Heath Stocks/ Charles "Jack" Walls
From time to time you will hear me say that this blog will be different than any other that I have done before. At my age that could mean one of three things. One, you should possibly be scared; Two, I really have done one like it in the past or; three, it really is true, this one is going to be different. As you can tell by the title this is more than one case. I may have possibly done blogs with different cases combined because they were similar cases that were resolved very quickly, or maybe they were from the same area. This case does involve two cases but I feel as if you cannot discuss one with out the other. While the crimes of Charles “Jack” Walls III actually occurred for many years prior to the crimes committed by Heath Stocks they were not know for quite some time after. There were a few rumors here and there and some say some authorities as well as prominent people in the town of Lonoke Arkansas knew about Walls and his activities but it was said that few believed the rumors. It took the brave actions of a boy on his eighteenth birthday to bring Walls to justice, but it seems to have been much to late to help Heath Stocks.
By all accounts Charles “Jack” Walls III was a well respected member of the community. He was not just a Boy Scout leader, he was a mentor to many boys that parents would almost literally send their “unruly” boys to. The Chamber of Commerce in Lonoke had even named him Man Of The Year at one time. Jack, as he was known around town, was known to “help” these young boys and parents welcomed his help. The one thing that most of these boys shared was a strained relationship with one or both of their parents. The parents thought that having interaction with Jack would help tame things or give their son an outlet with an adult everyone trusted. As a parent myself I guess there is a part of me that could understand this theory a bit. Sometimes no matter how much you try to reach your child and have them talk to you about their issues they can still block you out and when someone like Jack Walls can reach out to them and maybe help that can seem like a good thing. The problem was that Jack Walls was a wolf in sheep's clothing and it seems that the only adults that got wind of it did not believe the stories so they stopped there.
It seems that the first hint of things not being quite right with Walls surfaced in 1992. Had the steps been taken that should have been at that time, as well as the allegations that were made taken serious, in all probability four people would not have lost their lives. But, while I have talked only about Walls right now without going into any specifics I want to break away and talk about Heath Stocks. As I said earlier his crime would be not necessarily committed before Walls' crimes but at least discovered to the point in which something was done.
Heath Stocks was one of those troubled boys that Walls took under his wing. It was said that Heath especially had a “strained” relationship with his father, Joe. There were rumors of possible physical abuse by his father but to be fair I cannot say if this was exaggerated later as prosecutors would need a motive for Heath's later actions or if it was legitimate. By 1997 Heath was attending Henderson University in Arkadelphia, about an hour and a half away from Lonoke. On Friday January 17, 1997, after having dinner with his grandmother, Heath would go back to the home he shared with his parents, Joe and Barbara and his seventeen year old sister (she would be eighteen in just over a week), Heather. Heath would allege at some point that he was considering suicide and literally had the gun in his mouth when his family also returned home. However, by the time the night was over it would not be Heath who would be dead, but the three members of his family. After killing his family he would head back to Arkadelphia, allegedly throwing items he had taken from the home, as well as the gun, out the car window on the way. It seems that he initially wanted things to look like a robbery as he had allegedly ransacked the house. He would go to a friends apartment and spend the night but the following morning at 6 am officers were at the door. They would arrest him and charge him with the murders of his family. It was not clear what exactly led them to Heath so quickly, or at least to arrest him, apparently knowing that he was the perpetrator. He was charged with three counts of capital murder.
In one of his interrogations with the police he had confessed that he committed the murders but only after “being pressured and manipulated” to protect the secret of the man abusing him. It seemed at some level the investigators believed him and also believed that this man was likely with Heath when the murders were committed. It does not appear however that Heath would say who this man was but to some investigators he seemed legitimately fearful of the man. It would be revealed much later that his grandmother knew of the abuse and knew who the man was, however, she did not tell anyone. It was said that strangely since the judge had issues a “gag order” on the case she somehow believed that pertained to her and her speaking to authorities. There was also one other person still alive who allegedly knew about the abuse and who it was and he was minister, someone who is a “mandated reporter.” I am sure most of you know what that means, but for those of you who do not, there are certain occupations such as doctors, nurses, police officers, social workers and yes, ministers, that are required to report any suspicions or allegations of abuse, especially involving children. Despite this, the minister did not reveal what he knew either. Both the minister and Heath's grandmother had been told this information by Barbara Stocks just over a wee before she was murdered. It was said that under pressure by his surviving relatives Heath chose to plead guilty to the murders by March of that year. He would be given three life sentences to be served consecutively.
Heath's case seemed open and shut and for the next few months anyway life returned to as normal as it could in Lonoke, or as normal as people thought it had been. While a few heard the rumor of an abusive man, many thought that was just a rumor or a false allegation from an admitted criminal. The prosecutors had simply portrayed it as a young man who had issues with especially his father and just decided to kill his family. The case never went to trial so he did not have to prove anything to anyone. Then on July 5th another crime was committed in Lonoke, only this crime would expose a bigger crime. It was Wade Knox's eighteenth birthday. It was said that it was on this day that Wade held his uncle, Jack Walls at gunpoint in front of his parents and made him tell them what he had done to him, as well as many other boys for a lot of years. Some could argue that Jack Walls only said what he said that day because he had a gun to his head but suddenly everyone was listening.
Jack Walls would admit on that day to molesting Wade Knox, along with his brother and several other boys for many years. It was not long before the whole town knew and every boy who had ever been sent to Jack Walls for “mentoring” was asked just exactly what that had entailed. Jack Walls had been molesting boys for so long that some charges could not be brought against him because the statue of limitations had run out. In the end he would be charged with the molestation of Wade, a boy named Doug Hogan (who you will hear more about) and four other boys, including Heath Stocks.
Suddenly Heath Stocks comments to investigators near the time of his arrest had even more momentum. It seems that not only Heath told his story, but other information came out that proved that just days before the murders Barbara and Heather Stocks had been made aware of the molestation. According to Heath his mother had either walked into a room and caught the act or had in some way been informed. She and her daughter confronted Heath who would tell them his story. He had been molested by Jack Walls since the age of ten. Barbara called her mother, Annie May Harris and told her of the allegations but it seems that no one contacted the authorities. Remember Jack Walls was a very respected man in the community and to add to this sexual assaults, even those involving children are often not reported. It was also said that Barbara contacted and spoke with her minister. Just how his information got out is unclear because by all accounts the minister, despite being a mandated reporter, not only had not reported the incident when told to him by Barbara but was said to be a “hostile witness” during the investigation into Jack Walls. According to Heath, after confessing to Barbara and Heather, he had told Jack Walls that the “secret was out.” It has been said that Heath has commented that this was the “biggest mistake” of his life. He would claim that Walls was furious and instructed him to “kill the problem.” Whether Heath has ever said that Jack Walls was present when his family was killed or participated in any way is unknown.
It was discovered during the Walls investigation that he would entice young boys who were having strained relationships with their families and rather than help with those situations he would exploit them and pull the boys closer to him and further from their families. He would provide the boys with alcohol, pornography and allowed the use of guns and explosives. Throughout this time he had enlisted a group of boys he would call “The Order of the Arms.” These were the boys that not only was Walls molesting but that investigators would say he brainwashed into not just hiding the abuse but protecting him at every angle and without fail. This is never more evidence then in the case of Doug Hogan.
In 1992 Hogan, who lived in another town, had apparently gone on a Boy Scout camping trip in which Jack Walls had also attended. Doug Hogan would claim that Walls had attempted to unbuckle his pants while there and that in the the end he and some other boys slept in the back of a truck to avoid Walls. Hogan apparently went home and informed his parents who by all accounts did not contact the police but confronted Walls about the allegations. In retaliation Jack would instruct his “Order” to harass the family by doing things such as stalking them, assaulting them and even committing vandalism. Apparently in the end the Hogan's made a deal with Jack Walls. They would not press charges if Walls agreed to resign as a Scoutmaster and agreed to stay away from minors. Well, it seems he resigned but he did not stay away from the boys. Whether authorities got wind of this is unclear but it appears that if anyone in a position to do anything about it had heard that they dismissed the allegations. It is likely that anyone else who may have heard the situation would have not believed them, or at most just believed there must have been some misunderstanding. I can also so anyone who heard this was the cause of his resigning as a Scoutmaster blaming the Hogan family but to be fair I did not find anything pertaining to this.
Had the Hogan's attempted to press charges, who knows what would have happened. It could have caused the same sensation that eventually happened when Wade Knox made Jack Walls confess and brought his crimes out into the open. Then again it may have done nothing because in the Hogan case there was not actual molestation it seems, only the attempt. Jack Walls could have likely been able to pass things off as a misunderstanding or convince people he was being persecuted. And then of course there would have had to been some sort of conviction for it to matter to some and that could have been very hard to come by. It was said that even after all of Jack Walls' deed were made public the investigators attempted to have him charged with solicitation of murder in the deaths of the Stocks family and the DA refused.
For the Knox family this sudden put a lot of things into focus. While everything stated that Jack Walls was an uncle to Wade Knox, exactly how this was is unclear. Based on birth dates it is likely that he was either the brother of Wade's mother, Karen or he was married to a sister of one of Wade's parents. Regardless of how he was exactly related it appears that he had been in around for most of Wade's life. At about the age of five Wade began having behavior problems. They were passed off as issue with ADHD and dyslexia. Wade's parents would say that over the year Wade would come home with mysterious bruises that could not or he would not explain. Everything indicates that something during his middle school years Wade “lost an eye” and implies that Jack Walls was involved but that the extent of that involvement did not come out until 1997. Sadly, while Wade's action brought justice to his victims and would ultimately put Jack Walls behind bars it did nothing to help Wade. Over the years he would develop what was thought to be paranoid schizophrenia that would prevent him from going to college or even for the most part living on his own. For the next several years he went from job to job while continuing to live with his parents. It was said that he often believed that Walls would, or some times had, some how gotten out of prison and was coming for him. In 2003, at the age of twenty-three, while his parents were visiting one of their other children who had just given birth to her child, Wade Knox would commit suicide. His demons no longer haunted him. His parents would go on to establish “The Wade Knox Child Advocacy Center.” It is a safe haven for children to go and talk to people and to report abuse. They offer help and therapy, things that came far too late for their son.
At any rate, for his part Jack Walls would plead guilty to five of the charges against him. The only one that he did not plead guilty to was the case against Heath Stocks, but he did plead “no contest” which in reality is the same thing. Many believe that this was done so that the investigation into his participation in the murders of the Stocks family would no longer continue. In a sense it worked. Although investigators pushed to have him charged in that case the prosecutor would refuse to file charges. In fact, at least one of the investigators on the case has publicly stated that they were “blocked at every turn” by the prosecutor when it came to connecting Walls to the Stocks' murders. The problem was that the prosecutor could not stop the judge from thinking that. In fact, at his sentencing the judge had allowed testimony about the Stocks murders as part of victim impact statements. When the judge pronounced his sentence he stated he thought that “in the very least” Walls was indirectly responsible for the murders. He would sentence him on January 22, 1998 to four life terms and two forty year sentences, all to run consecutively, meaning one after another.
Walls appealed his sentence and stated that the judge had been bias in not just his sentencing but by allowing information pertaining to the Stocks murders. The appeals court agree and reversed his sentence in April of 1999. The state appealed this decision but lost. Two months later Walls' defense attempted to have the judge, since he was the same from before, to recuse himself as well as withdraw his plea. The judge denied both of these issues. On June 23, 1999 Walls was re-sentenced to three life terms and three terms of forty years. This time Walls would serve the life sentences together and when that was done would start a forty year sentence. At just over fifty years old it guarantees he will die in prison. In 2000 Walls would again appeal his sentencing but this time the appeals court denied his request.
There is no question that Heath Stocks at the very least participated with someone or acted alone in the murders of his father, mother and sister. But, it is clear that evidence that has emerged since his sentencing shows that he deserved to have a fair trial, which he did not get. Even a special prosecutor who was eventually brought in to prosecute Jack Walls has written a letter advocating for his case to be reopened, which is what supporters, as well as Heath, have asked for. We could argue that had the Hogan family reported the incident in 1992 to the police, AND they were taken seriously that it is possible that the Stocks, and possibly Wade Knox would be alive today. I add the part about being taken seriously because this seemed to be an issue. No one wanted to believe anything bad about this upstanding individual. In the same respect, some could also argue that the same could have been said about Barbara Stocks finding out. I am a bit more on the fence with that one considering it was only nine days before the murders that she was made aware of the molestation. However, if she had reported it maybe their murders would not have occurred because Jack Walls would know the authorities would come looking for him to question him. In the same respect Walls probably felt like he was made of Teflon at the time and nothing would stick. It would only matter if he did not want any suspicion turned his way at all. Then there is the issue of Heath's grandmother and Barbara's minister saying nothing after the murders about what Barbara had told them. The molester's secret was still being kept. If Heath Stocks was granted a new trial I could say with almost 100% probability that he would not end up worse off than he is. He pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty in the first place.
Of course if Heath were granted a new trial the prosecutor could ask for the death penalty but I see that as being very unlikely. Death penalty cases are highly expensive for the state and with all of the information that would be presented I believe the prosecutor would have a hard time finding a jury to agree to give him death. In essence it would be a waste of money. In the same respect Heath was given three life sentences to be served consecutively which means one after another. He has no chance of ever getting out of prison. If is case went to trial he would not be any worse off than he is now. However despite petitions and letters to the judges and courts involved it seems unlikely to happen. Throughout the years several filings have been made to the court and they have all been denied. In September of 2017 he filed a pro se filing that asked for several things. First, he asked that the investigation be re-opened. He asked that counsel be provided for him for future filings; and he asked for a psychological and mental exam. In January of 2018 these were all denied by the judge. Heath Stocks is forty one years old now and while in prison he seems to have had no disciplinary problems. He has participated in several programs within the system including communication skills and anger management. For his part Walls is now in his seventies and has only participated in one program, although he too seems to have not had disciplinary issues. I did look to ensure that the state had not been cruel enough to house them in the same prison and at least there is that.