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Janie Ward, 16, was pronounced dead September 9, 1989. The cause of death: spinal cord and neck injuries. The absurd tale offered by law enforcement suggested that these fatal injuries were sustained during a fall from a porch only 9- 3/4 inches in height. According to this fabricated account, the deadly fall occurred at a local teenage party in Marshall, AR. Despite conflicting and incriminating witness statements, the State of Arkansas has ensured that manner of death REMAIN undetermined for twenty years.

In October 2004, a new autopsy was performed by pathologist, Harry Bonnell. Dr. Bonnell concluded that Janie's death was clearly a "Homicide", caused by blunt force impact and trauma to the face. Bonnell’s findings only confirmed what the Ward family and eyewitnesses already knew—the account that Janie Ward suffered an accidental deadly fall from an insignificant height was manufactured. In spite of the highly esteemed credentials of Dr. Bonnell, the State has refused to concur with his findings.

In 2002, the Quorum Court of Searcy County passed a resolution asking Governor Huckabee to appoint a task force to investigate Janie's death. This resolution remained ignored until subsequent public pressure resulted in the naming of a new special prosecutor in January 2005. Tim Williamson was appointed and in June 2005, the governor released $10,000.00 from his emergency fund to help fund this investigation. Still, Mr. Williamson has avoided contact with the Wards and has failed to interview crucial witnesses, despite pressure from media personalities such as the award winning Mike Masterson.

The botched investigation and plot to cover up the facts in this case demonstrates corruption and unresponsiveness on a local and statewide level. Arkansas leaders have enabled the deliberate denial of justice for Janie Ward and her family to continue for 20 years. We must implore our leaders to make Justice for Janie a priority, and put JUSTICE before politics!

Group Information

  • 957
  • Criminal Justice
  • Oct 9, 2003
  • English

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