Parts of this post were used in Aggravated. This is the third of four posts about a search for some evidence. If you haven’t read the first two yet, you should probably do that before reading this one, starting with Part 1, Why I Searched for Karla.
The previous two posts were about what I was looking for in Deep Springs. My trip so far had been relatively successful. I had done several interviews with people and had gathered some information that would be pertinent to the book, but I had a couple of unsuccessful stops as well. It was my last day there, but I hadn’t been able to connect with one of the people I most wanted to talk to, Blake Goudy. Karla Spivey had called me, but she said she wanted me to talk to her mother instead, because her mother “would remember everything.” I left her mother a voice-mail, but didn’t really expect to hear from her.
My to-do list for that day was finished, and I was tired. I headed back to my hotel, created a few more notes and crashed on the bed, figuring that was all I could accomplish that day. While I was resting, Karla’s mom, Margie, called me. I repeated my explanation from the voice-mail, and told her that Karla apparently had a lot of faith in her memory. I said I was doing research for a book about a trial that took place in Deep Springs in 2006, and said that Karla was mentioned in the trial as having been told something in 2004, at a speech at her school. Margie did remember the incident, and told me what sounded like a word for word description of what Karla had told her on the afternoon of September 7, 2004. When she finished we talked for a minute longer about the book. I thanked her, and we hung up. I had been half asleep when she returned my call, and I wasn’t used to using my new tape recorder yet, so I didn’t record the conversation, but I took notes the whole time. The last sentence I wrote was “Hanna said that her mom’s boyfriend was abusing her.”
Here’s a transcript of that call, beginning after our introductions.
MICHAEL: Karla said you would remember the day better than she would.
MARGIE: Well, she came home from school and said, “Mom, you’ll never guess what happened at school today. We had this speaker, talking about sexual abuse and that kind of thing.”
MARGIE: And she said, “Hanna Penderfield was sitting there, kind of shaking and crying.” And she went over to her and asked her what was wrong, and Hanna at first didn’t want to tell her, but she said that Hanna finally told her that she was being abused, and she questioned her some more, and Hanna said that her mother’s boyfriend, or maybe her dad, was abusing her.”
MICHAEL: Her mom’s boyfriend?
MARGIE: Or maybe her dad. I don’t remember exactly. I think she said it was the boyfriend.
As soon as we hung up, I transcribed the call while it was still fresh in my mind, and I believe it’s close to perfect. Even if there are some minor grammatical differences, I’m positive that the important part of it (that Karla told Margie that Hanna said she had been abused by her mother’s boyfriend) is completely accurate. That was quite a revelation.
Steve included that information, along with my sworn affidavit about the conversation, as part of the habeas corpus writ he filed in June 2017. The evidence in that writ was ignored when the court sidestepped it by claiming that Steve had waited too long to file it. That meant that the court rejected the writ without considering any of the evidence in it. Hanna’s parents, by the way, divorced when she was seven. Her father had been in Ohio for nearly eight years when Goudy gave his talk, which makes it a fair certainty that he wasn’t the man Hanna named to Karla as her abuser, but neither was Steve. That just left Hanna’s mom’s boyfriend, Eddie Higham.
The next post covers what happened after the trip was over.
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