Recently I heard a quote by an African American blues musician, Daryl Davis, who has befriended hundreds of KKK members over the past 30 years. Profoundly his words resonate and are applicable to all walks of life and all situations of discord;
“It is when the conversation ceases, that there is fertile ground for violence and hatred.”
When the conversation regarding anything deserving of discussion ceases, fertile ground is certainly ripe for the harvest of violence and hatred, but also ripe for all that is adverse, negative, opposing, etc.
Silence starves, yet it feeds.
The story of Heath Stocks begins in silence and remained mute for years. Truth is being handed out in small doses, today, but let’s take a glance at a few secrets.
There was no discussing the abuse at home by his father, there was minimal mention of his being taken advantage of sexually by his then dance teacher, Lana Beasley, and most certainly a whisper wasn’t to be had of the sexual abuse by his scoutmaster, Jack Walls. No, the later would remain a secret at all cost – even that of his family’s lives on January 17, 1997.
The silence by Heath’s Reverend, Robert Marble, and grandmother, Annie Mae Harris, of words, whispered to them by Barbara Stocks, Heath’s mother, regarding the secret she had uncovered upon finding Jack Walls in her home, in bed with her son, allowed lies and suppression to take root in the fertile soil. Even more, Heath informed Marble on two occasions that Jack was the reason for the murders. Jack marveled at his crop.
Disclosure, though mandatory, by Heath’s treating clinical psychologist, Kenneth Counts (referred to by Dr. Les Anderson), as a mandatory reporter of sexual abuse of a minor (see previous blog – Knowledge Is Power), did not report Heath’s interactions with Lana Beasley. The inappropriate relationship between Heath and his dance teacher was of enough importance that it was documented in a letter to Dr. Les Anderson on March 30, 1995, and in a Progress Report he dictated on July 20, 1995. Dr. Count and Dr. Anderson’s yield fared best in the shadows.
Why mention the turbulence between Heath’s defense counsel Edgar Thompson and Mac Carder? How could that even matter? It was only the defense of a 20-year-old at stake, possibly his life in the balance. Heath, to both men, was far less important than their names, their careers. Appointed by the State, very little money was to be gained; the addition of the bickering between the two counsel surely made their job of defending Heath more of a hassle than a reward. Whose crop? I didn’t plant any crops.
Just to mention a few:
- Carder memo 1.31.97 – Carder memo to file reflecting discord between him, Womack, and Thompson.
- Carder Memo to File 2.3.97 – Carder memo to file reflecting Thompson’s opinion of Heath, his client, via Thompson’s paralegal, Sara Talbert.
- Carder memo to file 2.5.97 – Carder memo to Lance/Betty directing the staff to reduce to writing all contact with Thompson’s office as to show them how “we screw up capital murder cases and generally just sit around here on our asses doing nothing.”
- Carder memo 2.12.97 – Lance Womack and Mac Carder visited with Heath at the Arkansas State Hospital and learns of rushed evaluation order of Heath by Judge Hanshaw and their inspecting the file given to ASH by Prosecutor Larry Cook, which contained different discovery than what Carder’s office had. (The secrets of Cook are for another blog, another day.)
Edgar Thompson, defense co-counsel, fails to list Heath’s college friend, Keith Anthony’s, comment at the Concord Church meeting that Jack had attempted to train Heath as an assassin (see blog “Omission or Oversight“) in minutes taken by Thompson at the meeting. (see Affidavit of Keith Anthony) The minutes were intended to inform Mac Carder, defense co-counsel, of the details of the meeting. These men were supposed to be working together, unified in defending Heath. Not a secret? Okay, let’s label it an omission – yea, an accidental oversight; an “oops”. Attempt one of many in keeping the ultimate secret – Jack Walls. Defense counsel spoke not of their crop; what crop?
From not discussing the many aspects of Heath’s story of abuse to refraining from revealing the facts woven into his legal tapestry, all resulted in a highly dysfunctional defense. Yes, Heath held close to his chest the secrets of sexual abuse and the details of the murder of his family to some, while attempting to reveal facts to others he felt he could trust. However, the trust he had in Jack Walls to help him in his hour of need, if Heath would only keep quiet, ensured supreme silence. Yet the fear of Jack and what happened to his family upon sharing “their secret” resulted in another secret. The fertile ground upon which Heath stood, took on seeds of disloyalty, distrust, deceit, suppression, and absolute lies, all of which, on the surface, appears to be thriving in the Lonoke sunlight.
Don’t be fooled, however; children grow up, people are seen for who they are, “loose lips sink ships”, and the truth always prevails. What if secrets ensured the prison in which your son, your brother, or father lived? What if that one secret set your loved one free? What lengths would you go to uncover that secret? To reveal the secret? What secret do you hold?
Watch out, you’re standing on fertile land.