How do you think you would feel if you were sitting on the couch one afternoon eating pizza and watching Leave it to Beaver reruns and 30 minutes you found yourself in the basement of a police station answering questions from investigators in a grisly triple homicide case? Well I can tell you. Here's how it happened.
This memory popped into my mind when I was scanning some news archives and came across this; Ronald Ward dies in prison hospital at age 37.
On April 12, 1985 Ronald Ward was a 14 year old child in the mid-term of repeating the 7th grade for the 3rd time in a West Memphis Arkansas Jr. High School. After school on that day he went over to the home of his best friend to play. After that things went haywire. Ronald stabbed to death his 12 year old friend and the two great-aunts that his friend lived with. They were ages 72 and 76. Multiple stab wounds on each. A butcher knife was the weapon either of choice or opportunity. Soon afterwards it would take a jury only 2 hours of deliberation to make Ronald Ward the youngest death row inmate in the nation at that time. His sentence was changed to life without parole later on appeal. He died of a medical condition 21 years later.
That provides the background information of how that connects to me. I was living in West Memphis at that time and on the couch watching Leave it to Beaver when the police knocked on my door and asked me to come down to the station. I was managing a store in West Memphis at that time and figured it was something to door with an employee or a business related incident of some sort. Anything is possible in West Memphis, so who knows what it could be? I was directed to the basement where investigators asked me a series of questions. Many concerned my mother. What kind of car does my mother drive? Where was she at a certain time and date? Where was I? Do I know this person and that person? I answered the questions calmly and politely. My mother lives in Mississippi. She has no car. She does not drive. I was at work. At least 100 people can verify that. I am on camera all day long.
It became evident very quickly that I had no idea what they were talking about. At the end of this event I did get them to explain to me what was going on. It seems that they had picked up a suspect and in his explanation of where he was at that time had randomly pointed at my apartment as they were riding in the police car. I have no idea why he did this. He didn't commit the crime. He must have been doing something else at the time that he didn't want the police to know about. Go figure. As it turned out there was no harm done. I didn't get mad at the police. They have a serious job to do and must do it thoroughly and systematically. That is how justice is found. The thing that you have always been told is usually true. "You don't have to worry if you have not done anything". Respect authority.
This crime would soon be overshadowed by some even bigger news that would happen in the same general neighborhood: The Robin Hood Hills Murders. Another triple homicide. Ronald Ward, the family in the 4-room house, the young inmate on death row, all would be pushed to the pack pages of relative news.
I missed Leave it to Beaver. In case you wonder about it Beaver skipped school and went to the fair with his friend Lumpy. They ate too much candy and got sick. Ward came down hard on The Beaver, but his mother intervened. Beaver missed dinner. I missed dinner. Ronald Ward probably missed dinner too. A lot of dinners are missed in West Memphis. A lot of dinners for a lot of reasons.