Leader Blues

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

TOP STORIES>> Center to help abused youngsters

IN SHORT>> The couple who lost their son after a child predator molested him and dozens of children have honored their son’s memory with the opening of the Wade Knox Child Advocacy Center in Lonoke.

Leader Staff writer

The parents of a young man who committed suicide after years of sexual abuse by an uncle are honoring their son’s memory with a child advocacy center that will help abused children get counseling.

Karen and Charlie Knox of Lonoke, whose son Wade committed suicide in 2003, had been wondering how to help other families avoid what their son went through. Then they got a call from the prosecutor’s office about using Wade Knox’s name for the child advocacy center.

The Knoxes donated office space at 1524 N. Center St., Lonoke, and utilities for two years to get the Wade Knox Child Advocacy Center started.

“We just feel like this is the least we can do to help children and to help our community,” said Karen Knox.

She said she has been impressed with the help community members have had in putting together the center, which will be a gathering place for professionals who will pull their resources together as they help youngsters with problems.

Norene Smith, a former Lonoke County deputy prosecutor, said the idea of creating a center began in October 2003 and that she was parents trusted enough to be their children’s guardian in the event of their deaths, a long-time Boy Scout leader and the son of a prominent attorney who became a respected county judge.

Walls’ good standing in the community helped hide his secret life as a sexual predator: He had sexually abused Wade Knox for about 10 years and several other Lonoke County boys over 30 years.

“Tell them how you screwed up my life,” Wade Knox was reported saying as he held a gun to Walls in front of his parents, Karen and Charlie Knox.

“It’s all true,” Walls admitted.

Despite the admission, Karen Knox said she didn’t know what “it” was — that Walls had sexually abused not only Wade Knox, but countless others as well.

Her husband, Charlie, spent his evenings talking to the boys for about a month. He started with the ones they thought might have been Walls’ victims, she said. Then, those boys pointed him to other victims.

By the time he stopped searching for victims, Knox had found about 30 boys, who all told him the same stories about how Walls won their confidence, molested them, then kept them quiet with threats.

He gave them alcohol, pornography and the services of prostitutes. But always there was the threat that his ever-present guns could be used on them. He told them he would kill them, and they didn’t doubt it.

Karen Knox had said he had been the man who could reach her sons when she and her husband could not. Walls had stood with her in church to pray. They had shared family meals. He was the one she wanted to raise her children if anything ever happened to her and her husband.

“We took care of his girls while he was raping our boys,” she said.

The police investigation that followed produced about 30 victims in addition to the first 30 Charlie found. Authorities suspect there might have been many more.

Heath Stocks, 28, one of Walls’ last victims, said he killed his father, mother and younger sister to protect Walls. His mother caught them in bed together, and he and Walls feared she would tell the authorities.

Stocks is serving a life sentence without parole for capital murder. He began his sentence June 6, 1997, and is being held at the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker.

According to speculation on the Heath Stocks web site, www.heathstocks.com, the actual number of victims may be closer to 150 because the first incident reportedly happened when Walls was only 22. According to the web site, arrangements were made for him to join the military and do a stint in Vietnam to escape investigators.

Walls is serving three life terms, plus three 40-year terms, for six counts of rape. He began his sentence Feb. 4, 1998, and is being held at the Eastern Arkansas Regional Unit in Brickeys.

He was charged with only six counts of rape because of the Arkansas statute of limitations.