Parts of this post were used in Aggravated. This is the second of four posts about a search for some evidence. If you haven’t read the first post yet, you should probably do that before reading this one. Here’s a link, Part 1, Why I Searched for Karla.
A Trip to Deep Springs
In late-August 2014, I was preparing to make another trip to Deep Springs, so I took one more stab at finding Carla. I tried some social media sites, searching for “Spivey” and “Deep Springs,” and found a Facebook page for her. It listed her as working at a fitness center, and also at a rest home, but her name was spelled Karla, not Carla. I added visiting her at her places of employment to my to-do list.
A few of the statements below may not make much sense if you haven’t been following the blog or haven’t read Aggravated yet. If something is confusing, ask a question in the Comments, and I’ll be my best to explain it as long as it doesn’t involve me revealing anyone’s real name or location, etc.
On Saturday, September 6th, 2014, I drove from Houston to Deep Springs (around 300 miles away), and got a room in a hotel, intending to use the room as a place to interview people. Beau and Marri, Steve’s kids, both grown by then, met me there, and I did a couple of lengthy interviews with each of them separately, recording them on a digital recorder I had bought for that purpose. I also spent Sunday with them, driving some of the routes that were mentioned in the trials, gathering data on distances between various points, taking pictures of locations, and tabulating some data about items located along the routes. Most of that shows up in the chapter, The Night of the Rodeo.
Monday was a full day for me. At 8:30 am, my first stop was the Deep Springs Workout Center, located on the edge of downtown, hoping to talk to Karla. My intent was to just try to find out general information from her about Goudy’s talk (how long it lasted, how many students were there, how many girls did talk to him afterward, what Hanna and Karla said to each other, etc.). Karla didn’t work at the gym any longer. Her job had been part-time, and she left when she went back to college. If I had come in August instead of September, she might have been there. I kept working my way through my to-do list. The rest home Karla worked at was on the other side of town so I planned to go out there during the afternoon.
From there I stopped and talked to the police chief of Bloom, Texas. Bloom is the suburb just to the east of Deep Springs. He worked on the Gafken trial and knew Steve from that, but he had left the Ashwell County Sheriff’s Office by the time Steve was charged in 2004. He did give me a little information about the Gafken trial. I thanked him and left.
From there I drove out to Hanna’s former hometown, Alderson, a dozen miles farther down the road. I spent nearly an hour talking to Ms. Atkinson and Mr. Fulton, the school counselor and the principal. They were able to provide me with some interesting tidbits about Hanna hacking a computer testing program, but they only remembered very basic information about Goudy’s speech. From there I headed back to Deep Springs and made some other stops (the courthouse and Roland Mathis’ office), trying to glean a little more information about the preparations for Steve’s trials.
After lunch, I drove to the southwest edge of town, just past the rodeo grounds, to the Peaceful Breeze Rest Home. Karla wasn’t there either. She left that job too when she went back to school, but one of the employees said that Karla was a friend of hers and offered to contact her for me. I gave her my business card and thanked her, but (knowing how rarely people follow through on things like that) I didn’t expect to hear anything.
The Child Protective Services office was close by, so I stopped there, knowing that the likelihood of getting any information about Steve vouching for Darla during her CPS dilemma was probably zero, so it was no surprise to find out that they couldn’t tell me anything. I did find out how to request records for former CPS employees, though. I had reached a point where I didn’t trust anyone’s word, and Blake Goudy and Willard Knox had both worked for CPS, so I wanted to see if their comments about their employment held water.
After that, I made another stop in town at the Deep Springs Gazette, and talked to the editor, Clyde Sledge (he said he remembered very little about Steve’s trial or his comments to Roland Mathis), so I went back to my hotel to enter some notes into my laptop and plan for the next day. It was shaping up to only be a moderately productive trip, but while I was working, I got a call from Karla Spivey. She said she had a vague memory of Goudy’s speech, but said that her mom, Margie, would remember everything. That seemed a little strange to me, but she gave me her mother’s phone number. I called Margie and left a voice-mail, explaining that I had spoken to Karla, and asked her to call me back.
I headed back out, and stopped by the sheriff’s office. I spoke to Rita Freeman, the department’s Custodian of Records. I had spoken with her a couple of months before, and she had assured me that the files they had given me earlier were everything they had. In 2016, though, after another TPIA request and a couple of phone conversations, she found a few more notes. Persistence can pay off sometimes, but she assured me that I now had everything they had and suggested going to the DA’s office, saying they might have some of the files she was missing. At the courthouse, I ran into another snag. The DA’s office manager, told me they couldn’t release the case files to anyone except the defendant’s attorney, and that his attorney should already have a full copy. I found out later that wasn’t true. For a couple of years after that I avoided trying to get case files from the DA’s office based on what she told me. Finally, I tried a TPIA request, and I was able to get copies of much of what they had in Steve’s file.
In 2014, though, my day wasn’t over. In the next post, some of my searching finally yielded results.
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