Back to the Tracks: A new witness
SALINE COUNTY (KATV) - Over 30 years ago, a Union Pacific train ran over the bodies of two Saline County teenagers.
The deaths of Kevin Ives and Don Henry have become one of Arkansas' most notorious mysteries.
Were they dead before the train hit them and, if so, who killed them?
A new witness has come forward to provide his answers to those questions.
None of the articles, books or movies about “The Boys on the Tracks” has mentioned this man.
But he says he was there...and he has recorded a 21 minute-long video confessing to his involvement...and naming the others who he says were involved.
We are the only Arkansas TV station that has seen that video.
"Now August 23rd, 1987, thirty years ago, I was on the railroad tracks in Alexander, Arkansas, and witnessed everything that happened to two young boys on the tracks."
Those are the words of Billy Jack Haynes, recorded in early December here in Arkansas.
Haynes was visiting Larry and Linda Ives at their Benton home, providing an apology that the pair has been waiting over 30 years to hear.
"After I read this statement to you all coming from my heart, I myself could very well be behind bars,” says Haynes on the video. “I don't know and I don't care. The truth is going to come out so this woman, Linda Ives, can have a life."
"He's put himself in jeopardy...not only his freedom but also his life,” says private investigator Keith Rounsavall. “So that is why I believe him."
Rounsavall is a retired Little Rock police detective who now heads up Private Snoop Investigations.
He is investigating “The Boys on the Tracks” case for the Ives family.
Rounsavall took us to the place where three decades ago a mystery began that remains unsolved.
"He said he stood right at the bottom there,” says Rounsavall pointing to an area near a trestle. “And the bodies were right up there. He heard the train horn...or whistle blowing. And heard the screeching of the train trying to stop."
Rounsavall is talking about Billy Jack Haynes. Haynes visited the site with Rounsavall for the first time since 1987.
(the following is an excerpt from a 1987 WWE promotional clip featuring Billy Jack Haynes and Hulk Hogan): "Hulk Hogan...I love you brother. We stand for the same things. We don't smoke. We don't drink. We don't take drugs..."
In 1987, Haynes was a successful professional wrestler. And although he says he wasn't taking drugs in 1987, he admits to transporting cocaine from Arkansas to his home state of Oregon.
On August 21st, two days before the deaths of Ives and Henry, Haynes was wrestling King Kong Bundy in Detroit.
He says he got a telephone call to come to Arkansas and help take care of a problem.
Haynes says drugs were regularly being dropped along a set of train tracks near the Pulaski/Saline County line and a recent drop had been intercepted. Haynes was being asked to make sure that did not happen again.
"They were parked here...in this field...OK...when the airplane came over, dropped parachutes with duffle bags,” describes Rounsavall. “And he watched people pick those duffle bags up and leave the area."
There that night, according to Haynes, were three members of law enforcement, two attorneys, a club owner and two people in the van whom he never saw.
"All of a sudden Billy Jack hears a gunshot go off,” recounts Rounsavall. “And hears a motorcycle going down the tracks. At that point, one of the guys said 'Go get 'em!' Two guys jump in a car here and speed off."
Ives and Henry had told their parents that they were going to take a .22 rifle and a flashlight and go spotlighting deer that night.
Billy Jack Haynes says the two teenage boys were caught by two of the lawmen about a mile away at an Alexander convenience store.
"Billy Jack said they threw the kids down on the ground. And that one of them was already dead - beaten to death,” recalls Rounsavall.
According to Billy Jack, he didn't kill the boys but he did participate in disposing of them.
"As he described his role in the events that night, he assisted with getting them up on the tracks and laying the rifle down next to the boys once they were placed on the tracks," says Rounsavall.
Haynes believes both boys were dead before the train hit them and that is why they didn't move.
The medical examiner at the time ruled the deaths as accidental, claiming that the two teens had smoked so much marijuana that night that they were unconscious and sleeping on the tracks.
Medical experts from around the country immediately objected and within months most agreed that the boys were likely murdered.
"There was no good reason to insert yourself into a murder case,” says Linda Ives. “And you know implicate yourself in a double-homicide. He has nothing to gain and everything to lose."
Linda Ives is thankful for the hope that Billy Jack Haynes has given her.
But the families of these two teens have had their hopes rise and fall many times since 1987.
"So...I don't know...I don't know that there will ever be any justice here on earth,” says Ives. “Um, but you have to keep trying. You know they would like for you to think that this case is just old and complicated and there isn't any way to solve it. But that's not true. That is not true. This case is solvable."
Ives is hopeful that some law enforcement agency, either local, state or federal, will want to watch Haynes' videotaped confession or, better yet, bring him back to Arkansas for an interview.
In the meantime, Rounsavall has set up a tip line for anyone who has information about this case. That number is 501-223-3969.
KATV is not sharing the names of the individuals implicated by Haynes because law enforcement has yet to verify his account, no one has been charged, and the Ives family does not want to jeopardize any possible future trial of anyone suspected of killing Kevin Ives and Don Henry.
Several people connected to this case have been murdered or died under suspicious circumstances over the years. Rounsavall says Billy Jack Haynes is concerned about his safety but not enough to prevent him from coming forward.
If you would like to help fund the investigation of this case (Rounsavall is working for the Ives pro bono), there is a Go Fund Me page set up. You can find it by searching for the names Kevin Ives and/or Don Henry.
Air date: February 15th, 2018