The Mysterious Deaths of Don Henry and Kevin Ives
Updated: Apr 7
The deaths of two teenage boys in Bryant, Arkansas have stumped forensic investigators and their families since their disappearance in 1987. Was it a coverup? Was foul play involved? You decide. Here is their story:
August 23, 1987
Best friends 16-year-old Don Henry and 17-year-old Kevin Ives decide to go night hunting just before midnight.
The boys traveled to a wooded area near Don's home along the railroad tracks in Byrant, Arkansas.
Four hours later, a 75-car, 6,000 ton cargo train taking its regular nightly route to Little Rock ran over the boys as they were laying on the railroad tracks. The train engineer, Stephen Shroyer, noticed the two boys as the train drew closer. He blew the train's horn, but the boys never moved from their place on the track. Immediately, Stephen tried to stop the train, but it was too late. The train was supposedly traveling over 50 miles per hour.
The Arkansas State medical examiner, Dr. Fahmy Malak, was the first person to inspect the bodies. Dr. Malak's reason for cause of death was listed as "being under the influence of marijuana." He believed that the boys had smoked so much marijuana that they both put themselves in a drug-induced coma. Their deaths were ruled as accidental, as he believed that they were so out of it at the time, that they had laid on the railroad tracks and were unable to move. Of course, no one believed in Dr. Malak's cause of death.
In my opinion, this seems to be a stretch. I personally have never heard of marijuana ever placing anyone in a "drug-induced coma." I have read that marijuana has different affects on those who "consume" it, somewhat like how some people become angry when consuming too much alcohol or some people feel tired when they are intoxicated. What are the chances that the marijuana would have the same affects on the two boys? Even to the extent to where both of them fell asleep, couldn't move, and didn't react to the sound of a train horn blaring at them from only feet away?
The families had many questions about the boys' deaths so Kevin's family decided to hire a private detective. The private investigator's first place to look for potential answers was the local police department. Strangely, the private investigator was met with resistance from the police, and they seemed reluctant to cooperate or speak about the case. Seeking answers, the boys' families held a press conference in the hopes the police department would reopen their case. The next day, the families got their wish.
Prosecutor Richard Garrett called for the boys' bodies to be exhumed for another autopsy. This time, a new pathologist was responsible for the autopsy. The pathologist had enough evidence to believe that one boy was already dead when he was run over by the train, and the other boy was unconscious. He also believed that the boys consumed only a fraction of the marijuana that the state examiner, Dr. Fahmy Malak, stated in his examination. Instead of their deaths being ruled accidental, the reason for cause of death was overturned. Their deaths were then ruled "probable homicides."
A third, and final, autopsy was later conducted on Don Henry and Kevin Ives per the prosecutor Richard Garrett. The pathologist of this examination indicated that there was evidence of stab wounds on Don's shirt. When the pathologist took a closer look at the body of Kevin Ives, it appeared as though Kevin had been struck in the head with what the pathologist believed to be the butt of a rifle, similar to that of Don's rifle he had taken hunting with them only a few hours prior to their deaths. The second autopsy ruling was overturned; their deaths were then ruled as homicides.
Unfortunately, Richard Garrett, the prosecutor who had fought so hard for justice in the boys' case, died at the age of 27 on October, 23, 2018. The families' of the boys still have no solid answers as to what happened to their sons that night in August of 1987, but there are many theories...
Foul play/murder: This is the theory that seems the most likely to me, based on the evidence surrounding the case and statements by witnesses.
According the Stephen Shroyer, the engineer of the train that was involved in the accident, stated that he had noticed that the boys's bodies were covered with a green tarp. He also said that Don's .22 rifle had been laying next to the railroad tracks. The tarp was supposedly never found by the investigators. The boys were laying in the same parallel position on the tracks. Some said it seemed too coincidental, almost like they had been placed in that position by someone.
Prosecutor Richard Garrett also came across another "coincidence." Six weeks after the case was reopened for the first time, two young boys in Oklahoma were found laying on the railroad tracks and were hit by a train. They were in a position similar to that of Kevin Ives and Don Henry. No suspect was ever apprehended in their case. You can read more here: The Deaths of Billy Hainline and Dennis Decker
A week before the deaths of Kevin Ives and Don Henry, witnesses reported a man dressed in military fatigues near the tracks. No one recognized the man from around town. A police officer had approached him as his behavior was reported as strange, and he reportedly opened fire on the police officer and ran away. On the night of the boys' deaths, the man was seen again in the area, heading down a road near the area where the boys were hit by the train. He was never found.
Police cover-up: A witness from the area came forward not long after the deaths of the boys and stated that they had seen two boys beating the boys in the parking lot of of a local store before getting them into a truck and driving away. No evidence was ever found validating the witness's claim. Some think that the boys were a part of a police coverup and that the boys knew something or saw something that they shouldn't have.
Wrong place at the wrong time: Tips to the local police department claim that the boys had stumbled upon a drug deal and had been murdered by drug dealers. Prosecutor Garrett believed that the Bryant area was a hub for drug trafficking, and the boys just so happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
What do you think happened to the boys? What is your theory based on the evidence? Will the case ever be solved? Only time will tell.
Sources & Links:
Unsolved Mysteries Fandom: https://unsolvedmysteries.fandom.com/wiki/Don_Henry_and_Kevin_Ives
Encyclopedia of Arkansas: