August 23, 1987: The Mysterious Deaths of Don Henry and Kevin Ives


WHAT HAPPENED?


On August 23, 1987, the bodies of Don Henry and Kevin Ives, ages 16 and 17 respectively, were found laying on train tracks, dead from a cargo train. The deaths were ruled an accident, police believing the boys were passed out on the tracks after smoking marijuana.


However, the families of the boys did not believe this was the case, and believed they had been murdered and placed on the tracks. The driver of the train corroborated this theory, as he was honking his horn and couldn't believe 2 people, even if they were passed out, wouldn't have woken up.


Upon a second autopsy, the cause of death was determined as definite homicide after evidence of stab wounds and head injuries were found. However, in 1995, with no suspects or leads, the case was closed.

THE DEATHS


Shortly after midnight on August 23, the teen friends headed out for a night of hunting in the woods in their Arkansas town. But 4 hours later, they wound be found, dead and spread out all over the railroad tracks.


The train driver noticed the boys and was not able to stop his train in time to prevent running over them. However, due to the noise of the train, and his incessant honking of the horn to alert the teens, he believed that they may have been dead on the tracks. Additionally, the train driver said that the bodies of the boys had been covered in a green tarp, corroborated by others on the train.


The police acted quickly, but very suspiciously, and judged the cause of death based on a largely discredited medical examiner's report: the boys had passed out on the tracks after taking large quantities of marijuana. Their deaths were ruled an accident. The police also claimed to have not found the green tarp.


However, the families were not convinced that they hadn't been murdered, and further, believed the police were covering up the crime. A few months later, the teen's parents held a press conference, demanding the case be reopened, which it was.


A grand jury overruled the original accidental cause of death, and changed it to probable homicide. A new medical examiner reported that they had only smoked a small amount of marijuana, making it highly unlikely that they would be so incapacitated that they wouldn't wake up hearing a train barreling toward them. Additionally, Prosecutor Richard Garrett found a similar case from Oklahoma in 1984: 2 young men found lying in railroad tracks, in similar positions... but no suspects were ever found.


One officer reported seeing an unidentified military figure around the area before the train came. Allegedly, when the officer tried to speak with the individual, he fired at the officer and fled.


In a different account, a local witness claimed that he saw 2 police officers beating 2 teen boys senseless in a store parking lot before tossing them in a truck and driving away.


Upon a second autopsy of the boys, evidence of stab wounds were found on Kevin's shirt, and Don had a head injury consistent with being hit with the butt of a rifle. This resulted in changing the designation from probable homicide to definite homicide. Tips that have come through suggest that Don and Kevin may have stumbled into a place they shouldn't have been and witnessed a drug deal, and were subsequently murdered.


In 1995, the case was officially closed without a suspect ever captured or identified.

THEORIES AND CONSPIRACIES


There is not much else factual to report on this case, and thus, speculation and theories that run abound on the Internet will have to make up the bulk of this story. Because this is more of a mystery than anything... what happened to these boys?


Most people agree with one thing: there was no way that the boys had smoked so much marijuana that they would wrap themselves in a tarp, lie down on train tracks, and remain unconscious as a train, blaring its horn, barreled toward them. Additionally, the placing of the bodies on the tracks seems like a way to get rid of evidence. How are you going to determine injuries or stab wounds when their bodies are ripped apart as they're ravaged by a passing train?


Because of the alleged police coverup and other suspicious elements, the parents of the boys believed that the CIA could have been involved in some way, or that they had stumbled into a huge, dangerous drug operation and had to be disposed of. It isn't unlikely that they saw something they shouldn't have, but perhaps thinking there is some giant cover-up happening, or a large international drug bust at play seems a bit far fetched.


In January of 2018, a professional wrestler named Billy Jack Haynes, came forward, claiming he had witnessed the murders of Kevin and Don. He explained that he had been a drug trafficker and enforcer in the 80s, and worked for an unnamed politician. He claimed that while he was "conducting security" for an upcoming drug purchase, he witnessed the murder of the teens. He said that they had been murdered by the same people he worked for.


This wasn't the first time that the deaths of Kevin and Don were tied to politicians. In The Clinton Chronicles, a 1994 film that accused Bill Clinton of various crimes, one of them was covering up the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Kevin Ives and Don Henry. Linda Ives, Kevin's mother, participated in the documentary, but only in the interest of solving her son's death. She did not want to be used for political purposes.


The larger conspiracy is that Bill Clinton was profiting from drug smuggling activities at an Arkansas airport. The military figure spotted may have been someone patrolling the area or the Clinton's, and the boys stumbled upon something they shouldn't have, and though Bill Clinton didn't order their death, he turned a blind eye to the aftermath. However, this conspiracy is largely debunked.


As for me... I have no idea. I think what makes the most sense is that the boys stumbled upon they shouldn't have seen, but not some international, politican-infused drug smuggling scheme, but perhaps a lower-level drug deal or something else illegal. The perpetrators may have killed them in a panic, and then thought leaving them on the train tracks would erase any evidence of their involvement. And obviously, it worked. It took a second autopsy to even find evidence of foul play, and 33 years later, nobody has been even suspected of committing the crime.


I am really sad for these kids, and the parents who feel like they have to leave no stone unturned, including wacky conspiracy theories, to find out what happened to their children. They just wanted to go hunting and hang out together, and they ended up splattered across a set of train tracks, their killer never found.


This is a really, really mysterious case, and I truly have no idea what happened. There are books and podcasts about the case if you want to dig deeper, but they always end with the same question: what on earth happened to Don Henry and Kevin Ives?

REFERENCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Don_Henry_and_Kevin_Ives

https://www.reddit.com/r/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/75qrtx/the_murders_of_kevin_ives_and_don_henry/

https://www.thv11.com/article/news/local/former-wrestler-claims-he-witnessed-murders-of-don-henry-and-kevin-ives/91-518352443

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Clinton_Chronicles



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