According to Don’s father, the boys left shortly afterwards to go “spotlighting”. Although this type of night hunting (shining bright lights in an animal’s eye to momentarily transfix them) is illegal in Arkansas, it seems the teenagers were accustomed to spotlighting. They boys typically hunted behind Don’s home in the woods near the railroad tracks (1).
It was 4:25 am, when the train crew noticed a green tarp on the tracks and began an emergency stop. Traveling at 52 mph, engineer Stephen Shroyer wasn’t able to stop the train and was horrified when he recognized there were two boy lying motionless across the railroad tracks, partially covered by the light green tarp (2).
Deaths Ruled Accidental
The Arkansas medical examiner determined that the two teenagers had collapsed onto the tracks after smoking marijuana. Their deaths were ruled accidental. Most people believed it was simply a tragic teenager mistake, but the boys’ parents didn’t believe it. Larry Ives, Kevin’s father, hiring a private investigator to get to the bottom what really happened to the boys and why the state medical examiner made such an outrageous claim. For the Ives, it became an unrelenting crusade that continues decades later.
Some disturbing facts were later uncovered:
- The green tarp was never found, even though the train crew of four reported it was partially covering the boys prior to impact.
- Engineer Shroyer said police questioned him about whether or not the tarp existed.
- Witnesses described a man in military fatigues was seen that night about 200 yards from where the boys’ were run over.
- Investigating police denied Shroyer told them about the tarp.
- One week after the accident, a man near tracks “aroused suspicion”. The man was described as wearing military fatigue. He shot at Allen and disappeared into the woods. The man was never found.
- It was discovered that Kevin’s severed foot was left at the scene.
- Evidence mysteriously disappeared, like the tarp and hunting rifle reported as being on the tracks with the boys.
- No hospital records exist of the boys’ bodies ever being there.
The parents pressured authorities to re-open the case five months after the boys’ deaths.
- A different prosecutor (Richard Garrett) was appointed.
- Bodies were exhumed and a second autopsy was performed.
The second autopsy findings were quite different and revealed:
- Boys’ only smoked between 1-3 marijuana cigarettes, not 20.
- One boy was dead and the other unconscious when struck by the train.
- Kevin’s skull was badly beaten-in.
- Both boys’ blood showed signs of lack of oxygen.
- Tears in Don’s t-shirt were determined to be the result of a knife’ he was stabbed several times with.
As a result of the second autopsy, the grand jury ruled the boys’ deaths as definite homicide.
Documentary Film Maker Sued
In 1999, the Salon reported that, “Right-wing conspiracy theorists who blamed then-Gov. Bill Clinton for the killings have now lost a $600,000 libel suit in the case.” (4)
The Salon stated Patrick Matrisciana’s 1994 documentary, “The Clinton Chronicles” was a “conspiratorial” documentary.
Salon described Matrisciana’s “1996 film on the railroad mystery, “Obstruction of Justice: The Mena Connection alleged that the teenagers were killed after they accidentally witnessed a clandestine drug deal in which top state officials were involved.” It has long been rumored that the CIA with then Governor Bill Clinton’s permission operated a drug and weapon smuggling operation at the Mena Airport.
What followed was a lawsuit against Matrisciana by Deputy Sheriffs Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane depicted in the 1996 film as the boys’ murders. Salon reported that the jury ruled the film showed, “reckless disregard for the truth and had libeled deputies Campbell and Lane. The jury awarded the two sheriff’s officers nearly $600,000 in damages.”
Reddit AMA with Kevin’s Mother
In June 2017, Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) hosted Linda Ives, Kevin’s mother who has turned to the Internet in her campaign of justice for her son Kevin and his friend Don. During the Q&A, Linda Ives discussed the various forms of resistance her decades’ long quest had met by various government agencies, officials and individuals (2).
She discussed the roadblocks that had been erected with various FOIA requests. She discussed in depth those made of the FBI. Author Mara Leveritt made several requests when writing her book, “The Boys on the Tracks” and was told there were no documents, even though the FBI had investigated the boys’ deaths for over two years.
Mrs Ives described how someone shared a handful of related FBI documents with her. She added that the FBI finally admitted there were more than 17,000 pages related to their investigation, but she only received 2,000. She explained that those pages were either completely redacted or heavily redacted.
Mrs Ives stated she was turning to the Internet in the hope of rekindling interest in her son’s murder. She asked anyone with any information to forward it to WikiLeaks since her efforts have hit a wall and obtaining un-redacted copies of those 17,000 pages wasn’t likely to happen.
- She stated she believed they (her lawyer and she) had proof that Dan Harmon was indeed one of the killers. She added that the current county sheriff is Harmon’s nephew.
- She claimed that several witnesses had named Benton Chief of Police Kirk Lane as the other suspect in the murder of her son and Don.
- She also reiterated her belief that “the Clintons are the power behind it all. Mena was their first pay to play game before they moved to Washington and expanded it to a global level. I have never claimed or believed that the Clintons were down on the tarmac unloading drugs or that they killed my son. But they were raking in millions from the operation and have obstructed justice in this case to cover up their crimes.”
A Mother’s Quest for Justice
The pain and agony of knowing that her son’s murderers have yet to be punished have followed Mrs Ives through the years. She still persists in her quest to bring those responsible to justice. She stated that health issues have impeded her efforts and worries that she may die before those who committed these heinous acts against her son and his friend Don are arrested and brought to trial for murder.