Statement I: The Entrapme nt
I have always understood that I had to explain the why and the how of my frame-up before anyone would believe the full scope of the fraud perpetrated against me. The primary purpose of this statement is to lay out the why - to make absolutely clear what motivated the authorities to frame me. I will demonstrate beyond any doubt that the motivation was two-fold: to put me away after a decade and a half of fruitless (because unfounded) investigation into a supposed earlier crime, and to cover up their own unethical program, an operation run out of the Roanoke City prosecutor's office, one designed to entrap me after all those frustrating years of futile investigation.
The use of the pedophilia issue served two prosecution purposes. One, it was a powerful appeal to the passions of the jury; and two, it was used to obscure and cover up a dirty police entrapment operation that had been implemented in the victims' household before the crimes.
I can now identify about 70 falsehoods that were used to convict me. At the end of the guilt phase I was required by my attorneys to talk to a probation officer for a presentence report. I will discuss that report at the end of this. However, I told that officer, Allen Newberry, that "for my trial they wrote a play and everybody learned their lines." I should have added, "especially my lawyers." By the end of this you can decide if that is sour grapes or not.
Another purpose of this statement is to show that the whole dirty entrapment operation was perpetrated by the Roanoke City prosecutor and police, and that the operation ran from 1991 to 1994. 1 hope to make it obvious by this statement that the prosecutor from Roanoke City during that time period would have been in on the planning and overseeing of that operation. When I learned a few months ago that my main court-appointed lawyer, Mac Doubles, the man assigned to argue my innocence, had been Roanoke City prosecutor from 1989 to 1994, it explained the entire fraud of my trial to me.
By the end of this, I hope you will understand why my court-appointed attorneys had to be pre-selected.
The central falsehood that ultimately caused my conviction was committed when the prosecution played some tape recordings that I had made prior to the crimes to prove and document that dirty police entrapment operation. The tapes were played out of context and indeed altered so as to entirely change both the meaning and intent of what I had said on those tapes. Throughout the playing of the altered tapes my trial lawyers, in their collusion with the prosecution, sat mute, not objecting. It was an outrageous untruth created by the prosecution and abetted by my lawyers; outrageous because by its false suggestions it bolstered the prosecution's use of the irrelevant pedophilia issue. That issue alone compels me to write this statement. I haven't read much law, but it seems to me it was for reasons like this that the US Supreme Court abolished the death penalty in 1972.
The raising of that irrelevant issue was part of a systematic and well-thought out official scheme. First, they brought in an inmate informer, Tracey Turner, to say I had confessed to him that I had an addiction to "little girls." Then they used innuendo after innuendo from family and friends of the victims to complete the falsehood. But the icing on the cake was one single pubic hair - a planted pubic hair. I cannot possibly discuss all the false evidence they used to convict me, but I need to explain how they - the prosecution, the police, and my lawyers - pulled this one off.
In hearings in October and November 1996, both prosecutors argued for a court order to retrieve my pubic and head hairs "to be compared to hairs found at the scene near the bodies," with assistant prosecutor Leach even saying in one of those hearings that "there are pubic hair samples that needed to be examined." And this reference to pubic hairs already found was made several times before those hearings, but I don't have those records - but my lawyers did and do. So a court order was issued and I gave my hairs on December 13, 1996. And then, not surprisingly, they said they had found two pubic hairs on a bed cloth from the little girls' room, with one visually matching mine.
In a hearing in April, 1997, regarding the admissibility of that one pubic hair, police expert Gist testified. Toward the end of his testimony and because I knew the whole thing was a scam, I told my lawyer, Grimes, to ask Gist when he found the pubic hair on the little girls' bed cloth.
Gist examined his notes and replied, "When we reexamined the bed cloth for hairs on December 18, 1996." Look at the dates. They had to get my pubic hairs by court order before they could find one. My court-appointed investigator had told me months before those October and November hearings in 1996 that "a single pubic hair had been combed out of the little girl's hair." I don't see this as evidence that was withheld or covered up in my case,
although that's possible; I see this as proof that the plan was in early to plant a pubic hair. And to reinforce this notion only last week I found the following information in the evidence sheets:
Evidence sheet #7. Item #10. Pillow case from little girls' bed. No hair samples consistent with Earl's found 3/16/96.
Evidence sheet #8. Item #11. White bedspread. Two pubic hairs recovered. One consistent with Earl's. 3/19/96.
Again, look at the dates.
When they eliminated my hairs on the pillow case on 3/16/96, what were they using for comparison? I didn't give my hairs until 12/13/96.
And when they found a pubic hair visually consistent with mine on that bed cloth on 3/19/96, what were they using for comparison? I gave my hairs for comparison purposes on December 13, 1996! Yes, the plan was in early to plant that one pubic hair.
The records also show that Virginia State Police officer Keesee submitted three more items after December 18, 1996, and that multiple hairs and hair fragments were found, but none mine. All the items - a blanket, a pillow case, and a sheet - were from the little girls' bed. My lawyers sat on this evidence at my trial.
To give you an example of the collusion that took place between my lawyers and the prosecution, let me explain to you how the prosecution was able to get their impressive DNA analysis on that planted pubic hair. My entire defense team urged - insisted - that I give my blood to be compared to blood at the crime scene. Even the prosecutor said that he "didn't understand the request because it was obvious where all the blood came from." But the prosecutor also made it clear in that hearing that if we ran that test, he would run that one pubic hair through DNA analysis. And in trial with the presentation of the blood evidence, the prosecutor's statement " it was obvious where all the blood came from" was absolutely correct. So why the test?
I see two possibilities. My blood was also compared to Teresa Hodges' private parts: her rectum and vagina. And again, I did not match, but match what? Was there a foreign fluid in her private parts? Highly possible. Teresa was a healthy, beautiful woman. No one will ever convince me that in a crime of this magnitude they didn't immediately run tests on Teresa to see if she had been raped. You may wonder why they would cover that up. Well, let me mention that the lead state police investigator in my case, Barry Keesee, told at least one person in South Carolina in his pretrial investigation that he (Keesee) had been after me since 1970. This was his chance to nail me! The prosecution couldn't ask me to give my blood for that DNA test. It would have put their case against me on the line. Because if I passed, which I did, it would have pointed to someone else. They would have had to let me go. So the prosecution got my defense team to insist that I give my blood for that useless test. The prosecution would get some impressive DNA evidence from that planted pubic hair, reinforcing the irrelevant sexual innuendo (irrelevant because there was no evidence either little girl had been sexually molested), and, if I had not passed, give them the chance to nail me once and for all.
And you can discount the little show that the prosecutor put on when he said he "didn't understand the request." Because that's all it was - a show.
When I acquired my trial transcripts (that are so devoid of testimony and pages that they are a joke) in October 1998, I had proof of the pubic hair issue: that both prosecutors lied repeatedly when they argued for my hairs to be compared to hairs not even found yet. There were no hair analyses done on any item before December 18, 1996. I pointed out this falsehood to my lawyers and to the courts in plenty of time for it to be on my direct appeal. Both my lawyers and the courts ignored me. Of course my lawyers would ignore me; they were part of the scam.
The overall plan concerning that one pubic hair, though, was to reinforce the use of irrelevant sexual innuendo against me.
Nor did my lawyers bring it to the attention of the jury that I had practically lived in that house for two years, napping and showering there on many occasions. Numerous witnesses appeared that could have attested to that fact.
Convicted as I was in the most fraudulent trial in Virginia's history, it's a struggle for me not to try to address every falsehood here in this statement. But I don't want to write a book here. My primary purpose is to
explain the principal fraud of my trial, which was the alteration and playing out of context of my tape recordings. The effect of that single fraud was so powerful that they could have taken away all the other false evidence and the jury would still have convicted me on the basis of that false evidence alone. So a brief history of my tapes - how they came to be, what's on them, how they were altered - is required here.
I want to make it clear that before my trial I pointed out to the trial judge that my lawyers were refusing to let me listen to the tapes selected for my trial, despite my many requests to do so. Judge Willett did not rectify the situation, and in trial I was as stunned by what was played as the jury. My lawyers knew that my tapes had been selectively copied; that's why they wouldn't let me hear those tapes beforehand.
I cannot explain my tapes without giving a short personal history because the genesis of the fraud that my trial became started around 1970. My tapes were made to prove and document that I was the target of a sexual entrapment operation in which a ten-year-old girl was used as bait. In short, I need to acquaint the reader with the desperation that drove the police to such an action. Though the story began around 1970, the way I lived my life in Roanoke from that time on was a contributing factor, a big one.
It began when I met a little girl named Tammy Lynn Akers. She was about nine at the time and lived down the street from my small silk screen printing shop on 5th and Marshall in Roanoke, Virginia. Over the next four or five years she became a part of my life, and I hers.
In 1977, Tammy and a friend of hers named Angela Rader disappeared from the Roanoke City area and never returned. Almost immediately I became aware that I was a suspect in the presumed crime.
[My intent here is not to write a complete personal history or all I know about Tammy Akers. That's a book that if I live long enough will come later. In this, I will only mention a few of the factors that put me in the middle of that disappearance. And I will make the connection between the disappearance and the subsequent plan to entrap me.]
Around 1981, two girls involved in what I discovered was a teenage lesbian triangle (though the words are no doubt shocking, the truth is more so) found it expedient to make me sound dangerous. One of the four fabrications they concocted was that I had once drunkenly confessed to hurting or even murdering the Akers girl. This found its way to the local authorities - the Roanoke City prosecutor and police - and served to increase their suspicions of me. So much so that in 1983 when I caught a 17-year-old girl employee falsifying her time cards, this too found its way to the local police, who jumped on that bizarre situation and manipulated both that 17-year-old girl and her ten-year-old sister into filing bogus sexual battery charges against me.
The Roanoke City prosecutor eventually dropped the 17-year-old's charge after she had said in court (twice) that nothing had happened to her on the day in question. And at the end of the ten-year-old's trial, the honorable Judge Jack Colture dismissed the charge, telling the police and prosecution that if they didn't have a case, they ought not bring it to court. In the interest of brevity I won't go into detail on those cases, but I will ask the attorney who represented me, Jonathan Rogers, to open his files to anyone interested.
Yet the Roanoke City prosecutor and police accomplished their goals with those phoney charges. They had fabricated evidence to use against me in the future, which they did with great success in pre-trial and trial publicity in the Hodges murder case. [And I will add here that the same process was going on in the Hodges house in the two-plus years before the murders.]
I'll make another point here: this statement might be construed as an admission that I had motive to commit the Hodges murders. But what some might construe as my motive was in fact the authorities' motive to do what they did: to draw an instant conclusion that I was guilty and to determine to do whatever it took to convict me, even if that meant framing me.
What's more, some of the things I said on my tapes, as you will hear later, contributed to that royal frame-up, a frame-up that went so far as to determine the selection of my defense attorneys.
In regard to that lesbian teenage triangle, I'll say here that the girls involved were Pam Christian Thornhill, Laurie Paxton, and a girl I'll refer to here only as Sharon. Both Pam and Laurie committed perjury against me in my trial, and my lawyers allowed Laurie to testify for Sharon, which was both perjury and hearsay. Sharon, I'm convinced, refused to commit perjury against me.
But as a result of that lesbian triangle blow-up, every girl I had ever known was interviewed by the police. In trial, the prosecutor lied, saying the girls that they used in the penalty phase had "just come forward." That was a palpable falsehood. The police actively looked for girls from my past who would be willing to commit perjury for them. Who knows what inducements they used?
At the risk of getting side-tracked, I will raise a pertinent point. By 1991, when I resumed an interrupted relationship with my old friend Blaine Hodges, I was aware that the Roanoke City authorities had an intense interest in me. And those bogus sexual battery charges from 1984 told me that Roanoke City would do just about anything to pin the 1977 disappearance on me - or for that matter to get me for anything. After an absence of four or five years, I quickly learned that my old friend of twenty years had changed; or rather, perhaps, I had never really known him. In short order I learned that Blaine had become involved in police undercover work with his brother-in-law Mike Fulcher. And I learned that Mike was a trained DEA informant with the alias of Mike Ferguson and a false (though valid) social security number. Mike, I learned, had a long history of working undercover for the DEA, the ATF, the IRS, the FBI, and local law enforcement. To expand on the relationship between Mike and Blaine, I'll quote something Blaine's brother Randy told me at the time. Having recently returned to live in Roanoke, Randy was shocked to find that, in his words, "Blaine was so far up Mike's ass that you couldn't see him." And I learned that Mike was then involved in a theft ring.
Then late 1990 or early 1991, all hell broke loose, both with Mike and Blaine. Mike was arrested for thefts, both from Roanoke County (or City) and from Bedford County. This was followed by Blaine's own arrest for coming up short $4600 in his cash drawer at the Post Office where he worked.
It didn't take long before I learned that Blaine was also involved in that theft ring, and if this wasn't enough, I learned that both Mike and Blaine were involved in drugs and drug running. As a matter of fact, I provided Blaine an alibi with his wife on one of his runs to Danville. Blaine wore a Rolex watch and he showed it to me and said, "You can get a watch like this in one trip."
Both Blaine and Mike were pilots, and Mike flew a $60,000 plane. I asked Blaine, "What does Mike do for a living?"
Blaine replied, "Oh, he flies here and he flies there."
That was not a comment I needed an explanation for.
And Blaine told me about two well-publicized busts that he and Mike were involved in as pilots. One involved two South American drug king-pins and millions in cocaine. The other was for gun runners from either New York or New Jersey. I don't recall which. This one, of course, was for the ATF. And it's this one that could have significance for what occurred that weekend at the Hodges' house, as a Burgundy Toyota was seen four or five times around the Hodges' neighborhood during the early morning hours. Two black men were seen in that Toyota, and acting strangely. The Toyota had New Jersey plates.
The most significant information I received from both Blaine and Teresa during that early time period was that Blaine was definitely involved in that theft ring.
In Mike's Roanoke County theft trial, Blaine told me that his name (Blaine's) had been mentioned more times in trial than Mike's. Blaine told me that they even considered him the ring leader.
Blaine and Mike had all kinds of stuff "cheap," and Blaine offered me, as well as a friend of mine, generators cheap ("still in the box").
But most telling was Mike's Bedford County theft charge. In that theft a vehicle was rammed through a chain-link fence to gain access at Powers Tractor on Route 24 (and, I believe, through the glass front doors). A tractor and a trailer were stolen. Shortly after that theft, Blaine's neighbor, a Mr. Lynch, called the Vinton Police and complained that Blaine was spray-painting his truck outdoors. Blaine received a ticket from the Vinton police for that violation; much later, after I had put two and two together, I took a good look at that paint job: scratches - all painted over.
Blaine was not an active participant in the tractor theft, although I'm sure he planned on sharing in the profits. Blaine told me a some of the details. After the theft, he said, Mike had become so scared that Blaine had to go pick him up. In one of my original tapes you will hear Teresa nervously telling me that the stolen tractor had been parked in their driveway.
But if Blaine picked Mike up, who drove Blaine's truck? Here, I see two possibilities: either Blaine's brother Gary or a fellow I will refer to as J.B. J.B. was Mike's and Blaine's gopher in drugs, thefts, and (I think) undercover work. But my vote goes to Gary because Gary was involved in Mike's Roanoke thefts that involved tools from an Amoco Station and lawn mowers from I don't know where (and I recall a bulldozer and trailer may have been involved). All or part of these stolen items were sold to Gary's boss or friend from West Virginia.
Over a period of time, Blaine let me know that Mike felt Gary had set him up with the police for a cash payment. Eventually, Blaine told me the exact amount involved: $5,000, and he told me this with a little laugh in his
voice that indicated Mike had, indeed, been set up.
Looking back, I suppose it was no coincidence that Blaine was behind $4600 in his cash drawer at the Post Office.
[Again, I can only give you bits and pieces of the whole picture here, but I'm trying to relate the information that led me to the conclusion that Blaine had cut a deal with the police to use his little girl as sexual bait. Additionally, I will tell how I came to the conclusion that Blaine was acting as an agent for the police. Let me struggle on with this and make my points.]
During those early days, there was an emotional war going on at the Hodges' house. Blaine had lost his job at the Post Office and was facing charges. Mike had been arrested and was in jail, facing additional charges. Mike's mother was Teresa's step-mother, and Teresa and her step-mother didn't exactly get along, to put it mildly. Teresa and Winter referred to the step-mother as the "witch."
In the tractor theft in Bedford County, the "witch" wanted Blaine to provide Mike with a false alibi. Teresa was furious with the idea and she couldn't understand why Blaine didn't just tell the "witch" to go to hell. Blaine didn't like the idea either, but he seemed to be walking on egg shells.
Let me relate a one-sided conversation that took place out back of their house one day. Blaine and I were sitting there when Teresa came out and said to Blaine in an angry voice, "You're doing espionage on someone with a mind not as good as yours."
Blaine was stunned into silence, and I was pretty quiet myself, as I knew whom Teresa had referred to - me. And I was also a little insulted, though I got over it. After Blaine had regained his composure, he got up and walked into the house, saying to me, "I'm trying to keep an atom bomb from going off." That comment told me that Blaine had a lot to be worried about.
The Bedford authorities knew that Blaine was somehow involved in the tractor theft. I was at the house when the Bedford prosecutor phoned Blaine to talk to him about it. But in the end, in spite of all this, not only did Blaine not provide an alibi, he wasn't even called as a witness.
During that time, as you might imagine, Blaine was a basket of nerves. If I ever I saw a person coming down off drugs, it was Blaine. One evening in an argument with Teresa he smashed his hand down on the sink. Unfortunately he forgot to let go of his coffee cup first and nearly cut off a finger. He had to go to the hospital and it required many stitches. Relatives of the Hodges may remember a shattered window pane on the side porch. I asked Teresa about it and received a shocking answer. Blaine had gone berserk and thrown a glass ashtray at Winter, barely missing her head, smashing the glass pane on the porch door. And over time Teresa let me know that she had received more than one black eye from Blaine. Why am I telling this? To let you know, as I knew, that Blaine ruled his family with an iron fist.
Not long after Teresa's outburst about Blaine's "doing espionage," I was sitting in the living room with Teresa when Blaine came home. He gave Teresa a hug and let the single word "espionage" roll off his lips as they shared a private little laugh together. I recall thinking at the time that Blaine had to be the dumbest undercover operator the police had ever used. Blaine even told me around that same time that "in order to be a good undercover operator you have to convince the person you're his friend." I listened in amazement as my old friend told me that.
During those early days, a strange, rather flaky fellow began showing up at the house. You could set your watch by Jack Storm: ten minutes after I arrived here would come Jack driving up in the driveway. Later I will explain how I concluded that Jack was the police coordinator of what was going on at Blaine's house.
[In quoting dates here, it's my best guess. I have no way of verifying dates from my cell here at Sussex.]
Let me repeat myself. Blaine Hodges ruled his family with an iron fist. Whatever Teresa and Winter did, they were just following orders.
Then during the early days of 1991, sweet Winter Ashley Hodges began acting strangely in my presence. She exposed herself "accidentally." Objects found their way to her mouth in suggestive ways. I could be very graphic here, but suffice it to say I've been around and it seemed to me Winter Ashley had been around too ... I was both shocked and baffled. What she was suggesting with her behavior was just a little too real to be laughed off as the innocent antics of a little girl!
There are a wealth of incidents that I could relate here, but I will mention only a couple.
It was 1991 and my son was having a good year playing on a local high school basketball team. The Roanoke Valley is big on basketball and this was a big game. I had taken Teresa and Winter with me to see the game at the Salem Civic Center. The place was packed. Teresa sat to Winter's left and I sat to her right. It was still
early in the game when Winter reached over with her right hand and placed it on my inner left thigh, nearly touching my genitals. I clearly remember my shock at the time. Her hand was just too darn close. What could I do? It was elbow-to-elbow with people and removing her hand would have drawn attention. I didn't want to embarrass Winter; after all her action was probably the innocent, affectionate gesture of a little girl. Or was it?
As these thoughts were running through my head, a man about 15 rows down stood up and faced backwards in my direction. He scanned the audience with his eyes until they locked on mine. He stared at me for a long moment before he turned and sat back down.
I don't even remember the exact moment Winter removed her hand. I had been busy adding up two and two and not liking the answer. Suddenly Winter's recent strange behavior was beginning to make sense.
Then when I walked out to the concession stand, that same man appeared beside me almost instantly. "Hi, Earl," he said. "How you doing?"
I gave him a casual "OK."
Without buying anything he tossed something in the trash and returned to the game.
Who was he? He was detective Clinton Rogers from Roanoke City and the same SOB who had manipulated another ten-year-old girl into filing bogus sexual battery charges against me back in 1984.
Was there a connection between Winter's hand in 1991 and that phoney charge from 1984?
Absolutely there was a connection and her name was Tammy Lynn Akers. Here in this statement of mine I will attempt to connect the dots to show how this could be. And I will show that what was going on before the crimes was nothing less than a Roanoke City prosecution and police operation.
During that first year or so I was at Blaine's practically every day. Blaine wasn't working and the family was always broke: on food stamps and unemployment. I had become burned out on my occupation of twenty years and had allowed my business to go to hell; consequently I was barely getting by myself. Often Blaine and I made weekend selling trips to the local flea market, splitting the profits.
Winter and I grew very close. One day Teresa said to me, "It's incredible how important you have become to Winter over the last six months." This pleased me, as Winter was equally important to me.
So when Winter began her questionable behavior, I was left wondering: was I imagining things? But the "accidental" exposings were just a little too frequent and the oral suggestion a little too graphic and a little too close to reality. I began to wonder what I was dealing with. Was she just a little girl showing off her new-found femininity to a man she trusted? Or was there something more going on?
On my original tapes, which were illegally seized in September, 1994, you will hear this comment from me: "I've seen that little girl's ass more than my ex-wife's and I was married for six years."
But it was Winter's suggestive oral behavior that really baffled me. I could understand flirtatiousness; it was Winter's expertise that left me wondering.
If I live long enough, I will write a book about my case and my life. The title has already come to me. It will be "Burned at the Stake in Salem" for obvious reasons. But a subtitle that also applies is "Evil is in the Eye of the Beholder."
This concept applies. It applies to my life, to my trial, and to what I've said thus far about Winter's apparent sexually suggestive behavior.
It applies to my life in Roanoke from 1970 to 1986. During those years I surrounded myself with pretty young ladies. No one ever saw me with just one girl; it was usually two or three. Let me expand on this in a couple of ways.
(1) Around 1980 I had a girl working for me named Marilyn. She lived at Femcliff Apartments where my ex-brother-in-law Butch lived. One day Marilyn told me that Butch had told her "Earl collects girls." That was pretty darn accurate.
(2) In the penalty phase of my trial the prosecution was required to give us notice of any unadjudicated witnesses they planned on using against me. They provided a list of seven or eight girls that I had known from 15 to 25 years earlier. Learning this, I gave my lawyers a list of about 40 girls that I had known back then. The only reason that I gave them a list of 40 was because I couldn't remember the names of the sixty or seventy others. I'm not kidding.
My defense team didn't bother to interview any of them, and any one of them could have attested to my
And "Evil is in the Eye of the Beholder" applies to all those police officers who had been looking over my shoulder for about 20 years. Recall that officer Keesee had been after me since 1970. No doubt in all of those years of seeing me surround myself with pretty young ladies those police officers beheld plenty of evil. They assumed the worst - that I must be giving the young ladies drugs for sex, or abusing them in some immoral fashion. That had to be their perception of me. It didn't help matters that many of the young ladies I knew were of questionable background: minor scrapes with the law, drugs, etc. [I once counted more than ten felons as my former employees.]
But I have never done drugs, or condoned their use, or allowed their use in my presence. No doubt, though, that was the class of people that I had around me. The police had their perception.
So what does all this have to do with my case? It certainly contributed to the complete frame-up against me in trial, and it was beyond doubt a causative factor in the attempt to entrap me before the crimes.
In the penalty phase of my trial the police simply found some girls from my past to support the official view of me - by bearing false witness. [I will detail the penalty phase of my trial at the end of this.]
And "Evil is in the Eye of the Beholder" applies to my trial, particularly to my jury. The prosecution used irrelevant sexual innuendo after irrelevant sexual innuendo as they strove to bolster their case against me by any and all means, leading the jury to assume the worst, which they did. Of course, the prosecution's irrelevant lies are the reason I have to write this statement.
But also the concept that "Evil is in the Eye of the Beholder" applies to you, the reader, in regard to what I've said so far about Winter's suggestive antics, and in regard to what I will say henceforth about her actions. Until now I've described her actions as fairly subtle sexual teasing, so you're probably thinking that the evil was just in my eye, that I was merely seeing what I wanted to see, or that my "sick" mind was interpreting what I saw as I wanted it to be. Am I right? Or perhaps you're open-minded; perhaps you're thinking I was just mistaken in my judgment. Either way, let me clarify myself. In that first year or so, I hadn't reached any solid conclusion one way or the other. I'm stubborn about reaching unpleasant conclusions, and I left open the reason that Winter was doing the things she was doing. But I was suspicious, and things were beginning to add up.
[I am acutely aware as I write this that I am talking about a little girl who was brutally murdered. Winter Ashley was denied the truth at my trial, as were the other members of her family. They were denied the truth by the police, the prosecution, and by my lawyers. And there is another factor that forces me to be bluntly honest as I write this: there was a sex crime occurring in the house, all right, but I wasn't the culprit. No, the guilty deserve the credit. So Winter Ashley will get the truth from me, unpleasant as it is.]
During that first year or two at the Hodges house, I was there practically every day. And I was very familiar with their daily routine. At first Winter Ashley would be sent up for her bath around eight PM, and be in bed by nine. Then something strange began to happen. No matter when I showed up in the evenings, Winter would be sent up for her bath. It could be six PM or seven and up she went. It was too early. But if I was there, up she went. And when she came back downstairs, well, Winter had acquired some new night clothes. Winter would be wearing one of her three new Fredericks of Hollywood negligees; she had a green one, a pink one, and a beige one. They had see-thru tops. Winter Ashley was a beautiful, developing young lady, about five one or two. This didn't happen just once; it happened every time I showed up early. And Mom and Dad Hodges didn't seem to mind me seeing their little girl run around in that semi-nude condition; as a matter of fact, they seemed to be orchestrating it. What was I to think?
In addition to Blaine and Teresa Hodges apparently setting up situations where Winter would be running around in her wedding night outfits, there were her suggestive antics, flashing her body at me, simulating oral sex. As I've said, it made me wonder.
And I wanted to know what the hell was going on. I figured there were only a few possibilities. On my original tapes, on numerous occasions, you'll hear my guesses. At first I stated that maybe "Winter's hormones were kicking in early." Then I state that maybe "she was just well-coached," meaning that I was the target of an operation designed to entrap me. Finally, because her simulations were so realistic, I state that just maybe "she was experienced at what she was simulating."
In reaction to Winter's teasing, I took certain actions. First, because I felt I was being set up, I told two friends of mine about what was going on: Arlie Garrabrandt and Billy Dunbar of APB Whiting Oil Company.
Billy Dunbar saw things as I did, that Blaine had cut a deal with the police and was using his little girl in an attempt to set me up for a sexual battery charge. I even played Billy a tape or two, one of which was with Winter
when I had told her to be more careful about exposing herself to me. I may discuss that tape later.
In regard to Arlie, I'll mention a fact here that is somewhat relevant. Arlie had a little girl about Winter's age. Her name was Heidi and she was quite a young lady: good grades, sports, scouts, etc. Winter, on the other hand, never went anywhere outside of her mother's circle of activities. Wanting to broaden Winter's horizons, I tried hard to get the two families together. But Arlie didn't cotton to that idea. He knew that Winter was a special young lady, but he also knew that Blaine was a thief. But Arlie relented and I got the two families together. Though nothing ever came of my scheme, I've mentioned it because it may give Arlie's opinions more weight.
Arlie had two notions regarding Winter's actions. First, he suggested that maybe Winter had just seen an X-rated movie somewhere. This could have explained Winter's apparent expertise. Nevertheless I discounted this idea. In the first place, Teresa was very protective of Winter: no overnights with anyone Teresa didn't know well, meaning practically no overnights. But this didn't preclude Winter seeing an X-rated move at home, a notion I'll address
Arlie's second suggestion goes to that concept again: "Evil is in the Eye of the Beholder." Arlie suggested that maybe "Winter just knew how to push my buttons." In other words, she was only reacting to my reaction. Now you may be thinking that Winter would expose herself, as she did on occasion, and that 1, like Pavlov's dog, would start dripping spit. No. This was a more subtle situation. Arlie's suggestion was possible; she and I had grown extremely close. So was she just doing her thing, sensing a reaction from me, and growing encouraged to do it again? She was, after all, becoming aware of her femininity, and it's hard not to notice when a beautiful young girl exposes herself in your presence. So, as I said, Arlie's notion had some merit. But what gave me cause to doubt it was that Winter intensified her flirtations whenever Pappa was around. Pappa, Blaine Hodges, always looked hard in another direction. Let me give you some examples of this.
Blaine and I were sitting on the couch in the living room. Winter entered wearing one of her see-thru nighties. It had a short, sheer top that went to mid-hip. She had on panties underneath. She pulled up a straight-back chair directly in front of us and sat down. She put her heels on the front of the chair, with her knees up and spread wide, giving us a wide-open view of her panties. This was an absolutely improper position for her to be in, considering that I was three feet in front of her. I discreetly watched Blaine's eyes. He stared straight at her exposed crotch for about 20 seconds, then got up and left the house, leaving me there to gaze at his little girl's exposed panties if that's what I chose to do.
On another occasion Blaine and I and Winter were sitting in the kitchen. Winter was eating a push-through sherbet ice cream. This was a cardboard tube about four inches long and an inch and a half in diameter full of sherbet ice cream. You push the ice cream out as you eat it. But Winter had her own style: she put the whole thing in her mouth, to the hilt, and held it there, looking at us both. It was an odd scene; and again I watched Blaine's eyes. He was staring at his little girl with this four-inch tube in her mouth for a full minute. No one said a word. Then Blaine got up and went out to the back yard, leaving me to ponder the situation.
I could give example after example, but this raises a very real question. If I recognized the operation for what it was, why didn't I run like hell? Did I mention I'm one stupid SOB? And I was curious. I wanted to see where the operation was going. And I was still fighting the whole concept. I couldn't yet quite believe it.
As I've said, I told Billy and Arlie of my suspicions early on, and I did one more thing. I wrote out a long statement (about 80 pages) concerning what was going on at the Hodges' house and my suspicions. This was during the first year. That statement is central in how I reached my conclusions relating to that flaky family friend, Jack Storm.
Before I get to Jack let me relate some snooping I did. It was late 1991 or early 1992 and Winter had only begun her suggestive behavior, though it was already unmistakable - to me anyway.
Let's go back to my original guess: that Winter was experienced at what she was suggesting. This didn't mean, necessarily, that she had been an active participant; maybe she had merely been an observer. Or maybe she had seen that X-rated movie at home.
Considering this, I wondered if the Hodges family led a kinky life style. This possibility seemed believable for one reason: Teresa and I had grown extremely close during those troubled times. She had told me many of her dark secrets, one of which was that she had been sexually abused as a young girl at the hands of her mother's boy friends. My knowing this will come as a surprise to her relatives, especially to her father, Dave Fulcher, who committed perjury against me. It will surprise Dave Fulcher because Teresa had only recently told him about that abuse. Mr. Fulcher, when he heard that terrible story, had told Teresa, "If I had only known, I would have done
something about it."
Mr. Fulcher will also be surprised to hear that Teresa told me that he failed to divorce his first wife before he married his second.
Abuse begets abuse. Maybe the Hodges' did lead a kinky life style. If so, maybe Winter saw that movie at home. All I know is that Winter's suggestive behavior demonstrated a knowledge she shouldn't have had at her age.
I wanted answers. At that time Blaine habitually left his house key under a potted plant on the side porch, so I had free access to the house when no one else was there. I had figured that if they were leading a kinky life style there ought to be some evidence of it in the family photos and videos, which they left out in a little cubby-hole closet between the living room and the computer room. So when no one was around I took the opportunity to look through the photos and view the videos. There were two of each photo, a fact that would prove significant.
There were many pictures of Winter in the nude. Teresa had a thing about naked kids. Don't get me wrong. It wasn't a sexual thing; she just thought naked kids were beautiful. Incidentally, in the few crime scene photos I was allowed to see, I noticed one thing missing, an old-time, folksy print of naked kids at a swimming hole that had hung above Blaine and Teresa's bed. At least somebody had moved it. But back to the photos. There were several
innocent pictures of Winter in the nude: with measles all over her body, in a bathtub, etc. And there was one of her bare bottom sticking out from a doorway. You'll hear more of this one later. But I found nothing in the Hodges family photos that seemed kinky.
And I found nothing in the videos either, though there was one of Winter at about nine tumbling over a couch as her gown falls off of her. It appeared to be just innocent fun; again, you'll hear more of this one later.
[A reminder here to the reader. I'm writing this to explain the principal lie at my trial: the out-of-context playing of my altered tapes to make me appear to be a sexual pervert. My intent in making the tapes was to prove that I was the target of a plan to entrap me, using Winter as bait. On its face this is such a far-fetched notion that it requires me to address other issues: namely, what drove the police to such an act; who came up with the plan and why; what kind of parents would go along with such a plan, and why; and why I didn't run when I recognized the plan for what it was. The plan went all the way to the pre-selection of my lawyers! How could this be? The answers preclude brevity. You will have to bear with me.
My tapes were illegally seized in early September, 1994, and placed in evidence. The key to understanding the terrible lie perpetrated against me is to know that the tapes were placed in evidence early. When you realize what was on the original tapes, you'll understand why my court-appointed attorneys had to be pre-selected in order not to defend me, but to aid and abet the prosecution's effort to conceal the tapes' meaning.
A few months ago I received what was for me proof that my primary lawyer, Mac Doubles, was indeed preselected for the purpose stated above. I need to explain my reasoning. Again, it's not possible to be brief.]
Although I found nothing in the photos or videos that indicated Winter had come by her expertise through a kinky family life, the fact that I secretly looked at those items became central to how I concluded that I was the target of an entrapment.
At the beginning of this statement I said I would give some examples of the incidents that led me to my conclusions. Let me detail another one.
It was around 1991 and very early in the implementation of the operation, even before the basketball incident. I was driving my son Mike's convertible with the top down and had stopped by the Hodges house, parking at the base of the side porch steps. As I left the house and was ready to backup, Winter appeared on the porch. She sat with her bottom on the porch, her feet on the top step, and her knees spread wide apart. She had on a short skirt that came only to her knees. I was looking up at her from about ten feet away.
Winter started up an animated conversation as she sat there with those knees akimbo. Now, Winter was only nine and probably innocent of what she was doing. That was my immediate judgment. Yet I did want her to know she should be more careful. I didn't want to be too blunt about it. So I dropped my head and stared straight between her knees, holding my gaze as I talked to her, finally looking back to her eyes. She didn't even flinch. I repeated the process with the same effect. Having to leave, I decided to end the standoff and began to backup.
Then Blaine appeared. He came rapidly down the steps and followed the path of the convertible as I backed up, talking to me, approaching to within a foot of the driver's side door. All the time he was staring intently into my lap, as if he were searching for something. What was he looking for? To see if I had an erection? It wasn't as if he had to walk that close to talk to me. Had he sent his little girl out to do exactly what she had done?
As I drove away that day I was considering that a possibility. Yet I had not yet reached any solid
conclusions. But things had begun to add up.
Only days earlier I had been at the house when another - I can only call it questionable - incident occurred. [You might be justified in calling me delusional on this one, but I will mention it anyway.] Blaine and Teresa were sitting on the couch watching TV when Winter came downstairs and lay down on a foam pad between her parents and the TV. She was wearing "skinnies," which were skin-tight pants. This was strange. Teresa, who was a physically beautiful woman, just didn't dress that way. She never wore clothes that showed off her own figure.
Later in this statement I may expand on a meeting that I had with the postal inspector, a man named Fonzeno, who was investigating Blaine's case. At this point let me just quote part of our conversation.
Fonzeno said, "I understand Blaine has a beautiful wife."
I agreed and added, "She's a 35-year-old woman walking around in an 18-year-old body."
That was Teresa, but she never wore tight clothes, and seeing Winter in skinnies was a shock. Of course, little girls chart their own course sometimes, but I was nevertheless surprised.
What happened next surprised me even more. I was sitting in a chair, more-or-less facing Winter, not the TV. Winter rolled onto her right side and cocked her left leg up, exposing herself, and began flicking her tongue at me like a snake. She never cracked a smile, just kept wiggling her tongue at me. Though Teresa and Blaine could not have failed to notice, neither one said a thing. I was baffled. You can think what you want, but Winter's actions were fraught with sexual suggestion. By itself the incident might have meant nothing, but together with everything else it served to increase my suspicions. What was I dealing with?
I'll add another incidental fact here concerning Teresa and her natural beauty. During my trial my lawyers called a witness, an inmate named, coincidentally, Teresa from the Roanoke City jail, who testified that she and Mike Fulcher and Teresa and Blaine had all smoked crack cocaine together. I believe this to be a lie. Blaine, sure. But not Teresa. She was intensely health conscious and was first and foremost a good mother. She watched everything her kids ate and everything she ate. It's inconceivable that Teresa would have smoked crack; it would have been detrimental to her health and to her ability to be a good mother. All of Teresa's habits served to enhance her natural beauty. But Teresa never showed her beautiful figure off, so when Winter appeared in skinnies that revealed every contour - this was not normal. Something was going on.
I could give many more examples of Winter's sexually suggestive behavior prior to her tenth birthday on November 22, 1992, but in the interest of moving along I will refrain.
Just before that tenth birthday, I was about as sure as I could be that an entrapment had been initiated against me. I decided to try a little test on Teresa. Out of the blue I told her, "Teresa, I figured out what was going on in this house about a year ago and I haven't put my head on the chopping block for Blaine Hodges. I've done it for you and Winter and Anah."
Teresa didn't hesitate. She said, "Thank you very much. I appreciate it." She didn't have to ask me what I was talking about. She knew. She knew I knew. And Teresa appreciated that I was keeping her husband out of jail, although in an odd sort of way. Winter was there, but I doubt she caught the meaning of the conversation. Winter, after all, was just following orders.
A repeating pattern had been established. Blaine would call me and invite me over but at the same time tell me he wasn't going to be home. Usually the carrot would be one of Teresa's good meals. She was an excellent cook and it didn't take much to get me over. Whenever I arrived the same thing would happen: Teresa would excuse herself to the basement to do laundry, thereby leaving Winter and me alone. As a general rule, Winter would be running around half-naked - T-shirt and panties. And her suggestive behavior was becoming ever more explicit and harder to explain away. Somebody had upped the ante. I saw the pattern.
This brings us to the day just before Winter's tenth birthday. Blaine had called: "Come on over. I won't be home."
[Pay close attention to this incident. It was to become the source of the major lie perpetrated by the prosecution from my tapes.]
As soon as I entered the house, Teresa excused herself to the basement. I sat on the couch, which was positioned away from the kitchen door. Winter immediately asked me to time her with my watch in a certain position. "Sure," I said, though I didn't have a clue as to what she had in mind.
She lay on her back on the floor directly in front of me. Then with her elbows on the floor she held her
bottom up with both hands and spread her legs as far apart as she possibly could. I was about three feet from her.
So there I was sitting on a couch with a ten-year-old girl exposing herself in front of me. At one point Teresa even came back upstairs and stood in the kitchen doorway and stared. Saying nothing, she returned to the basement, leaving me facing her little girl's exposed groin. Winter held that position for two minutes. This was too flagrant.
The next day I went out and bought two recorders, a phone recorder and a small pocket recorder. I was determined to get proof of the entrapment, or at least to document it as it progressed.
The next time Blaine called to invite me over I took the small recorder with me. On the way over in my truck I talked into it. I described what I suspected. And I predicted what would happen when I arrived: that Teresa would excuse herself to the basement and then Winter would engage in some kind of explicitly suggestive behavior.
I entered the house. Teresa excused herself to the basement. I sat on the couch. [It had been moved. Now it projected out from the side window, giving a clear view to anyone out in the night.] Immediately, Winter went down on her knees in front of me and bent over, putting her face on the floor and her bottom in the air. She swayed back and forth that way no more than two feet from my face.
My recorder was running in my pocket and I described her position and her swaying bottom: "Winter is on her knees in front of me with her face on the floor and she's swaying her butt back and forth in front of my face." Remember, I was trying to document the entrapment.
I asked her what she was doing. She answered that she was "looking for something under the couch."
This went on. I continued talking, getting my proof on tape. Now when I asked she explained her position by saying the floor felt good on her face.
When she finally arose, and because I was trying to get proof, I asked her about the split-legged pose from the day before.
"It's easy, Earl," she replied. "You can do it." And she got into it to show me.
I said, "No, I can't."
Then, because I was trying to prove the entrapment, I asked her about a phone call she had made to me earlier. I said something like, "Remember when you called me once and you were making sucking sounds over the phone and you said it felt funny having a liquid squirt and hit the back of your throat?" And I asked, "What were you sucking on?"
And Winter replied, "I told you, Earl, a medicine dropper." And, indeed, she had told me that in reply to my question at the time.
Because I was trying to prove the entrapment I asked Winter, "Winter, when you eat popsicles around me and no one else is looking, why do you ram them in and out of your mouth in short rapid movements?"
Winter angrily replied, "I don't do that, Earl." But then Winter's basic honesty betrayed the operation. She added, "Maybe five or six times." My tape had run out before we got to the subject of popsicles, but if my original tapes are ever allowed to surface, you will see that my tape runs out exactly where I say it does. [Or you can check the police recording of that conversation. I guarantee you they have one.]
In the absence of the official police tape, you only have to check the trial tapes to verify my accuracy in reporting this conversation. The prosecution played the tape I recorded on my machine, but with a critical alteration. They omitted the explanation as to why I was making the tape that I had provided as I drove to the Hodges' house before the conversation. They omitted the fact that I was making the tape in order to prove the existence of their plan to entrap me.
They played back my descriptions of Winter's suggestive behavior, making me seem to be a dirty old man. They portrayed me as the victimizer of Winter instead of the victim of their scheme. And that is exactly how the jury read it. It was pure false evidence. And what did my lawyers do? They sat mute and did not object.
Later I will connect the dots between the entrapment and the Roanoke City authorities. The entrapment ran from 1991 to 1994. Ask yourself how the Roanoke City prosecutor from 1989 to 1994 became my main defense lawyer. And ask yourself why I was convicted in the most fraudulent trial in Virginia's history. Start with Mac Doubles.
But let's go back to afore-mentioned incident at the Hodges house. After Winter arose from the floor (after she'd done her duty), she began playing one of those little BB maze games, the kind in a clear plastic box that you tilt back and forth to maneuver through the maze. I timed her playing this as well.
Blaine returned as she was playing. He was so tense you could have shattered him with a hammer. Winter
continued to play, over and over, and I timed her each time. Blaine just sat there staring at us as if he had murder on his mind. No doubt he did.
There is no doubt in my mind (then or now) that Winter's little performance was under surveillance by the police. I'm sure they figured they'd rung my bell enough so that I was right on the verge of reaching out and grabbing what I was salivating for. Instead they discovered I was wise to their operation and even getting proof of it on my recorder. It had to be obvious to anyone who had that scene under surveillance that I was taping. Blaine's demeanor that night told me that.
Winter, by the way, went from being able to complete the maze in about two minutes to completing it in 15 seconds. I was trying to show her how amazing the human brain is. She showed me how amazing her brain was.
If I had any doubts that I was the target of an entrapment operation, or that Winter's performance had been under surveillance by the police, they disappeared the next day. Blaine asked me to help him pick up a new chair for a friend of his and help him carry it up to her apartment. On the way in his truck, Blaine asked out of the blue, "Earl, do you know what entrapment means?"
I replied, "Yes, I know what entrapment means."
Nothing more was said on the subject. Blaine really didn't need to ask me that question. He knew I knew what entrapment meant. He and the police who had been watching as Winter put on her performance had figured that out pretty quick!
[Did a second surveillance take place in that house? Absolutely. Winter, with her flirtations, would inevitably lead me to the living room. On one or two occasions she tickled me. When I retaliated by tickling her back she let out a scream: "Don't touch my butt!" I was shocked. I hadn't come near. So why did she scream out such a thing so loud? [Mac Doubles ignored me in asking about this under discovery, but Mr. Grimes, in his letter to the prosecution of July 9, 1997, finally asked for this information. If anything was turned over, Doubles sat on it.]
Immediately following Winter's bottom-swaying performance I had become both disgusted and frightened. I decided to wash my hands of the Hodges family. I called the postal inspector in charge of Blaine's case, the fellow named Fonzeno. At that point Blaine was awaiting trial.
I had a valid reason for seeing Fonzeno. In addition to the $4600 missing from his cash drawer, Blaine had just borrowed $1500 from his credit union. The question was (and is): where did the money go? [After his trial Blaine let me read the transcripts. Fonzeno had testified that Blaine had also been behind in 16 of 17 of his personal accounts.] I had been aware of Blaine's problem before the trial. He needed to account for his money. So I foolishly offered to give him a fake receipt showing he had paid me some money.
A friend of mine, Dick Mallen, had given me a complete, ready-to-go plaque printing business: screens, artwork, paints, etc. Dick was in a bind. He had it all in storage and had to move it. I accepted the business reluctantly, as I hated to work with the paint thinners involved, either lacquer thinner or acetone. So I in turn gave the business to Blaine. When Blaine needed to account for his money, I suggested he just say he paid me for the business and I would give him a fake receipt. Once I realized that he was using his little girl in an attempt to entrap me, I wanted either to make sure I hadn't broken the law with my offer, or, if I had, to make it clear I was ready to face the consequences.
A month after my initial call to Fonzeno, he called me back and set up a meeting. In that meeting Fonzeno listened to my story and told me that since I hadn't followed through with the fake receipt, I had not broken the law. Then he asked me if I would testify against Blaine. I said, "Absolutely not." Thereafter Fonzeno committed perjury against me, testifying I told him that Blaine had something on me. Fonzeno had learned his lines.
[It's in the record that they found $4000 in post-dated checks made out to Blaine at the crime scene. Not only did I give Blaine that business for free, I found him a buyer for it. Those checks were his payment.]
With that Fonzeno meeting I had intended to wash my hands of the Hodges family and to stay away from them for good. I did - for about two weeks. But Teresa and Winter kept calling me, inviting me to come back over. I realized I was Blaine's ticket out of serious prison time. So, for Teresa and the kids, I began to visit again ("put my head on the chopping block"). After all, Teresa and Winter were just following orders, and I had grown extremely close to Winter and Anah; they had become my daily joys. And I realized that Blaine had already cut his deal, and it was clear to me from those bogus sexual battery charges from 1984 that Roanoke City had no qualms about going into court with a little girl willing to commit perjury for them. So I decided to get my proof on tape, and I did.
But the bottom line for me, the real reason I decided to keep Blaine out of prison, was Winter Ashley Hodges. You only had to hear her say "Daddy" and you knew how much she needed her father. So I began to tape
As I've mentioned, in that first year or so of Winter's questionable antics, I told two friends about it, and I did one more thing. I wrote out a long statement listing my suspicions and every incident I could recall. I took that eighty-page or so statement and mailed it to myself from the main post office near the Civic Center to my apartment on Franklin Road, a distance of about five miles. My intent was to keep that statement sealed for future use. But I had said something in it about that flaky family friend, Jack Storm, that was to provide more impetus toward solidifying the conclusions I was rapidly drawing.
In the statement I described Jack as "too damn dumb to be FBI; he must be state police." I also said "I was going out to buy recorders and start recording all my calls and conversations."
The time period covered by the statement, as near as I can recall, was the first six months of 1992. 1 had mailed it in a plain manila envelope, and about eight or nine days later, still had not received it, though it was only about five miles across town. I went back to the main post office to inquire about it. The first clerk I asked told me, "I remember that package. You probably had the wrong zip code on it."
I walked away wondering if that clerk remembered every plain manila envelope that passed through his hands, or if there was another reason he had such a vivid memory of it.
About ten days later I finally received the statement. This was the US Postal Service, so I didn't think too much about the delay. But a few days later I was sitting in Blaine's back yard listening to a conversation between him and Jack Storm. Out of the blue Jack announced: "I'm going to go out and buy recorders and start recording all my calls and conversations." I was stunned. Nothing more was said on the subject. Blaine got up and went into the house.
Jack and I stayed put. Jack said to me, "Next week I have to go up to Northern Virginia to qualify." I didn't reply.
Jack's comment about recording conversations had come straight out of my statement. Was his "qualify" comment made because my "too damn dumb to be FBI" remark had insulted his intelligence? Did he feel compelled to let me know that he was, indeed, FBI? The FBI Academy is in Northern Virginia at Quantico. [I'm also aware that Virginia State Police officers go to Quantico for training.]
Had they intercepted my package as soon as I walked away from the Post Office counter? Or had they entered my apartment when I wasn't there and read that statement? All I knew was that Jack seemed to know what I'd said in that statement!
About a month after Jack's "qualify" statement, I asked Blaine, "Does Jack shoot much?" Blaine answered quickly, saying, "No, Jack doesn't even own a gun."
I replied, "Well, last month he said he had to go up to Northern Virginia to qualify."
Blaine did a U-turn. He said, "Oh, I think he shoots at On Target a lot." I let it drop.
Then later on something else occurred that heightened my suspicions about Jack. Both of the Hodges vehicles had broken down, and I had loaned them a Buick that had once belonged to my son. Both the Buick and my truck were at the house and I was transferring my stuff from the Buick to the truck. Jack was there. My arms were full and my tape recorders were on top of the pile. Jack spotted them. He came running over and stared so hard at the recorders he could have gotten the serial numbers off them. Neither one of us said a word.
One day I asked Blaine, "Where did you meet Jack?"
Blaine replied that he had picked Jack up when Jack had been hitch-hiking back from Lynchburg, where Jack's van had broken down.
A few days later, I asked Teresa, "Where did you meet Jack?"
Teresa replied that she had met him "at a Laundromat." This was odd, but not impossible.
And another curious fact about Jack. Recall that teenage lesbian triangle that resulted in an intense police investigation of me around 1981. At the time I was living with my brother at Quail Valley Apartments in Roanoke. Incredibly, Jack seemed to be familiar with a conversation that had taken place there between my brother and me. If this seems unlikely, then let me mention that some photographs I had taken of a girl named Mary Jane Moran disappeared out of the lower left hand drawer of my dresser there (in 1981) and then turned up listed as evidence in my 1997 trial under some unadjudicated notices. The prosecution referred to them as "provocative," but they were nothing of the sort. Mary Jane had simply been in a bathing suit and the pictures were entirely innocent. Evil is in the Eye of the Beholder.
There are only a couple of possibilities regarding Jack. (1) Blaine had clued him in on the whole operation,
or (2) Jack was the police coordinator of what was going on from 1991 to 1994. My opinion: he was FBI, the coordinator.
Another factor no one has considered concerning Blaine's motivation for involving his little girl in a sexual entrapment operation is that Jack was assisting Blaine in his efforts to get full disability fora knee injury he'd suffered in his short stint in the army. Jack himself was supposedly on full disability, and had told Blaine that full disability would be worth a million dollars to him over a lifetime. If Jack was the federal agent I thought he was, Blaine would have received his full disability, plus his post office job and retirement back. Blaine was an Amway salesman; he knew how to add up the numbers.
There's one more motivating factor that may have been as powerful as any. Blaine was a police groupie; he liked to rub shoulders with the badges. When "Miami Vice" was popular, Blaine wore his hair slicked back like Don Johnson, and he never missed an episode.
Here's another odd thought. Did Blaine really steal $4600 from the Post Office, or was the whole thing just a scam - a sting? In my meeting with Fonzeno I broached this possibility. Fonzeno replied that in order for that to be true, Blaine would have to have had a year off.
I said to Fonzeno, "He's had a year off." Fonzeno just looked at me. He never did respond.
I still believe it may have been a sting, but it's only a slim possibility. I feel it's more likely Blaine got caught stealing and made a deal. Blaine, after all, had what they needed: a brilliant, beautiful little girl for bait, a wife that followed orders, and a close friendship of nearly 25 years with me.
Back to Jack. Was he FBI? If so, how did the feds get involved? As a result of that lesbian triangle blowup in 1981, every girl I had ever known was interviewed by the police. Two of them bear on these questions.
Around 1980 I took two young ladies with me to Nags Head on a vacation. They were underage, but their mothers had given permission. Their names were Pam Christian Thornhill and Billy Lambert [both later committed perjury against me]. About a year after the Nags Head trip Billy informed me the two girls had been interviewed by the Roanoke City police, the Virginia State police, and the FBI. No charges resulted from those interviews, which
was the result I expected, as I had been a perfect gentleman on that trip. But the interview reports were withheld under discovery, unless my lawyer Mac Doubles, in colluding with the prosecution, sat on them. But how did the feds get involved? Crossing state lines with an underage female for immoral purposes falls under the federal Mann Act. As I knew it would not, their investigation turned up no immoral acts.
Since these and other girls were a factor in my case, during the trial the prosecutor Burkhart made the statement (more than once) that these girls (used in the penalty phase) had just come forward unasked. This was false. The authorities purposefully dug into my past to find them, and they made sure to find girls who were willing to commit perjury.
In fact several of the girls appearing in the penalty phase committed provable perjury - if I can authenticate some dates.
Let me get back to the entrapment. After the incident in which Winter's bottom was swaying in my face, followed the next day by Blaine's question to me about my understanding of entrapment, I knew they knew I was wise to their scheme; consequently, I expected Winter's performances would cease. They did cease - for two or three weeks - only to resume and accelerate. My understanding of the two or three week hiatus is as follows (there are a couple of possibilities).
The police did not know that Blaine was using Winter as bait, but their secret surveillance revealed exactly what was going on - and that I was taping proof - causing them to call a halt to it. Indeed, shortly thereafter, Blaine expressed his frustration at the government for their parsimony in spending money on future investigations. I didn't ask him what he was talking about; I thought his meaning was clear enough. Namely, that the government - the
police - had halted the entrapment - temporarily.
Another possibility is that the authorities realized that Blaine had become careless and botched the entrapment, allowing me to discover it. Either way, I saw a lull in the operation.
Let me say that I realize my speculations as to the cause of the lull are not entirely consistent - if the police didn't know what Blaine was doing with Winter, why the surveillance? But I believe Blaine was dealing with the Roanoke authorities, while it was the Vinton police who actually carried out the surveillance, and who most likely were in the dark on the details. Indeed, that's how they would have worked it - to make it all appear legitimate. Officer Brown from Vinton in the pretrial investigation in South Carolina revealed information that confirms this thesis. But I don't want to get sidetracked here. Let me expand on the lull, because it was real - no matter what
As I mentioned, I had stayed away from the Hodges house for a few weeks. On the first visit following this interruption, something out of the ordinary happened. I walked into the kitchen from outside and found Teresa and Winter there. Winter had on a T-shirt and panties. This had become her normal attire. Winter gave me a hard stare. I could see the wheels spinning. Then she ran upstairs and returned with shorts on. This was not normal; something had changed. For the next couple of weeks the suggestive performances were not repeated. For whatever reason, I believe, the police had called the operation off - temporarily.
Then in early 1993 the performances resumed and went into overdrive. Winter constantly found suggestive objects to put in her mouth. What she did with them there could only be interpreted as expert simulation of oral sex. Suffice it to say examples included Yahoo bottles and popsicles and frosting-slathered fingers. It was impossible to believe that Winter didn't know what she was doing. I joked about it at the time with my friend Arlie, but it was no
joke. The operation had intensified.
[Remember - I'm trying to explain how I concluded that I was the target of an official scheme to sexually entrap me. I'm not placing blame on the essentially sweet and innocent Winter, who didn't have an evil bone in her body. To the contrary, I'm telling the brutal truth because Winter deserves no less.]
I stated earlier that I'm one stupid SOB. Not mentally quick would have been a better way to put it. It's taken me more than a year to fully comprehend what occurred in my trial. And it was a good while after the performance that inspired me to buy my tape recorders that the true significance of that performance finally sank in. As you have seen, my confused state of mind is reflected in my early tapes. My attempts on those tapes to puzzle out the meaning of Winter's behavior reflect reluctance - as well as plain slow-wittedness - to reach terrible conclusions.
There came a moment when I could no longer deny my suspicions. It was late 1992 or early 1993. I was at the house. Teresa needed something from the supermarket and I volunteered to go get it. Somehow I left my tape recorder atop the cluttered refrigerator. It was in recording mode. Later I discovered that I had picked up a conversation among Teresa, Winter, and Blaine.
Teresa, it seemed, was showing Winter something about how to eat a popsicle. Blaine had just come home. I'll recall the conversation as best I can.
Winter: Dad, I don't want to do this anymore.
Blaine: Goddamn it, Winter, do you want me to go to jail?
There's a bang that I know to be the back door as Blaine storms outside (as he was prone to do when angry). Shortly he returns.
Winter: What kind is that, Mom?
Blaine: What difference does it make, Winter, just pretend it's a dick-sicle and suck it.
The tape ends with their laughter. To anyone not familiar with what had been going on in the house, that tape would mean nothing. But I knew exactly what it meant: Winter had acquired her expertise from good coaching. It also meant that Winter didn't want to be doing what she had been doing; she had been following orders.
Days after acquiring that tape, I was in the back yard with Winter, near the Mulberry tree. I had confronted Teresa already; now I wanted to confront Winter, to let her know that I knew why she had been behaving as she had. I had planned and rehearsed. My recorder, loaded with a fresh cassette, was running in my shirt pocket. I told Winter that I knew. I had caught her by surprise and was graphic in my explanation. She told me I was "nuts." I told her I had a tape of her mom's coaching. To make the point, I slipped out the tape that had been recording and loaded the "Goddamn it, Winter" tape and played it for her. While Winter absorbed this new reality, I slipped in a new cassette and continued recording. Winter didn't notice this sleight of hand; she seemed stunned, finally asking "why?" I told her I was keeping her dad out of jail for her, for her mother, and for Anah.
Winter said one word to me: "Thanks."
I told my defense team about the above three tape cassettes, which I call my "Mulberry Tree" tapes. Mac Doubles wrote me a letter saying he hadn't found them in the tapes turned over to him by the police. No doubt they went up in smoke as soon as officer Keesee heard them. They were distinctively wrapped in masking tape and I saw
a crime scene photo of them right inside the door of my storage locker when they searched it.
By early 1993 both Teresa and Winter knew that I knew, that I was aware of the operation, that I was aware that Blaine had cut a deal with the police. It seems logical that the entrapment effort would therefore cease. But it did not. It accelerated. There were a couple of things at work. One, Blaine was getting closer to his jail time; and two, Winter had acquired a new sense of freedom.
I knew that Winter had been an unwilling participant. [I overheard a conversation by the water spigot outside the kitchen that I will relate later.] But Winter knew that what she was doing was wrong, and she didn't like it. After the confrontation by the Mulberry Tree, I believe, she found a new freedom. As long as I knew, her teasing wasn't so bad. It became like game. Let me recall another incident.
I was working in Lynchburg, Virginia during the second half of 1993. Most weekends I returned to Roanoke, often staying at the Hodges house. On one such weekend I was on my way upstairs to use the bathroom. [The stairway going up to the second floor where the bedrooms and bathroom were was as good as a burglar alarm. It creaked and groaned with every step.] There was a sliding curtain across the top of the landing and it was more than halfway open. When I was about ten steps from the top, Winter suddenly came out of her bedroom and walked to the window overlooking the back yard - directly in front of me. Winter was naked. I stopped frozen in my tracks. Winter nonchalantly gazed out the window for a minute or so, then calmly walked back to her bedroom. She never looked at me. After catching my breath I made my way to the bathroom. About three days later Winter and I were alone together.
She asked, "Earl, did you see me when I walked over to the window the other day?"
My response, I believe, demonstrates the kind of bluntly honest person I am. I told her, "Yes, Winter, I saw you, and there are some girls that are beautiful with their clothes on and some that are beautiful with their clothes off. You, Winter, are lucky. You are beautiful both ways."
Winter just dropped her head, deep in thought. Nothing more was said.
I don't believe Winter was just following orders when she did that. I think it was more a matter of hormones kicking in. That scene at the top of the stairs was no accident.
Winter was a beautiful girl, inside and out, without an evil bone in her body. I felt privileged to see her grow and mature. At the same time, like any man with eyes and a modicum of imagination, I could see she was going to grow into a beautiful woman, with all that implied. So I'm only being honest when I say she was quite capable of stimulating in me a great appreciation for her erotic potential. And as I have described, she was already quite adept at erotic performance, though that performance was directed by others. Again, since the issue of pedophilia has been raised, let me state that while I can appreciate the innocent charms of a beautiful little girl like Winter, and am even susceptible to having my imagination tweaked by a practiced performance, my response is in no way perverted or abnormal. I have eyes and I have an imagination. Any man possessing those two attributes who says he doesn't see the erotic potential in a girl like Winter I will call a liar. Let me make one further point: I have a conscience. There's no way I could even think about harming those I love. So let the chips fall where they may. What matters to me most in writing this statement is that the truth be made public. Winter deserves the truth.
One of the first things I did after I started work in Lynchburg was pack my tapes into two boxes and send them to my sister in Indiana, with clear instructions to hold the boxes for me, unopened. I even wrote on the inside wrapper, "Do not open. Hold for Earl Bramblett."
When I became the suspect in the Hodges murders, my elderly sister, not knowing what was in the sealed boxes, apparently panicked. Her imagination running away with her, she called the local sheriff and asked him to hold the boxes for her [court testimony]. When he arrived at her house he told her, "Those are your boxes." [court testimony]. He then went to his patrol car and retrieved a knife. Handing it to my sister, he told her, "Open the boxes." [court testimony]
She complied. The contents, some fifty tapes and four photographs, were turned over to Virginia police. Virginia State Police officer Barry Keesee possessed them until my trial, where he played passages selectively copied and taken out of context in order to distort their meaning and intent. My lawyers never objected. They never challenged the authenticity of the tapes played at trial despite knowing that Keesee had told a witness before my trial that he (Keesee) had been after me since 1970.
There were numerous such distortions. Again, the explanation I gave for making the tape prior to that bottom swaying performance was omitted. On another tape where I had said, "Winter puts pressure on a man," they omitted what came before and after. They repeatedly played only the parts where I described Winter's inappropriate
and suggestive behavior, leaving the jury the impression that I derived sexual pleasure from it. It was devastating, if false and irrelevant. Their technique, applied to the Bible, would turn it into a work of pornography. But they accomplished their goals. They appealed to the emotions and passions of the jury, and they covered up the scheme to entrap me.
Why would my lawyers want the entrapment covered up? Because my main lawyer, Mac Doubles, had been the very prosecutor from Roanoke City who oversaw the entrapment. Remember he was prosecutor from 1989 to 1994, the period during which the entrapment took place.
I'll cite one more example of the collusion between my lawyers and the prosecution. In my direct appeal, my lawyers described what was on my tapes as sexual fantasies about Winter. That is the prosecution's line, and it is false. There is not one comment by me on my original tapes, taken in context, expressing improper feelings toward Winter. Do you package your sexual fantasies and mail them more than a thousand miles to your sister? Absurd! You don't do that with sexual fantasies. You do that with evidence.
The one thing that will prove everything I say about my tapes is my original tapes themselves. The following relates how and when I reached this fundamental conclusion and what I did about it.
Immediately after my death sentence was imposed, I was transferred to Mecklenburg Correctional, where Virginia's death row was located at that time. On January 28 and 29 of 1998, one of my lawyers, Mr. Grimes, wrote me letters that contained several bold-faced lies. Stunned at first, I then realized what he was doing. Two things: (1) He was attempting to lend an air of credibility to the lie by putting it in an official letter; and (2) he was attempting to cover himself for his unethical, illegal, and immoral actions as my defense attorney.
Yet I am grateful for those lies, because they clarified for me the role that my lawyers played in the frame-up. As a consequence of this realization, I also realized that my lawyers (who became my appeal lawyers over my objection to the Virginia Supreme Court) would not raise the proper and relevant issues on my direct appeal. They would not raise the primary fraud and falsehood that determined the outcome of my trial: the out-of-context playing of my altered tapes in order to deceive the jury into an emotion-driven and therefore erroneous verdict.
With one exception, I will not go into all the hundreds of pages I have mailed in letters to the courts. That exception concerns the issue of my tapes.
I knew my original tapes (not the alterred copies, though there might be enough even in them to prove the truth) were the one thing that could prove the truth of what I have said. So I attempted to obtain them.
First, and only because I knew that I had to follow the chain of command, I asked my lawyers to file certain motions: to secure and impound certain evidence and to secure and impound my original tapes. My lawyers ignored me, as I knew they would.
Second, I asked my trial judge to take those actions.
Third, I asked the Appeals Court of Virginia to take those actions.
Both my trial judge and the Appeals Court told me that only my lawyers could take those actions, so I was back to square one. I knew that my trial lawyers weren't about to ask for proof of their own collusion in my frame-up.
Fourth, I asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to take those actions. They ignored me.
Fifth, I repeated my request to the Supreme Court of Virginia. This time, at least, Mr. Beach of the Supreme Court of Virginia wrote back to deny my request.
Sixth, I asked Federal Judge Turk to assist me in securing my original tapes, as well as other evidence pointing to my innocence and prosecutorial malfeasance. Since I was still in the state system, he denied me.
Seventh, I gave a private citizen, Dr. Douglas Chandler Graham, power of attorney to deal with the
evidence and to review my entire case file held by my lawyers. I particularly wanted Graham to have the opportunity to review the seventy or so tapes.
[I will enclose a letter that I wrote to my lawyers on May 27, 1999, that expands on this issue.]
I wrote Mr. Grimes and instructed him to allow Dr. Graham to review the evidence and to hear the tapes. Dr. Graham contacted Mr. Grimes.
But Grimes stonewalled Dr. Graham, refusing to show him anything. Grimes even lied to Graham, telling him that the Virginia Bar had recommended that action. Hearing this, I wrote to the Virginia Bar and Mr. Grimes' lie was exposed. Initially, the Bar had told Grimes to let Dr. Graham see my file. But Grimes was resourceful; he made me an offer I could only refuse. He stated to me that he would send me my file, here at Sussex 1 State Prison, but
that if he did, he would not be able to file future appeals in my behalf What kind of offer was that? I'm penniless on death row. Whatever, it was good enough for the Virginia Bar. Case closed.
[Again, my letter of May 27, 1999, to Grimes and Doubles expands on this issue.]
[I have written my Salem attorneys (Roanoke County quickly appointed two "local" Salem attorneys to handle my habeas appeal) and instructed them to let Dr. Graham review my file. I learned on September 1, 1999, that they finally have allowed Dr. Graham access to my records - and to the prosecution's copies of my tapes. Let's see what my trial lawyers turned over and what remains of my tapes. This is an evolving process, and I have to be patient, but it's been over a year of frustration in one failed attempt after another to get my trial lawyers to grant Dr. Graham access to my records. And the battle to secure my original tapes continues unabated.]
Eighth, I asked the Virginia Bar for assistance in securing my original tapes. There has been no response to this request either.
Ninth, consider this my ninth effort to secure my original tapes.
To reiterate. The proof of everything I've said about my original tapes and what's on them and what I will say about them - exists. It exists on my original tapes themselves, or on what's left of them.
I will return to telling how I concluded that I was the target of an official scheme of sexual entrapment. I realize I'm jumping all over the place, but pay attention.
By 1992 I had witnessed numerous instances of Winter's sexually suggestive behavior, many of them observed and apparently orchestrated by her parents. Early in that year, Blaine's brother Timmy came for a visit. At the time Timmy was in the Merchant Marine working in the Gulf of Mexico. I had met him a few times before, and to my recollection he had never been in my place of business. Nevertheless, during this visit, when he and I were talking privately, he asked me, "Whatever happened to that little red head that used to work for you?"
The question took me completely by surprise. Although I'd had five or six red heads work for me, I knew exactly who he was referring to: Tammy Lynn Akers, the girl who'd gone missing in 1977. So I said, "You mean Tammy Lynn Akers?"
When he indicted that was indeed who he meant I told him I didn't know and let it drop.
Later I told Blaine that his brother had asked about Tammy. Blaine was visibly upset and quickly replied, "Oh, he used to go to [Blaine mentioned a couple of the local junior high schools, none of which were where Tammy went]." Consider what Blaine had attempted to do. He had tried to divert attention from how Timmy had known to ask me about a girl that had been missing for 20 years to how Timmy had happened to know Tammy. At least that's how I read it. I believe Timmy asked the question because he knew Blaine had cut a deal with the police that had to do with Miss Akers. Blaine's father had also made a remark to me some weeks earlier indicating he knew of Blaine's deal - and to let me know he knew.
[I will briefly address the 1977 case at the end of this statement.]
In late 1991 or early 1992 1 was working in Blaine's garage, which was about 30 feet from the house. Blaine wasn't home. I was thirsty. Walking over to the water spigot below the kitchen window and kneeling to get a drink, I was aware that Winter and Teresa had entered the kitchen. They were in a hot argument about something and didn't know I was there.
Winter screamed, "I don't want to do what Dad wants me to do anymore."
Teresa replied, "Be quiet or he'll hear you."
I was the only "he" around and I knew what Winter didn't want to do anymore. I suppose at that point I should have run like hell but I didn't. Shortly after this was when I confronted Teresa in the kitchen and she thanked me. And I knew that Winter was just following orders.
From late 1992 to mid-1993 1 was working out of town a lot, and from mid-1993 to the end of the year I was working in Lynchburg. Blaine had been charged and tried and found guilty by sometime in 1992, yet he was still out on appeal in 1994.
At the beginning of 1994 I came back to work in Roanoke; consequently I spent a lot of time at the Hodges house. Several things occurred there that need telling.
One day I noticed Teresa sitting in the living room going through all the family photos. There were piles of them. [Remember I had secretly looked at them.] Teresa seemed to be looking for something in particular, but I didn't ask and she didn't volunteer the information. She kept this up for days. It was odd.
Then one day she asked me if I wanted to sit down with her and look through the photos. I said "sure."
Winter was looking on. After about 20 photos, out popped a picture of Winter in the nude. Winter looked embarrassed as Teresa showed me the rest of her handful of pictures. If this had happened only once, it wouldn't have been significant. But it occurred several times over the next couple of weeks. We'd sit down to view the family photos and out would pop a picture of Winter in the nude. Recall that picture of Winter with her bottom sticking out from a doorway. When it appeared Winter called it her "buns of steel." We all laughed.
But sweet Teresa Hodges had been stacking the deck. She'd spent days going through the photos and culling out the ones she wanted me to see. Why would she want me to see her little girl in the nude? Probably for the same reason she often had Winter walk around in see-thru negligees. Teresa was trying to keep her husband out of prison.
Now the videos. One evening Teresa asked me if I wanted to sit down with her and Blaine and watch a family video. As usual I was willing. Teresa started the video and I immediately recognized it as the one where Winter's gown falls off, leaving her naked from the neck down except for her panties. [Recall I had secretly looked at all the family videos.]
About a minute before that scene appeared, Blaine got up and left the room - and Teresa followed him. I was nonplussed. Hadn't I just been invited to watch a video with them? Somewhat irritated, I followed them into the kitchen. The video played on to an empty room. Why had Winter's parents done it? Consider this: Blaine's partner in crime, Mike Fulcher, eventually got 48 years behind bars; Blaine stayed home.
I hadn't seen the last of those "family" photos featuring nude little Winter; I was to see them one more time. Days after the final photo session, Teresa handed me all those pictures of Winter in the nude and asked me if I wanted them. She said they embarrassed Winter and I could have them if I wanted them. This offer left me wondering and I politely declined. But Teresa wouldn't let it rest, telling me again they embarrassed Winter and would I just throw them away for her. Reluctantly I took them. About half way across town I remembered something: Teresa always had two prints of each picture. If she really wanted to get rid of them, she would have given me both copies. I knew then that I was being set up. Those pictures found their final resting place in a trash can at a service station on Franklin Road.
The photo incident occurred three or four months before the murders. I was living in my camper behind Steel Services on Starkey Road.
There were two other photos that came into play at my trial. Very early (around 1991 or 1992) I had been talking to Teresa about Winter. Teresa dug out a couple of photos to show me how Winter had looked when she had long hair. One photo showed Winter with a bath towel around her and her long hair covering her chest. Another showed Winter (from the shoulders up) and Anah smiling in the bathtub. I asked Teresa if I could have the two pictures and she gave them to me. They were in the boxes seized in Indiana. The prosecution showed these two beautiful, innocent pictures to the jury, making them out to be objects of my sexual fantasies. "Evil is in the eye of the beholder."
Let me address the central question again. If I recognized the entrapment for what it was, why didn't I run like hell? Remember that I had proof and documentation of that entrapment safely tucked away in two boxes in Indiana. I also knew that Teresa and Winter were just following orders. Most important, despite what was going on, I had grown very close to Teresa, Winter, and Anah. Winter and Anah had become my daily joys. Let me recall another incident.
The winter of 1993 -1994 had been rough, with many ice storms and icy roads. I had returned to Roanoke at the first of the year. One day around that time I entered the Hodges house to find their stand-up fan broken and battered.
When I asked what had happened, I received a surprising answer, but it was how that answer was given that is interesting. At first Teresa and Winter were hesitant, but then the flood gates opened. Both became animated and competed to tell how Blaine had gone berserk one evening and thrown the fan down the stairs. It seemed that Blaine had ordered the girls to bed that evening, turning off their bedroom light before going to bed himself. Later, for
some reason, Teresa had gone to the girls' room and forgotten to turn off the light when she left. Blaine woke up, saw the light on, and went berserk, leaping onto the girls' bed and ripping the light out of the socket.
The remarkable thing about this story was that both Teresa and Winter wanted to tell it to me. Winter, wound up like a coiled spring, wouldn't let Teresa get a word in edgewise. I could see Teresa, wanting to tell her part, was getting irritated with Winter, who nevertheless ended up telling the bulk of it. I sat there listening to those two women, realizing they had no one else to talk to about that terrible night. I doubt they ever told anyone else.
Winter said that when her father jumped up on the bed and pulled the light out of the socket glass and sparks were flying all over the place. She'd been scared to death and wanted to escape but the roads were too icy and they'd been trapped there with her father's wrath as the fan went crashing down the stairs.
This story serves two purposes here. It shows how "Blaine Hodges ruled his family with an iron fist." And it shows why "I didn't run like hell." How could I?
My tapes were safely tucked away in Indiana, but I had not expected them to come into play in a murder trial. I had expected a false sexual battery charge; after all, that was the deal between the Virginia authorities and Blaine. With my tapes safe, I had no fear of that charge. In fact I looked forward to embarrassing the people who'd perpetrated the scheme, if push came to shove.
Following the murders, once I'd collected my wits, I realized the police would immediately assume my guilt and begin my frame-up. Had I been a little smarter I would have realized that they would even pre-select my lawyers. They had to cover up the entrapment operation, and my tapes, having been illegally seized in early September, were in evidence. They couldn't take a chance on someone they hadn't selected themselves cooperating in the cover-up of what was on those tapes.
Let me pull together just some of what I said on my original tapes:
(1) "The police are attacking me with a ten-year-old girl."
(2) "What's going on at the Hodges house is the result of an amoral mother and an immoral father."
(3) "The police gave Winter a job to do when she was ten and she's done it in spades."
(4) I made the "dangle a fish a worm" analogy five or six times. (Reference my May 27, 1999 letter enclosed)
(5) I stated more than 20 times why I was making the tapes, to prove and document the entrapment.
(6) A tape that Mac Doubles acknowledged to me exists, a tape he has heard. Jack Storm and I had been out sitting by the back door. There was a small roof over the door supported by two columns. Winter, about ten at the time, rode up on her bike. Still seated on the bike, she leaned against one of the columns, with one leg thrown over the handle bar. Jack and I had a clear view of her panties under a short skirt as she sat there talking to us. She may have been only ten, but it was an improper position. In a taped telephone conversation I had with her later on, I brought up the incident. I told her she should be more careful. I asked her, "Do you reckon you'll be more careful in the future?" She replied, "I reckon." I mention this tape because it's about the only one my lawyers acknowledge to exist.
(7) A statement suggesting the origin of the entrapment operation: "It was the Mike Fulcher get-out-of-jail plan, and Blaine stole it and made it his stay-out-of-jail plan. It's working better for Blaine than Mike."
(8) Most of the rest of my tapes are description of Winter's inappropriate behavior and a diary documenting my whereabouts on a day by day basis.
(9) Miscellaneous statements that contributed to the police desire to frame me.
a. I stated that "the police always get someone else to do their dirty work for them."
b. I said that "the police officers that become detectives are just the best liars on the force." [That must have ticked them off!]
[As I write this and recall other things I said on my tapes, I'll quote them. But let me make one thing clear. Those tapes were my property and still are. I am the only one who has a right to quote them, though I do realize that once quoted by me the quotes are public property.]
There is one aspect of the way the cover-up was conducted that is especially troubling to me, and that is the way my tapes were used to create what I will call the mental issue.
Very early one morning (while I was in the Roanoke County jail), I awoke to headlines in the local Roanoke Times saying my lawyers had called me "delusional." They would continue to paint me with that nasty brush throughout my trial and into my appeals, despite my clear objection all the way through. [I mailed the Virginia Supreme Court a 15-page statement rejecting the mental issue. Should I be able to retrieve a copy, I will enclose it here.]
Let me detail the why and how of the mental issue.
First, as to how it was done. Early on my lawyers convinced me that I had to talk to a psychologist. It was a necessary evil, so I thought. I foolishly agreed. In hindsight, I realize that the psychologist, a Mr. Nelson, was no more than a hired gun brought in for the purpose of declaring me paranoid and delusional. At any rate, I agreed and
awaited his visit to the jail.
Coincidentally, as I was waiting for Mr. Nelson to come by the jail, I was also expecting my court-appointed investigator, a Mr. Williams, who was scheduled to go shortly to Spartanburg, South Carolina (where I had lived for two years following the crimes) to check on some things pertaining to my case. I had prepared a long statement for Williams to assist him in South Carolina. What I said in that statement ended up being used in my competency hearing to paint me paranoid and delusional. I will explain how Nelson acquired that statement by deception and how he twisted and distorted what I said in it.
When I was notified that I had a visitor, I was expecting Williams, so I took along the statement I had prepared for him. But it was Nelson, not Williams, waiting for me. After our interview he asked about the statement I had with me. I explained it was for Williams. Nelson volunteered to give it to him. Foolishly taking him at his word, I gave it to him for that purpose.
Nelson had deceived me. He took the statement home and analyzed it cover to cover, then distorted what I had written at a preliminary hearing. Because I believe the contents of that statement were shared with the government's psychologists, I need to relate what I said in it.
I knew my time in Spartanburg would be important for several reasons. One, I had spotted undercover police tailing me at a local flea market about eight months before my arrest; two, my former roommate, James Owens, had let it slip some six months before my arrest that he had been interviewed by the police about the Vinton murders; three, the South Carolina police had conducted an elaborate scam about six months before my arrest to scare me into fleeing. So let me itemize what I listed for Williams in that statement.
(1) Detectives following me about eight months before my arrest.
(2) About six months before my arrest I had identified an undercover cop posing as a customer where I worked (Skyvision Signs).
(3) I had seen a man in a business suit hiding behind a tree watching me six months before my arrest.
(4) I had identified men living across from an old house that I had purchased for my sons as being police, keeping me under surveillance.
(5) The police scam to induce me to flee.
(6) That my boss Sherman Swofford was aware of my situation and was working with the police in their surveillance of me.
(7) That my former roommate, James Owens, had been interviewed by the police about me and Vinton.
I also listed other suspicions. I was thorough. I even included simple logistics: street numbers, phone numbers, etc.
Nelson's testimony at the preliminary hearing drew conclusions from the statement meant for Williams and from the interview I had with him.
My lawyer Grimes also testified. His testimony was based on my many notes and interviews with my defense team and on two other sources: (1) a letter I had written to the Roanoke Times, and (2) letters I had written to my sister, Bev Kaiser, that my lawyers had obtained by subpoena.
Let's consider Nelson's testimony as it involved my statement to Williams. All my stated suspicions he listed as delusions. He said I felt there were "fourteen of fifteen cops behind every tree." Now consider Webster's definition of delusional: a "belief held contrary to invalidating facts." In fact, Williams, in his investigation in South Carolina, confirmed that a South Carolina Sledd team of detectives had been following me for eight months and that an undercover cop had indeed come into our shop posing as a customer. And my former roommate, James Owens, committed perjury against me at my trial. And my boss in Spartanburg, Sherman Swofford, who is one of the finest men I've ever met, swears to me now that he had no knowledge of the police operation going on before my arrest. But consider what I have to say next about the police attempts to induce me to flee, and it will be clear where my "delusions" came from.
Toflee. I worked for Skyvision Signs in Spartanburg. We did contract sign work on site at Hoecst Cellonese in Spartanburg. One day leaving there I discovered at the guard shack that my security clearance had been unexpectedly canceled; my ID card was confiscated. On arriving back at our shop, two South Carolina State police cars were parked directly across the street in a huge parking lot otherwise devoid of cars. Those two cars were there
morning to night for four days. During those same days county patrol cars prowled constantly past my house, spotlighting it and occasionally turning around in my driveway. On the fourth day an undercover narcotics agent named Danny, who was a close friend of my boss, came by and stood on our porch talking into a walkie-talkie for about ten minutes, casting a dirty look in my direction the whole time. And my boss kept a new truck and its keys at the shop where I had access to them. I lived only a block from that shop. Could I be wrong that the police were trying to induce me to flee? Consider that on that first day with those two police cars across the street that our salesman, Brent Galloway, who had been in another office talking to Swofford, approached me and asked, "Do you want to tell me the real reason you left Virginia?"
I replied that it was a long story and let it drop.
The point is that what I had said about South Carolina was in no way delusional. I had drawn reasonable conclusions based on observable fact. Even if I'd been mistaken, I was not "delusional."
The Roanoke Times letter. As a result of the weekend headlines declaring me mentally defective, I wrote the Times a letter in which I fired my lawyers and stated that they were part of a conspiracy to keep me off the stand, and possibly also of the conspiracy to frame me. I mailed that letter to a third party with instructions to hold it until future instructions came. Early Monday morning following those weekend headlines, my lawyers paid me a visit. They knew I would be upset. They worked hard to convince me it had only been "a slow news day." So I told them about the letter, and I redirected it to them. But look at the suspicions expressed in that letter that were later used to make me appear delusional at the preliminary hearing. My lawyers did indeed spend a year talking me out of testifying and out of relying on the truth to defend myself. And now they're denying it. Finally, did they collude in my frame-up? You decide after you finish reading this entire statement.
My letters to my sister echoed the suspicions expressed in the Times. In one letter that was quoted in court I stated about Mac Doubles that "I either had a dud for a lawyer or he was working on a hidden agenda." Doubles was no dud!
There area couple more points I want to make about Nelson and my statement to Williams.
In a meeting with Nelson subsequent to my having fired him, arranged by Doubles as a reconciliation meeting, I told Nelson that I had fired him because he had lied in court about my suspicions that I had been tailed by the police in South Carolina.
Nelson replied that there were no undercover police tailing me in South Carolina.
I was incredulous and asked him the basis of this statement.
He replied, "The Commonwealth said there weren't any."
I got up and left the room. Mr. Nelson had lost touch with reality.
And consider this. The last thing I said in that Williams statement was, "Now having said all that, let me say this - I could be wrong."
Nelson conveniently ignored that disclaimer, which should, after all, have removed my suspicions from the realm of the delusional. But let's face it. Nelson was a hired gun, earning his hundred bucks an hour.
As a result of that preliminary hearing, a full competency hearing was ordered. I had to talk to two government psychologists.
In the full competency hearing, Grimes basically testified for Nelson. Both of the government psychologists, plus Nelson's testimony by proxy, declared me delusional on the basis of several of my stated beliefs. Among those beliefs were the following.
(1) How the evidence against me would be gathered - that I would be framed.
(2) That my lawyers were in on the frame-up and conspired with the prosecution to keep me off the stand so that the truth could be kept from the public.
(3) That I had long been the target of police surveillance.
(4) That I had been the target of an official scheme to sexually entrap me with a ten-year-old girl as bait.
Consider again the definition of delusional: a belief held contrary to invalidating facts. Now look again at the basis on which I was declared delusional. I will address each point.
(1) I can now count approximately 70 falsehoods used to convict me. This statement addresses the central falsehood, the way in which the meaning of what was on my tapes was distorted before the jury. I'll also discuss other important falsehoods, but please go to Dr. Graham's website for an in-depth analysis of how evidence was concocted and manipulated to convict me. In short, how I was framed.
(2) From 1991 to 1994 I was the target of a police operation emanating from the Roanoke City prosecutor's office and verifiable as such. Recall that Detective Ruiz from Roanoke City interviewed several people about me in 1993. So does anyone believe it could have been an accident that Roanoke City's prosecutor from 1989 to 1994 became my defense attorney in 1996?
[About one month before my trial the entire defense team met with me as a culmination of their year-long effort to talk me out of testifying and out of relying on the truth in my defense. In a letter to me, Grimes has denied that meeting took place. His exact words in that meeting were: "Do you want the truth to come out or do you want to win this case?" And his argument to me was, "You have a better defense than that." But of course I did not. The truth was on my side: Blaine Hodges' involvement in a theft ring, his undercover police work, his drug involvement. But my lawyers did no more than skim the surface of that truth when they defended me. They should have pounded it relentlessly home.]
(3) As I have said, Officer Keesee of the state police told at least one person before my trial that he had been after me since 1970. After my trial it was reported in the Roanoke Times that the police had gone to my A-frame in 1984 looking for evidence as part of an intense investigation. [In discovery the prosecutor quickly volunteered to drop the 1984 battery charges as evidence against me in my 1997 trial since the charges had been dismissed. Mac Doubles just as quickly agreed. You have to see my trial tapes to see my disgust with Doubles. Had I known Doubles was a former Roanoke City prosecutor I would have realized where his decision came from and why he was in such a hurry to make it. He didn't want to get anywhere near the fact that the authorities had harassed me for years with bogus charges and unjustified surveillance.]
(4) The sexual entrapment issue is the most difficult. It seems a crazy notion on its face, and I have been advised (by Dr. Graham and others) to avoid it. In fact the psychologists thought the kind of entrapment I have described so unlikely that, ipso facto, I must be delusional. Yet, not only have no invalidating facts ever challenged my allegation, but there are many facts that support it. I've already discussed Roanoke City's obsessiveness in its attempts to close out the Tammy Lynn Akers case on my head, their ongoing schedule of interviews and investigations. That obsessiveness - coupled with Blaine Hodges' legal vulnerability, his friendship with me, and his family situation - apparently led the authorities to believe they could solve their long-standing problem in this thoroughly unethical, illegal, and morally corrupt manner. Blaine Hodges, remember, went scoff-free while his partner in that theft ring got 48 years.
Also consider the following items of information when adding up the "how" of my defense team's injection of a mental issue into my case.
A. They brought in the hired gun, Nelson, to say I suffered from some sort of "encapsulated delusional" mental disorder.
B. A month and a half before my trial, Mac Doubles told Roanoke Times reported Diane Struzzi that "Bramblett's delusions are so overriding that he can't function without them." This quote appeared in the August 30, 1997, edition of the Times.
C. Doubles questioned prospective jurors as to whether they had any mental illness in their family tree.
D. In my trial he questioned my sister Shirley from Indiana about my unhappy childhood. He stopped only when I handed my other lawyer a note to give Doubles that said, "If he doesn't stop arguing mitigating circumstances before the verdict, I'm going to raise hell."
E. Both the prosecutor and officer Keesee referred to me as mentally unbalanced in their court testimony.
Now as to the "why" of the mental issue. While I'm not a mental case, I'm also not mentally quick. It took me months to figure out the "why."
From day one my lawyers knew that I wanted to testify, and I never wavered from that position. The
enclosed letter of May 27, 1999, references a letter I wrote to the Roanoke Times on October 12, 1994. Doubles had retrieved a copy of that letter from my sister, Bev Kaiser, more than a year before my trial. In that letter I stated that "I would have plenty to say in a court of law." A government psychologist quoted me from an interview I had with him at the competency hearing. He stated that I had told him "there are some things more important than life," and the example I had given him was "the truth." In response to that testimony the prosecutor asked the psychologist if he thought I was sincere about testifying. The psychologist replied, "Yes, Bramblett wants his day in court."
Add it all up and my lawyers knew I would insist on testifying and they knew I would allege the entrapment. Thus the mental issue. It was their insurance against my testimony. The mental issue told the jury: "Bramblett is nuts; don't believe Bramblett." It was an effective ploy, and it's still working. It didn't matter to my lawyers that the mental issue also told the jury: "My client is guilty." I am neither nuts nor guilty, but that didn't matter to my lawyers, as their function was to keep knowledge of the entrapment from becoming public.
Still, I know, it seems just too crazy, the product of a delusional mind. The psychologists say so! [That's exactly why I needed proof, documentation, to establish something that no one would otherwise believe - that's why I needed my tape recordings.] So what if I took the stand and made the allegation? Who would believe me? All I can say is that the prosecution, the police, and my lawyers had a couple of problems in attacking my credibility, aside from my original tapes. The fact is, the entrapment operation was only one part of the scheme implemented by the police before the crimes. There was another part, also assisted by Blaine Hodges and his family, which I refer to as the espionage operation. The espionage operation also made use of the Hodges family. Its purpose was to get me to certain places at certain times, usually so I could "bump into" people from my past. On one occasion, just to get me to a certain place - period.
The problem for the authorities was that elements of the espionage operation were verifiable and pointed straight to Roanoke City's obsession with pinning the 1977 disappearance of Tammy Lynn Akers on me. Just, for example, consider that Detective Ruiz interviewed my ex-wife and other old friends in 1993.
This is important because the verification of any part of the espionage operation would lend credence to my allegations about the entrapment. Mac Doubles sure didn't want me to take the stand and talk about dirty Roanoke City police operations implemented during his tenure as city prosecutor. But if I did, he would make certain everyone thought I was certifiably crazy before I took the stand.
You can be certain as well that many, if not all, of the penalty phase witnesses had been interviewed by Detective Ruiz in 1993. Ruiz told my ex-wife that everybody she had talked to about me had said I was a real nice guy. [My defense team knew about those Ruiz interviews, and that they were favorable. Did Mac Doubles ask for them under exculpatory? He did not! He wasn't about to verify the existence of an operation that he, in all probability, oversaw.
To say there was a conflict of interest in Mac Doubles representing me is putting it mildly.
Look at it this way. The tapes that carried proof and documentation of the entrapment were seized in early September, 1994. Once the authorities heard them, they knew what was on them must be concealed from the public. This was accomplished. The concealment took the form of deliberate distortion. By selectively playing ambiguously suggestive passages while omitting explanatory material, they effectively altered the message I had intended to one that was its polar opposite. My lawyers sat on their hands while this took place.
What occurred was indictable, go-to-jail collusion. Mac Doubles and the Roanoke County prosecutors, the men who conducted the most fraudulent trial in the history of Virginia, are equally guilty. This is what occurred in the case: they couldn't solve the Hodges murders so they decided to close out the case on the head of the person they were after to begin with - me.
Why didn't I testify? The answer is simple. By day two of my trial I had realized that my lawyers had no intention of defending me; I knew that if I testified I would have been alone out there, facing both the prosecution and my lawyers. And I knew that my lawyers had used the mental issue to good effect. Anything I said was likely to be construed as the paranoid ravings of a lunatic.
There is one last point I want to make about the mental issue. After Nelson misinformed my competency hearing, I fired him and forbade my lawyers from using the mental issue. They used it anyway. I forbade them from citing it in my appeal. They cited it anyway. I wrote the Virginia Supreme Court a long statement rejecting the mental issue. They considered it anyway. Now since a writ of certiorari has been filed on this issue with the U.S. Supreme Court, I have no choice but to send them a copy of this statement.
This statement is my attempt to connect the dots between Winter's inappropriate touching at that basketball
game and the 1977 disappearance of Tammy Lynn Akers. I am also making the connection between the scheme to entrap me and the Roanoke City authorities. Detective Ruiz's interviews in 1993 make both connections. But there is more: the espionage operation implemented by the authorities and assisted by Blaine Hodges and his family.
There were several events in 1993 and 1994 that I recognized at the time as questionable. I informed my defense team about all of them a year before my trial, yet they refused to check any of them out, though all were easily verifiable. Why did they refuse?
A) In 1993 or 1994, for a period of several days, Winter talked to me about funnel cakes - how good they were. I had never heard of a funnel cake and attached no particular significance to her comments - until later. Then one evening, as was my habit, I dropped in at the Hodges house. Winter and Teresa were sitting there, dressed to go out. They stood up as I entered and said, "Let's go." When I asked where, they told me, "the Vinton Fair." It sounded like spur-of-the-moment kind of fun, and I was amenable. But as I rode with Teresa, Winter, and Anah to the fair, a suspicion came to me: they had been waiting for me.
At the fair I went off by myself for about half an hour, then rejoined the Hodges women. Winter immediately wanted to go to the "Funnel Cake House." Now I was expecting a surprise, and at the Funnel Cake House I got it. There was a girl from my past, Pam Christian Thornhill. Hiding my surprise I talked to her briefly, mostly about her sister Becky.
Blaine was home when we got back to the house. Teresa, no rocket scientist, told Blaine, "When we were at the Funnel Cake House, we saw that Vinton detective that used to come over all last summer." Blaine remained silent as Teresa's revelation dropped like a lead balloon.
But the next day Blaine volunteered to me, "That Vinton detective used to come over because his brother Donnie had gotten into a lot of trouble that summer." This was true, but why did Blaine feel he owed me an explanation? I hadn't asked for one.
Pam Christian Thornhill, of course, is the girl I took with me (along with Billy Lambert) to Nags Head around 1980. She and Billy had been interviewed by the Roanoke City police, the Virginia State Police, and the FBI about that trip. Again, those reports were withheld under discovery. As Roanoke City prosecutor from 1989 to 1994, Mac Doubles would have been familiar with those reports and probably the girls as well. And it's certain that Detective Ruiz re-interviewed them in 1993 under Mac Doubles' watch.
[If I murdered the Hodges family, why did they find it necessary to appoint as my main defense attorney the very prosecutor who had pursued me so diligently from 1991 to 1994? To conceal the entrapment from the public; and, since they couldn't solve the Hodges murders, to pin them on me, thus killing two birds with one stone.]
In the penalty phase of my trial, out of frustration at my lawyers for not cross-examining the witnesses, I asked Judge Willett if I could question them myself. He denied me, telling me to just "tell your lawyers the questions." When Pam appeared, I had Grimes ask Pam about being at the Vinton Fair.
She was ready with an evasive answer. She said that she had been at the "Salem Fair in 94." And Grimes let her get away with that evasive answer. So when the espionage operation was threatened with exposure, my lawyers quickly did their best to push it back under the rug.
Then I had Grimes ask Pam about the Nags Head interviews. Again, Pam was ready to evade. She replied that she had been interviewed about the trip in 1994 by Gus Necessary of the state police. Again, my lawyers let that evasive answer slide, though I had thoroughly familiarized them before trial about both the Vinton Fair incident and the Nags Head interviews.
Grimes did raise the point on my direct appeal that the prosecutor told him after my trial was over that two
of the girls originally had told different stories. I suspect this was Pam and Billy!
B) After recognizing the Vinton Fair incident as a set-up, I was highly suspicious when the Hodges family invited me to the Salem Fair, even giving me free tickets.
But before I relate what happened at the Salem Fair, I should mention what I told Blaine only a few weeks before. When Tammy Akers ran off around 1977, they - the family and the authorities - never identified the girl that ran off with Tammy. A couple of months after the disappearance I ran into Tammy's sister Lynda. In that brief meeting Lynda gave me enough information that I was able to figure out who Tammy had run off with, although I did not identify the other girl by name to Lynda. That girl was Angela Rader, sister to Walter Rader, who was another young man I'd met around 1970, about the time I'd first met Blaine. Walter and Blaine were high school classmates and friends. A few weeks before the Salem Fair incident, I had related to Blaine how I had determined that it had been Walter's sister Angela who'd run off with Tammy.
When I arrived at the Salem Fair, the Hodges family wasn't at our pre-arranged meeting place. I walked the aisles looking for them. Heading down one aisle, who should I see but Walter walking toward me. I could tell he was looking at me, but I avoided eye contact. I had long recognized that I was a suspect in the disappearance and didn't want to touch it with a ten-foot pole. Walter and I did two more of those walk-bys. Each time I could tell he was looking at me, and I continued to avoid his eyes. But as I was leaving the fair, there was Walter, sitting by the exit. I couldn't avoid him, so I stopped and talked briefly. I didn't mention either Angela or Tammy. The false 1984 charges told me Roanoke City was willing to go to any lengths to pin something - anything - on me. I'll add here that those false charges ended my cooperation with the police forever.
C. One day when I was in Blue Ridge, Virginia, I ran into another girl from my past, Sherrie Coleman (maiden name), working at Meadows Market in Blue Ridge. When Sherrie was 14 or 15, she worked for me and was a friend., She had her problems in those days and ended up in Bon Aire Correctional for truancy and not obeying her parents. I wrote to her often there. A year or so after her release she came to see me and told me that Roanoke City detectives had come down and confiscated my letters to her. [I will mention Sherrie and the letters again when I write about the penalty phase of my trial.]
After running into Sherrie that day at Meadows Market (in 1993 or 1994), I stopped by the Hodges house. I told Teresa and Blaine about running into a girl from my past that day working in a market in Blue Ridge. Teresa asked where she was working.
Before I could reply, Blaine answered, "There's a market in Blue Ridge called Meadows Market."
How did Blaine know where Sherrie was working? There were at least five different markets in Blue Ridge at the time. Maybe it was coincidental. Maybe that was the only market he knew in Blue Ridge.
Since Sherri had been listed in the unadjudicated witnesses against me, I asked my defense team to at least call the owner of Meadows Market, Vernon Meadows, to ask the simple question: how did Sherrie come to work there? They wouldn't do it.
D. This incident will connect many dots. I had known two brothers from Blue Ridge, Bill and Terence Hagarty, for several years in a casual business relationship. Bill, like me, was in the sign business (ABC Sign Co), and Terence had done serious mechanical work for me for years. Through a mutual friend I had learned that both brothers had been involved in drugs; in all probability Terence and another brother, Joe, had cut deals with the police to avoid lengthy jail sentences.
One day Blaine gave me a message from Bill. A bus remodeling outfit in Bedford County that Bill did work for wanted to see me about polishing some metal on a bus for them. Polishing metal, such as on oil
tankers, is a specialized business that I had gotten into a few years earlier. Through Blaine, I received instructions on how to get to the bus company in Bedford County. The directions sounded vaguely familiar. They led me to within a quarter mile of my old A-frame.
At the bus company, the man in charge was showing me the bus to be polished when I noticed all the specialized buffers and polishes on their shelves, all heavily used. I could see they didn't need what I had to offer. They obviously had been doing their own polishing work for some time.
Since I was so close to my old A-frame, I drove down and looked it over. I hadn't seen it in about ten years.
While awaiting trial, I told my defense team that that had been a police operation, assisted by Blaine Hodges. Mac Doubles asked me why the police would want me out there. I told him that I didn't know, but "I recognized a scam when I saw one."
I didn't figure out the why of that scam until a few months ago. A friend had sent me a Roanoke Times article: after my trial the police had gone to my old A-frame and dug up a concrete slab - presumably looking for one or both of the missing girls. Then the "scam" made sense to me.
The A-frame had had six or seven owners since I had vacated the place. The police, apparently, were looking at what to them was a suspicious slab and wondering if I was the one who had put it there. In fact, I vaguely recall putting down a small porch slab at my basement door before I moved out - I was desperately trying to improve the place so I could sell it to avoid foreclosure. I say "vaguely" because I don't remember the details of doing the job, only intending to do it. But if I did, and if that slab was indeed what the police were interested in, then the only thing they would have found under it was Bedford County dirt.
The scam did make sense. The police correctly reasoned that if they got me that close, I'd go check out the A-frame. And if I had someone planted under a slab, I'd give that slab a pretty careful once-over. Good thinking. Only I have never planted anyone under a slab or anywhere else.
I also learned that the police inspected my A-frame in 1984 and went over it with a fine-tooth comb.
Were the Hagarty brothers a part of the espionage operation? There can be no doubt. My name hit the local papers in connection with the Hodges murders on September 1, 1994. It's in the record that Terence Hagarty called the police on August 30, 1994, and told them I had had my son's car towed to his place on the 29th of August. How did Terence know to call on the 30th? The answer is unavoidable. He and his brother Bill and Blaine Hodges were all on the inside of the operation, and participants in the bus company scam in particular.
[I will discuss some of the falsehoods used to convict me later. I will come back to Terence Hagarty's August 30 call.]
Call me delusional, even nuts, for believing I was the target of a dirty police operation. But you cannot dismiss the following facts.
In 1993, long before the Hodges murders, Detective Ruiz from Roanoke City interviewed my ex-wife and other old friends and employees. Ruiz told my ex-wife two things: (1) everybody she talked to had told her I was a real nice guy; and (2) Roanoke City was reopening the 1977 disappearance case. Examine pre-trial, trial, and post-trial publicity about my case. You will see that I had been the focus of the investigation of that 1977 case for years.
The Roanoke City prosecutor during the time period of the entrapment (1991-1994) and espionage (19931994) operation, and of the Ruiz interviews (1993-1994), would have been in on the planning and overseeing of those activities. When I learned a few months ago that my main lawyer, Mac Doubles, the man assigned to argue my innocence, had been Roanoke City prosecutor from 1989 to 1994, it explained both the why and the how of my false conviction.
My tape recordings - that I made to prove and document the entrapment - were seized in September 1994.
Knowing they had to keep quiet what was on them, the authorities boldly turned them against me in order to obscure and cover up their own roles in perpetrating the entrapment, and to appeal to the emotions of the jury in asking for my death sentence. Nothing I could have said in my own defense would have withstood the attack they successfully made against my character and even my sanity.
I am arguing here that the police were pre-disposed by their own questionable activities to make the snap decision that I was guilty of the murders. Because they could find not one shred of real evidence to support it, that snap decision led inevitably to the effort to frame me with false evidence. I will describe one piece of false evidence they fabricated immediately.
Recall the phone call that Terence Hagarty made to the police on August 30, 1994. As a result of that call, officer Keesee went to Terence's garage in Blue Ridge and retrieved a small note I had written Terence out of Terence's trash. That small note was used in trial to support the prosecution's handwriting analysis.
In trial the prosecution claimed to have found a large drawing in the dumpster where I worked. This drawing, they claimed, used stick figures to depict the crime scene. My lawyers didn't show me or discuss with me 90 percent of the evidence used against me before trial: I heard it and saw it as the jury did. That drawing fit this pattern. So when it was presented in trial, I asked for a closer look at it. There were two notes on the margins that told me where the police had actually obtained it. One note said, "Terence, does it need a wheel?" The other said, "Do I need my own gun?" Both notes were my notes to Terence Hagarty. The first referred to the fact that my son's car had rolled down a hill and buckled a wheel. I had left that note on my son's car and asked Terence to drive by and look at it to see if it needed a wheel to be towed. In fact, Terence had driven by and checked it out. The second note referred to the fact that Terence had let me use his spray booth to paint an oil tanker for Christianburg Oil Co. The "gun" referred to was a spray gun. The prosecutor pointed out to the jury that those notes were my notes to Terence. When officer Keesee retrieved the small note from Terence's trash that day, he also retrieved the note from my son's car ("Does it need a wheel?") because I had my son's car towed to Terence's garage on the 29th. In addition, Keesee obtained the other note ("Do I need my own gun?") also out of Terence's trash. The first and second notes were written at different times on different pieces of paper. So the large drawing with the stick figures and my two notes had to be a composite, concocted by the police; the stick figures themselves had to have been drawn by the police, probably officer Keesee himself. Let me ask a simple question. When you write a note to someone, whose trash does it wind up in - yours or the person you wrote it to?
The police are supposed to gather evidence first, then reach a conclusion. In the Hodges murders, the police reached a conclusion first, then created evidence to support it. The operation they had directed against me before the crimes, in particular the scheme to entrap me, had in fact both prejudiced them and compromised their integrity so thoroughly as to make this course of action virtually inevitable.
I will briefly analyze the penalty phase of my trial before going on to discuss more items of "evidence."
The prosecution was required to give the defense team notices of any unadjudicated witnesses they planned on using against me. They listed seven or eight females I had known from 15 to 20 years in my past. The allegations were all pretty much the same: drugs and alcohol for sex. In addition, they listed one retired police officer from Roanoke City.
(1) The police officer testified to having stopped my in downtown Roanoke some 15 years earlier. There was a "shortened" shotgun in plain sight in the back of my station wagon. The police sent down a detective, who measured the gun and found it legal. My lawyers objected and the jury was instructed to disregard, but how do you unring a bell?
(2) Kelly Lange. According to the notice, I gave her drugs and alcohol for sex when she was 14. In fact, I met Kelly at sixteen when she became an employee and friend of mine. At about 21, she phoned me at work (Collegiate Pacific) and told me she was afraid she was going to kill herself. I had her come to my place of work after calling in another supervisor (David Lemon) to take my place. When she arrived, I took her to Roanoke Memorial Rehab and checked her in. The point: when Kelly was suicidal, she didn't call her parents or any other friend. She called the one person in the world she trusted to take care of her, and I did.
(3) Sharon Oyler. Same allegations. I met Sharon when she was about 12 or 13. She was the younger sister of another girl I knew. When Sharon was 16, she and two of her male friends took some large animal tranquilizers, and the two males became falling-down drunk. Sharon knew she was in trouble and called me. Shortly after I picked her up she started hallucinating. I immediately took her to her home, where she
lived with her aunt and uncle. I had to argue with them to get Sharon to the hospital. They wanted her to just "sleep it off." Finally, I took her to the Community Hospital myself. They pumped her stomach and she slept for two days. Concerned about the other two guys, I tracked down one of their mothers and learned they were at Roanoke Memorial Hospital. The point: when Sharon knew she was in trouble, she called the one person in the world she trusted to take care of her, and I did.
(4) Teresa McCroskey Webb (Sharon's older sister). Same allegations. When Teresa was about 17, I took her out to my A-frame to keep me company while I showed the place to prospective buyers. When the buyers left, a hornet stung Teresa on the toe and she went into an immediate allergic reaction. I rushed her to Community Hospital. She was unconscious when they took her out of the ambulance. They gave her seven shots of adrenalin to bring her around.
After learning what I've alluded to above (through collusion with my defense team), the prosecution didn't call any of the three girls.
(5) Sherrie Coleman. Recall her from the espionage operation. Same allegations. Mr. Grimes (in a July 9, 1997 letter to the prosecutor) asked for the letters the Roanoke City detectives had confiscated from Sherrie. The letters - which I had mailed to Sherrie around 1980 when she was at Bon Aire Correctional were never turned over. They would have shown that I had a loving, decent relationship with Sherrie and that I had discouraged her from using drugs and alcohol. Needless to say, they did not call Sherrie.
(6) Pam Christian Thornhill. Recall her from the Vinton Fair incident, and recall that I had taken her and Billy Lambert with me to Nags Head around 1980, and recall that both girls were later (1981-2) interviewed by the Roanoke City Police, the state police, and the FBI - reports withheld under discovery.
(7) Billy Lambert. Her allegations were that I was once violent toward her. I was alone with Billy on one occasion, and on that occasion Billy was wired by the police. The tape was withheld under discovery because it would have shown that Billy lied in court.
(8) Becky Christian. She alleged that I had given her drugs for sex when she was 14. At 14 Becky was living in Chicago where she filed sexual battery charges against her own father. I had a one-time sexual encounter with Becky when she was 18. We both were single at the time (1979-1980). I lived on Brambleton Avenue. I told Grimes this and he got her to admit that the encounter could have been in 1979 when she was 18. Becky made reference to having sex with me in 1976 when I was on 5th Street in Roanoke. I was on 5th Street in Roanoke on two occasions: once on 5th and Marshall from 1970 to 1973, and once on 5th and Rorer from about 1982 to 1985. Becky initially alleged it happened in 1976 when I was on 5th Street. Let me say first that I didn't know Becky in 1976; further that the fictitious affair couldn't have been on 5th and Marshall as I left there in 1973; moreover, if it occurred at 5th and Rorer, she would have been in her twenties. In fact, Becky never set foot in either place. Becky learned her lines.
[Others of the girls also alleged that sexual encounters happened at my place on 5th Street. Check their dates of birth and their testimony and when I was on 5th Street. The testimony of these girls is provable perjury.]
(9) Lynda Gail Akers Bryant Owens. Lynda testified to a scene that took place at my A-frame when she was 19, claiming I had scared her. She claimed to have told me something like, "You better take me home or Mom and Dad will whip you. She also admitted that four months (August, 1977) after this so-called "scare" scene, she went to the beach with me. What made her testimony laughable was that Lynda had been married at 16 to a man named Hagy and had a son by him at that age. Lynda is Tammy Aker's sister -making it all too obvious why she learned her lines.
(10) Laurie Paxton. Testified to a scare scene that occurred at my A-frame. This was nearly true. I played a cruel, thoughtless joke on Laurie and badly frightened her. My lawyers allowed Laurie to testify for Sharon, saying Sharon was "on her knees, crying, begging for her life." What was left unsaid (my lawyer
didn't raise these points though they were cognizant of the facts) was that less than an hour after that so-called scare scene, both girls and I drove to town and bought snacks and returned to spend the night, and about one month later both girls returned to my A-frame for an impromptu party. Laurie was with a man in his thirties named Wayne Gauley. Gauley, who was a casual friend of mine, was arrested a few months later for counterfeiting. He avoided serious jail time in exchange for his cooperation in revealing everything he knew about me, especially what he knew about that night at my A-frame with Laurie. Again, the reports were withheld under discovery.
Over the next several years Sharon and Laurie were both around me repeatedly. I even took Laurie and Sharon and Sharon's new husband to Norfolk Navel Base after he joined the navy. My lawyers had all that information, but chose to watch my trial from the sidelines.
As I have mentioned, I can now identify approximately 70 falsehoods that were used to convict me. I will detail only a few of them here, in particular those discovered by Dr. Graham.
A) Graham discovered that the barrel-less revolver found at the scene and used to tie me to the murders couldn't have been the death weapon. In trial and on a "New Detectives" show that featured my case on the Discovery Channel, Graham learned that the bullets removed from the victims had six lands and grooves. But when he investigated, he discovered that that particular revolver model is manufactured with eight lands and grooves! The gun found at the scene had six shells with double strike marks. The shells had been rotated in their chambers. The prosecution's ballistics expert testified that the double strike marks were caused by a weak firing pin spring, thus tying the double-struck shells to the gun. The prosecution claimed to have found eight shells in my truck and another in my storage locker, one of which absolutely was matched to a fired shell from the gun through scratch marks, "proving" my guilt. The prosecutor made a big deal out of that one shell, leaving a large ballistics display directly in front of the jury room, where the jury would see it every time they entered or exited for the duration of the trial. My lawyers did not object.
The shells from my truck and storage locker were also tied to shells from the gun by brand name, caliber (.22 magnum), and metal composition. So all those shells were tied to a gun that could not be the death weapon.
Consider the fact that the shells in the gun had been rotated in their chambers. The most likely explanation -given what we have come to know about the authorities' methods - is that the shells were taken out of another gun and placed in that gun.
One more point. I had a friend, Billy Dunbar of APB Whiting Oil Company, sell a.22 magnum pistol for me months before the murders, but I had retained a box of shells, some of which were in a little red box in Blaine Hodges' garage. My lawyers didn't call Billy to confirm that I had a legitimate reason to have .22 magnum shells. Why didn't they call him? Because I had acquainted Billy with the entrapment operation from its onset. [Officer Humphreys logged those planted shells from my truck into evidence. I have never had a .22 magnum pistol that I fired four times - never.]
B) In trial the prosecution produced a little old lady eyewitness, Dorothy (Dot) McGee, who wore dark glasses because her eyes were light-sensitive. For all practical purposes, the prosecutor testified for her. According to him, Dot saw a pinkish red truck rapidly exit the Hodges' driveway just before the fire and crimes were discovered and then pass her on the highway. The prosecutor testified that the halogen street lights made my white truck appear pink to Dot. He then played a video tape of a truck like mine going down the highway and planted the idea in the jury's mind that Dot had actually seen a white truck like mine that morning. Other testimony, though, revealed that Dot had actually seen a red truck.
Graham discovered that there were clear dusk-to-dawn lights where Dot made her identification, not halogen: what Dot saw is what she saw - a red truck.
But consider what the prosecutor had done here. Dot saw a red truck. By testifying for her, he turned the red truck pink. Then with his false and fraudulent argument about the halogen street lights he turned it white. He completed the falsehood with his video illusion, planting in the minds of the jury the notion that Dot had actually seen a white truck like mine. He turned a red truck white right before the whole courtroom's eyes, and nobody blinked, especially not my lawyers.
Another point. Dot had been identified as a witness at a roadblock beside the Hodges' driveway days after the crimes. There she had been shown pictures of an old red American truck and an old white American truck like mine. My lawyer, Grimes, cross-examined her. He was holding the picture of the old white American truck she had been shown at the roadblock.
Dot pointed to the picture and voluntarily said, "The red truck was newer than that." She then added the single word: "Nissan."
Dot had let the cat out of the bag. She had actually seen a newer type, red, Nissan truck that morning. So what did Grimes do? He abruptly ended his cross-examination. [Dot's last words have been deleted from the transcripts by Roanoke County Court Reporters. I understand those last words are missing from the video tape as well.]
Be that as it may, Dot's eyewitness testimony (what the prosecutor said) is further negated by Dr. Graham's next discovery.
C) This discovery is even more significant than the ballistics discovery.
In trial the prosecution created the impression that a raging fire was burning at the time the crimes were discovered. To the contrary, Graham discovered that it was a smoldering fire, almost out, and perhaps had been smoldering for hours. This discovery impacts on my case in the following ways.
1) First, consider Dot's testimony that she saw a vehicle rapidly exit the driveway just before the fire and crimes were discovered. Ask yourself this question: who would stick around while a fire smoldered for hours, then suddenly flee the scene?
2) In trial, the prosecution stated that Blaine Hodges, the victim in the upstairs bedroom directly above the fire, had died as much as two days earlier. They knew I had been with Teresa and the girls on the Sunday of the crimes. So - their minds already set on my guilt - they simply moved Blaine's time of death forward to catch me in a time zone that would maximize the appearance of guilt. [It was also an effective counter to the argument that the murders were perpetrated by a third party related to Blaine's drug and undercover activities. A hit man (so the tacit argument would go) would complete the job all at once.] But if that fire smoldered for hours, it literally would have baked Blaine's body in that upstairs bedroom.
The heat in that house was tremendous. I saw crime scene photos of tubes of artist paint in the room next to the room with the main fire that had popped like popcorn, splotching the floor.
How did that heat affect the calculation of Blaine's time of death? It's my understanding that Dr. Graham has elicited a concession from one of the medical examiners that under the conditions of such heat Blaine's time of death couldn't be determined accurately. [I also discovered in the transcripts that the first fireman on the scene testified to shining his flashlight on Blaine's head wound and seeing that it was bleeding. He stated this some three times - it was bleeding. Would there still be bleeding 24 hours or more after death?]
D) The authorities claimed that a search of my motel room on September 1, 1994, had turned up a detective magazine on top of the dresser. That magazine contained an article, they further claimed, that described a
crime with striking similarities to the crime I was charged with. There was a victim on a burning couch, another covered with a curtain, the house set on fire. This devastating "evidence" was used against me in pretrial and trial publicity. Yet it was not used in my trial. I wondered why. I had seen a photo of the magazine and knew it was not one I had seen before. It was a plant. Why did they plant something that was never used in court?
Then, when the Virginia Supreme Court referenced that magazine story in their rejection of my direct appeal, I had to assume that the prosecutor had used it in his argument before that court. So again I wondered: why didn't they use it in my main trial? It wasn't until March, 1999, at about three in the morning, that it hit me. Checking the dates Dr. Graham had sent me, I saw it in black and white. The name and date of the detective magazine: Front Page Detective, November, 1994. How did the police find a November issue in September?
Now I understood. The prosecution didn't use that piece of planted evidence in my main trial because someone noticed it had a fatal flaw. It was dated with a future date. Now that magazine remains sealed in evidence for the same reason.
Recognizing that logic alone isn't enough to establish the truth here, I am looking for proof that the November 1994 issue of Front Page Detective was not in fact available on September 1, 1994. A friend has contacted a well-known true crime author - who used to write for the magazine - who states that the magazine was published approximately four weeks before the cover date. Unfortunately the magazine's publisher is no longer in business, and it's been difficult to obtain absolutely authoritative confirmation, but my friend has located Front Page Detective's former editor in a further attempt to obtain it. Failing this, there will be an effort to track down the magazine's distributor in the Roanoke area. The point is that I'm determined to dig up the truth here. In fact, I believe it's possible that the issue in question does not even contain the story attributed to it. There might even be reference to events that occurred after September 1, 1994. Officer Humphreys committed perjury in my trial when he testified to finding that November issue in my motel room on September 1. The same officer Humphreys logged into evidence more than 90 items, some of which I know to be planted: shells from my truck, the red bucket used to tie me to arson, etc. At the very least, that magazine should be unsealed for inspection. What is there to hide?
My intent is not to turn this statement into a book, but I believe it's important that I say something about what I know concerning the 1977 disappearance case. I was, after all, the victim of much publicity and innuendo both before and during my trial as a result of that case.
About one year after Tammy Aker's disappearance, I asked a young lady that I knew if she had ever met Tammy. I was trying to track Tammy down and had the habit of asking everyone I met that question. The young lady, whom I will refer to as F.C., replied (much to my surprise) that she "had broken out of Coyner Springs Correctional with her."
I asked her how she'd done that.
F.C. held both fists up in the air and cranked an imaginary throttle. She told me her biker friends (F.C. was a biker's "old lady") had come out and cut the window screen and rolled it down.
I knew F.C. was not always the most reliable reporter, so I asked her about Tammy's size.
F.C. correctly responded that Tammy was about the same size as F.C. herself. I asked her what had happened to Tammy. She told me that Tammy had hopped onto the back of a motorcycle with a guy from Ohio with a name something like "Buck" (I don't recall exactly).
Still not entirely convinced, I asked F.C. what color Tammy's hair was.
"Strawberry blond," F.C. said. That was dead on.
Since then I have confirmed Tammy's jail break-out in several ways to my satisfaction. A few years after the disappearance I drove out to Coyner Springs to take a look. There were no screens on the windows. But it had been some time so I figured the screens could have been removed.
Then in the Roanoke County Jail in 1997 I overheard an inmate refer to his time in Coyner Springs. I asked him, "Did Coyner Springs used to have screens on the windows?"
He replied, "No, they're still there. They're on the inside."
Then in the early eighties I read a story in a detective magazine about a girl, known only as Tammy, who had been murdered on a bonfire in central Florida by a couple of bikers. That murdered girl, according to the story, was wearing an article of jewelry inscribed with the name "Tammy." "Tammy" was traced back to Reidsville, NC and had been brought into Florida with a biker group.
Since Tammy once had told me herself that if she were ever sent to jail her "brother Pat was going to break her out and they were going to Florida," and since Lynda Akers had initially told me that the police thought Tammy and her girl friend and a 17-year-old boy had gone to Florida, I have assumed for years that what was described in that magazine was Tammy's fate. The story described a witness to the bonfire murder who used to wake up screaming "They are still alive." Note the "they." There was more than one.
While awaiting trial I learned that the second girl, Angela Rader, had a sister in Florida and talked about running off there. Adding it all up, I was pretty well convinced.
This story, however, was just beginning. While here at Sussex I tracked down that Florida bonfire murder. Two men, Jent and Miller, were convicted of murdering that unknown Tammy on that bonfire between July 13 and 15, 1979, in the Richloam Game Preserve in Central Florida. Sixteen hours before their execution, however, a New York lawyer, Eleanor Jackson Piel, won the men a stay of execution by raising the issue that the unknown victim was really a girl named Lynda Bradshaw from Tennessee (I believe). This new identity was established from finger prints found on a photo album. It was suspected that those finger prints had been planted by the police. Nevertheless, Jent and Miller were set free after they signed confessions to the murder.
I've learned much about the case from Eleanor Jackson Piel, though I apparently angered her when I gave her my theory on the matter. This is what I believe happened: the police had an unsolved case involving the Bradshaw girl, and they faked finger prints on a photo album in order to close that case. After all, they had Jent and Miller scheduled for execution. Indeed, they were able to close the Bradshaw case. But then, lo and behold, along came Eleanor Jackson Piel to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings. An integral part of the theory I proposed to Ms. Piel was that the police deliberately concealed the true identity of the victim in order to use the Tammy Akers disappearance against yours truly, Earl C. Bramblett. If that sounds far-fetched, consider that officer Keesee said he'd been after me since 1970. I would have been on his mind in 1979. Tellingly, the parents of the Bradshaw girl swear they were first shown a picture of a different dead girl. And one of the men involved in the Florida case was a biker in the Renegades biker club from Ohio. All I know is what F.C. told me and what I read in the detective magazine in the early eighties. I'm in no position to figure this one out, but I'm well aware that the police will do anything to close out a case. How well I know that!
My conclusion: Tammy Lynn Akers, having escaped from a Virginia correctional facility, had good reason for fleeing the state and an inclination to run for Florida by whatever means would get her there fastest. In Florida she met her end atop a bonfire.
As I said at the beginning of this statement, it's intended primarily for my habeas attorneys. I want to make a couple of things clear. (1) I want a conflict of interest on the part of my main lawyer, Mac Doubles, to be the primary issue of my appeal. As Roanoke City prosecutor from 1989 to 1994, he oversaw the very police operation that he covered up in my trial. As a result, Roanoke County was able to close out a case at the cost of allowing the murderer of the Hodges family to go unapprehended. (2) I want whoever my habeas attorneys turn out to be to grant Dr. Graham access to my file and the evidence records. I make this request - demand - under the Sixth Amendment, which gives me the right to assist in my own defense, and under the legal standard that the client owns the file.
And I will state here one more time for the record: I did not murder the Hodges family.
By laying the truth bare I've no doubt contributed to a case against myself in respect to motive. My motive, it will be said, led me to do exactly what I was framed for and convicted of. As I have said, I'm willing to accept the consequences of the truth, even if it casts me in an unfavorable light. However, as provocative as Blaine Hodges' actions were, they did not motivate me to commit murder. To the contrary, as I have documented in this statement, I was motivated to assume a supportive, even protective, role in respect to Blaine Hodges' family. I loved them. I think all of what some might consider my irrational behavior is explained by that one simple fact.
Nevertheless, I want to make a simple statement here about what I know was going on in the hours leading up to the crimes. Understand that I will reserve certain information for retrial, in the event I ever get one.
At home on the Saturday morning before the crimes, Blaine Hodges was acting scared. On Sunday Teresa and Winter Hodges let me know they were in some sort of danger. I did not reveal this information at the time
because I had received the impression from Teresa Hodges on Sunday that the police were already informed. Add to that the emotional storm the murders had thrown me into, and my early realization that the police - predisposed as they were - were going to immediately decide I was guilty and - because there was no evidence - to begin my frame-up.
About a day after the murders Randy Hodges and officer Brown from Vinton came to my motel room. Brown soon left me alone with Randy (which means that Randy was wired on that occasion also). I told Randy that Blaine had been acting scared that Saturday. Randy immediately told me that Blaine had just received a call from someone I will refer to here as J.B. It had been J.B.'s first call to Blaine in over a year. J.B. was Blaine Hodges and Mike Fulcher's gopher in theft, drugs, and possibly undercover work. Randy had realized that that call from J.B. and whatever J.B. had told Blaine was the reason for Blaine's nervousness.
While awaiting trial in the Roanoke County jail, I found out J.B.'s father's address, J.B.'s ex-girl friend's name and address (she was the mother of J.B.'s child), and that girl friend's mother's name and address. Mac Doubles and my investigator, David Williams, made no effort to locate J.B.
There were many areas of reasonable doubt that my defense team refused to investigate. Why not? Because the script had already been written and Mac Doubles wasn't about to deviate from it - because he had been one of the script writers.
I want to make some final comments concerning the power of quoting out of context, and about a couple of things I said on my tapes that the prosecution chose not to use - but someone else did.
My entire trial in regard to my tapes was one gigantic quote out of context. Let me reference one example. In trial they played a tape where I was trying to get proof of the entrapment (Winter's butt swaying in my face incident). In that conversation I had asked Winter "What were you sucking on?" She had replied, "I told you, Earl, a medicine dropper." Think about her answer. She told me when? In the original call, of course; so she had actually made that call.
The jury, of course, was not privy to the fact that Winter had been simulating oral sex in my presence for some time. [My lawyers and the prosecution made sure of that.]
But the prosecution, the police, and my lawyers used out-of-context quotes to great effect in stirring up publicity against me.
After Winter's suggestive behavior had pushed me into buying my tape recorders, I started taping all my calls because I was sure that I was the target of an entrapment operation.
Winter's calls were frequent, and it was during that same period that she began calling me from her bathtub, with water splashing in the background. I know I thought this odd, and I was cognizant that the calls were likely part of the entrapment. Soon the calls began to come in the middle of the night. This wasn't as questionable as it might seem. Winter's grandmother on Teresa's side lived a strange schedule, sleeping all day and staying up all night; consequently, Winter got into the habit of calling her grandmother in the middle of the night, as late as 3 or 4 AM. They'd talk for an hour or so. But then, after she'd finished with her grandmother, Winter would call me. I remember my shock at her first 3 AM call. I was delighted as well. I always enjoyed talking to Winter - the hour didn't make any difference. But I was suspicious. I figured the calls were part of the entrapment and recorded them all. And since I was trying to acquire proof of the entrapment, I hoped to catch Winter in a slip-up, a transgression
so sexually suggestive that I would have my proof. So I encouraged Winter to call anytime, even in the middle of the night.
It occurred to me that I was doing exactly what they were doing: trying to entrap. So as I sat talking to my recorder I said, "I'm asking Winter to do something that I shouldn't be asking her to do." That musing is on my tapes, and it's a wonder they didn't use it in my trial. It certainly sounds terrible, but that's the power of quoting out of context.
Another example of something they could have lifted out of context from my tapes but didn't. In a call with Winter, I told her, "I love you, Winter Hodges." How might the listener with evil in his eye misconstrue that? Let me put it into context.
Winter called me one morning about five, inviting me over for breakfast. Her parents were still in bed and she was already working on the biscuits and bacon. I readily agreed - but there was a catch. Winter needed eggs. No problem, I told her, I had a carton in my refrigerator. No way, she let me know, she wanted "fresh" eggs. She wanted me to go buy some fresh eggs.
I told her my eggs were fresh, that I had just purchased them. Absolutely not, Winter said. I had to get
"fresh eggs." Winter got me so tickled I told her: "I love you, Winter Hodges." The words didn't faze Winter. She knew how I meant it. They probably didn't use this one in trial because you could hear the laugh in my voice. And, yes, I stopped and bought fresh eggs - and I got a receipt.
The prosecution didn't take advantage of the above quotes in court. No. But they did manage to make use of them nevertheless. The quotes all appeared in the Roanoke Times.
Immediately after the jury had passed down their judgment of death, but before the judge had rendered his final decision, the Times published an article by Mike Hudson. The article was like my trial in microcosm: one misquote after another, one falsehood after another. And the quotes I've just cited were there. Out of context.
With the judge still deliberating, the timing couldn't have been worse for me. The judge, after all, is not prohibited from reading the newspaper. Who was the source of those quotes, indeed of the whole negative article? There was information in it that I had shared only with Mac Doubles and my investigator. [After the trial Doubles was quoted in the papers as saying officer Keesee had done "too good" a job in his investigation. No wonder. Keesee had a lot of help - from Mac Doubles.]
This brings me finally to the issue of the presentence report.
After the impressive play of lies that was my trial, it took the jury only a few hours to reach a guilty verdict and recommend my death. The judge only had to confirm that recommendation. It was at this point that Mac Doubles requested a presentence report, which would necessitate a 30-day delay.
I could see no good reason for that report. It made no sense. But by the end of my trial I had recognized that Mac Doubles was not working in my best interest. And I had recognized that Doubles and the investigator David Williams were both complicit in my frame-up. They had subjected me to a year-long police-directed program in which the only evidence presented to me was designed to test my guilt, a devil's advocate approach in every sense of the word. Williams repeatedly lied to me about the so-called evidence and consistently refused to investigate any leads that would legitimately point to reasonable doubt. It was that history that inevitably led me to suspect that the Doubles-initiated presentence report was just one more way to get false evidence into the record. [As a result of my suspicions I wrote Williams a letter canceling all prior releases I had signed for him. No doubt that letter was ignored.]
I had (and have) no doubt that Mac Doubles, Roanoke City prosecutor during the crucial time period leading up to the crimes during which I was the target of a Roanoke City entrapment operation, was appointed to kill me. Hence the presentence report. Hence my concern.
After my death sentence was passed down, Doubles and Grimes met with me in a holding cell. I was allowed to glance at that report for no more than a moment or two. In only that brief glance I was able to spot lies on the part of the probation officer, Allen Newberry.
In my post-verdict meeting with Newberry, I had told him why I had spent two months just before the murders sanding and painting the Hodges house (and paying for all the supplies out of my own pocket). Let me recall that conversation.
I told Newberry and the young lady who was with him that Winter had said to me one day, "You know, Earl, really low-life people live in a house like this." In fact the Hodges house was cracked and peeled and looked terrible. Winter's comment had cut me to the bone. I told Newberry that when I heard Winter's words I made up my mind come hell or high water I would paint that house (and I did).
But in the presentence report Newberry had reported that I painted the house because I had a sexual interest in Winter. [After my arrival at Mecklinburg Correctional I wrote Newberry a letter regarding his lie. Copies of that letter are available.]
What other lies are in that report?
Copies of this statement will go to every court I can send them to. I want the courts to know the truth about my so-called defense attorneys when they review that presentence report.
If I had murdered the Hodges family, then, perhaps, my defense team could justify their violation of professional ethics on moral grounds. But I did not murder the Hodges family.
Mac Doubles, my main defense attorney, couldn't catch me in his entrapment operation, so he colluded in my frame-up. Is this justice in Virginia?
They got their closed case and they got me. But who murdered the Hodges family?
Am I the only one who cares?