LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- It was August 23rd, 1987. It was about four in the morning when train engineers say, they saw the bodies of two teens stretched over the tracks, and a rifle was lying nearby. Engineers say they tried to stop in time but couldn't.
The train struck 17-year-old Kevin Ives and 16-year-old Don Henry. Kevin's mother Linda says it's something she thinks about every day. She says, "I live and breathe this case. Sometimes I wish I didn't, but it's something I can't help. I live it, breathe it, think about it every day, 24-7."
Linda took it upon herself to find out what happened to her son and his friend. She says, "And the last thing that was heard from the boys is that they were going frog-gigging at a pond near here."
That night she says someone killed her son and his friend, then placed their bodies on the tracks. She says, "Absolutely. It was not an accident and the evidence is very clear about that."
A room to her home is dedicated to Kevin. It's filled with binders of newspaper clippings and court documents. Linda says, "This office was built around the case actually." Childhood pictures decorate the walls. Memories sit on the shelves. From the cologne he wore, to books he read, to the artwork he left behind, Linda is surrounded by her son. She says, "Oh, he's always with us. I can feel him, I can smell him."
A chain of events stretching 15 years fuels her desire to seek the truth. It started shortly after Kevin and Don's deaths. The State Medical Examiner at the time, Dr. Fahmy Malak, ruled the teens smoked 20 marijuana joints, and then fell asleep on the tracks. He ruled their deaths a double-suicide.
Larry and Linda Ives, along with Don Henry's parents questioned the suicide ruling. They petitioned the court and received permission for a second opinion. Saline County picked Dr. Joseph Burton, a leading medical examiner from Atlanta, Georgia to perform a second autopsy.
In April of 1988, crews exhumed the boys' bodies and Burton began tests. "I think the evidence shows in scientific tests that were eventually run by Dr. Joseph Burton that they had smoked on or two marijuana joints." says Ives. Burton also concluded a key turning point in the investigation. In his statement he ruled the boys died before the train hit them.
In his words, the deaths, quote, were not accidental. Burton says Don Henry suffered from, quote, a stab wound and not related to anything the train did to this boy.
He describes Kevin Ives' injury as. quote, force was placed upon this boy's head area, which caused injury. Burton believes Ives was perhaps beaten with something like a rifle butt. He says, "They did photo-enhancement imaging on the wounds on Kevin and on the stab wounds on Don, and it's absolutely conclusive that those injuries occurred prior to the passing of the train."
Burton's autopsy confirmed what Linda suspected all along, someone murdered her son. Next, Saline County formed a grand jury to investigate the case. Dan Harmon, the soon to be Saline County Special prosecutor, took control of the investigation.
In late 1988, the grand jury overturned the accidental ruling and ruled it a homicide. It was a big victory of Kevin and Don's family and friends. But it still left the question of who and why?
Linda Ives says she thinks she knows. She says, "I know who killed Kevin and Don. The FBI knows who killed Kevin and Don. I think there are a number of reasons why they won't act on that information, won't follow that evidence if you will."
Linda points to a possible drug ring, political corruption and two teens caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. She says, "I think Kevin and Don stumbled upon a drug drop that was protected by law enforcement officials."