ENGLAND, Ark. — An eager Heath Stocks steps into a small conference room at the Tucker Maximum Security Unit, which houses about 600 inmates just south of Little Rock.
Stocks, 43, is unshackled, uncuffed and draped in his white prisoner garb with ADC # 110429 printed on a badge that’s worn on his chest.
He’s lived this life for the past 23 years after pleading guilty to shooting and killing his entire family in Lonoke back on Jan. 17, 1997. He is serving a life sentence.
“It’s hard not to think about it every day,” Stocks says during his interview with us. It’s his first TV interview in almost 10 years.
“I’m surrounded by the outcome of the events that led me to be here,” says Stocks.
Stocks was one of several boys who was sexually abused by Boy Scouts leader and Lonoke community ‘Man of the Year’ Jack Walls in the 1990s. Walls is serving a life sentence in prison in east Arkansas. His conviction came down after Stocks pleaded guilty to killing his family.
“He was probably the worst pedophile in Arkansas history to use the Boy Scouts to groom and prey on kids,” Stocks says. “I was arrested for crimes that happened solely because I had tried to end my abuse.”
Stocks says it gets lonely in prison, but he keeps up with the news on TV and through tablets that he sometimes has access to. Most notably, he says he has followed recent reports of the Boy Scouts organization facing bankruptcy amid sexual abuse claims that continue to pile up from purported victims.
“This is a history of abuse that goes back to the very beginning… I think it’s very important for us as a society to look at what happens to kids — you know — broken kids grow up to be broken adults,” Stocks says.
Despite what happened to him, Stocks holds no animosity or anger toward the Boy Scouts organization.
“No. The organization didn’t abuse me,” Stocks says. “The organization has benefitted countless young men. “
Stocks says Walls abused him hundreds of times from the time Stocks was 9 or 10 up until when he was arrested for killing his family at age 20.
When asked whether he wanted to say anything to Jack Walls, Stocks paused and took a deep breath: “Probably that I forgive [him] because that’s the only thing that’s allowed me to survive with what’s happened mentally,” Stocks says. “I wish that he would be willing to step forward and say what led him to abuse kids… because I don’t believe we’re going to be able to resolve this issue of sexual predators and institutions preying on kids until we understand what shapes them into who they are.”
After two decades behind bars, Stocks holds out hope for a reduced sentence. He believes some of the information related to his abuse at the hands of Walls was suppressed because Stocks’ murder charges were adjudicated before Walls was even investigated.
Stocks says the combination of the abuse and his parents’ reluctancy to allow him to leave the scouts traumatized him, prompting the tragic results.
“It’s so hard to explain to people and help them understand what it was like to have gone through that for 10 years and to believe it was coming to an end and then realize that not only did I fail to stop the abuse but my abuse ended up getting my whole family killed,” Stocks says.
For now, all signs point to Stocks living out the rest of his life in Tucker Max with a lifelong connection to one of the most controversial cases in the state.