Parts of this post were used in Aggravated. This is the fourth of four posts about a search for some evidence. If you haven’t read the first three yet, you should probably do that before reading this one, starting with Part 1, Why I Searched for Karla.
Early in September 2014, I drove to Deep Springs for a few days to try to gather some information for Aggravated. It had turned out to be a worthwhile trip. I not only had gathered some information about Hanna from her school, I had recorded conversations with several people, gathered some data that would prove useful in assembling the chapter on the Night of the Rodeo, and received information from Karla Spivey and her mother about what Hanna said during Blake Goudy’s speech.
The next day, Tuesday, September 8, 2014, Hanna’s mother, Darla, called me on my cell phone while I was on my way back to Houston. She said that Karla had been upset and had called Hanna to tell her what I was doing.
Pause for a moment to consider something. Why would Karla be upset? She suggested I talk to her mother because, as she said, her mother would remember what happened better than she would. I told Karla that I was writing a book about a 2006 trial, and that she had been mentioned as having been at Goudy’s presentation. Karla knew all of that when she gave me her mother’s number. The trial was held in open court, and was heavily publicized. It’s difficult to believe that Karla wouldn’t have known that I was searching for information about what happened between her and Hanna, so she must also have known what her mother would tell me. Did she get upset when her mother told her what she had revealed to me? Did she get upset when she called Hanna to tell her about it? Was she even upset at all, or did Hanna just tell her mother that Karla was upset? I don’t know, and (naturally) may never find out.
I tried to assure Darla that I was looking for the actual truth of what happened, but she kept pointing me toward the trial transcripts, insisting that the answers were all there. I told her that the transcripts were filled with fabrications, and I was trying to sort the truth from the lies, but that didn’t seem to matter to her. We did end on a somewhat conciliatory note after I explained that I would use pseudonyms for everyone in the book.
I worried for months about not having taped Margie Spivey’s call, so in April of the next year I called Margie again to see if I could get her to repeat the information on tape. I asked her, “Could I talk to you for a few minutes?” She said, “No. I found out you’re the brother of the man that did that to her, so I don’t think so,” and hung up. I tried to call Karla instead, but got a busy signal. I tried Margie again, and got her voice-mail. After four hours of getting busy signals on both of their phones I gave up. I’m assuming that Darla had warned them to not talk to me and they had blocked my number. I do realize that Margie’s original statement to me was second-hand hearsay (and is third-hand when I repeat it), so it’s completely invalid in a legal sense. I have sworn to it in an affidavit, though, and I am willing to testify to our conversation, under oath, in court, should the need arise.
I still believe that Hanna might not have been abused by anyone, but Hanna indicated that Karla essentially pressured her (Hanna: “I can’t.” Karla: “No, I’ll walk up there with you. You need to tell him,” Hanna: “…she kept kind of just messing with me to get me to tell her what was wrong”). If Karla was as insistent as Hanna said, Hanna might have felt forced into saying something. If she had also been talking to her friends about the abuse (as she claimed), that may have doubled the stress on her to speak out. Otherwise she might have had to admit to them that she had been lying to them.
Maybe Hanna hadn’t intended to mention anyone’s name. Saying that her mother’s boyfriend was her abuser could have just slipped out. Maybe Hanna was mad at her mother and said it on purpose. Only Hanna knows. At any rate, by the time Karla had nudged her up to the front, she had a serious decision to make. If she told her mother it had been Eddie, how would her mother take it? According to Steve, Darla thought Eddie hung the moon and the stars. Did Hanna dare accuse her mother’s boyfriend?
We know that Hanna did talk to Goudy, but I’m not even sure she gave him anyone’s name. Deputy Knox’s September 2004 note about his conversation with Goudy indicated that Hanna told Goudy “she had been touched by a man for several years,” that “She did not go into any details” with him, and that “Goudy stated that was all he knew about the situation with Hannah [sic] Penderfield.” (The emphasis above is mine). Knox’s note specifies that Hanna may not have told Goudy anything beyond the barest details. In fact, it doesn’t state that Hanna named anyone, but Goudy testified less than a year later that she had named Steve. It’s even possible that he heard Steve’s name from Darla, not Hanna, when Darla called Goudy later that afternoon.
The research has been like that sometimes, gathering small scraps of information that don’t seem to have any significance until they are paired with other bits of data. Perseverance is key.
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