Leader Blues

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

TOP STORY >>Stocks' hearing coming up

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Heath Stocks of Furlow, who killed his father, mother and younger sister almost 10 years ago, may find out as early as Thursday if there’s a possibility his life sentence in prison could be commuted to a sentence in years so that he may someday be eligible for parole. The six commissioners of the Arkansas Parole Board meet Thursday and again later this month on Thursday, Oct. 26. It is not known at which meeting Stocks’ application will be discussed.

This is Stocks’ second application for clemency since he pleaded guilty to the January 1997 murders, said Rhonda Sharp, a spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. If the board decides the application is without merit, he’s ineligible for parole. If the board finds merit in the application, hearings with Stocks and family members will be held later that could possibly result in a non-binding recommendation to the governor for clemency.

If the application goes to a hearing, it is unlikely any of the family members of the victims will speak against StocksBoard orphan. His grandparents have worked to gain his freedom almost from the time he was incarcerated. Dorothy Stocks, his paternal grandmother, said last week that Stocks is doing well and that he has grown into a handsome man.

He’s being held at the Tucker Maximum Security Prison. Stocks was 20 years old when he killed his family. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced without a trial. His life story, the one he would like the parole board to hear, was not told until after he began serving his three life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Stocks testified during the victim impact hearing for Jack Walls III of Lonoke, who pleaded guilty to raping five boys under 14 years of age and was sentenced to life plus 90 years. Stocks told Circuit Court Judge Lance Hanshaw that he loved Walls like a father and that he killed his family to protect Walls, who had sexually abused him since he was 10 years old. Just before he killed his family, his mother came home unexpectedly and found Walls in his bed. Stocks said he told his mother about their relationship and then told Walls what he had done. Walls had always told his “boys” that if they had a problem, they should “kill it,” he said. “Jack told me to take care of the problem,” he said.

Whether that claim is true has not been proven, because the sheriff’s department did not investigate it. But Hanshaw said from his bench that Stocks was Walls’ “finest creation.” Walls, son of a judge, husband, father and Boy Scout leader, is probably the most infamous child rapist in Lonoke County history.

The investigation into his crimes revealed that he likely had more than 60 victims. The courtroom was full of them during the victim impact hearing, though most did not testify. Those who did testify told how Walls would take them camping, get them drunk, give them pornography and molest them.

His victims talked about his arsenal of weapons, the training he gave them as hit men and about his plan to kill a Carlisle man and his son. They said they knew those weapons could easily be turned on them. Six months after the death of Joe, Barbara and Heather Stocks, the truth about Walls’ secret life came out when Wade Knox, his nephew and next-door neighbor, held a gun to his head and forced him to tell his parents how he had abused him since he was 10 years old.
Knox, who reportedly suffered emotionally during the abuse and after Walls went to prison, committed suicide about three years ago.

The Wade Knox Child Advocacy Center in Lonoke bears his name.