Hot Springs, Arkansas
June 24, 1966
The warm summer day begins like any other in this southern resort town until thirteen-year-old Cathie Ward goes horseback riding with girlfriends at Blacksnake Ranch and hours later is found dead. "Dragged to death by her horse,” claims the ranch owner.
After he commits a murder the next year, Hot Springs residents are terrified. The law reinvestigates Cathie’s death, but then everything becomes fuzzy and the tandem crimes become a part of Hot Springs history by word of mouth through scary folk tales.
After six years of research, personal interviews, and some bombshells appearing out of nowhere, Bitty and Prometheus Books present the story that’s been waiting a lifetime to be told--Snake Eyes: Murder in a Southern Town.
At first, sheriff’s deputies consider it an accident. That’s what forty-two-year-old serial-husband Frank Davis tells them when a thirteen-year-old girl is found dead at his riding stables. But when rumors begin and the rest of his world falls apart, he commits a violent murder in public and becomes front-page news. He takes residents of this southern town on a scary rollercoaster ride with a surprise ending that no one sees coming.
Bitty Martin & childhood friend, Leslie Tracy Swinford, take Cathie Ward’s 1966 skateboard on a visit to her Murfreesboro, Arkansas grave in 2018.
Each year on June 24th, Bitty and Leslie drive an hour west of Hot Springs, Arkansas to Cathie Ward's grave in Murfreesboro. They always bring flowers and an angel or a skateboard replica. Back in 1966, Cathie left her Nash Fifteen Toes skateboard at Leslie’s house days before she died and Leslie kept it as a dear remembrance of her friend. Wherever Leslie moved, Cathie’s skateboard accompanied her. After the milliennium, it was lost and the amazing story of how Cathie’s skateboard came back to Leslie is disclosed in Snake Eyes: Murder in a Southern Town.
When Bitty and Leslie drove into the cemetery in 2020, they were happy to see worn-out silk flowers by Cathie’s headstone that had been left by someone during the past year. They walked to her grave and added fresh flowers along with a miniature skateboard. This time, unlike the past, Bitty stood and told Cathie the chain of events that transpired after her death, the whole story boiled down into a brief synopsis. At the end of their visit, Leslie bent down, put two fingers to her lips, then touched the headstone to give a kiss goodbye. “We’ll see you next year, Cathie,” she promised. As they began to walk away, Bitty turned and said, "I hope wherever your soul might be, it’s in another life filled with happiness and joy."