Searching for Karla Spivey – Part 1

This post and the three that follow it comprise an expanded early version of a chapter in Aggravated. This is the first of four posts about the search for some information. A considerably abbreviated version of that trip was used in the book, so if you’ve read the book you don’t need to read these unless you want to. They will simply provide a much more detailed account of the same information.

Why I Searched For Karla

Early in my research for this book, I made several trips to Deep Springs to gather records and interview as many people as possible. One of the topics I wanted to find out more about was the talk Blake Goudy gave to students at Hanna’s school. I wanted to see if I could resolve some of the discrepancies between the trial transcripts and other documents. Most of what Goudy and Hanna testified to regarding his speech isn’t in dispute. Everyone agrees that it was given in the Alderson School’s auditorium, the subject was abuse and prevention, it was given on Wednesday, April 7, 2004, and one or more students approached him afterward for advice. Among other things, there was a question about how many students actually did come forward.

In her affidavit, Hanna didn’t mention any other students talking to Goudy or to her. She simply said “I decided to tell him.” Deputy Willard Knox talked to Goudy on September 5, 2004. He recorded in his computer file that Goudy “had approximately 5 students that approached him wanting to talk,” and that “one of these students was Hannah [sic].” Knox also said that she “did not go into any details with Goudy,” and closed by saying that “Goudy stated that was all he knew about the situation with Hannah [sic] Penderfield.”

Near the end of 2004, Roland Mathis, during the brainstorming session, said about Goudy, “I don’t really know exactly what he talked to them about, but, at the end of his speech, he has five people come up to him and talk to him about it,” and “he tells all of them to go call your parents.” Mathis also said he didn’t know if any of the other girls told their parents or not. The number five may have come from Knox’s note about his phone call to Goudy, but Mathis had no information about what the other girls said to Goudy because no one in the sheriff’s office or the DA’s office talked to any of them. When Tom Swearingen asked Hanna (in 2006) if any other students talked to Goudy, she said, “No.”  In both trials, Hanna testified that she did speak with Goudy after the talk, but no one asked her about other students approaching him. When Goudy was on the stand, though, he again said that he “had five children waiting in line” after the presentation. To my knowledge no one ever found out who the other students were, whether they actually did come forward or not, or any other details about their stories. I was interested in how many there were, what they said to Goudy, what Hanna actually said to him, and what Hanna said to Karla Spivey before she talked to Goudy. Let’s see what the evidence tells us.

I will be spelling Karla’s name two different ways for a while here. There’s a reason. Hanna told Tom that, during Goudy’s talk, “one of my friends that knew nothing about what was going on, she just saw the look on my face, she said, ‘What’s wrong?’ I said, ‘Nothing.’ She [her friend] said, ‘No. That’s bull. Tell me what’s wrong.’ I said, ‘Can I trust you?’ She says, ‘Heck, yeah.’ I said, ‘Well…’ Tom stopped her to ask who the friend was. Hanna said, “Her name is Karla Spivey.” Hanna said that she told Karla that she couldn’t go up front, and said that Karla told her, “‘I’ll walk up there with you. You need to tell him.’ She walked me up there, and when I got …kind of got to talking, she was like, ‘Well, I’m going to go. That way I don’t upset you or anything.’ I said, ‘Okay.’ And so I told Blake Goudy what was going on. Blake gave me his card and said to tell my mom as soon as possible.”

In Trial #1, Hanna told a nearly identical story, but tried to add some distance from Karla. She said, “A girl I wasn’t very close to, I hadn’t talked with much, had kind of looked behind her, and she saw I was upset, and she came and sat beside me. And for the rest of the presentation, she kept kind of just messing with me to get me to tell her what was wrong. And finally after about 15 minutes, I told her.” Hanna said that the girl kept saying things like, “You really need to go tell this guy.” “You really need to go tell him,” and “It’s okay, I’ll walk up there with you.” Ross asked Hanna if she did tell Goudy about her abuse, and Hanna said, “Yes.” Ross didn’t ask what the other girl’s name was, and Hanna didn’t volunteer it.

In Trial #2, she repeated the same scenario with very few variations. She again didn’t mention the girl’s name, but Cleveland Sanford asked who she was. Hanna said, “Carla [sic] Spivey.” He also asked where Carla was now. Hanna said, “I honestly don’t know.” Ross followed that by asking Hanna if she had told her girlfriends any specific information about her abuser, like name, age, or whether he “was an adult, middle aged man who was doing these things.” She said, “No, sir, I didn’t.” Then he asked her if, when she spoke to Carla, she gave her any specific information. Hanna said, “I don’t really remember, sir.”

Let’s break that down a little. Tom asked for the friend’s name right away, and Hanna gave it to him. But in the trials, she wasn’t asked who this girl was until Steve’s attorney asked her in Trial #2. Also, weirdly, Hanna told Tom several things about her interaction with Karla, and repeated those to Elmer Ross in Trial #1, but when Ross asked her in the second trial if she had given Karla any “specifics,” Hanna said, “I don’t really remember, sir.” How could she be so detailed to Tom, plus give the same information to Ross in Trial #1, but completely “forget” during the few weeks between the trials?

Why wasn’t Karla contacted by the sheriff or the DA. Hanna promised Tom she would get Karla’s phone number for him, but she didn’t. Why would Hanna try to hide Karla from Tom and the DA? All Karla could say was that she encouraged Hanna to go talk to Goudy, right?

Initially, I wanted some information about the five students at the speech. Were there actually four others in addition to Hanna? Goudy told Willard Knox that there were “approximately” five students, which could mean anything from four to seven. Did they all say they had been abused? Did all of the others recant, or did they just not tell their parents? I could only think of three avenues to pursue: Talk to the Alderson School, to Blake Goudy, and to Karla Spivey.

That misspelling of Karla’s name in both trial records prevented me from contacting her for quite a while, her first name wasn’t spelled aloud during Tom’s interview, and it was spelled Carla in Trial #2, so I began by looking for a Carla.

I found phone numbers for Blake Goudy online, but got no answer at any of them. I also did online searches for Carla Spivey, and found several Spiveys named Carla and Carli in places like Michigan, Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania, but none in Texas. I gave up for a while, deciding I would try again before I did another research trip to Deep Springs. I had made one partially-successful trip near the end of June 2014, obtaining an affidavit stating that Darla lied on the stand about Eddie Higham living with them, and had gathered a variety of documents then, but I knew I needed more. We’ll look at a trip I made a couple of months later in the next post.

Michael Sirois

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