Update: February 24, 2000
See PART ONE, “Mike’s Friend”
Achieved Updates, Section 1
By Linda Ives
I had collected bits and pieces of the Arkansas State Police Report for
years, and in the summer of 1997, I decided that I needed to get a
complete copy. I was outraged, but undeterred, when
I was told that the cost of the report was over $500.00! Jean and I spent
the summer of 1997 scrutinizing it word by word. There were dozens and
dozens of interviews where information was related by a witness but
absolutely no follow-up investigation on the information was ever
conducted. What we found to be the most interesting was interviews
relating to a witness that I had heard about for years. It stood out from
the others because it appeared to be the only interview where there wasn’t
any follow up, but it was obvious that rather than try to corroborate
information given by the witness, the state police had gone to great
lengths to discredit the witness! The witness was Ronnie Godwin who stated
that he had observed two police officers beat up two boys at the Ranchette
Grocery Store the night Kevin and Don were killed.
Jean and I located Godwin and he reluctantly agreed to talk to us. Eleven years after the murders, Godwin’s statements to us were identical to the statements he had given the state police years earlier. Jean and I were impressed by his demeanor and tended to believe him despite the fact that he had been labeled a lying alcoholic by the state police. In our opinion, it would have been impossible for him to remember the incident with such detail and clarity if he had made it up years ago.
Also included in the state police report were purported interviews of Godwin’s mother, sister and girlfriend in which they were reported to have said that “when Ronnie drinks he tells lies.” We knew, however, that when Godwin was interviewed by the state police in 1988, he had been in jail in Pine Bluff for a couple of weeks and was stone cold sober. We contacted Ronnie’s mother to discuss her statements to the state police about Ronnie. She told us that she had never, ever been interviewed by the state police and would gladly testify to that under oath. She was also certain that neither Godwin’s sister nor his girlfriend had been interviewed by the state police. She had, however, made similar statements to the county grand jury. She also verified that Ronnie had been clean and sober for 3 years. By this time, it was obvious that the state police had “manufactured” interviews of witnesses to discredit Ronnie Godwin.
Ronnie told us that while driving home in the early morning hours after leaving Gigi’s (a local private night club), as he passed the Ranchette grocery store, he saw two police officers beating the boys. The area is rural and the store was closed at that hour. Because Godwin had been drinking and had several prior DWI arrests, he feared being arrested again. Rather than turning in front of the store to go to his house, he drove on by and pulled into a lot behind a row of cargo trailers, and watched as the cops continued to beat the boys and throw them into the back of their unmarked car. Godwin further stated that they drove across the intersection and up a dirt road which went up Alexander Mountain. Godwin knew that the road dead ended in the woods after about a quarter of a mile, so he stayed put knowing they would have to come back down that way. After about 15 minutes, the two police officers came back down and then drove toward the direction of the railroad tracks. Godwin told us that the next morning he heard about the boys being found on the tracks, but given his frequent trouble with the law, he was not about to go around telling what he saw. After showing Godwin all of the interviews relating to the incident he witnessed, Godwin vehemently stated that he had not told ANYONE what he had witnessed that day and stated that the state police’s claims that they had received an anonymous tip about him having information was absolutely impossible. He believes that the two officers that killed the boys saw him as he passed by the store and recognized his car.
Another state police interview states that Richard Garrett, who was Dan Harmon’s side-kick rushed over to interview Godwin a second time. It would seem that officials were taking Godwin’s statements seriously. As it turned out, they were only serious about discrediting Godwin. Following the interviews with Godwin there was no attempt to identify the cops Godwin saw. No photos of local officers or unmarked cars were shown to him, no check of officers in the area that night who fit the description, no check for traces of blood or other evidence in the back of any unmarked cars, no investigation of the phone booth (which had been removed by that time) — nothing — except an all out effort to discredit the witness.
Godwin told police that he did not remember the date of the incident, however , he knew it was on a weekend that he had been off the previous week. In an effort to pinpoint the date of the incident that Godwin witnessed, the state police say that he told them it had occurred while he was taking time off from his employment with Trac-Work, Inc. of Little Rock and after his arrival home from Lone Star Air Force Base. Godwin denies telling them it was before or after any of his job sites — just that it was the week end when he was off work the prior week. According to Godwin’s payroll records, the only week that he did not work a full week was the week ending August 22, 1987. That was the weekend of the Saturday night that Kevin and Don were killed, and this corroborates rather than contradicts his statement to police.
To further discredit Godwin’s statements, the state police fabricated interviews with his mother, sister and girlfriend stating that when Ronnie drinks, Ronnie lies.
Jean and I showed Godwin the state police interview with Mike Crook,
manager of Gigi’s. Crook told the state police that the morning the boys
were found, a Mexican-looking man came to the door saying he needed a
drink. Crook said the man identified himself only as Jerry. Jerry told
Crook he had been sitting across from the Ranchette Grocery store waiting
to catch his wife with another man, when three boys drove up to the store
on a motorcycle. Two boys got off and the cyclist left. (Jean and I
believe this was Keith Coney — (Phyllis Cournan told me that the FBI had
verified that Coney had been with the boys that night, and also, Coney had
told his mother that he knew too much about Kevin and Don’s murders and
was afraid for his life. Coney was killed in 1988 in a motorcycle crash
while being chased by unknown persons.)
According to Crook, Jerry told him he saw two cops drive up, confront the boys, beat them up, throw them in the back seat of their car and drive off. Crook convinced Jerry to go to Sheriff James Steed with his story. Three months later, Jerry came back to GiGi’s and told Crook that Steed had him thrown in jail for 90 days for failure to pay child support. Jerry said that when Steed let him out, he was told to leave town, and according to Jerry, he was on his way to California.
Even though it is obvious on the face of the reports that Godwin and Jerry are two different people, there is a final report closing the Godwin interviews that simply states that Ronnie Godwin and Jerry are one and the same person. There is no explanation for the variations in the statements of Godwin and Jerry. Nobody even bothered to ask Godwin if he had ever been jailed for back child support until we did. He had not, and in fact, he has always had custody of his only child. Godwin scoffed at the state police report saying he and Jerry were one and the same person. He stated that that was absurd since he is a member of Gigi’s and that he and Crook knew each other — in fact, Crook had been married to his cousin at one time.
Before we left, Jean and I pressed for a better description of the cops. Godwin balked. It was obvious he knew who they were, so I asked point-blank: “Were the police officers Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane?” Godwin said “I refuse to answer that question”. I said, “you just did. If it hadn’t been Campbell and Lane, you wouldn’t have minded saying so.” From that point on, when we discussed the incident, it was with the understanding that we all knew who the cops were. Godwin later told us that he knew Kirk Lane from when Lane was at Benton Police Department but only later came to know who Campbell was.
When Jean and I talked to Godwin the second time, he stated he remembered another car sitting across the road in a vacant lot. He said there was a person sitting low in the driver’s seat and he described the car as a dark-colored classic Camaro.
Jean then located Mike Crook in federal prison in Texarkana on drug charges. She made arrangements to visit him, and Crook had no trouble recalling the incident with Jerry. Crook confirmed the statements he made to the state police and also confirmed that Jerry and Ronnie Godwin were not the same person. Jean pressed Crook to remember anything he could and asked if he knew what kind of car Jerry was driving. Crook stated that the bar was closed and he was cleaning up when Jerry knocked on the door. Crook said he saw Jerry’s car in the otherwise empty parking lot when he let Jerry in. He sated it was a blue, early ’60s Camaro with chrome wheels — not a car a male would forget. Jean asked if the blue color was light or dark. He said dark.
Crook stated in state police interview that before Keith McKaskle was murdered, McKaskle told him that Kirk Lane and Jay Campbell were following him around and he was afraid they were going to kill him. Crook further stated that his son was at the club and someone called and said McKaskle is dead and you are next and then later shots were fired into his house When he looked out he saw the a car like the one Kirk Lane drove going down the road from his house. Crook also told state police that after McKaskle was killed, Lane and Campbell shot up his house.
This jury was not allowed to see this part of the state police report, nor were they allowed to see or hear a multitude of other information about the reputation of Campbell and Lane. The judge ruled such evidence as “too prejudicial”.
I have collected a number of documents over the years which relate
information about Campbell and Lane which only served to reinforce my
belief that Campbell and Lane are dirty cops capable of anything,
including murder. For years, Campbell and Lane have used intimidation
tactics and violent threats against witnesses and anyone else who got in
their way. Campbell’s firing this week proves what Jean and I have been
telling anyone who would listen – we were right about Harmon and we’re
right about Campbell and Lane.
The evidence the jury was not allowed to see, because it was “too prejudicial.”
Affidavits gather by R. David Lewis, who was the defense attorney hired by Troy Warner when he was busted for dealing drugs. Some of the affidavits are from several witnesses that were to testify for Warner. The threats and intimidations got so bad that Lewis gathered the affidavits and went to the FBI to complain that it was becoming impossible for him to defend his client. One of the affidavits is from Lewis’s paralegal who was terrorized by Campbell and Lane. Two others are from folks who had nothing to do with the Troy Warner case; they just got in the way; one is a retired state police officer.
There are other affidavits from unrelated cases and sworn testimony from Teddy Carter that Kirk Lane was going to kill him. The FBI gave Carter $500 to get out of town.
Pam Cook’s 1988 diary entry states that Jay Campbell is a drug dealer’s “take care of it man” and describes intimidation tactics by Kirk Lane.
Interview of Glenda Raper (live-in friend of Keith McKaskle) stating that Keith learned Campbell was involved with the people involved in the murders.