Under a Spell

20/20

Friday, November 5, 1999


BARBARA WALTERS: How well do you know the neighbors your children see every day, especially the ones they trust? Well, we ask because tonight we’re going to tell you about a neighbor who was a secret predator, molesting and frightening young boys in a small town perhaps for decades. How could a whole town not know what was going on? And why did the victims, so young and vulnerable, take a vow of silence to protect him? Perri Peltz tells us about this perverted Pied Piper. And watching this story you may understand for the first time how child molesters are able to get away with it.

PERRI PELTZ reporting: Lonoke, Ark., is just off the interstate. It’s a one-stoplight town where kids play baseball, go camping and enjoy a peaceful childhood, unless they were in Boy Scout Pack 103. That’s where, authorities say, a dark secret of sexual abuse has been kept for 30 years, causing anguish, torment and some say even murder.

HEATH STOCKS: We’d get around the campfire, and we’d all get drunk. And that’s usually where the—the sexual part came in.

JOSH AUKES: That he would come to us after everybody had gone back, you know, from the fire or whatever, and had a little bit to drink. And he’d come to your tent.

Unidentified Boy No. 1: He just kept on insisting, so it happened right out there in the middle of nowhere.

Unidentified Boy No. 2: He said, you know, ‘Just lay back and I’ll relieve you of some stress, and everything will be OK.’

PELTZ: In the seclusion of the woods, 22-year scout veteran Jack Walls, leader of Pack 103, would turn Boy Scouts into victims, a pedophile who sexually assaulted children in his charge. He would handpick his favorites from the scouts and the neighborhood and bring them deep into the desolate forest. Next, he would abuse his position of authority, exploiting the boys’ trust in him, plying them with alcohol and pornography. He offered boys, like this one, who is still too ashamed to reveal his identity, entry into a world of the forbidden.

Boy No. 2: He had told me that that was just an initiation into a — a new elitist club. It was an immediate and unlimited access to alcohol, cigarettes, cigars. Little did I know that the initiation would take place over and over and over and over again.

PELTZ: And, at those so-called initiations, Jack Walls would play on his victims’ shame and embarrassment. And for victims like Josh Aukes, if a secret so dark were to get out in a town so small, that would spell emotional ruin.

AUKES: I was just embarrassed about it, you know. I couldn’t tell anything like that that the whole town would know. I wouldn’t have any friends, couldn’t play football, or, you know, just be harassed. That’s the way I pictured it.

PELTZ: Jack Walls’ private life is even more shocking in light of his his public image. Walls was a pillar of society, a family man with a wife and three daughters, the son of prominent lawyers and judges. He was even awarded Lonoke’s Man of the Year. And that’s why it was nearly impossible to stop him. But, in 1992, Boy Scout Doug Hogan would be the first to try. At that time, investigators believe, Walls had already been molesting boys for two decades.

DOUG HOGAN: He approached me and requested that I perform a sexual act.

PELTZ: And what did you say to him?

HOGAN: I refused.

PELTZ: And how did he take that refusal?

HOGAN: He was furious. I knew he had a gun out there that night. It made it threatening. I don’t think he ever went to sleep. He was up pacing all night.

PELTZ: Scared for his life, Doug Hogan left the campsite at dawn and went a home to tell his father. He pressed charges, landing Jack Walls in court. But, at trial, Doug met the strongest resistance from his fellow scouts, who felt so afraid, and then so protected and loved by Walls, they would never tell the secret.

Boy No. 2: He had so many of us actually testify for him that nothing like this ever happened or nothing like this ever would happen.

AUKES: I got on the stand for him and took his side. And I did everything I could to keep Jack from getting in trouble.

PELTZ: Jack Walls did not get in trouble. His trial lasted just three hours. Walls was acquitted. Ironically, it was Doug Hogan who became the town pariah.

AUKES: He was the enemy. I mean, he told on Jack, and you didn’t do that.

PELTZ: The Boy Scouts’ organization responded to Doug’s complaints and quickly threw Walls out, but dismissal was not enough to stop him. Jack Walls continued his sinister ways by forming his own personally selected elite group, using his family farm for private weekend outings.

STOCKS: We were going out there and getting drunk and all this sex was going on and Jack was raping boys.

PELTZ: Heath Stocks, who became a scout at age 8, and a victim three years later, was, by all accounts, Jack Walls’ favorite. Heath says Walls knew how to manipulate his victims, turning each one against his peers and his family, and making them feel all alone in the world, all alone, that is, except for Jack Walls.

STOCKS: Everything’s focused on him. There’s nobody else but him. He’s the source of everything—love, support, everything we thought we needed.

PELTZ: But what Jack Walls was providing gradually sent many boys into a downward spiral of self-hate and depression.

AUKES: I thought there was something wrong with me. I just felt like I was nothing. And really, I didn’t care. My grades dropped bad. I started making D’s and F’s.

VICKIE AUKES (Mother of Molestation Victim): We would try different things and nothing seemed to work.

PELTZ: Vicki Aukes is Josh’s mother.

VICKIE AUKES: And he just seemed to be sinking deeper and deeper into depression. And his anger, he had such outbursts of anger. And a lot of it was toward me.

PELTZ: Ironically, Walls became a hero for alarmed parents, who encouraged their troubled teenage boys to spend even more time with him. The Aukeses, who live across the street from Walls, hoped he could alleviate what they thought were the routine problems of adolescence. Terry Aukes is Josh’s father.

TERRY AUKES (Father of Molestation Victim): When we had trouble with Josh drinking, I told Jack, and he said, ‘I’ll check into it for you.’ He’d go, ‘I—I can talk to Josh.’

KAREN KNOX (Mother of Molestation Victim): Jack was always there, no matter what. He doted over these boys.

PELTZ: The Knoxes lived next door to Jack Walls. Their son Wade was not only a member of his elite group, he is also Jack Walls’ nephew.

KNOX: Jack was in our house at least once or twice a day. He knew our morals. He knew our standards. He knew that we thought our children were gifts of God.

PELTZ: But Karen’s illusions about Walls soon vanished. What appeared to be paternal love was actually part of the manipulation he apparently used to keep the boys silent.

KNOX: Jack had dug up a hole, a grave. And then he had told my son that if he ever told anybody, he or one of his friends would end up in that grave.

PELTZ: More powerful than fear was the way some boys were manipulated by the dangerous attention that Walls lavished on them.

STOCKS: I don’t know that I really thought it was wrong when I was younger, because I wanted to be loved so much that I was willing to do anything to get it, you know.

PELTZ: How important did Jack Walls become to you, Heath?

STOCKS: I called him dad. He called me son. He was the source of everything — love, support. I was his pride and joy. I was his finest.

PELTZ: In order to keep Jack Walls’ secret, some boys lied on the stand, others took vows of violence. But Heath would raise the stakes even higher in what he perceived as the ultimate test of loyalty.

STOCKS: For years I’d done exactly what he told me to do. He was training me emotionally to be an assassin.

PELTZ: When Heath’s mother finally began to suspect that Jack Walls had been molesting her son for 10 years, Heath says his life began to unravel.

STOCKS: I know she got the gist of what was going on. And I went back and talked to Jack about it, which was the worst mistake I’ve ever made in my life.

PELTZ: Heath says Walls became enraged, that the secret he had managed to keep for so long might get out. Heath believed he needed to redeem himself, not only to protect Walls’ cover, but, more importantly, to maintain Walls’ affection.

STOCKS: On the other hand, I thought I was going to lose him, and I didn’t know how to react to that, and what to do about that. And now I’ve betrayed him. Now I’ve caused him problems.

PELTZ: Heath says he felt he had to act quickly to preserve the world that Walls had built for him.

STOCKS: Jack had a saying: ‘If you have a problem and you can’t solve it, you kill it.’ And so I took his last command.

PELTZ: What was the last command, Heath?

STOCKS: Kill the problem. I caused the problem. Fix the problem. Kill them.

PELTZ: Just a few weeks later, after a family meal, Heath recalls being consumed by an uncontrollable rage.

STOCKS: I went to the gun cabinet. I got the .45 out of the gun cabinet. As soon as I saw my dad, everything snapped.

PELTZ: Heath says he doesn’t remember much else, but when it was over, Heath had murdered his mother, father and sister, all, he says, to protect the man he called “Dad.”

STOCKS: People should know what happened, the whole time, not just what happened on that night, what we all went through, what—what Jack did to us.

PELTZ: It was you who pulled the trigger. Why is this Jack Walls’ fault?

STOCKS: I don’t blame Jack for me killing my family. I blame Jack for what he did to me that caused me to kill my family.

PELTZ: Heath Stocks was sent to prison for triple murder. And, incredibly, even at his own trial, he says, out of loyalty, he never said a word about Jack Walls. His secret would remain over Lonoke for another year, until one boy’s love for his family would finally undo the 30-year curse of Jack Walls.

WALTERS: He doesn’t know it yet, but Jack Walls is about to be cornered by his victims. Perri Peltz will be back in a moment with the astounding conclusion to this story.

WALTERS: We continue now with the story of a scoutmaster who preyed upon boys in his troop, lining up his next victim before he had finished molesting the last. Over 30 years, dozens of boys may have fallen into his clutches. What would it take to break his hold? Here’s Perri Peltz with the stunning conclusion to our story.

PELTZ: For too long, Lonoke had been keeping a dark secret of child abuse. Countless young victims were too afraid, too consumed by the shame and, ultimately, too devoted to their molester to reveal the torment they suffered. But all that was about to change when one boy would take a bold step to save his family.

AUKES: I had been thinking before that, you know, that my brothers were going to be next, and that—that was bothering me a lot.

PELTZ: Remember Josh Aukes, one of several boys who once defended his molester in court? Well, now, four years after the trial, he would finally break his silence when he saw Walls offer a gift of camouflage pants to his younger brothers — the same symbolic gift that Walls had given him to signify membership in his special group.

AUKES: And I knew it was coming. I got stuff like that all the time and they thought it was just neat. And I knew that they, they were next.

PELTZ: And that’s when Josh broke down, telling everything to his parents, shattering the silence that had protected Walls for decades.

VICKIE AUKES: And he looked at me, and he said, “Well, let me tell you about this Jack Walls.” And so then he proceeded to tell us that, you know, what had happened, that he had molested him.

TERRY AUKES: That he’d been molested by Jack. And he cried. And we cried.

PELTZ: At that moment, Jack Walls must have seemed like an evil force, tearing their families apart. Devastated, the Aukeses met with their neighbors, the Knoxes, in their home across the street from Jack Walls. And that’s when their son Wade, realizing the secret was out, grabbed a gun, confronted Walls at his house, and literally marched him across the street.

VICKIE AUKES: The doorbell rang, and I went to the door. And there was Jack, and it was just—it was a shock since we had been talking about, you know, what, what we should do. Then I said, ‘Well, Jack,’ and, then, all of a sudden, Wade stepped out. And I looked down, and he had a gun.

TERRY AUKES: Wade told him, said, ‘Now tell them what you’ve been doing.’

KAREN KNOX: He said, ‘Tell him, tell them what you’ve done to us all these years. Tell them how you’ve messed up our lives.’ And you could see the anger just boiling in him. Jack just—his body just went kind of limp, folded his arms, and said, ‘It’s all true. It’s true.’

PELTZ: So Karen, when he’s sitting here telling you all of these things, what are you feeling inside?

KNOX: I put as much into his family almost as I did to my family because he had three wonderful girls and a good wife. I was doing all I could to help his kids and he was raping mine.

PELTZ: Just three weeks on the job, Lonoke’s new police chief, an outsider, would finally help the families unearth the truth about Jack Walls. Chief Peckat would build a strong case against Walls for rape and sexual abuse.

PECKAT: Something that has been swept under the rug for, for 30 years, and it was never dealt with, and we’re just having victim after victim after victim.

PELTZ: How many boys do you think were involved in this?

PECKAT: It, it’s going to be in excess of 50. If we were to dig back into this again today, we would find a lot more victims.

PELTZ: Former Scout leader Jack Walls came to court where a portrait of his father, the judge, hung on the wall. He pleaded guilty to five charges of rape, but this time Jack Walls’ victims did not support him. One by one, they spoke out against him — most dramatically, Heath Stocks, who was brought in from prison for the trial. At the sentencing, the judge called Heath “Walls’ finest creation.” And the town learned for the first time what Heath says prompted him to commit murder. But Jack Walls denies any role in motivating Heath to kill his family, and he rejects accusations that he molested any other children.

J

ack Walls is in prison serving three life terms for abusing boys in Lonoke. It took six more years to discover Doug Hogan was telling the truth. And the citizens of Lonoke gave the chief this award for his willingness to fight the system, but the chief says:

PECKAT: The boys deserve the credit. They’re the ones that came forward.

I didn’t save anybody. The only thing that I did was put a case together and finally got it into court.

PELTZ: Despite a lost and tortured childhood, Josh has managed to graduate high school and is attending college this year.

AUKES: I was just looking out for my brothers. I, I just said something. I’m glad I did. I feel like maybe I kept it from happening to other people.

PELTZ: As for the parents, they see their boys as the victims they were and the heroes they’ve become.

KNOX: I would stand and look out the window in the afternoon when all the kids got home from school. And I was watching them ride their bikes up and down the street and it just occurred to me that these boys are heroes because our neighborhood is full of little boys, and they’re safe. They’re safe. There’s no Jack Walls for them.

WALTERS: Finally safe. Perri Peltz joins us. Perri, what is it like now in this town since Jack Walls is in prison?

PELTZ: I think, Barbara, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The victims still suffer. Many of them and their families are having a very difficult time. On the other hand, the town has been very supportive, as has the church. The secret is out, they’re moving on. And by the way, Barbara, I should mention that Jack Walls is appealing.

WALTERS: Hm. And what about Heath Stocks? Is he is in prison for the rest of his life?

PELTZ: That’s right, Barbara. He remains in prison for the rest of his life. He has, however, appealed for clemency. There is expected to be some kind of hearing next week about whether they’ll listen to that. He says that he was a rape victim, and that, that was never heard during the trial.

WALTERS: Whatever way you look at it, it is a tragedy.

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