What the parole board didn't hear
Tears flowed July 31 as the four women who were sexually assaulted by former Franklin County jailer and current convict Hunter Hay urged the Kentucky Parole Board not to grant their assailant an early release.
The women retold their harrowing stories of working at the Franklin County jail, warning the board of a man they describe as vindictive and not the least bit remorseful for his crimes.
Hay was sentenced in 1995 to 10 years for 11 felonies including rape, attempted rape, sodomy and sexual abuse. From prison, Hay filed an unsuccessful lawsuit claiming he was an innocent man targeted in an elaborate conspiracy orchestrated by Gov. Paul Patton's supporters so he couldn't aid the 1995 Republican gubernatorial candidate.
"He'll do it again," all the women said over and over.
Jenny Wilson* told the board she fears the man who raped her will follow through on threats he made toward her daughter when pressuring her to change her story against him. [*Editor's note: ACE does not normally identify sex crime victims. The victims granted permission to use their names for this story.]
For Wilson, those threats strike the rawest of nerves, having already lost one daughter in a bizarre crime. In the cruelest of coincidences, Wilson's daughter vanished just weeks after Wilson quit working at the jail.
"I always heard God would never put more on a person than he could stand," Wilson said in an interview before the parole hearing. "I told my mama, 'God put me on this earth to see how much suffering a person could stand.'"
Wilson last saw her 15-year-old daughter Billie Jo (nicknamed "B.J.") alive on May 9, 1992, leaving with her boyfriend Kirby Smallwood for a Miss Franklin County High School pageant at her high school.
Wilson recalled B.J. wanted to break off her relationship with Smallwood, but she didn't want to hurt his feelings. For the most part, Wilson said she didn't have any reason to suspect anything wrong with Smallwood, a 17-year-old boy many remembered as a good student and wrestling team co-captain with plans for college.
And when B.J. never returned from the high school by curfew, few doubted Smallwood's story that he and B.J. were arguing over her prom dress at the Covered Bridge on the Switzer River when B.J. stormed away from his truck and he never saw her again.
Wilson remembered her panic and the search of the Switzer involving her family and law enforcement.
Those first few searches failed, leading only to more and more. Wilson said the family received many tips, but not one produced anything.
Searching became a 24-hour job, Wilson said.
"I stopped working at the temp agency because I needed to be out looking," Wilson said
Wilson said without her income, her family lost its car and eventually the house. Colossal phone bills generated by the search threatened to completely capsize the family.
Wilson recalled the public responded to her plight with donations.
"Several people even gave $100 bills," said Wilson's sister, Vickie Hulette. "People would say, 'I hope this helps.'"
Even as the months passed, Wilson held out hope that B.J. was alive. Like most mothers, she was consumed with worry.
In an open letter appealing to the public for information, Wilson added: "She has kidney problems and often takes medication for it. I know she doesn't have any because it was in her purse which was left in her boyfriend's truck.... We love and miss her so much; we need her home where she wants to be... Please help us in any way possible."
About seven months into the ordeal, Smallwood told police he sold B.J. for $200 to a cult that wanted to eat her.
Eventually, Smallwood changed his story again and lead police to B.J.'s skeletal remains in a thicket off KY 22 in Oldham County. Smallwood said he hit B.J. who fell and struck her head on a rock that killed her.
Smallwood was charged with murder but his confession was thrown out by a judge who ruled that police failed to advise him of his rights.
The judge's ruling outraged the family that had already become greatly resentful of law enforcement's handling of the case.
Wilson saved an apologetic letter from the Kentucky Justice Cabinet as small comfort for official missteps during the investigation.
The letter from the cabinet secretary expressed deep regret that two weeks after B.J.'s funeral, Wilson visited the site where her daughter's remains were discovered and found the police had left a sloppy mess.
"I found B.J.'s bones, some of her hair and pieces of clothing," Wilson recalled. "I was devastated. I couldn't believe that the police had left some of her behind. I wondered what I buried two weeks ago. My family and I gathered up the rest of B.J. and buried her again."
Wilson said she learned Smallwood was possessive of B.J. and he may have hit her at parties.
"B.J. never said anything about it," Wilson said. "Like most mothers, you find out too late."
But Wilson said Smallwood might not be the murderer.
On July 31, 1995, Smallwood's body was found hanged from a cherry tree in the backyard of his grandparents' Hardin County residence.
In a suicide letter to his ex-girlfriend, Smallwood claims he didn't kill B.J. and implicates someone else. Wilson said her family has asked the state police to reopen an investigation into her daughter's death.
In the meantime, Wilson's most pressing problem is keeping her rapist from being paroled. Hay will appeal to the parole board August 7 for early release.
"Sometimes I just want to run away and go underground," Wilson said of all that has happened to her. "It's been a really bad 10 years."
A coalition of labor groups told Rep. Ernie Fletcher on July 31 a federal surplus ought to be directed toward a laundry list of social needs, including hiring more teachers, making prescription drugs affordable for senior citizens and giving health care to children.
Activists from the AFL-CIO and the Frankfort Central Labor Council complained that congressional Republicans have passed $624 billion in tax breaks - 80 percent of which will go to the 20 percent wealthiest tax payers, they claim.
For example, the activists charge, a measure to repeal the estate tax would benefit less than 2 percent of the wealthiest Americans who are subject to this tax. Last year, only 350 Kentuckians paid an estate tax, they argued.
Wes Irvin, a spokesman for Fletcher who voted for all the tax breaks cited by the activists, accused the labor groups of distorting the facts surrounding the tax cuts.
"These are not tax cuts for the wealthy; they're fairer taxes for Central Kentucky," Irvin said. - ADG
Girls Girls Girls
A new website is devoted to the achievements of Kentucky women, www. womeninkentucky.com features bios, photos, sound and video clips.
And on August 6, KET will air Women of Kentucky: Our Legacy, Our Future, chronicling the history of women and public service in Kentucky. (Maybe the documentary will inspire the network, with a proud tradition of women in leadership roles, to feature a few more women among its on-air talent?) Featured women in the documentary, produced by Elaine Walker (of Peridot Productions in Bowling Green) include former Governor Martha Layne Collins, State Rep. Eleanor Jordan; and U.S. Rep. Anne Northup.
It's show time for the Double G-Man
Wanna watch a Kentuckian whose last name isn't McConnell address a raving crowd of political activists? You're in luck!
Gatewood Galbraith, the Kentucky Sixth District congressional candidate, will be speaking around 8 p.m. August 10 on C-Span as the first major speaker of the Reform Party National Convention in Long Beach, Calif.
Gatewood has also graciously accepted his other big honor recently bestowed upon him: First Place in the "Most Beloved Local Personality" in ACE Weekly's readers' poll.
"I'm very honored and humbled to have been given that distinction," Galbraith said in a press release.
We're sure our readers feel just as pleased. - ADG