In 1984, Donna Denise Haraway was taken from McAnally's Convenience Store in Ada, OK. Soon patron Gene Welchel called the police and store owner to report an unattended store. When the police arrived, they failed to secure the crime scene and even threw away some items that may have been key to solving the disappearance. Three men saw Denise leave the store that night with two individuals.
Two men, Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot, would later be arrested for her murder after hours of interrogations that would result in a false confession based on a dream that Tommy Ward had relayed to the officers in which he dreamt that they have raped Denise and stabbed her to death before dumping her body south of Ada. Up to this point, Denise Haraway's body still had not been found and no solid evidence recovered to point to either man as the murderer. They would eventually be convicted of her murder and sentenced to death. A body still had not been recovered.
Roughly a year later, the skeletal remains of Donna Denise Haraway would be found. The skull had a bullet hole in it and had been dumped in a field northeast of Ada. There was no DNA recovered and an autopsy gave no new clues.
After, the recovery of the body, Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot would be granted a new trial. Although the method of death had changed, District Attorney Bill Peterson would successfully argue that the men would not have confessed of a crime they did not commit. They were once again found guilty. Tommy Ward was given a life sentence. Karl Fontenot was once again given the death penalty. This was later overturned and he was given life in prison.
Today, both Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot are both still in prison awaiting the day when they will get a second chance at life.
In mid-2013, the Oklahoma Innocence Project filed a brief stating that they now have enough evidence to prove Karl Fontenot's innocence and finally free him from prison. Current District Attorney, Chris Ross, is currently reviewing the brief and should soon announce his decision on whether or not to grant a new trial.
This story is the subject of an amazing book by Robert Mayer titled "The Dreams of Ada". The story is also covered in John Grisham's "The Innocent Man".
Watch excerpts from Dateline NBC about Karl Fontenot and Tommy Ward here:
18 Year Old Karl Fontenot