MEXIA, Texas (KWTX) Close to half a century after he was convicted of killing two girls within a year, Carlos Don Stultz is once again up for parole, and he’s declaring his innocence with his future on the line.
Stultz claims to have found God and wants to preach if released.
After interviewing the family of one of Stultz’ victims in January, KWTX traveled to the LeBlanc Unit in Beaumont to speak to Stultz in prison to give him the opportunity to accept responsibility or show remorse.
Although it’s well-documented that he had confessed to the brutal murders of 17-year-old Kathy Jones in Mexia and 11-year-old Karen Kubat in Grand Prairie in the late 1960s, in recent years Stultz has denied the killings and recanted his confessions.
“I didn’t kill Kathy Jones, I didn’t rape Kathy Jones, and that Kubat girl - I didn’t kill her either,” said Stultz. “I did not murder no girls.”
Stultz, who was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, served time for a raping a girl there, in addition to burglaries and thefts along the way.
"I was convicted in Oklahoma, but I didn't do nothin' in Oklahoma either," said Stultz. "I burglarized, I stole for money, I needed money, I did not rape nobody at all anywhere, I didn’t kill nobody anywhere."
He claims to have left Oklahoma with his brother-in-law to escape an abusive step-father.
"I couldn't get along with my stepdad at all," said Stultz. "I always wanted for a dad all the time, I'd do anything he asked me to and he'd still abuse me, he didn't really give a darn about me."
He said the man who would sometimes take him hunting, used butcher knives, clubs, belts and razor strops on him.
"The last time he threatened me was right before I come to Texas with two knives, and I told him there's a shotgun around the door and I will reach and grab for it," said Stultz. "My momma told me to get out and get my brother-in-law and come to Texas, so I come to Texas."
The self-proclaimed 'roustabout' said he took a job in Grand Prairie where he met his common-law wife Rhonda.
"As I growed up and got older I took to myself mainly, tried to do what I could," said Stultz.
The couple left for Rhonda's hometown in Limestone County not long after Kubat had her throat slashed during a burglary on Aug. 20, 1968; reports from back then say she nodded 'yes' that a neighbor was responsible, right before she passed away at the hospital.
Stultz denies leaving because of the murder and says he went to work for the James A. Miller Ranch in Shiloh (near Mexia) to support his pregnant wife and 'to help her with the hospital (stay).’
He said he was living with Rhonda's grandmother who had to take him to work.
"I didn't own a car, I didn't own nothin'," said Stultz.
He did, however, get to drive a work truck which belonged to his ranch employer.
On June 4, 1969, he said he was spraying weeds with poison out at the ranch when police came to talk to him.
"They looked in the front, they looked in the back, they stripped me butt-naked and looked at all my parts of my body and looked for scratch marks...I only had one finger cut right there," said Stultz who pointed to a scar on his hand he said needed stitches at the time.
Police including Mexia PD, DPS, the Texas Rangers, the Limestone County Sheriff and the County Attorney at the time, Holloway Martin, came to question Stultz the day after Jones was found dead in a cattle pasture by the owner.
"I was called when they discovered the body actually, I think I was called before it was identified," said Martin.
"My recollection is that that evening there was some mention of this Carlos Don Stultz because he had been involved in, or been accused of a burglary in that area."
Jones' bloodied body had been raped and dumped after she was stabbed 18 times in her Mexia home on her lunch break.
"She probably would have gone to Texas A&M," said Florence Jones, Kathy's mother. "She didn't have a chance to do anything."
According to reports, as Jones came home from school for a sandwich and some tea, about three miles, Stultz saw her pass by the service station he was at and followed her home.
"I just couldn't believe anybody would do that to her," said Mrs. Jones. "Everybody liked her, she never had a worry in the world, she was in the band and just did so good."
The Mexia High School junior regularly taught baton twirling lessons in the front yard.
"I guess that's where he had watched her," said Mrs. Jones.
Stultz denies he ever saw or knew Kathy, and didn't know where she lived.
"There was no doubt with anybody that he didn't do it," said Sonny Jones, Kathy's father.
The Jones' still live in the house where Kathy was murdered, saying they couldn't give it up.
"She wouldn't want that," said Mrs. Jones. "You live in your memories."
The tragedy is a memory Martin said he, and the community, think about 'quite often.'
"One of the most heinous crimes I ever dealt with as County Attorney," said Martin. "That sorta thing didn't happen in Limestone County at that time."
The day after Jones' murder, Martin said the Sheriff questioned Stultz, and following 'deceptive' responses, he was asked to take a polygraph test.
Stultz agreed to it, and Martin said he drove Stultz to Waco with the Sheriff and Texas Ranger Johnny Krumnow.
"During the course of questioning, he admitted to the offense and was brought back to Mexia and took Krumnow to the scene where her body had been left,” said Martin.
"He found the knife and pointed the knife out to the Texas Ranger."
Stultz has a different version of how the knife was found.
"I didn't know where the knife was, they told me 'get out of the car, go down the side of the road, and find them a knife,'" said Stutlz.
As far as the confession, Stultz has conflicting stories: he said he was coerced into confessing, but he also contends he never admitted anything.
"I did not confess, I did not, I did not," said Stultz.
Hypothetically, even without a confession, Martin said there was enough physical evidence to prove he killed Jones.
"There wasn't any question we had the perpetrator because he had confessed to the offense and we had his bloody clothes, we had the knife that he used," said Martin. "We had good witnesses, admissible evidence, we had what you want in prosecuting a case."
Jones' grandfather, who lived behind her home, saw a truck like the one Stultz was driving, park behind Kathy's red Volkswagen, but assumed it was a client of her father's who had a welding shop in a building next door to the home.
Witnesses at the service station Stultz frequented also said he came in the day of Jones' murder with bloody hands and clothes, attributing it to a hog that he killed as he washed off.
According to Stultz he never said that, and he claims the blood was from that cut on his hand he'd gotten while working.
"I was at the store eating my lunch with eleven people when that girl got killed, and eleven people was gonna testify for me, and my boss said 'no you're not, 'cuz he lied to me,'" said Stultz.
After Stultz was indicted, a judge granted a change of venue request and the trial was moved to Dallas County.
Martin said evidence took four to five days to present, and Stultz was "well represented."
"He was handled property," said Martin. "He was afforded every privilege any defendant could hope for."
Stultz' attorneys tried to prove he was insane at the time of Jones' murder, a defense Stultz now regrets.
"I didn't say nothin' at all, they did, the lawyers would not let me say a word," said Stultz.
The tactic didn't work, and the jury quickly came back with a guilty verdict.
"We had a good jury, an intelligent jury," said Martin. "That jury found that he should be put to death, and he shoulda been put to death."
Stultz escaped the death penalty after his sentence was commuted to life in prison when the Supreme Court ruled capital punishment unconstitutional in 1972.
"Every day he wakes up is a bonus to him," said Martin.
The Jones' said the decision left them in shock.
"It was something you couldn't believe," said Mr. Jones.
"We couldn't believe that would happen to him after what he did to her," said Mrs. Jones.
Stultz, who was later sentenced to life in prison after authorities tied him to Kubat's murder, said he cried when the ruling came down.
"I'll stay right here and die if I have to," said Stultz.
And die he might; Stultz had a heart attack several years ago and is in a wheel chair due to a broken hip.
"The only thing we can hope for is they keep him in there, because he can't last too long," said Mr. Jones.
Besides his physical health deteriorating, he's also alone.
"It's hard, nobody come to visit me, nobody," said Stultz. "I'm by myself now, I have no family at all."
Stultz wife 'up and left him' and brought their newborn daughter to see him in jail one time before putting her up for adoption.
"I don't know where my daughter is or nothin,'" said Stultz.
Although he'd never come inside, Stultz said his step-father used to bring his mother to come see him, but she died in 1993.
"My mother and my sister they all believed me, my own immediate family believed me, nobody else believes me," said Stultz.
Prison life also seemed to be taking a toll on the elderly inmate.
"They (other inmates) harass me and stuff like that just because I"m an old-timer, and I try to make it, I try to do the best I can, I try to break no rules or nothing like that," said Stultz.
“It’s hell, it’s really hell,” he said.
Stultz said if he ever gets out he wants to preach, and already has a ministry lined up for him in West Texas.
"I wanna be out 'cuz I wanna serve he man above," said Stultz. "I know I can talk to people out there in the free world, people just going in jails and stuff, I can talk to them people and keep them from coming down here."
Stultz claims to have found God in prison, and said he prays and confesses to him.
"I've even told him everything I ever did in my lifetime, I confess it, everything, but I did not murder no girls," said Stultz.
During his 48 years of incarceration, Stutlz said he’s received his ministry license and a bachelor's degree and has been working on a master’s in Christian Studies (KWTX could not confirm the information because inmates’ education records are confidential).
“I want to go to the ministry, they’ve already got me scheduled to be there with them and everything like that, but it seems like these people don’t want to let me go, they want to keep me on so I’ll die here and there ain’t nothin’ I can do about it,” said Stultz.
'These people' are the victims' families and supporters, and those who worked the case who are still alive and continue to fight to ensure his entire sentence is served.
"I hope the man is sitting in that penitentiary when he dies," said Martin. "It was a terrible thing at the time, it's still a terrible thing."
Many like the Jones’ believe Stultz would kill again if released.
"He's gonna think 'what have I got to loose?'" said Mrs. Jones "We have got to keep him in there, there's no telling what he might do."
"A person who did what he done, you can expect 'em to do anything," said Mr. Jones.
“I ain’t even killed nobody to start with,” Stultz responded when asked if he'd murder again.
Right now Stultz is under parole review, a process which takes several months, and said he told the board,"'I don't know nothin’ about these cases, I wish these people would leave me alone.'"
Stultz said this was his 30th time up for parole, but TDCJ officials said he’s been reviewed for parole 26 times since he became eligible in 1976.
"It's awful to have to do it over, and over, and over," said Mrs. Jones.
With Stultz being eligible for release every three years or so, the Jones' said the parole process is exhausting.
"About the time you get all settled down, he's up for parole again," said Mrs. Jones.
Although it's a painful process, the Jones' continue to to put pressure on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to keep Stultz locked away.
“The family, they keep putting a protest on me all the time, and as long as that protest is on me, I can’t go nowhere,” said Stultz.
The 74-year-old is one of the longest serving inmates in the state, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
"I wanna go home so bad,” said Stultz. “I wanna get out.”
Currently without an attorney, Stultz said he’s seeking new representation and wants to take his case to federal court.
“These people here don’t believe me, but federal officers, when I go to their courts and stuff like that and they read my briefs and everything like that, they’re going to be astonished, they’re going to look at it and say ‘what?!’” said Stultz.
KWTX reached out to the Innocence Project of Texas to see if they’d ever considered taking on Stultz’ case, but never heard back.
Limestone County's current District Attorney, Roy DeFriend, said Stultz needs to stay in jail.
"Kathy would be 64 now if she were alive, he took that away from them (the Jones'), he took it away from everyone here actually," said DeFriend.
Although he was only five-years-old at the time of Jones' murder, DeFriend remembers the ripple effect it caused through the county.
"I can just remember people talking about it and how it just tore at the fabric of the community," said DeFriend.
DeFriend has helped lead the charge to protest Stultz' release, teaming-up with Holloway and the Jones' to give the small community of Mexia a big voice they hope the parole board will continue to hear.
"It still effects us, and it doesn't need to be forgotten," said DeFriend.
Last time Stultz was up for parole, they garnered more than 2,000 signatures to add to a parole file consisting of seven banker boxes.
"We've sent a lot in over the years," said DeFriend.
“They can say anything they want to say, if I have to be in here the rest of my life, I’ll be in here the rest of my life, but when the time comes and I go and get out of here and I go up there…then they’re going to pay the price," said Stultz.
The Jones' have already paid the ultimate price with the loss of their daughter.
"It's been terrible without Kathy," said Mrs. Jones. "Some days you don't even want to get up."
"It's something you can't get over," Mr. Jones added.
The couple said their daughter’s killer has not once reached out to them or apologized.
“If they (the Jones’) was here right now, I’d tell them that I did not kill your daughter, that’s for sure, and I’d put my hand on the bible on that,” said Stultz. "In God's name, have mercy on me."
Mrs. Jones said she has not forgiven Stultz, and isn't sure she'll ever be able to.
"I don't know, I think if I was to see him, I think I'd claw him to pieces," she said. "He has ruined our life with Kathy, he's ruined it."
The Mexia community continues to rally behind the Jones' by filling out petitions and writing letters to the parole board each time Stultz comes up for review.
Letters can be sent via email to email@example.com or by regular mail to:
Ms. Angela McCown, Director
Victim Services Division
8712 Shoal Creek Blvd., Suite 265
Austin, TX 78711-3401
Letters should include the offender's name, Carlos Don Stultz, State ID, #00999638, and TDCJ ID, #002233884.