By 1966, Hot Springs, Arkansas wasn’t your typical sleepy little Southern town. Once a favorite destination for mobsters like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano, illegal activities continued to lure out-of-state gamblers, flim-flam men, and high rollers to its racetracks, clubs, and bordellos. Still, the town was shaken to its core after a girl was found dead on a nearby ranch. The ranch owner claimed it was an accident. Then the rancher was found to be the killer of another woman – his fourth wife.
The story begins when 13-year-old Cathie Ward was found dead after horseback riding at Blacksnake Ranch on the outskirts of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Frank Davis, the owner of the ranch, tells authorities Cathie’s death is an accident. He claims her foot caught in a stirrup and she was dragged to her death despite his pursuit of the runaway horse. People who know the 42-year-old skilled horseman don’t believe his story, and soon rumors of her rape and murder begin swirling around town.
The rumors reach a crescendo after Davis viciously guns down his fourth wife and mother-in-law in broad daylight outside of a laundromat. Davis is arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Soon after, Hot Springs authorities re-open the investigation into Cathie Ward’s death.
Snake Eyes is the first book to examine this decades-old murder and cover-up, and the only in-depth account of the man who would become the town’s most notorious villain. Featuring personal interviews, crime scene records, court documents, and Davis’ own prison files, author and lifelong Hot Springs resident Bitty Martin reveals the true story for the first time.
Bitty Martin earned two college degrees, one in marketing from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas and the other in nursing from the University of Arkansas Little Rock. She has worked in research, executive leadership, financial marketing and advertising in Hot Springs and was a member of the Little Rock, Arkansas, media community in print and TV sales with the Arkansas Times magazine, KATV – Channel 7/ABC affiliate and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette statewide newspaper.
Returning to school to earn a nursing degree, Bitty became a registered nurse and has worked across America as a traveling operating room nurse for the past two decades. She is the founder of a private national nursing network for highly specialized rapid response nurses and is nationally known among America’s 3.8 million nurses and nationwide staffing companies.
Bitty currently lives in her hometown, Hot Springs, and is a board member of the Garland County Historical Society, where she uses her love for Hot Springs historical research along with her media and sales background to benefit the community organization. For more information: https://www.bittymartin.com/
"Snake Eyes is a gripping true crime tale well-told. The story of a nice young girl lost far too soon and those determined to find the truth and get it out. It happened in the author's hometown, and mine, and played out against its culture of denial and decency, crassness and caring. There's a lot of real life here. Read it!" – Bill Clinton
NetGalley Review: 4 stars
Last updated on 17 Sep 2021
"This was a compelling book about a killer in Hot Springs, Arkansas back in the mid 1960s named Frank Davis. He was an abusive man to women and animals alike, and was married four times because of it. When his fourth wife Sharron left him and took the 2 children, Davis became incensed that he couldn’t talk her into returning to him. He stalked and threatened her, and finally found his chance to attack her when he shot her and her mother behind the Redbird gas station and laundry mat. Sharron was only 22 when he killed her. Davis was also strongly suspected of having killed a 13 year old girl at his ranch prior to killing his wife. Her name was Cathie Ward, and he blamed it on a riding accident. Fascinating true crime written by an author who knew those involved. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Bitty Martin, and the publisher."—Valerie Shampine, consumer reviewer
“The title is a nod to Hot Springs’ past with gambling and gangsters. The writing is smooth, bold, and well researched by an author who’s emotionally invested in the place, time, and characters, making Snakes Eyes a great read!”– Jan Meins, author of Murder in Little Rock
“Quirky, well-drawn characters and an iconic Southern setting . . . Martin’s compelling true story reads like a mystery novel.”—Bonnie Hearn Hill, author of The River Below
"Cathie Ward’s killer convinced police the teenager died being dragged by a horse. But her friends harbored doubts. Decades later, one of them, author Bitty Martin, scrutinizes the saga that traumatized her town—finally giving Cathie’s murder the attention it deserved."—Mara Leveritt, author of All Quiet at Mena
“Haunted by the death of one of her classmates in 1966, Bitty Martin takes us on an incredible journey as decades later she discovers the shocking secrets behind an ‘accident’ turned murder. Prepare to read in one sitting – a riveting story of an amateur sleuth seeking truth and justice.”—Michael Bishop, author of A Murder in Music City
"Bitty Martin has delivered an outstanding debut tome. Snake Eyes: Murder in a Southern Town is a history mystery that will take the reader on a rollicking roller coaster from start to finish. Chock full of real-life characters, this book is a binge read, and a must read for anyone who enjoys good storytelling."—LaDawn Lee Fuhr, Creator/Host/Creative Producer of “6 Degrees of the Delta”