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    COLD CASE: MURDER IN SALINE COUNTY?

    11:13 PM, Nov 15, 2002   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Early one morning in August of 1987, engineers aboard a Union Pacific train ran over the bodies of 17-year-old Kevin Ives and 16-year-old Don Henry.

    At first, State Medical Examiner Dr. Fahmy Malak ruled the teens smoked 20 marijuana joints, and then fell asleep on the tracks. Later, Medical Examiner Dr. Joseph Burton, determined someone killed the teens, then placed their bodies in the train's path. Burton ruled that Don Henry was stabbed, and Kevin was beaten.

    A grand jury later confirmed Burton's findings. Kevin's mother, Linda Ives says the death of her son was hard enough to take without all the runaround she got while looking for answers. She says, "As traumatic as Kevin's murder was, our experience with the injustice system has been almost even worse than the murder itself."

    About the same time, a woman by the name of Jean Duffy, the head of the 7th District Drug Task Force, began investigating a possible drug smuggling ring involving Saline County officials. The investigation le her team to the area surrounding the Alexander train tracks.

    Ives says,  "It was one of Duffy's investigators who came up with the idea that drugs were actually being dropped from airplanes. And there were reports of low flying planes flying with their lights off by people who lived in the area."

    On a website dedicated to the train deaths investigation, Duffy provides updates. She writes, quote, "We learned Kevin and Don were murdered because they witnessed a drug and/or money drop from an airplane. Duffy also began investigating attorney Dan Harmon's possible connection to an alleged drug ring. This was the same Harmon serving as special prosecutor to the case."

    Linda Ives says Duffy's investigation also turned up key links to public officials, the cover-up, and public official drug involvement and cover-up of the deaths. In 1990, a grand jury was called to investigate these claims. Linda says the U.S. Assistant Attorney Bob Govar was telling her, that indictments were imminent. But suddenly, Jean Duffy's task force was disbanded.

    After meeting behind closed doors for 20 months, the grand jury was shut down. Ives says, "Chuck Banks, the U.S. Attorney at that time, took control of that grand jury from Bob Govar and totally dismantled the case. He also cleared Dan Harmon and all of his relatives as well as all the other public officials who were being investigated. They were cleared of all wrong-doing."

    Voters elected Harmon Saline County's Prosecuting Attorney. That same year, Harmon was arrested for tax evasion. While in jail, he refused to take a drug test. A few weeks later, he was released

    In early 1994, a breakthrough occurred. The FBI began investigating the train deaths and a possible cover-up. Agents racked up a file containing 17,000 pages. Over the last two years, with the help of Congressman Vic Snyder's office, Linda Ives has retrieved some 2,500 of those pages. She says the documents prove political corruption killed her son.

    For the first time, Linda Ives is sharing these documents with the media. In the documents are three separate memos, all addressed to the FBI from U.S. Attorney Paula Casey's office. One dated April of 1994 says, "The corruption in Saline County was discussed, to include public corruption and drug trafficking." A second memo dated may of 1994 states, "Much evidence points to a drug ring conducted in Saline County involving public officials. A third one written in February of 1995 states, "Investigation at this time reveals that a cover up in the investigation exists with law enforcement involvement."

    And finally, a fourth document sums up what Linda Ives believes. It's a letter from former FBI Special Agent in charge, Robert Satowski's office, to U.S. Attorney Paula Casey. It states, "It also appears that certain Saline county officials may have conspired to cover-up the investigation into the deaths of Don Henry and Kevin Ives."

    Linda Ives says, "This case is solvable, there are eye-witnesses to this crime, there are eyewitnesses who have passed FBI polygraphs, on the information they have provided, implicating specific people."

    Despite these documents, the FBI closed the case in 1995, claiming it did not have jurisdiction. This meant no agency was investigating the murders. The FBI Assistant Special Agent in charge of Arkansas at the time, Bill Temple, broke the news to the Ives family. Ives says, "The statement that was made to us by Bill Temple in November of 1995, was that we should accept the fact that a crime had not been committed and move on."

    But moving on, without an ongoing complete investigation was tough for Linda Ives. She says, "As time passes, it becomes easier and easier for them to look the other way." Linda Ives' search for the truth continued through a documentary called "Obstruction of Justice."

    Later, a court ruling acknowledged reports of possible law enforcement involvement in the murders of Don and Kevin.

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