Looking back at the 2005 execution of Eric Nance

The seven men set to be executed this month, starting with four next week, will be the first in Arkansas since 2005. That's when the state executed Eric Nance, who was found guilty of killing an 18-year-old Malvern woman.

“It affects you when you know the victim and it’s a small community,” said Malvern Assistant Police Chief, Jim Bailey.

Bailey says after 24 years, some memories seem to fade away. However, October 11th, 1993, the night 18-year old Julie Heath's car was found abandoned just west of Malvern, is a day that still stands out.

“Her car had been found by Deputy Hobbs and they towed the vehicle when they couldn’t find her. It was a Camaro. She was only a few years younger than I was, maybe four or five years,” said Bailey.

Bailey, who was a rookie officer that fall, recalls stopping almost 60 cars that October evening in hopes of finding leads on the then missing teen.

“We conducted interviews on everyone traveling both directions during that time frame that we knew the vehicle was last seen and where the vehicle was recovered by the deputies,” said Bailey.

Heath’s body was discovered in a wooded area a week later. Her throat had been slashed with a box cutter.

“I was out there the night the body was found off Wild Hog Road,” said Bailey.

Eric Nance was arrested two days after Heath’s body was found. He was convicted in the kidnapping and murder of the teen and sentenced to death.

Nance was executed in 2005.

Now, as the first round of executions approach since Nance, Bailey is reflecting on what this means for victims and their families.

“You remember them, and it weighs on you. Is there any every closure? It may end the case, but each individual has to weigh what is closure and what is right and wrong,” said Bailey.

According to Assistant Police Chief Bailey, Julie Heath's mother killed herself on Christmas Day, a year after her daughter's murder.

Both the families of Julie Heath and Eric Nance witnessed the execution in 2005.

Nance was given the opportunity to offer any last words before he was put to death but he declined to comment.

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