Thursday, February 28, 2008

Please Help My Cousin Prove His Innocence

My cousin Tommy Ward was wrongfully convicted of Murder over 20 years ago. Despite evidence, he was convicted because of a dream he had about the event. The details of his dream/confession were nowhere close to matching the actual events of the victims death, rape, or the location of her body. My family and I have been stripped of the joys of having Tommy in our lives for far too long. He has been denied a wonderful life because the justice system needed someone to blame for the crime.

Persons with information about the Denice Haraway homicide may send e-mail to:
Or write to:
Mark Barrett, Attorney
P.O. Box 896
Norman, Oklahoma 73070

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

~Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot were convicted of murdering Denise Haraway. Haraway, 24, worked part-time at McAnally’s convenience store in Ada, Oklahoma. She was last seen leaving the store on April 28, 1984, with a man who had his arm around her waist. The two appeared to be a pair of lovers. The store was found deserted with the cash register drawer opened and emptied. Haraway’s purse and driver’s license were found inside, and her car nearby.
~Months later, after Haraway still remained missing, police questioned Tommy Ward, who resembled the man accompanying Haraway from the store. After days of interrogation, Ward confessed to the crime. He also implicated his friend, Karl Fontenot, and Odell Titsworth, a man he never met. During the videotaped confession, Ward frequently forgot Titsworth’s name and called him “Titsdale.” Ward said the three gang-raped Haraway, murdered her with Titsworth’s knife, and dumped her body near Sandy Creek.
~Fontenot was soon arrested and confessed after only two hours of interrogation. His confession was similar to Ward’s but contradicted it many details, like the order in which the three raped Haraway, or the location and number of stab wounds on her. Fontenot said the three brought Haraway into an abandoned house, where Titsworth poured gasoline over her body and burned down the house. Ward had mentioned a burned down house in an earlier unrecorded confession, and police knew it existed.
~Titsworth was arrested, but he had broken his arm two days before the murder in a fight with police. Medical and police records made him an unlikely suspect, and he was never charged with murder. While police were sifting through the remains of the burned down house, the owner appeared. After police told him of Fontenot’s confession, the owner said Fontenot’s story was impossible, as he himself had burned down the house 10 months before the murder.
~At trial, the prosecutor presented the confessions and was forced into the position of telling the jury the defendants were lying about details while asking the jury to believe them anyway. Two jailhouse informants supplemented the confessions. One said Ward confessed, while the other said he overheard Fontenot talking to himself, saying, “I knew we’d get caught. I knew we’d get caught.” The jurors returned with guilty verdicts and death penalties.
~Haraway’s body was found four month’s later in Hughes County, far from anyplace that was searched. She had not been stabbed or burned, but died from a single gunshot to the head.
Other Links of Importance:

There are three books about this and other wrongful convictions by the corrupt DA Bill Peterson of Pontotoc County, Oklahoma. The First is titled "The Dreams of Ada" By Robert Mayer, "Journey Towards Justice" By: Dennis Fritz, and the latest is "The Innocent Man" By John Grisham. Please help spread the word about this tragedy that has been plaguing my family for over two decades. Your comments are very much appreciated.

Thank you,
Stacy Lyn (Johnson City, TN)
(cousin of Tommy Ward)


galvino said...

I am now reading Dreams of Ada, and partway thru I had to read the last page to makes sure these boys were not convicted- I was SHOCKED at the outcome. I am a 'crime junkie' of sorts and generally feel that most folks who are indicted are indicted for a reason and that defense attys are usually spin Dr.s - are in it for the $ and don't give a sh*t at the outcome because they can go home at the end of the day. The plight of your family is heartbreaking to me and I am disgusted by the LE/DA of Ada! I can't do anything to help you, but your family, Tommy and Karl are in my prayers. Don't stop fighting! I hope Tommy keeps hope alive and has been able to make a life in prison (as awful as that can be)and look for silver linings wherever he can find them!

denise9297CA said...

I am now reading The Dreams of Ada having just finished An Innocent Man by John Grisham. I am shocked, stunned and completely baffled by how these two young men could be convicted of such a violent crime with NO physical evidence. I cannot believe that without a body they could be charged with murder and rape. I pity the folks of Ada, having such underhanded and unscrupulous law enforcement personnel. It must be very disturbing to know that a person could be convicted on such scarce evidence and put away for life even death. I don’t think things would happen that way in California. I only hope that somehow with the new DNA testing available they can be retried and cleared of a crime that in my opinion they did not commit.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading "The Innocent Man", and I must agree that to convict someone of a crime this big with as little evidence as they had is a shame to our justice system!! I am terribly sorry and I wish you and your family the best of luck!! Believe me If I knew of any way that I could help I would!!

Anonymous said...

I had been searching the internet,when I came upon this site.I am gratefull, to see someone,had the same idea I had.To use the internet/web to help Tommy and Karl.
I am from Ada.I know Tommy personnaly.
I know for for faact the the legal system in Ada is crupt.
Clearly some one had been ,maybe still is trying to cover tier own ass, so to speak.
I heard the DA Peterson is no longer in office.

DLBailes1 said...

Dear Stacy, I know that your cousin and Karl are innocent. But I would like to ask you to give Bill Peterson a little bit of a break. The real corrupted one was a desparate cop named Dennis Smith. He kept things back from Bill Peterson from the beginning of the investigation. Things like there was a witness that called in a sighting of Denice Haraway on Mat 6th 1984 to the county jail in Ada. He never talked to that witness. If you have read "The Innocent Man" then you will see that Dennis Smith had a bad habit of egnoring witnesses. But that witness has come forward and is doing everthing he can to get Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot out of prison and put the real murderers were they belong.
Love and Prayers

DLBailes1 said...

I am sorry for missplelling May 6th 1984 in my earlier comment. Isometimes hit the wrong key when I am not looking at the key board. I have read both "The Innocent Man" by John Grisham and "The Dreams of Ada" by Robert Mayer. While raeding the innocent man for the first time I realized that Denice Haraway was actually born Debra Denice Lyons. The Lord reminded me of a prayer request that a person very close to made that Sunday morning of May 6th 1984 They said that, "They had young people people staying at their ranch, and that little Debbie lyons looked so lost when she walked into my livingroon last night." that is not all that person said that morning but it was enough for me to remember! The first time that I read "The Dreams of Ada" I almost fell over when I got to the bottom of page 20 that is where they give the date that Patty Hamilton disappeared. I know where she was that evening and I know what happened to that young lady. The rael murderers are known it is just a matter of getting the DA to re-open the investigation into the Denice Haraway case and getting a retial for Tommy and Karl! Believe me Stacy God is in charge of this and He knows exactly what He is doing.
Love and Prayers

DLBailes1 said...

I am a witness after the fact in the Denice Haraway case. I called in the sighting of Denice Haraway with two young men on the afternoon of May 6th 1984 to the county jail in Ada Oklahoma. That was one week after she went missing. I was to talk to Dennis Smith the following Friday when I went to the Pontotoc County Jail to pay on my fines. The head jailer Earnest, told me that I had just missed Dennis Smith by about three minutes!
I do not know why God has worked this out the way He has, but over the last three years after "The Innocent Man" was released I have found out that the same two fellows that took Denice Haraway and killed her are the very sane two that took Patty Hamilton from her job in Seminole Oklahoma on April 9th 1983. Both of these are armed robberies where the cashiers were taken to keep them from identifying the thieves. I would of never know who the real murderers are if the book "The Innocent Man" had never been released. God is still in contol of this. Dennis Smith and Bill Peterson are just men that were doing what they thought was right at the time. My God and Savour Jesus Christknows exactly what He is doing in this.
I can only give you their first names at this time. Bob and Bobby will receive a proper justice Stacy. Our God will see to it.

MMinello said...

My husband bought me The Innocent Man for Easter two years ago. I was about 150-200 pages into it when I couldn't believe Mr. Grisham would write such junk. I read the back cover and realized it was a true story. Everytime that I read that book, I cry. I cry for the men who were wrongly convicted, but mostly for Karl and Tommy who are still in there for something they didn't do. I don't understand how they can be with no proof. No DNA. Perhaps a Presidental Pardon is the next thing to try, since all other avenues seem to be no-go's.

kareng said...

How can I help?

Sandra said...

is thers any recen new, or an active campaign?

The Angry Texan said...

Stacy this is your cousin Michelle, thank you for this blog. I know what tommy is going through I use to write him but lost his address years ago. I to get those "dreams" but learned not to open my mouth. Anyways I am glad you are putting this out there, Ada needs to be investigated, I wrote to many news organizations to get the story but got the same results...they get run out of town. If there is anything I can do please let me know!

RITA said...

I've read both 'DREAMS OF ADA' and 'AN INNOCENT MAN' and am appauled. Sounds like the '60's when you might get caught in some small town for speeding and wound up in jail never to get out alive.

In 'AN INNOCENT MAN' and beyond the stupidity and coverups, did anyone think maybe Gore might be looked at for this case as well?

How about the INNOCENCE PROGRAM (Not sure if this is the correct name because I turned 'AN INNOCENT MAN' back in to my library)? I believe they helped those two men.

I absolutely love true crime and everyone tells me I should have been a lawyer. This has been keeping me thinking and praying. Sure wish I could write to Tommy and Karl. I'll continue to pray. Our God is smarter than this prosecutor or anyone else for that matter and, if He brings anything to light, I'll certainly post it ASAP.

I've certainly been through my share of physical pain in my lifetime, but this is unimaginable.

Continuing to pray for Tommy and Karl and your whole family!

Allison said...

It is beyond belief this is happening, but I am sure this isn't the only case. I imagine you have tried everything, I cannot believe in America this isn't being attended to. I wish there was something I could do to help. I don't think the DA Peterson is blamless either in resonse to the statement of one on here. He knew the law and the case well, he turned a blind eye because he too wanted a conviction at any cost, even the cost of innocent mens lives. I hope he gets his judgement day along w/ the dirty cops, it is true evil what they have done.

dmaskb said...

I would like to help Tommy out. Do you have a current address where I can write him?

sleeler69 said...

As SHOCKING as people want to be and get over cases like the recent Casey Anthony trial, every American should be TWICE as horrified over a case like this! Even the FBI states that these types of interigation practices are NOT reliable or worthy of any TRUE facts! We should ALL be afraid. This has happened NUMEROUS times in our American Judical system's history and can happen to any one of us innocent Americans, at ANY time in our lives! This is a TRAVESTY!!!!

rebecca_wallace said...

I live in Oklahoma and just looked for both Tommy and Karl on the offender look up page. I hope Tommy's cousin will correct this if it iis not the correct information:

Thomas J Ward
ODOC# 148915
Lexington Correctional Center, Lexington
Box 260 Lexington OK 73051

ODOC# 148909
Cimarron Correctional Facility, Cushing
3200 S.W. Kings Highway Cushing OK 74023

..and I think this is probably the right person that actually killed Debbie Carter

ODOC# 153663
R.B. Dick Conner Correctional Center, Hominy
Box 220 Hominy OK 74035

danintexas said...

I think you need both sides of the story, my dad worked on this case and I have also read both books. There are so many holes in both books that if you knew both sides you would think another way. You might get a better understanding when you se the A and E special in the works.

lucydavis said...

i just read the books "the innocent man" and "the dreams of ada" and in the process of reading "journey towards justice."
i also am shocked to think this state and country would allow these two men to remain in prison for someone else's crime while the offenders are not brought to justice yet. i wonder if the real offenders are still alive and free.
i wrote to bill peterson to beg him to do something since he helped convict the innocent men. well the email i sent him was undeliverable. what a surprise, right?
i don't get it. i would think he would want to right the wrong thats been done!
my prayers are with the ward family and karl.
we need to keep this message going everyday thats one thing we can do!!

Георги Георгиев said...

My name is George Georgiev and I'm from Sofia, Bulgaria. I just read an Innocent man by John Grisham, and I'm just shocked by this case. I am filled with a lot of anger towards those officers and to this fool Peterson. I hope justice can prevail, even after so many years!
Good luck!

KayleeC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KayleeC said...

I started a petition to get a pardon for both Tommy and Karl. You can find it here

I don't know if it will help, or gain any steam, but I had to try. Please share with everyone you know via every social media outlet you have access to! Share, share, share!

Jim Stevens said...

I started a petition here:

michelle Thompson said...

I am Patty Hamilton cousin. what happen to her and how do you know what happen? We still think about her to this day. I've been reading about these two guys that where convicted for these crimes and I can't see how or even why. so many unanswered questions..our family just wants the truth. I'm praying that these two guys are not paying the price for someone else's crimes...All these years I've had this feeling my cousin's killer is still out there walking as a free man. I want more than any thing is justice to the ones that did due the crime..

faustinomontesdeoca said...

I have just finished The Innocent Man. This a plague invading all countries. In Costa Rica countless stories of innocent people at jail can be easily recollected. I sincerely hope Tommy and Karl will soon be free. I'll pray for that.

iustitia_est_defluo said...

I am admittedly surprised that no one else has mentioned the odd Fact that the victim was Pregnant, and that the doctor who performed the autopsy said that her Pelvis showed evidence that she had the baby.

This means that whoever took her likely 1) knew the victim beforehand, and that she was pregnant.

2) had to have an environment to house her in long enough to deliver the child.
3) availability (time) to be with her enough to nourish and care for her until the child was killed.

It's very unlikely that someone who was just your run of the mill abductor/rapist/robber would take the time to house the woman long enough to have the baby. It would drastically increase their risk of getting caught.

Therefore, the offender had Prior knowledge of the Victim, and her preganancy, and for whatever reason decided they wanted it.

iustitia_est_defluo said...

on 3) I meant to say until the child was BORN. my apologies.

stlouisluv said...

I had purchased Dreams of Ada randomly on my Kindle-I have never heard of the case at all, but the quick synopsis of the book grabbed my attention along with the picture of a pretty young lady, which looked like a school picture.
I am almost finished reading the book and I have to say I am beyond disgusted by the lazy police work from the Ada police dept. There were so many leads that were promising that they did not bother to follow up pn.
We are talking about an abduction and possible murder here, you need to follow up on ANY AND EVERYTHING! Wtf is wrong with these people? Bc of their incompetance and plain laziness, what really gets me is that you have the REAL murders out there laughing and roaming free. Is this justice?? God help us all.

Guy P. said...

Shame! I am belgian. I just finished to read 'The innocent' from John Grisham. I am shocked and very sad for Tommy and Karl. What kind of justice is it? I'll sign the petition to the Whitehouse and I'll pray for all american people.

Unknown said...

Dear family,
Along with the other people who have commented, i have read 'the innocent man' and am starting 'the dreams of ada' I am bloody appalled. How has this not been set right? I sincerely wish you all love and justice.

Mandy said...

I have just finished reading The Innocent Man by John Grisham and am shocked and horrified by what happened to Ron. How is it possible for the justice system, especially the individuals involved - police and prosecutors, to be so blinded, ignorant, cold and uncaring about how their actions have affected the lives of innocent men, and their families and friends. Tommy and Karl should be freed immediately. My heart goes out to them and their families and I send love and light.
Mandy, Perth, Western Australia

Unknown said...

I just finished the book innocent man. I understand nowhere else in the whole world these innocent boys would have been convicted on such filmy evidence. It surprised me and gave me a very negative impression about justice system in the US.

Ashim Chakraborty said...

I just finished the book innocent man. I understand nowhere else in the whole world these innocent boys would have been convicted on such filmy evidence. It surprised me and gave me a very negative impression about justice system in the US.

Donna Di Giacomo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patty Hubbard said...

Stacy, I corresponded with Tommy for years. He seems to be a genuinely kind person. I hope the truth comes out for him at some point. My prayers are with your whole family.

ACShilton said...

Hey Stacy,
I'm working on a documentary film about Tommy's case. Any chance you could get in touch with me? We're trying to find some family members to speak with. You can email me at

Mel Ward said...

Hey Cuz,
Tommy is doing fine considering his situation. I visit him as often as I can. There are some things happening that hopefully results in his release. His lawyers have filed his Post Conviction RIT on Nov 1 that was well over 1000 pages long proving evidence was not only withheld from the defense but it was also witness tampering took place. On another note he is also coming up for parole in Feb 2018.

Chahtaohoyo12 said...

I understand about the DA Peterson. My brother going through same thing. We are also doing this and just asking people to support him.