16-year-old Don Henry and a year older Kevin Ives were best mates. They went to high school and did everything together. In the early hours of August 23rd, 1987, they also died together. The driver of a 6000-ton cargo train noticed two bodies lying side by side, in straight lines, on the tracks. He honked, but it was impossible to stop the train this late. After running them over, the weight of the heavy train carried it for another mile, despite the emergency stop.
What looked like a horrible tragedy turned out to be a haunting mystery.
Don Henry and Kevin Ives
The boys were typical teenagers. They loved cars and hunting. On the weekends, they went to double dates with their girlfriends. In the tragic evening, Kevin and Don met a group of friends at the commuter parking lot – a popular gathering place for the local teenagers in Bryant, Arkansas.
Around midnight, the boys left to Don's house to get .22 rifle to go "spotlighting" – a method of night hunting animals using off-road vehicles or flashlights, transfixing the prey, while the other fires. They had a quick chat with Don’s father and said they would go hunting near the train tracks. That’s the last time he saw his son and his best friend alive.
The mystery death
According to the train crew, they were both lying in parallel, next to Don’s rifle. Neither of them was moving. And both were partially covered by a green tarp.
The State medical examiner concluded they had smoked the equivalent of 20 marijuana joints and were in deep sleep when the oncoming train closed them. Their deaths were ruled out as accidental.
No one smokes 20 joints with their mate, covers up with a tarp and lays down on railroad tracks. The families didn’t buy that scenario either and kept pressing for answers. Every time they would try to find out something new, they met great resistance from different authorities. Eventually, they managed to make police reopen the investigation five months later.
A new autopsy revealed that they only smoked 1 to 3 joints. Between the two of them. One of the boys was already dead by the time the train hit him, the other was unconscious. On Don’s t-shirt, stab marks were detected. The cause of death was changed from accidental to probable homicide. An investigator found that a similar case occurred in 1984, Hodgen, Oklahoma – again, two young men were found lying on railroad tracks, positioned almost identically to the boys and ran over.
In 1995, the investigation into the murders of Don Henry and Kevin Ives was officially closed without their killer(s) captured or identified.
The case allowed for numerous theories. From the boys witnessing a drug deal, a mysterious army clothed man inhabiting the area, to law enforcement and political corruption police covering up the whole investigation.