SALINE COUNTY GRAND JURY
Saline County Grand Jury Lead By Dan Harmon
There was, of course, the most diabolical scheme of all. Judge John Cole appointed Harmon to head the Saline County grand jury investigation of the murders of Kevin and Don. The most significant occurrences to come out of that investigation was the disappearances or deaths of informants and witnesses who saw or knew who was with the boys on the tracks that night, which we now know included Dan Harmon, Jay Campbell, and Kirk Lane (Arkansas Drug Czar).
Harmon’s lengthy investigation into the train-deaths case resulted in nothing. No one was ever charged with the murders. Though members of the grand jury prepared a five-page report, Judge Cole ordered that it not be released.
Cole then praised the fruitless exercise.
The jurors were frustrated and likely knew they had experienced a cover-up, but Cole dismissed them saying that they were not allowed to do what they wanted to do.
A Pathway of Corruption, Deceit and Enablement
A Study in Conspiracy
by Jean Duffey
First, there were years of confusion:
Those of us who profess a connection between the “train deaths” and our federal government realize the difficulty average folks have believing there could be such a conspiracy between local and federal officials. It’s nearly impossible to imagine such a notion, which makes it easy for mainstream media to scoff at the mere suggestion.
The public’s skepticism is understandable. When U.S. Attorney Chuck Banks held a press conference in June of 1991, to clear Dan Harmon and all other Saline County public officials “of drug-related public misconduct and other forms of wrongdoing,” I knew Banks was covering up serious crimes, but I didn’t suspect a conspiracy.
There were immediate rumors of blackmail based on a visit Harmon made to Banks with a video tape tucked under his arm. A few years prior to this visit, Harmon headed a county grand jury investigation involving a Saline County gambling house protected by former Sheriff James Steed. Prostitutes were paid to lure public officials into sexual encounters which were clandestinely captured on film, and if such a film of Banks existed, Harmon would certainly have access to it. Putting two and two together, a plausible explanation of Banks’ blatant obstruction of justice was spawned.
I was not and still am not convinced, however, a two-year federal investigation was shut down because Banks was being blackmailed. Harmon’s visit with Banks was indeed before Banks publicly proclaimed all Saline County free of corruption, but it was after Banks had already begun to dismantle the grand jury investigation. The wheels were already in motion to thwart any public official indictments. It seemed to me an attempt to blackmail Banks would have to be lower-keyed, and the facts are supportive of my supposition.
Prior to his walking into Banks’ office with the alleged video tape, Harmon was facing seven felony counts of income tax evasion. After leaving Banks’ office without the alleged video tape, he was facing three misdemeanor counts of failure to file tax returns. Blackmailing Banks to reduce charges of tax improprieties is believable, but blackmailing a U.S. Attorney to ignore two years of accumulated evidence against a number of public officials is simply not believable.
Shutting down a federal grand jury which wanted to indict several public officials was a very large-scale obstruction of justice, and Banks could not have done that on his own. Banks sent the 1990 jurors home at the end of their term with a warning they would be indicted if they spoke about what went on during their service. This was according to three grand jurors who were so outraged at Banks they wanted me to know they were unanimously ready to indict Dan Harmon and several other public officials. Something more than a blackmail tape was involved.
Still, I didn’t think in terms of a conspiracy, even though Banks, a republican- appointed U.S. Attorney, was protecting a bunch of democrats holding county offices. To justify his actions, Banks used a media smear campaign Harmon had contrived against me, which had completely discredited me professionally by the end of 1990. Although Banks knew the information my drug task force had provided the grand jury was credible, he used my destroyed reputation as the reason he concluded the allegations against Saline County officials “were based on rumors and innuendo.” The truth is, even if all the evidence offered by my drug task force was discounted, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Govar had independently accumulated enough evidence during his two-year investigation of Saline County corruption to support indictments. In spite of the amassed evidence, Banks announced , “we found no evidence of any drug-related misconduct by public officials in Saline County.”
I was dumbstruck by the announcement and bewildered when I remembered Chris Day, the Saline County Arkansas Gazette reporter, had given me prior warning. A source Chris would not name told him Banks was going to clear Harmon and all other Saline County officials in exchange for a federal judgeship nomination. I immediately called Bob Govar with Chris’s prediction. Bob said, “That’s nonsense. Banks has been wanting a nomination for years, but it’s just not going to happen.” Bob was wrong. Several months were allowed to pass after Banks publicly cleansed Saline County, then Banks received his federal judgeship nomination from President George Bush.* That’s right – from George Bush. Some kind of conspiracy plot was the only explanation, but it was just too ridiculous to consider, so I didn’t.
Professionally destroyed, dodging two bogus felony warrants, and fearing for my safety, my husband and I retreated from the controversy and lived quietly as school teachers in Pasadena, Texas. Then, in March of 1994, the FBI persuaded me to get involved again. An eye witness had come forward and passed an FBI polygraph test placing Dan Harmon on the tracks with Kevin Ives and Don Henry the night they were murdered back in 1987. This prompted the FBI to open it’s own investigation of the “train deaths” and to ask for my assistance. It was during that eighteen-month-long FBI investigation the conspiracy exposed itself.
Linda Ives and I began communicating for the first time. We shared information with each other and with the FBI. I also met Saline County Sheriff Investigator John Brown, who told me about a pilot he had interviewed who claimed to have flown a drug drop to the location where Kevin and Don were murdered. Additionally, Arkansas had become the focus of national interest by now, and many investigative reporters were anxious to uncover information about Clinton. The “train deaths” case certainly had connections to Clinton via Fahmy Malak, which initially piqued the interests of right-wingers. Then, as Linda and I shared information with anyone and everyone who would listen, the mystery unraveled, and the FBI verified much of what we now know.
Now, there was understanding:
Local law enforcement officers protected a major drug-drop site in Saline County that was part of the Mena Airport drug smuggling operation set up in the early 1980’s by the notorious drug smuggler, Barry Seal. By the mid-1980’s, CIA operatives were using Mena to help finance their covert support of the Nicaraguan Contras. (See the CIA page.) In spite of overwhelming evidence, Mena’s connection to a CIA operation or to a government-protected drug operation has been discounted or ignored by mainstream media. Even though Seal smuggled drugs in a cargo plane given to him by the CIA, and even though that plane was shot down over Nicaragua with a load of weapons, the media reports and supports the official CIA position of denial.
I realize now, my drug task force was dismantled because we were getting too close to solving the “train deaths.” We learned Kevin and Don were murdered because they witnessed a drug and/or money drop from an airplane. My task force knew public officials were actively involved in covering up the murders, but we were shut down before we connected the local activity to Mena. We were not allowed to progress our investigation any further. Harmon, a popular public figure at that time, lead a brutal campaign to discredit me; dirty public officials supported Harmon’s efforts; the media thrived for months on writing unsubstantiated allegations against me and my task force; and Chuck Banks used me as a scapegoat to justify shutting down the 1990 federal grand jury inquiry.
When I realized the catalyst for the thwarting of every investigation of the “train deaths” had been the Mena connection, I warned Phyllis Cournan, the agent in charge of the FBI investigation. I told her Kevin and Don’s killers would be indicted only if the investigation stayed away from Mena, but I was fooling myself to think that was possible. The Mena connection must eventually be made. By then, there had been six “train deaths” investigations that had gone nowhere, and in November of 1995, the FBI investigation became number seven. (See the FBI page.) The Mena connection again caused the rug to be yanked out from under an investigation which, in turn, is the logic behind a conspiracy premise.
A problem with swallowing any conspiracy theory is the murky connections. However, in this case, the evidence of a conspiracy between Mena CIA operatives and Saline County public official thugs brings the big picture into focus. It is important to understand all those involved did not sit around a conference table and discuss how to pull off a conspiracy. To the contrary, I have spoken to several ex-CIA operatives and a CIA contract pilot who occasionally flew the Saline County drop. They all explain that any one person in an operation knows only what is necessary for a specific assignment. This fits with statements made by some of the witnesses claiming to have picked up drugs from the tracks. They were told the drugs were coming up from Louisiana by train, which I believe was deliberate misinformation. Yet, it is the role of Dan Harmon in this story that is most convincing there was and is a multi-level, bi-partisan conspiracy.
My drug task force provided substantial evidence of Harmon’s involvement in illegal drug activity to the 1990 federal grand jury. Harmon countered with a smear campaign discrediting me and my task force. I was the good guy, and Harmon was the bad guy; but I was abandoned, and Harmon was supported. At the time, I didn’t know the cause of Harmon’s muscle, but the effect was clear – Banks protected Harmon from a multi-count indictment by a federal grand jury. From a larger perspective – Democratic District Prosecutor Dan Harmon was cleared by Republican U.S. Attorney Chuck Banks who was rewarded with a federal judgeship nomination by Republican President George Bush who is a former CIA Director.
Sounds pretty wild, but I challenge anyone to come up with any other explanation that makes half good sense for the support and protection Dan Harmon has received from low- to high-ranking public officials in spite of his years of various and numerous well-publicized criminal activity. (See Browse Back to the Future on the Saline County, Arkansas page.)
Now, there is frustration mixed with hope:
Like the adage, Linda and I are all dressed up with no place to go. We have enough evidence to have Dan Harmon and several other public officials indicted for covering up the murders of Kevin and Don, but we have no place to take it. We have enough evidence to connect the murders to CIA-Mena drug smuggling, but mainstream media won’t listen. We have evidence to warrant a Congressional investigation of a conspiracy among Republicans and Democrats to cover-up the crimes of Mena, but a Republican Congress won’t investigate a Republican scandal.
We have no official authority, we have no political clout, and we have no media influence, and we have no money, but we appear to be having an effect. Dan Harmon went down in flames, and three political candidates from his district, who publicly supported him through the years faced surprising defeats on November 5.
The odds are overwhelmingly against us, but we have hope and we have the Internet. Maybe we have all we need.
*Note: Chuck Banks was scheduled for a confirmation hearing in late November of 1992, but all Bush nominations were withdrawn immediately after Clinton won the election. Banks never received his judgeship. Sometimes there is justice. Banks, however, managed this year to get himself appointed head of the Pulaski County Republican Party. Either memories are short, or the Republicans of Pulaski County don’t care if their leader is dirty.
THE COVER-UP CONTINUES
By Jean Duffey
Dan Harmon has been indicted for eleven serious federal crimes. Linda Ives has waited for this moment since 1991, when she learned Harmon used his position as special county prosecutor to orchestrate a cover-up of Kevin and Don’s murders. She must be thrilled, but she isn’t. She is not even sort of pleased.
But why? Harmon is facing some serious time in federal prison. His law license will be revoked and he has been exposed as the criminal he is. What more could Linda ask for? What does she expect from federal prosecutors? Just what does she want, anyway?
Linda Ives wants Dan Harmon to be held accountable for the murder of her son. However, federal prosecutors are ignoring evidence that is more than adequate to indict Harmon for conspiracy to commit the murders. The FBI has three witnesses placing Harmon on the tracks with the boys the night they were murdered. One of them was polygraphed and passed. So, what’s going on?
It looks and smells like a cover-up. Even though Harmon was indicted under RICO which allows federal prosecutors to go ten years back, the indictments only went back to August, 1991. The only reasonable explanation for that is, the U.S. Attorney’s office is protecting Chuck Banks.
Banks was the U.S. Attorney when the 1990 federal grand jury heard evidence against Harmon. According to three of those jurors, they were ready to unanimously indict Harmon back then. However, on June 27, 1991, Banks held a press conference and cleared Harmon on all allegations of wrong-doing. Banks, a republican appointee, was then nominated for a federal judgeship position by George Bush. The explanation made simple is, Banks thwarted the federal investigation before it connected Kevin and Don’s murders to the Mena/CIA drug smuggling operation.
In 1994, the Little Rock FBI recommended Banks be charged with obstruction of justice when they opened their own investigation of Harmon and the murders of Kevin and Don. They wanted Banks charged for shutting down his grand jury and for protecting Harmon. However, federal prosecutors were careful to include charges in Harmon’s indictment that date back to just after Banks cleared Harmon, even though enough evidence existed to indict Harmon on many other counts dating back to 1987, within the ten years time limitations. Maybe they are protecting Banks to protect the image of their office, but they are doing so at the expense of their integrity.
Bottom line – if it has not been clear before, it is crystal clear now that the government is never going to bring to justice those responsible for murdering Kevin and Don. Linda’s only hope is civil court.
The Kevin Ives Civil Justice Foundation has been established as a charitable organization for the purpose of raising money to file a civil suit against Dan Harmon and several other public officials for the murders and cover-ups. But, a civil suit costs a huge amount of money, and in this case, no financial benefit is expected. Harmon is penniless, but Linda is seeking accountability, not money.
A civil law suit will expose the many crimes surrounding the deaths of Kevin and Don and the public officials on every level, republicans and democrats alike, who have participated in the cover-ups. Fighting the government will not be easy, but Linda and I are committed. We plan to spend the summer in preparation for the suit to be filed this fall. We do not want to spend valuable time on fund-raising, but money must be raised. Every phase of a civil law suit is expensive. The time has come for us to ask for financial help. Up to now, we have personally financed most of our work, but we simply will not be able to pay for the voluminous files we need to obtain under FOI, not to mention the enormous costs of depositions, witness fees, attorney fees, and the trial itself.
Many people over the years have extended Linda emotional support and prayers. Those are still needed, but we must now have money. Linda begun receiving unsolicited donations last year, and she is very thankful and touched that strangers are so generous. However, giving money to this cause is not simply a donation, it is payment for value. The value will be the exposure of truth – the truth our government does not want exposed.
Linda Ives’ civil suit is not the only case around the country being launched to seek truth and accountability from our government, but it is one of the most important cases that will ever be launched. Exposing the circumstances surrounding the murders of Kevin Ives and Don Henry will expose the crimes of Arkansas’s political system under Bill Clinton as well as connections to two Republican Presidencies.
Friday, June 27, 1997
A Question Regarding Harmon
By Mara Leveritt
Congratulations are due to the FBI agents who investigated Dan Harmon, to the U.S. attorneys who prosecuted him, and to the jurors who convicted him earlier this month of running a racket under the guise of law enforcement. The first job of justice is to keep a clean house. This scouring was way overdue.
Harmon was a corrupt prosecuting attorney. He was also the corrupt head of a federally funded Drug Task Force. The combination gave him incredible power — power which he abused.
Harmon was convicted of using illegal drugs at the same time he was sending others to prison for drugs. Worse, he was convicted of extortion, of running a shake-down operation out of his elected office.
Residents of the 7th Judicial District, which encompasses Saline, Grant and Hot Spring counties, have only gradually become aware of the stench emitting from the courthouse at Benton. That’s why they voted Harmon out of office last fall.
But Harmon has hardly been discreet in his flaunting of the law. In past years he has been found guilty of failing to pay his taxes. He has refused to take drug tests when arrested. He has been accused of battery by several women, many of them his wives or ex-wives. He boasted of once having struck a fellow lawyer, an attack that was witnessed by a judge. And, on top of all of that, federal investigators had evidence as much as seven years ago that Harmon was involved with drugs.
But the man was never even censured, much less removed from office. Only now that he stands convicted of felonies will his license to practice law be taken away.
It is hard to imagine how much damage Dan Harmon did during the years he held office as prosecutor. Cases that should have been prosecuted were not. Cases that should not have been prosecuted no doubt were. Hundreds of citizens who learned of Harmon’s way with justice directly through their own experience or through that of friends and relatives walked away from the courthouse cynical.
Harmon ran what a lawyer in Pulaski County recently described as “a reign of terror” in the counties he was sworn to serve. All of that raises the question of why the man was not stopped earlier. It could have happened.
- Former U.S. Attorney Chuck Banks could have brought his evidence against Harmon before a federal grand jury. He would not.
- The Committee on Professional Conduct, which supposedly monitors lawyers’ behavior, could have yanked Harmon’s license for his refusal to submit to mandated drug-testing when he was held as a federal prisoner, or censured him over his indifference to state and federal tax laws. The committee took no action.
- The judge who witnessed Harmon’s attack on a fellow member of the bar could have challenged Harmon early on. He did not.
- The police in Benton could have pressed charges against Harmon for his alleged physical attacks and death threats against his then-wife, Holly DuVall Harmon. But though the attacks happened time and again the police didn’t press charges.
And those are just the most obvious failures of the legal profession to correct abuses within its ranks. Less obvious but no less chilling are the opportunities that other judges, lawyers, and police passed up to put a halt to Harmon when they came across information that suggested what he was up to.
Dan Harmon was not operating in a vacuum. It is impossible to believe that he operated a criminal enterprise out of his prosecutor’s office for years, one of the crimes for which he now stands convicted, without a certain awareness from others in the legal community.
In a way, our system of justice is like a nuclear power plant. It’s big, powerful, and complex, and it relies on elaborate systems of monitoring to make sure that it’s running correctly. If someone becomes aware that someone else is asleep at the switch — or worse, is engaged in sabotage—it is incumbent upon the observer to report the problem and on management to immediately respond. Otherwise, no one is safe.
So too with justice. If part of the system breaks down — if someone is mishandling his job — the machine ceases to be of service and starts to become a threat. The longer the part malfunctions, the more dangerous the machine becomes. It is not unreasonable to say that, as with a nuclear power plant, when the justice system fails, lives—and, in fact, a way of life—can be destroyed.
We count on police, lawyers, and judges to monitor their ranks. In the aftermath of Dan Harmon’s conviction, the citizens of Arkansas, and especially of the 7th Judicial District, have a right to ask the legal profession: Why did it take a federal investigation and a jury to stop him?
Reproduced with permission
Copyright Arkansas Writers’ Project, Inc.
Other Families Who Grieved
Kevin and Don were murdered at the hands of dirty officials. Their bodies were laid across railroad tracks and run over by a passing train. This made sensational news, and a special grand jury was impaneled to investigate. Judge John Cole appointed Dan Harmon to lead the investigation, but not for a noble cause. Harmon and Cole knew they had to control the investigation in order to protect those involved with the murders. Harmon became a hero in the media while witnesses and informants were turning up dead. This page is dedicated to the grieving families of those young men who were murdered to protect the killers of Kevin and Don.
Some were innocent witnesses who were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Some may have been involved in some way but drew the line at turning a blind eye to murder and were themselves murdered. We memorialize them below.
A prime suspect in the murders of Kevin and Don is Arkansas Drug Czar, Kirk Lane. The Arkansas 8th Circuit Court of Appeals agree that we are justified in saying that. See excerpts from the appellate court’s opinion.
Witnesses That Were Murdered Before They Could Testify
May, 1988 - Keith Coney who was with Kevin and Don moments before they were murdered, likely just escaped himself. Later, he told his dad, other family members, and friends that two cops killed Kevin and Don. Two days later his throat was cut,and while trying to flee, he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed. However, few of these details made it into the police report, and although it was the responsibility of the coroner to order an autopsy, this was not done.
November, 1988 - Keith McKaskle was at the tracks that night with Dan Harmon. Apparently wanting to do the right thing, he talked to Richard Garrett, but realized he had talked to the wrong person. McKaskle had made his own funeral arrangements, told family and friends goodbye, and within days he was murdered. An obvious revenge killing, he was stabbed one hundred thirteen times. There was never a serious investigation of his murder.
January, 1989 - Greg Collins who failed to appear after being subpoenaed by John Cole at the request of Dan Harmon to testify before the Saline County grand jury was killed by a shot gun blast to the face. His murder also remains unsolved.
March, 1989 – Boonie Bearden, a friend of both Coney and Collins, disappeared. An article of Bearden’s clothing was found in the vicinity where an anonymous caller claimed his murder had taken place. His body was never found.
April, 1989 – Jeff Rhodes was murdered after telling his family he knew too much about Kevin, Don, and McKaskle’s murders. Rhodes had been shot in the head and his remains set on fire in dump.
June, 1990 – Jorden Ketelsen, who was believed to be connected to the McKaskle murder, was killed by a shot gun blast to the head. There was no police investigation, and his body was cremated before an autopsy could be performed.
June 1995 – Mike Samples, another grand jury witness, was shot to death. Sources claim he was involved in retrieving drugs dropped from airplanes. Authorities have denied any connections of his case with murders of Kevin and Don.
Harmon Denied Murders were connected
Public Officials and Media Accepted His declaration without question
This will not come as a shock. Authorities (Dan Harmon et.al.) have denied any connections of these murders to the case of Kevin and Don. Except for the robbery set-up, none of the murders have been solved nor even investigated, but the media never questioned Harmon’s assurance that they are not connected to each other or to Kevin and Don. Many Saline County citizens are aware of the complicity and collusion of their pubic officials, and their voices are strong, but they are apparently not in the majority (hence Kirk Lane, prime suspect in the murders of Kevin and Don, was Benton Chief of Police, which was his stepping stone to State Drug Czar). More need to wake up and give some thought about the public servants they are electing to serve, the media they are paying to inform, and the judges they are trusting to render justice. The majority is just not getting it right.
Corruption Is Alive and Well In Saline County
January 21, 1997
Linda posted this ad in the Benton Courier January 21, 1996 after Webb took the office of district prosecutor. Webb campaigned on the promise to clean up the corruption that was associated with Dan Harmon. Yet she hired Richard Garrett, Dan Harmon’s “yes man,” as deputy prosecutor
Ad paid for by the Kevin Ives Civil Justice Foundation
Sunday, January 25, 1998
Reader Says Corruption Is Alive and Well In The Area
The feds and the Courier would have us believe that, with the convictions of Dan Harmon and Roger Walls, they have wiped out public official corruption in the 7th Judicial District. For too long now, at least 10 years, citizens have known that drug trafficking and public official corruption have gone hand in hand in the 7th Judicial District. The deaths of Kevin Ives and Don Henry, found dead on the railroad tracks on Aug. 23, 1987, signaled the death of innocence in Saline and surrounding counties.
More than once citizens have voted for change, but came up short. In 1988 we ousted a 12-year incumbent Democratic sheriff in exchange for an unknown Republican – the first Republican sheriff ever for Saline County, only to find there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between them. In 1996 the same thing happened in the prosecutor’s race. We voted out Dan Harmon in exchange for the first ever Republican prosecutor. We might as well have kept Harmon, since Webb kept on Richard Garrett, who along with Harmon and other officials, was a target of a 1990 federal grand jury investigation into public official corruption.
Harmon has been convicted of racketeering. The feds told us he had been using the prosecutor’s office to run a “criminal enterprise” – something we, and they, had known for a long time. It has now been seven months since his conviction, but he has yet to be sentenced.
Incredibly, the U.S. Attorney’s office and Harmon’s defense attorney are now arguing about how to interpret the sentencing guidelines because his victims were not really “innocent” victims. Have you ever known any other case where the sentence hinged on WHO the victims were? Holly DuVall was given three years probation in exchange for her testimony against Harmon. The federal prosecutor claimed “it was Holly’s willingness to cooperate and testify that solidified their case against Harmon. ” How did her testimony solidify their case? The jury didn’t even believe her and acquitted him on that charge.
The feds dropped the racketeering and conspiracy charges against Bill Murphy and allowed him to plead guilty to “suborning perjury” for persuading his wife to lie to a federal grand jury, and they dropped the most serious of the charges, money laundering and racketeering, against Roger Walls before he went to trial.
The Jan. 16 Courier editorial states “Our county law enforcement and drug agents are doing their jobs now with a record number of methamphetamine busts last year. Let’s hope we have seen the last of the likes of Dan Harmon and Roger Walls.” Dan Harmon COULD not and DID not operate his “Criminal enterprise” without the participation of judges, lawyers, law enforcement and even U.S. attorneys working in cahoots with him. Indeed, they have barely scratched the surface. Public official corruption is alive and well in the 7th Judicial District.