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  • Writer's pictureMacabre Emporium Pod

Episode 11 - Unless You're Snoop Dogg You're Not Going to Smoke 20 Joints!


The Boys on the Tracks

Let me preface this by saying….this is going to be long and repetitive, and absolutely insane and infuriating. From cover-ups to conspiracy theories to some real shitbag humans. Buckle up for this one. I will ease you in slowly, and then go full ham on the information. It’s a lot. So let’s do it.

Two boys had supposedly left home around midnight to head out hunting. Because what else do you do in Arkansas at midnight, really? The flashlight and the gun near both bodies suggest that they were using a hunting technique called Spotlighting. Spotlighting involves using a bright light to scan across the area in hopes of seeing eyeballs reflecting back at you. Back where I lived we called it Shining - and it’s super illegal.

Around 4 am on August 23rd, 1987, a Union Pacific locomotive was traveling near Crooked Creek trestle in Alexander, Arkansas. It was 75 train cars in length, 6k tons in weight, and moving at 50 miles per hour. They were heading toward Little Rock, Arkansas. One of the crew members on board happened to look out the window and saw the bodies of two teenage boys lying between the tracks about 300 feet ahead of the train. Unfortunately for this crew member, even though he did everything he could by engaging the emergency brakes and blowing the horn, he was unable to stop in time - it’s not easy to stop something that big and heavy and traveling at that speed to stop, and therefore unable to avoid running over the bodies that were laying there. The train wound up being more than 1,000 feet beyond the point the bodies were laying before it actually came to a stop.

The crew reported what happened to the railroad and law enforcement and by 4:40 am, the police arrived on the scene. The crew members on the Union Pacific train said that both boys were partially covered by a pale green tarp, yet the police disputed that the tarp existed at all and that none was recovered from the scene. There was a gun found which wound up being classified as a .22 caliber rifle as well as a flashlight found, and both were near their bodies.

These would be the bodies of two best friends - 16-year-old Donald George Henry (who went by Don) and 17-year-old Larry Kevin Ives(who went by Kevin), both boys from Bryant in Saline County. Unfortunately, this is probably the most straightforward information that will be given. This is a case full of cover-ups from state, federal, and local governments would all be playing part in this case. And it started already - with the police officers saying that there was no tarp, and ordering the scene to be examined as an accident - rather than a murder.

The collection of evidence was downright stupid. There were pieces that weren’t even collected…which included one of Kevin Ive’s feet. His foot sat there on the tracks for a few days until it was found by one of the victim’s family members. That is awful. EMTs that were there claimed that the blood and condition of the bodies would suggest that both victims were dead before the train hit them, but those statements were omitted from the report.

Kevin and Don’s deaths were initially ruled accidental, as a result of the boys sleeping very deeply on the tracks due to “smoking 20 marijuana cigarettes” and basically putting themselves in a weed coma. The medical examiner, Dr. Fahmy Malak said they had “marijuana intoxication. Give me a fucking break. And those were pretty much the sentiment of the boy's parents as well.

Five months after both boys were killed, their parents held a press conference in hopes that it would force authorities to re-open their investigation. The very next day, they did just that and it was officially re-opened. The presiding judge, John Cole, would assign attorney Dan Harmon as Special Prosecutor of the case, and he would be assisted by attorney, Richard Garrett. Harmon and Garrett would go on to Kevin’s mother and promise her they would do everything in their power to bring her son’s killer or killers to justice. Though as weeks and months went by the investigation didn’t get very far.

The bodies were exhumed for a second autopsy, as he was also skeptical of the marijuana findings Malak had originally concluded the autopsy with. Garrett said that he had found what would equate to one of two joints (or marijuana cigarettes) - not 20 that Malak had claimed. He also found concrete evidence that one of the boys was dead before being placed on the tracks, and the other unconscious - prior to the train showing rolling over. Garrett would then focus on the pale green tarp that was reported by the crew on the train. The parents were avid that neither boy owned one, so Garrett wanted to know where it came from, who covered them with it and why they did it.

The jury had ruled Kevin and Don’s deaths as “probable homicide” after finding out that Don’s shirt had evidence of a stab wound on the back of it, and Kevin’s skull had been crushed by his own weapon - the rifle. After this, the jury changed their ruling to “definite homicide”. The father of Don made a statement saying that he did not believe his son would have risked scratching up his rifle by laying in on the ground, especially on gravel. That he took pride in his rifle, and would not have let anyone, let alone himself, ruin it. Prosecutor Garrett is quoted saying “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”.

As I stated earlier, the police that searched the scene later denied that the tarp ever existed…and also that the Engineer aboard the train never mentioned a tarp.The Engineer came out saying that the police even questioned him about the tarp’s existence. He said, “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”.

Then they got a lead…

About a week before the boys died, a man wearing military fatigues was spotted near the tracks. The way he was acting made police officer Danny Allen’s suspicion grow, so he went to question him - until the man opened fire on him. Danny Allen said, “I got up from the seat. The subject was gone. We searched the area and never found the subject”.

On the night of Kevin and Don’s death, witnesses again reported seeing a man in military fatigues. They said he was heading down a road less than 600 feet from the exact spot the boy’s bodies would be found. Police, of course, were never able to find him.

This drug sale was a bit different though, as it was a police-protected drug deal. The deal was part of a drug smuggling ring based in a small airport in Mena, Arkansas.

The Mena ring was set up in the early 1980s by a notorious drug smuggler named Barry Seal. While facing prison after a drug conviction in Florida, Barry flew to Washington DC, and put together a deal that allowed him to avoid any prison time by becoming an informant for the US government. While being an informant against other drug smugglers, Barry testified he worked for both the DEA and CIA. In a federal court case, Barry stated that his income from March 1984 to August 1985 was between 7 and 800k. This was what he was making AFTER his deal with the government was made. He also testified that almost 66k of that came from smuggling drugs while working for, and with permission of the DEA. Aside from his informant duty, Barry was used to help finance Nicaraguan Contras, by the CIA. Do you know what the Contras are? Ok, so I had to Google it too because I have the stupid. Google’s default explanation is - and I quote - “The Contras were various US-backed and funded right-wing rebel groups that were active from 1979 to 1990 in opposition to the Marxist Sandinista Junta of National Reconstruction Government in Nicaragua, which came to power in 1979 following the Nicaraguan Revolution”.

The Mena ring and CIA connection were concretely undeniable when a cargo plan that was given to Barry by the CIA was shot down over Nicaragua. Even with all that evidence, each investigator who tried to expose the crimes of Mena has been destroyed professionally. Those involved in drug smuggling rings continued to receive protection from state and federal authorities.

Theorists state that their death came to them because they witnessed that drug deal, which was very similar to Barry Seal’s operations near Mena. They claimed it was murder. But this would not be the only theory that came out. There were many.

Kevin’s father, Larry, had hired a private detective to see if they could find out what had truly happened. Larry was quoted as saying “Every time he would try to find out something, it seemed like he would meet resistance from different authorities…and we weren’t getting anywhere”.

Unsolved Mysteries would air an episode about this case, and would leave a number to call with tips. When the show was broadcast, a witness, Keith Coney, had already been murdered, and within a six-month span, five more were killed. They were all linked by having been interviewed by either Harmon or Garrett. Dan Harmon and Richard Garrett would get numerous phone calls with tips. However, in an extremely redacted FBI from 1993, witnesses that called in to Garrett’s tip line were apparently threatened and told not to talk about the murders.

Bits and pieces have come out over time and it has helped piece together the story of what happened. And it’s time to dig in. Keep in mind everything I’ve said up to this point.

Around 2 am, heading towards home from hunting, Kevin and Don walked the tracks and happened to come across a group of five people. This would be Dan Harmon, Keith McKastle, Sharlene Wilson - and two other people. There was a very brief confrontation, and at least one fired shot. The boys took off running and ran straight into Keith Coney while he was riding his motorcycle. They walked with Keith and wound up talking about what had just happened. Then, two off-duty cops, Kirk Lane and Jay Campbell showed up in an unmarked car and arrested both Kevin and Don, while Keith fled on his bike. One of the officers would hit Kevin in the back of the head with the butt of his rifle, knocking him out cold.

With the boys in the back of the car, Lane and Campbell headed east, back towards the train tracks where they met up with Harmon and the rest of the group they ran into earlier. Reports aren’t clear, but it is believed that Kevin died en route due to the head injury sustained in the car and that this would be the best time to go ahead and kill Don by stabbing him to death. This is when their bodies would be laid out on the tracks and covered with a tarp, as they hoped if a train came by the crew would only see a tarp and think nothing of it, and roll over it. Unfortunately for this group of fucktards, the wind is a thing….and the tarp had been blown a bit, partially uncovering the boys.

The reason for the murders is what was seen when they encountered the group. The boys had been witness to a drug sale - and had multiple witnesses testimony to that, as well as passed polygraphs. They saw Dan Harmon being protected by local officials and law enforcement, collecting a huge shipment of cocaine that was dropped off by a low-flying plane. Enter the Barry Seal and Mena shit from earlier.

Let’s dig further into the first autopsy that was done by Fhamy Malak. He had seemingly mutilated the boy's bodies during this autopsy and told his assistant to “nevermind” the stab wounds. An independent M.E. said it was the most bizarre autopsy he had ever seen. What would make Malak butcher the bodies the way he did? Was there something in it for him? It just so happens that the person that appointed him as M.E. for this case, would allow him to continue working after fucking up as badly as he did…as well as praising him and giving him a 40% raise in pay. The one that did all this is none other than the Governor of Arkansas at the time…Bill mother fucking Clinton. This is how Malak operated…he would fuck up and basically listen to what the police and would basically botch the written report and make the death different than what it was. For instance, there was an autopsy he did of a man that was decapitated - yet he put stomach ulcer as the cause of death, and the reason his head was missing was because the family dog ate it. Even going so far as to say he found brain tissue in the dog's stomach, even the though head would later turn up in a garbage can. What did Malak say about this? Well - the dog must have thrown it up of course!! Fully intact and no bite marks whatsoever. Another one - he ruled it a suicide when a man was shot in the chest five times, yet there was no gun left at the scene or residue on him.

However, the most damning one, in my opinion, is that of 17-year-old Susan Deer. June 1981, she was drinking and riding in cars with boys and they drove past Billy Ray Washington. The fellas in the car threw a beer can and yelled racial obscenities at Washington, and in retaliation, she picked up a chuck of concrete and threw it at the car. The chunk his Deer instead of the car, and caused damage to her nose and teeth. She went to the hospital and thankfully her facial injuries were not life-threatening, however, they would require reconstructive surgery. The next day she had surgery and everything was going well until complications arose and she died in surgery. The well-documented complications happened when nurse-anesthetist, Virginia Dwire Kelly, had a hard time transferring the breathing tube from her throat to her nose. Susan Deer was left without oxygen for a good chunk of time. We all know what happens when you are without oxygen for a long time….brain death. Anyways, Malak signed off on the death report as it being homicide, death by blunt force trauma. This led to Billy Ray Washington being tried for murder and letting Virginia Dwire Kelly off for malpractice. Oh, yeah…Virginia Dwire Kelly is also Bill Clinton’s mother.

At the beginning of 1989, the public raised such a stink about the drug epidemic and kept talking about how crooked the local officials were that it inspired a federal probing into corruption in Saline County. This would be overseen by US Attorney Chuck Banks and ran by Robert Govar. Coincidentally, in the same time frame, the budget would clear for a new drug task force to be led by prosecutor Jean Duffey.

Jean was told from the start that she was not allowed to use her task force to investigate any public officials. She would only be on this investigation for nine months and have her reputation marred by her boss, Gary Arnold, due to several shutdowns. Even though it didn’t take her long, she had her undercover agents on the prowl. They discovered the entire drug ring shenanigans was run by faces and names that we already know. Dan Harmon, Kirk Lane, and Jay Campbell. Jean Duffey utilized the fact that she was running a parallel investigation to Govar’s that she went to him and handed over everything she found out so far. But, that proved to be a fuckup.

Robert Govar had two best friends, that just happened to be Kirk Lane and Jay Campbell…you know, two of the people suspected of killing Kevin and Don. Not shockingly, that connection would never see the light of day. Even though the grand jury told Chuck Banks to indict Harmon, Lane, Campbell, and all of the others involved in the ring of Saline County - Banks declined, saying the investigation had found ZERO evidence of corruption. Idk about you, but that sounds pretty fucking corrupt to me.

Jean Duffey wound up being practically the only person to actually do their job correctly didn’t make any friends. She was now the target. By late 1990, Don Harmon was elected District Prosecutor and used all of his newfound power against Jean and her task force. Within just a few weeks, Jean Duffey was fired and the subpoena’d for court to hand over all of her records and files on the investigation. She refused and had a warrant put out for her arrest for failure to appear. By June 1991, a large portion of her task force resigned, and she was told by numerous of her undercover informants that there was a 50k bounty on her head. With this, she was forced to take off, but being the smart woman she was - she took all of her files with her when she left.

2 years later, there would be a break in the case. There were new witnesses. One witness, Tommy Niehouse, contacted Linda Ive’s (Kevin’s mother) and told her everything he knew and then immediately went into the witness protection program. Next witness, Sharline Wilson - former girlfriend of Dan Harmon, would share her story and it would align with Tommy Niehouses story so well, and provide an accurate account of what had happened that night. Sharline would tell numerous stories of Don Harmon and his drug trafficking as well as cocaine-filled parties with Bill Clinton in the governor’s mansion.

1994 - the FBI is now involved and cleared Jean Duffery of all of the false claims against her made by Harmon. From there, Linda Ives and Jean Duffey would band together and begin working and making huge leaps in the case. Things were once again going smoothly and the ball was rolling in the right direction. But as with the rest of this case…the ball stopped.

The FBI found no shortage of corruption in the state or county level. Quite the opposite actually. They found that Chuck Banks should have been indicted for obstruction. However, the more they dug in and the closer they would get to the DEA, Governor Clinton, and the things happening at the Mena Airport, the more attention it got from the Washington Bureau.

In 1995 the case was shut down by Special Agent Ivan Smith.

In 1996, Jean Duffey and Linda Ives released a documentary called Obstruction of Justice: The Mena Connection. In it, they would name Kirk Lane and Jay Campbell as the probable killers. Both of those guys sued for defamation and thankfully lost. It was decided by the jury that they had gathered enough evidence and that any rational person would come to the conclusion of guilt on their own.

In 2007, Jay Campbell was convicted on 23 counts of various felonies including drug and sex trafficking. He would face more than 300 years in prison. Judge Jon Cole would actually come out of retirement to be the one over the case, and he reduced the sentence from 300 years+ to just 40 years, even though the case would eventually be reversed. Thankfully his conviction came in 2010, and he would be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Dr. Fhamy Malak…he got off pretty Scott-free if you ask me. Governor Bill Clinton would pay two out-of-state M.Es from his “discretionary fund”. The two that were hired praised Malaks work and called him outstanding. But it’s funny how that would change when Bill Clinton would run for president. Clinton had a moment of clarity (for himself only) and realized that Malak was a huge liability, so he asked him to resign. Malak was then given a job with the local health department and was stuck consulting venereal diseases.

In 2017, a former professional wrestler, Billy Jack Haynes would come forward and confess on video that he helped move the boys and place them on the railroad tracks. He said that the track was being used as a drop-off area for drug smugglers and then said the two boys showed up while the drop was happening. He said while he did move the bodies, others were responsible for killing them. He claims that the murders of Kevin and Don were just one of several that happened due to drug trafficking. However, that remains unproven.

Sadly, Kevin’s mother, Linda Ives, passed away on June 3rd, 2021 at the age of 71. She had spent her life dedicated to her son and finding his (and his best friend Don’s) killer. She fought tooth and nail and did everything she could think of to bring some sort of justice for both families. Kevin’s father, Larry and sister Alicia are still alive as far as I know. And I couldn’t find much of anything about Don Henry’s family after the fact sadly.



Train Wrecks For Entertainment

Crash at Crush

Rip great crush Collison Marc from Youtube

Today to seek a thrill, all we have to do is hop in our car, drive to an amusement park, and hop on a roller coaster. Or a night of destruction at the local speedway if you are lucky enough to live near one.

Eighty-five years before monster trucks and 51 years before NASCAR was officially founded, thrill-seeking tourists and townsfolk would travel to festivals and fairs to witness intentional trainwrecks. (The first roller coaster accredited to Coney Island in 1884 was named Switchback railway.) but in 1896, one of these train crashes would be stitched into American history, known as the Crash at Crush.

This form of entertainment started a year before in Ohio by a man named A. L. Streeter. A. L. Streeter came up with this idea So people could see what train wrecks looked like safely as a part of the opening entertainment for Buckeye Pleasure Park, which we know today as theme parks.

His formula for these events is what most of the crashes followed after. Streeter would have 1,800 feet of track or up to a mile, where each end would be a locomotive facing each other. The engineers would wait for a signal to proceed forward and jump before the locomotives would crash into other. There would be six crashes before the Crush in 1896.

Following the panic of 1893, the Missouri - Kansas - Texas railroad, or KATY as its better known by railfans, which I will refer to it as well, was struggling after this depression. Passenger Agent William George Crush, who worked for KATY railroad, was given the task of finding a way to attract new passengers to the rail line. George Crush had heard of the train crashes they had staged in Ohio and wanted to do the same for the KATY railroad. He proposed that seeing the train crash be free, but the only way to get there was to purchase round-trip tickets to Crush, Tx (temporary for the event) for two dollars (66.22 today) from anywhere in the state.

Before putting this event together, William Crush would ask an unknown amount of KATY engineers about crashing the two locomotives for this event, and all, but one said it was safe. The one engineer that said it was dangerous would tell Crush that locomotives would explode on impact. Crush dismissed his warning and carried on since he was the only one that was against it. This warning would be one of the mistakes W. Crush would make.

Before I continue, I’m going to go over how steam engines at the time worked for those that aren’t familiar with them so we can understand how dangerous this really was.

Even though they are complex machines, steam locomotives are somewhat simple. They are powered by the heating water in a boiler to create the steam that would be converted into energy after it's forced into a piston. Their speed is controlled by opening a valve to either inject more, creating pressure that's pushed into a piston creating the energy that makes the wheels move by a rod connected to the end of the piston. The speed of the engine is controlled by opening and closing a valve to either let in more or reduce the amount of steam being injected into the piston. The class of locomotives they used were named the American class and would have a boiler pressure of 90 psi, and later on, near the end of steam, they would grow to have a pressure of 200 psi.

William Crush would acquire two 30-ton locomotives, No. 999 and No. 1001, that were being replaced by newer 60-ton locomotives. Crush would have No. 999 painted from what I could determine, what type of engines they used was what is known as the American class. He would paint these engines red and green No. 999 would be painted green with red trim, whereas No. 1001 paint scheme was reversed.

Setting up for this event, the temporary town of Crush, Texas, would be just outside Waco. KATY would construct a four-mile section of track that was separated from the rest of the railroad to keep either train from possibly reaching the mainline where all the spectators were coming in for the event. This four-mile section of track was set up to start on top of two hills and the two trains would meet in a valley where all the spectators gathered to witness the crash.

I first thought there would just be what they call a flag stop for this, but they had actually built a fully functional depot for this, including telegraph services for the press, and had other amenities available as well.

William Crush would borrow a tent from the Ringling brothers circus to set up a restaurant inside. For pre-show entertainment, carnival rides and games were also on site along with cigar vendors, medicine shows (snake oil salesmen), and sideshow acts, and they had even constructed a jail and manned the grounds with 200 constables. A grandstand was constructed for honored guests, along with a bandstand and a platform for the press.

Even though this event would end up in somewhat of a disaster, they did take some safety precautions. In the weeks leading up to it, speed tests were performed to calculate how fast each train had to be going to meet at the same exact time for people to see. Some of the other safety precautions that were taken were that the railcars were chained together since the modern knuckle coupler trains used today weren’t in use at this time but a link and pin style was used at this time. Each train consisted of six box cars loaded with railroad ties to I presume to try and keep them from getting airborne. They would also establish a safety perimeter of 200 yards for the public and 100 yards for the press.

Weeks leading up to the crash that was dubbed the duel of the iron monsters would be advertised across North Texas by rail and in newspaper ads and flyers across Texas. The KATY expected between 20,000 to 25,000 people to attend but by 10 A.M. approximately 10,000 people have already arrived to witness the crash and they are still coming in by the train load. By 4 P.M. 40,000 people arrived at Crush, Texas making it the second largest city in Texas for the day. The crash was scheduled to take place at 4 P.M. but even Karen’s existed at this time and ignoring the safe buried placed it would take them over an hour to get the crowd to push back to the original 200 yards they had established for them.

At 5 P.M. they would have the crowds finally under control and pushed back to a safe distance, the two trains would touch cow catchers and proceed to back up to their starting points. William Crush would ride in on a white charger and raise his hat and signal to send the locomotives.

The train crews would tie off the whistles and only ride with these doomed trains for 4 cycles of the main drive wheels before they would jump. They believe these trains met each other at 45mph but other eyewitnesses said it was much faster. I have a quote from The Dalla Morning News that gives a description of what it was like to witness this event but it didn’t say who gave this quote.

The rumble of the two trains, faint and far off at first, but growing nearer and more distinct with each fleeting second, was like the gathering force of a cyclone. Nearer and nearer they came, the whistles of each blowing repeatedly and the torpedoes which had been placed on the track exploding in almost a continuous round like the rattle of musketry... They rolled down at a frightful rate of speed to within a quarter of a mile of each other. Nearer and nearer as they approached the fatal meeting place the rumbling increased, the roaring grew louder.

Shortly after they crashed there was a large explosion from the boilers of both engines sending wood and metal through the air killing two and injuring six other people. One of the injuries was event photographer Jarvis Deane who would still have his team take photos while he dealt with an iron bolt now lodged in his eye. A Civil War veteran even described the explosion and aftermath as more terrifying than the Battle of Gettysburg. I am not sure if this next quoted text is from said veteran but, it did keep coming up when I was researching this and I wanted to include it so you have an idea of what it was like after the explosion happened.

“There was a swift instance of silence, and then, as if controlled by a single impulse, both boilers exploded simultaneously and the air was filled with flying missiles of iron and steel varying in size from a postage stamp to half a driving wheel.”

William Crush was immediately fired on the spot because of what happened but after KATY had heard about how people in attendance had such a great time during the crash he was rehired the next day.

Even though the Crash at Crush was a one-time event for the KATY railroad a man by the name of Joe Connolly would go on and stage 70 train wrecks between 1896 and 1932. He would earn the nickname “Head-On Joe.”

Connolly would get his start with being a professional Train crasher at the Iowa State Fair. From here he would crisscross the country from L.A. to Boston staging train wrecks. In his travels, he would spice things up by strapping dynamite to the front of trains and filling freight cars with hot coals and gasoline so they would explode into a ball of fire when they would crash. He would also paint different political candidates for spectators to root for the locomotives during the crash. For example, he would stage Hoover v. Roosevelt in 1932. At the height of the great depression train wrecks for entertainment starts to quickly lose popularity as it was deemed wasteful of resources during the depression and Connolly would stage his last wreck at the Iowa State Fair where he staged his first one and said “Well that’s that” and walked away.

The last known train wreck of this type was held in 1935 but no other real details can be found.

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