July 9, 1984: Affidavit of Thomas J. Donohue FBI SA re: Ernest Davis
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, plaintiff
CASE No. 75-26-CR-3
Civil No. 84-41 CIV-3
JEFFREY R. MACDONALD, defendant
I, Thomas J. Donohue, being duly sworn do depose and say that:
1. I am a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (hereafter FBI) assigned to the Greenville Resident Agency, and on September 9, 1981, Ernest Davis, Box 545-A, Nichols Trailer Park, Seneca, S.C., was contacted at his place of employment, SNS South, Incorporated, Highway 123, Seneca, S.C., by Special Agents Conroy and Donohue.
2. Special Agents Conroy and Donohue identified themselves to Davis as Special Agents of the FBI. Davis immediately wanted to know why he was being contacted, and if it had anything to do with the MacDonald case, stating that they had "been running us." When asked who "they" were, he stated Prince Beasley and Ted Gunderson and other guys. He was asked if "been running us" meant harassing and he said yes. He advised that he had been arrested by Beasley, who was accompanied by a Walhalla Police Officer, at Seneca, S.C., and taken back to Fayetteville, N.C., by Beasley and the police officer. He stated that he thought the police officer was no longer on the force. He was asked about the other guys and he stated that he meant two girls that they, he and his wife Helena, had met in Greenville, S.C.
3. Davis was advised that the agents had been requested by the Department of Justice to talk with him to find out what he knew about the things that had happened to him and his wife as a result of her being a witness in the MacDonald case. Davis agreed to talk with the agents but requested to leave the company premises and discuss the matter with the agents at another location. He agreed to talk with the agents at the McDonalds Restaurant a short distance from his place of work.
The interview was resumed at the McDonalds restaurant. At that time, Davis once again asked why he was being interviewed and it was again explained to him. He was asked also if he would agree to furnish the information to the agents in the form of a signed statement.
He replied that in the past what he had said had been turned around and the meaning changed and he did not know if he wished to agree to a signed statement. He did agree to furnish information to the interviewing agents in an oral statement.
5. Davis advised that he met Helena Stoeckley in July of 1979 in Columbia. He did not recall the exact date but stated that it was around July 4 of that year. He advised that both he and Helena were involved in a voluntary drug rehabilitation center program, he thought the name of the center was Gothin (phonetic). He noted that he lived in a quarter-way house and the centers were connected with Morris Village at Columbia, S.C.
6. Davis stated they both left in July, 1979, and moved to the apartment of Clarence Stoeckley, Helena's brother, at La Vista Apartments, Greenville, S.C. Clarence Stoeckley ran Butler's Shoe store in Greenville. They stayed with him for about one month and then went to the trailer Timberlake Number One, Oconee County, S.C. It was at this location that the FBI agents came for Helena.
7. Davis advised that it was at this location that he has his first recollection of any conversation with Helena concerning the MacDonald case. He advised that they were both watching television and saw a news bulletin on television about the MacDonald case, and that it was about two days later that the defense was to begin their case. This was at about the same time that the FBI agents showed up at the trailer and arrested Helena.
8. At this time, according to Davis, Helena was not using drugs, but was on a pain medication prescribed by Dr. Bruce for her broken arm.
9. Davis stated that at the time they saw the news bulletin, Helena mentioned that these people would be hounding her now, or words to that effect. When he asked why anybody would be doing so, she said that it was about the MacDonald case. Davis stated that he was shocked when she mentioned MacDonald and indicated that she had anything to do with it.
10. Davis advised that she stated "they" were trying to involve her in it and she was not involved. Davis could not recall the exact conversation, but did recall that it was a brief conversation. He indicated that that was the substance of the conversation.
11. Davis advised that he had not really believed her statement about the MacDonald case and did not think much about it. He told her someone would get in touch with her if she were needed.
12. Davis recalled that later, his brother-in-law had mentioned that a man stopped at the shoe store at about this time and asked where he and Helena lived. This man had told the brother-in-law that they were not going to look any further, that the FBI would find her, meaning Helena.
13. Davis noted that the FBI later came to arrest Helena at Timberlake Number One. Davis stated that he went to Raleigh, N.C., after Helena was arrested to see what was going to happen at the trial and to see what was happening to Helena. He advised that he arrived prior to her arrival in Raleigh and was able to see her at the jail for about five minutes that night. He stated the conversation was general and had nothing to do with the MacDonald case.
14. Davis advised that on the next day, he stayed around for approximately two hours or so, on the day that Helena was interviewed by Attorney Segal. Davis stated that he had asked Segal if he could be present and that he was in fact, present during that interview.
15. Davis recalled that also present at the interview were Prince Beasley, a lady from Nashville, four or five different people from Fayetteville, N.C., Red Underhill and that he knew others were present, but cannot recall their names. Davis was of the impression that all of these individuals were defense witnesses.
16. Davis recalled that Beasley was talking to Helena with Segal. Beasley, according to Davis, seemed to be coaching her. They showed her pictures of the murder scene, these pictures being contained in a book. She was terrified by the people and the way they were acting.
17. Davis noted that his wife Helena was particularly fond of children and that the photographs of the dead children terrified her.
18. Davis advised that Segal mentioned to him and to Helena that she could not go to jail for this, meaning the MacDonald murders, but that they wanted to clear MacDonald. Segal explained that because of things that had happened legally before this, citing other cases, that Helena could not go to jail.
19. Davis advised that it was more like an interrogation of Helena than an interview. It was obvious, according to Davis, that Segal wanted Helena to confess to the murders.
20. Davis advised that Segal had promised her she would not go to jail, that she could get a new identity and a new start for herself and that Ernie (the name used by Segal for Ernest Davis) would be with her.
21. Davis advised that from time to time he would step out of the room during this interview and that on these occasions, Segal had also promised these things to him in order to get Helena to go along with what he wanted her to do.
22. Davis advised that Segal definitely implied that they would get these things promised if Helena would "cooperate." He had asked Davis to "talk to her" and wanted Davis to persuade Helena to cooperate. Davis noted that Segal never definitely said what he wanted, but he did make it obvious in the way he talked. Davis noted that Segal was a lawyer, and never came out and said exactly what he wanted, but talked around it so that the meaning was clear to him.
23. Davis advised that his wife Helena during that particular time was not threatened by Segal.
24. Davis called the interrogation "a circus" that started out at the gory part of it and was not started gently. It seemed to him during the talk with Helena and Segal that she was on trial. He recalled mentioning to Segal that it looked like Helena was on trial rather than MacDonald. Davis advised that it looked to him as if Helena had been "beaten with a whip."
25. Davis advised that during this time that Helena was talking with Segal and Beasley that she never made any definite statement concerning the murder.
26. Davis stated that she did say after seeing a picture of a rocking horse, and looking at for a length of time, that she had seen "a horse with a spring." She mentioned a broken spring.
At that time Segal seemed to be putting words in her mouth, as it was obvious to Davis that Helena was saying that she had seen a horse of that type, but not that particular horse.
The comment about seeing a spring did not come until after Segal asked her to see if she noticed anything about the picture.
27. Helena at that time was also asked if she had recognized the layout of the house after seeing pictures of the MacDonald murder scene. She also said that she recognized the layout of the house, but it did not appear that she was referring to the particular house in the photos, but of houses that she had lived in in service housing in the past.
28. Davis noted that after being shown pictures, Segal would say to her "do you recognize that?" and then would say, "you do recognize that," or words to that effect. Davis stated that this was an example of how he felt Segal was trying to get her to answer the questions in a way that he wanted them answered.
29. Davis advised that after Helena testified, she stayed in a motel with him. He stated this was from approximately Friday to Saturday afternoon. During this period of time, Helena noted, "these people", meaning people with the defense, were trying to tell her what happened rather than let her say what she remembered. She told Davis that she was being abused by the defense and did not like what was going on.
30. Davis stated that he was asked to leave Raleigh, N.C., by Segal and was told by Segal that he would be put in jail if he did not leave. When Davis asked Segal why he would be put in jail, he told him for contempt of court, for influencing Helena. Davis recalled telling Segal that that was what he was doing to Helena. This conversation with Segal was over the telephone on Saturday, from Segal to Davis at the motel room in which he was staying with Helena.
31. Davis advised that he was driven to the Trailways Bus Station by Red Underhill and went to South Carolina, where he stayed for two days.
32. Davis advised that the time he left Helena at the motel room she was physically okay.
He was told by Helena later that when she as in the motel, a "black guy" jumped her and hit her and broke her nose. She told Davis that she had been given medication. Davis understood from conversations with Helena that Segal had her taken to a hospital, he thought by one of Segal's secretaries. He understood this was done under a low profile and possibly no record was made at the hospital.
33. Davis advised that during the weekend prior to his leaving, he got a bottle of vodka, larger than a quart, and brought it back to the motel room. He advised that Helena was "drinking on it" when he, Davis, left Raleigh. She was not drunk at that time.
34. Davis recalled that Helena told him that she had been given an adjoining room to another witness after he left, possibly Red Underhill.
35. Davis was aware that Helena had known Beasley from the Fayetteville, N.C., area prior to the MacDonald trial. He stated that according to Helena she was one of 40 or 50 people picked up at the time of the MacDonald murder and later released.
36. Davis was aware at the time of the trial interview in the courtroom that Prince Beasley had talked with Helena but he could recall nothing specific.
37. Davis advised that Helena first talked with Ted Gunderson after the trial, when he and Helena were living in Greenville.
38. On that first occasion, Gunderson called Helena at a telephone at a grocery store in Greenville. This telephone call had been arranged by Helena's brother, so that Gunderson would not be aware of the location of Helena. At the time of this telephone call, Prince Beasley was with Gunderson at Helena's brother's house.
39. Davis advised that when Gunderson called Helena at the grocery store, he, Davis, listened in on the conversation. He recalled that Gunderson told Helena, "we're working on a book," and that he wanted to talk to Helena and wanted her address. Helena did not want anything to do with him and did not give him the address. Gunderson then threatened her.
He told her, "she could be in big trouble - he had enough to put her away," or words to that effect.
40. At that time, Helena said goodbye to Gunderson and then Gunderson said, "someone wants to talk to you," or words to that effect. Beasley then got on the telephone and told Helena that she should talk to him, meaning Gunderson. Helena told Beasley to please leave her and her family alone. At that time, the conversation was ended.
41. Davis advised at that time he and Helena were living at 208 Conyers Street, Greenville.
42. Shortly thereafter, they left there and moved to Fayetteville, N.C. At first, they stayed in the back side of a house belonging to Nathan Springs, an individual who worked as a janitor for a Catholic school. They then moved from there and lived at Helena's parents' house at 315 Valley Road, Fayetteville.
43. After two days at that residence, Ernest was arrested. He advised that he had found out that Helena had taken an arrest warrant for him for assault on a female. Davis explained that they had been having marital difficulties while in Greenville and in Fayetteville and this warrant was a result of those difficulties.
44. Davis advised that he left the house and went to a store and made a telephone call and the police department picked him up. He stated that he went to the County Jail at Fayetteville.
45. Davis stated that after he was in the jail for about two hours, Beasley came to the jail and arranged to talk with him. He advised that he wanted to talk to him and told him that he would get him out on bond if Davis would say, "what they wanted you to" or words to that effect. Davis advised that Beasley told him that they would fly him to the west coast to talk to Gunderson but if "you don't say what we need, I'll put you back in here," or words to that effect.
46. It was understood from the conversation with Beasley that they wished to talk to him about a book or a movie concerning the MacDonald case. Beasley at that time had told him that MacDonald was "off the hook."
47. Davis advised that Beasley arranged to make bond for him and that they then left the jail and went to the Raleigh, N.C., Airport. At the time, the tickets were at the airport for him and Beasley to fly to Los Angeles.
48. At this point in the interview, Special Agent Mills came to McDonalds Restaurant and asked Davis if his wife would be available for an interview. It appeared to Mills that Davis's wife was at the trailer park where they lived, but she could not be located. Davis requested that he be taken to the trailer park so that he could speak with his wife.
49. Davis was taken to the trailer park at Seneca, S.C.
50. While en route to the trailer park, Davis advised that he had stayed at Ted Gunderson's house in California for four days. He advised that he had been interviewed during that period of time by Ted Gunderson, Prince Beasley and a man by the name of Young, his first name unknown. He believed that these interviews were tape recorded.
51. Davis understood that Young had been with the Gunderson firm but had left the firm.
52. Davis advised that he had furnished a signed statement while in California.
53. Davis stated that Helena was not with him in California at the time. He stated that he had stayed at Gunderson's residence because Gunderson and Beasley had said Helena was going to have him killed or put in jail and that she had done that in the past to others.
54. Davis was asked if any promises had been made to him at the time of the trip to California. Davis stated that they, Gunderson and Beasley, told him, "we could have anything we wanted." When asked to explain this, Davis said that he had been promised a new identity, they would be able to move away to a new location, be furnished money, and that nothing would happen to Helena.
55. Upon arrival at the trailer park in which Davis resided, Davis went into a trailer and stayed for several minutes. He came out, advised the interviewing agents that he wished to speak with his wife, and asked to be given until 3:15 p.m. to speak with her.
56. The interview with Davis was continued at Davis's residence, a trailer at Nichols Trailer Park.
57. Davis advised that he ate all of his meals either at Gunderson's house or out of paper bags. When Davis was asked to explain what he meant by out of paper bags he meant food from fast food restaurants that he had eaten while at Gunderson's office.
58. Davis advised that he was interviewed at Gunderson's office three or four times. He advised that present at the interviews were Gunderson, Beasley and Homer Young. He stated that Homer Young was not in there the entire time but was in and out of the interviews.
59. Davis stated that during the interviews, the conversation was stopped from time to time and at those times machines were turned on and off. He did not know what kind of machines they were. He advised also at times he was asked to step out of the office while they talked. He noted that while he was being interviewed, Gunderson and Beasley would whisper to each other and talk between themselves and then would interview him. He also stated that for some time, several hours at a time, he would be requested to sit in the waiting room while other business was taken care of.
60. Davis advised that the reason for the interview as told by Gunderson and Beasley was for a book and a movie. He was further told that they wanted no one to be hurt, and were trying not to get Davis killed or sent to jail. They stated they did not want anyone scalped.
They advised they were working for MacDonald but in connection with the book. They advised that MacDonald is off the hook, meaning as far as his trial was concerned.
61. Davis advised that Ted Gunderson had prepared a signed statement which he signed.
Davis advised that he never read the statement. Davis advised the statement he was talking about was on a yellow sheet of paper and was an expensive [sic] sheet with figures and numbers on it. He was told that he needed to sign this so that Gunderson could be paid back for Davis's trip to and from California. He signed this yellow sheet of paper on the day that he left California.
62. Davis was allowed to read a signed statement which he was supposed to have signed.
He stated that he never saw this statement before and never had it read to him. He advised that some of the things in the statement are what he had told Gunderson and Beasley. He advised that other things in the statement are not true and some are different from what he told them. He noted that things were turned around in the statement and the words were changed.
63. Davis advised that the only statement he recalled signing was that yellow piece of paper with numbers and figures on it.
64. Davis advised that during the time he was interviewed by Gunderson and Beasley, about three days, he would be at Gunderson's office the entire day. He stated that the interviews started early in the morning and ended late at night. He stated sometimes they started as early as 3:00 a.m. and lasted till midnight or 1:00 in the morning. He did note that they had interruptions in the interviews when they talked to each other. He noted that the atmosphere was confusing and "they were trying to put words in my mouth."
65. Davis advised that Ted Gunderson took him to the airport and he flew from California to Raleigh, N.C. He then went to Fayetteville, N.C. It was about two weeks later that he got together with Helena. They both came back to Seneca and stayed with Richard Davis at the Nichols Trailer Park at Seneca.
66. During that period of time, Davis had found a job. He advised that one day, date unrecalled, they were walking to the Bi-Lo Food Store when Beasley and Fred Massey, the Assistant Chief of Police at the Walhalla Police Department, stopped them. They were in Beasley's automobile. Massey was in uniform. Beasley grabbed Davis and handcuffed him. Massey was there and sort of blocked the exit of Davis.
67. Davis was placed in Beasley's automobile and taken back to the Walhalla Police Department. He was place in a side room at the Police Department. Beasley stayed with Davis at the Police Department.
68. Helena Davis had accompanied them to the Walhalla Police Department. She sat in the front seat of the automobile.
69. Davis advised that Beasley did not say he was under arrest but just said, "you let me down." Beasley told Davis that he could stay in jail that night at Walhalla, since arrangements had been made and then go to North Carolina the next day or could go back to North Carolina at that time. Davis advised that he told them, "let's go now."
70. Davis advised that he felt like he had been arrested by Beasley because of a bond charge on the original charge on which he was arrested on prior to going to California. Beasley said it as a violation of bond to come to South Carolina. Beasley told Davis that he had put up his house for bond.
71. Davis advised that he would not have gone back to North Carolina voluntarily, but was told by Beasley that he had to go.
72. Davis advised that he saw his wife sign papers voluntarily going back to North Carolina.
She had told him that she was doing this to make sure that they would not be separated and have each other pitted against each other.
73. Davis advised that Massey had left the Police Department and had come back. At the time he was arrested, Massey was in uniform, but had now changed into civilian clothes. All four individuals then went to Fayetteville, North Carolina, in Beasley's car. Davis recalled Massey making a point of saying he was going as a citizen and not as an officer. Davis noted that he was handcuffed all the way back to Fayetteville, North Carolina.
74. Davis advised that there was no conversation on this trip back to North Carolina about the MacDonald case. He recalled Helena asking at the time he was arrested if it had anything to do with "anything else," meaning the MacDonald case. Beasley said no, it was strictly business.
75. Davis recalled that his wife Helena stayed away from the subject of the MacDonald case during the trip back. He further recalled that Beasley kept trying to talk to her about past experiences and individuals they had known in the past. Beasley mentioned to Helena during this trip that he would like to talk to her later.
76. Davis advised that he stayed in jail for two days and was then bailed out by his mother and father-in-law who signed his bond.
77. Davis advised that he could not recall the exact date that he was arrested but initially thought it was about three days after Thanksgiving of 1980. Subsequently in the interview, he realized that the arrest must have taken place prior to Thanksgiving of 1980.
78. Davis advised that the bond was on an assault charge and not on a bond default charge.
79. Davis advised that when he got out of jail, he stayed with his in-laws for a number of weeks and then went to Wilmington, North Carolina. He advised that not until the latter part of October at a hearing on his charges at Fayetteville, North Carolina, did he know where Helena had been. Helena came to that hearing and told him that she had been in Los Angeles with Gunderson. Davis did not know how long she had been there.
80. Davis advised that later he and Helena went to the Public Defenders Office at Fayetteville and had the assault charges dropped against him. He noted that Helena had been told by Beasley and others not to have these charges dropped.
81. Davis advised that while he was in California, he had been promised by Gunderson a new identity, a new place to live, a job, financial security, and that no charges would be placed against Helena or himself.
82. Davis advised that the only money he was ever given was about $21.00 for bus fare from Raleigh to Fayetteville on his return from California. This money was given to him by Gunderson in cash.
83. Davis advised that nothing else was given to him by Gunderson nor were any of Gunderson's promises kept.
84. Davis advised that Helena told him that after her first trip to California to Gunderson's, that she had made another trip prior to December 6, 1980. Helena said that she had been picked up on the side of the road in Seneca and taken to California, by Gunderson.
85. Davis advised that he remembered this because Helena had called him from an airport and told him that she was on her way to California, with Gunderson. It was during this same telephone call that Gunderson spoke with Davis and told him that he was with Helena and he was trying to help her out.
86. Davis was later told by Helena that she had talked with Gunderson about the MacDonald case during that trip. She had told him that she had been driven into the ground, could not eat or sleep and had no clean clothes.
87. Davis advised that Helena has not been to Gunderson's in Los Angeles since December, 1980.
88. Davis advised that during the summer of 1980, two girls had approached him and Helena while they were shopping at the Woolworth Store in Greenville.
89. These girls know both Davis and Helena by name and asked them to come back to California with them. They said they were friends of Dr. MacDonald's and that they, Helena and Davis, could help him. They said they could get them back to California. They also stated that they could stay with friends of Dr. MacDonald's in California.
90. The girls gave the name of the motel they were staying at and a phone number to Davis and Helena and asked them to call them. They threw this telephone number away later.
91. Both Davis and Helena told these girls they wanted to be left alone.
92. Davis stated that later he was told by Helena that Gunderson had told her that he had sent these girls to Greenville to try to talk with her.
Further your affiant sayeth not.
THOMAS J. DONOHUE
Special Agent, FBI
Subscribed and sworn to before this 9th day of July, 1984
Laura P. Grimes
N0TARY PUBLIC for S.C.
MY COMMISSION EXPIRES SEPTEMBER 30, 1985