On January 18, 1997, just hours after the murders of Joe, Barbara, and Heather Stocks, interviews by investigators are documented to have begun; the first at 7:50 a.m., the last at approximately 8:15 p.m. According to documents of the Arkansas Police Department, Criminal Investigation Division (ASP-DCID), nineteen interviews were held at numerous locations; Arkadelphia Police Department, Dorothy Stocks’ residence, Whispering Oaks Apartment Complex (Arkadelphia), via telephone, and Concord United Methodist Church.
In addition to the interviews, a meeting convened at the Concord United Methodist Church in Furlow, Arkansas. Heath had been arrested and rumors of a confession circulated. A number of individuals attended the meeting; both family and friends were at a loss and a community attempted to understand what could have caused Heath to kill his family.
It is not certain who called the meeting, who declared the church the “gathering place”, if anyone. It could have been designated due to the fact that it was the church home for the Stocks family, all were members.
The pastor of Concord United Methodist Church, Reverend Marble, was present, but the meeting appeared to have been facilitated by Edgar Thompson, Lonoke County Public Defender. The actual date of the Concord Church meeting is unknown, but it was a few days, a week at the most, after the murders.
Contrary to his portrayal as one trying to understand, Reverend Marble remained close-lipped, not revealing the fact that he had been confided in, a little over a week prior to her death, the secret Barbara Stocks discovered between Heath and Jack Walls. [see blog entitled “Knowledge is Power“]
Notes were taken at this meeting, typed, and on February 7, 1997, its contents mailed to Mac Carder, Heath’s newly appointed co-defense attorney, from Edgar Thompson, his current attorney. The transmittal letter stated copies of the Concord Church meeting notes were enclosed, asking him (Mac) to call if he had any questions.
The notes given to Mac Carder offered numerous allegations regarding Heath’s emotional state, his concerning behaviors, and flat out speculations. With no confirmed motive, all were encouraged to share anything and everything that may answer the all-consuming question, “Why?”
Heath’s roommate at Henderson State University, Keith Anthony, attended the meeting at Concord Church. The only entry regarding his appearance, and any statement he made, are contained in Edgar’s notes are as follows:
Three years later, in a telephone interview with Mr. Anthony on April 26, 2000, Mac and his assistant Lance Womack, asked questions about his attendance at the Concord Church meeting. According to the transcript, Mac and Lance were preparing for Heath’s executive clemency hearing before the Arkansas Post Prison Transfer Board.
Keith attempts to recall the Church meeting:
Lance and Mac both pressed Keith to remember who had questioned him as to who “Jake” was, he responded Heath’s “Boy Scout leader.”
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Mac wanted to make certain that it was Edgar Thompson, his former co-counsel, whom Keith was referring to; the man attempting to clarify that Jake was indeed Jack Walls. He continues by mapping out the seating arrangement.
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According to Mac, the importance of what Keith had to say was critical. He reiterated the fact that he needed Keith to type up a statement reflecting the facts stated in the conference call so that he could pass it on to the parole board. He needed this statement as soon as possible.
Keith faxed the following handwritten statement to Mac and Lance Womack on May 4, 2000:
To whom it may concern:
This is a short letter that Heath’s lawyers asked me to write, concerning some of the things me and Heath talked about.
Starting in [not legible] Spring of 95 and going on until this terrible thing happened, Heath talk to me [about] Jack Walls. He told me that Jack want him to be an killer. He talked about all guns that Jack was going to buy him and also about when he did do it to not have any feeling[s]. Just go about like nothing happened. He talk to me about all the money he could make and about all the connections Jack would hook him up with. He stated on several occasions that Jack was trying to get him in the Navy Seals so that he could be better prepared.
I told Heath’s first lawyers this but they blew me off like I did not know what I was talking about.
I can’t remember all the exact days this happened on but the year or so that I knew Heath we grew very close and this was about all he talked [about]. He want this very badly. He talked like Jack was his Dad. He loved him very much. Jack really controlled his life. Then I didn’t know why and never asked, but now I know. If I can be any more help please call me…..
One would have to question the importanceMac and Lance placed, in 2000, on Keith’s prior knowledge of Heath and Jack Walls. Should the same not have been as important to anyone assisting in Heath’s defense in 1997? One would have to further question Edgar Thompson’s omission of Mr. Anthony’s statement in his 1997 transmittal of meeting notes to Mac Carder. Omission or simple oversight?
It is important to note that Mr. Anthony was never questioned further after the church meeting. Neither was Jack Walls and, according to Mr. Anthony, the room fell silent after he mentioned Jack and what he knew of him from Heath. Jack sat with his head bowed, not taking notes, and had nothing to say. No one had anything to say other than assuring Mr. Anthony that Jack wouldn’t do something like that. Move on…
If the purpose of the meeting was to seek motive, an explanation, why was this avenue not investigated? Mr. Anthony goes as far as mentioning Heath’s belief (and understanding) that Jack would hook him up with connections.
Entry from Concord Church meeting notes:
“The man he thought was more like a dad turns out to be Jack Walls Jr.”
Surely this “father” Heath held so dear would know something of Heath’s mental state or speculated a motive. It appears any mention of Jack’s name was redirected, erased, or simply swept under the rug, and it certainly wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last.
Two individuals in attendance knew what happened, with a third fairly certain and he would do his best to keep the focus off of Jack Walls and onto his client, Heath Stocks.
The cover-up had begun.
Omission or oversight? Hindrance of evidence? Ineffective counsel? Fear of politics and power? These questions deserve to be answered.
So many questions deserve answers.
Read more about Heath’s case here.