LONOKE, Ark. (KTHV) - It is a story few could believe and one that still draws national attention, the 1997 murders a father, mother and daughter at the hands of their son and brother.
January 17, 1997, the bodies of Joe, Barbara and Heather Stocks were found shot to death in the kitchen of their own home. Heath Stocks, the son of Joe and Barbara and brother of Heather was arrested the next day.
The 20 year old confessed to the crime but later admitted to being a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of his scout master Jack Walls who he also says told him to commit the murders. Now, Stocks is looking for a new trial and a chance at freedom.
There are so many players in this case, but as Today's THV began digging into the story, we found it nearly impossible to find anyone that would talk about it. We called Stocks' former prosecutor, the former lead investigator, even one of his public defenders and no one would return any of our calls. As of now, it seems the only one willing to talk about a 15 year old triple murder in Lonoke County is the convicted murderer himself.
"It would have almost been a mercy for them to just kill me in the first place. It's a long term death penalty, that's all it is. A life sentence is a long term death penalty."
Those are the words of inmate 110429 who has spent his adult life within the walls of a maximum security prison.
"As it is and what I'm sentenced to, I'll die right here. I'll never get out," says Heath Stocks.
He isn't advocating his innocence, but rather what he believes the court was unaware of before they sentenced him to no chance of freedom.
"Authorities estimate he abused over a hundred and fifty boys. The first report, three decades ago when a 12 year old Lonoke boy was invited to Jack's house. I was in prison for a year before any of this came out. I did not step forward. I didn't tell anybody. Part of it was shame," says Stocks.
Heath Stocks is convicted of capital murder for the 1997 deaths of his mother, father and sister. A year after Stocks plead guilty, the truth about his boy scout master Jack Walls, now a convicted pedophile who raped and molested Stocks and several others, came out.
"Because I crossed the line between being a victim to being a murderer, none of it matters," says Heath Stocks.
Stocks says Walls played an intricate part in the murders of his family and the lead prosecutor in Walls sexual abuse cases agreed.
"There is every indication that Jack not only told Heath to commit the murders but he was there to see it done if not participate in it," said Betty Dickey in an interview with Crime Stories in the year 2000.
Dickey also noted Walls was allowed by police officials to stay at the home the night of the murders in order to secure the crime scene. It is information Stocks believes could be grounds for a new trial.
"It's so hard to get back in court especially after you plead guilty. You want to have hope and you want things to be considered. You want people to look at things objectively and say, 'This is not right."
Stocks says even with the new information, getting a new trial is still a difficult challenge.
"We've had very limited success in finding an attorney in the state of Arkansas that will even touch my case," says Stocks.
"I think a lot of people are going to watch this and say despite the fact of the horrible things that Jack Walls did to you and all the other boys that were involved, that still doesn't give you permission to be released from prison because of what happened to your family."
"We'll never know. You did something wrong and you're being punished for it I agree but if I don't keep trying, if I don't have some kind of hope, then what do I have?" says Stocks.
"There's always going to be somebody out there that says, 'Is he using abuse as an excuse?' Nobody can deny the fact that when a kid is abused, sexually abused long term, it has effects. It has effects on his emotional state, his ability to make decisions, everything. So if they know this, then how can they say that I'm looking for an excuse?" says Stocks.
"I know people are tired of seeing me. I've had multiple people tell my family, will you tell him to just shut up? Sit down there, be quiet, do his time, leave us out of this and okay well the problem is they've been able to move on with their life. My family can't move on with their life. I can't move on with my life," says Stocks.
While inmate 110429 continues to serve his time, life goes on in his hometown of Lonoke. 15 years has changed some things, but the scars of a triple murder and the loss of so much innocence may never go away.
"For those people out there that may be victims and they wonder if people down here in prison actually endure a punishment, I can tell you sitting down here for 15, 20, 40 years and watch everybody die around you, everything that you ever loved and cared for, it's a punishment," says Stocks.
Jack Walls is currently serving 3 forty-year terms and 3 consecutive life sentences for five counts of rape. He pled no contest to the rape of Heath Stocks.
One other reason Stocks says is keeping him from getting legal assistance is the size of his much smaller recreated case file.The Lonoke County Circuit Clerk's office says the original Heath Stocks file was checked out and never returned.
Jack Walls denied our request for an interview. According to the Department of Corrections, Walls has never spoken publicly to any media outlet.