Chuck Long ran a wilderness boot camp — a 'tough love' program that was supposed to give troubled teens a new start. It was a beacon to desperate parents that is, until, a tragedy struck: A 14-year-old boy died while being punished in the scorching Arizona desert.
Soon other teens came forward, telling stories of abuse and violence. The camp's director was charged with second degree murder. Was this teenager's death a crime, or an accident?
This is a story about tough love, and a boot camp commandant named Charles Long. His methods, when it came to his little army of angry teenagers, was, shall we say, “direct.”
Keith Morrison, Dateline correspondent: So what do you do? Charles Long: Say, “Hey, if you really feel that angry, then maybe we need to wrestle.”Morrison: You do that? Long: I said "maybe we just need to wrestle a little bit." Wrestling can be very mental. And it can also be very physical.
For all his bluster, Charles Long was worshipped by scores of Phoenix-area parents who loved the way Long made personal projects of their troubled teens.
And among those kids was the boy at the center of this whole story: Melanie Hudson’s big, bad 14-year-old misfit son, Anthony Haynes.
Melanie Hudson, Anthony Haynes' mother: He was 5 feet 8 inches, and about 216 lbs. So he was getting to be a very big boy. He ran away once. He did the shoplifting once. He was constantly fighting with his step-dad. And we had filed incorrigible charges on him. And so he was on probation for a year. Morrison: Was he angry?Hudson: Very.
The breaking point was when Anthony slashed the tires on her car. Out of options and money, Hudson begged Long for help. He finally agreed to take Anthony into his five week summer boot camp as a charity case.
Morrison: What was it about Charles Long that made you think that he would be good for Tony?Hudson: He kept telling me that they would make him be responsible for his actions. They would help me get him to that point to realize that there are consequences.
Were there ever.
A different kind of boot camp
In the Sonoran desert, suburban-soft Anthony experienced the particular joys of close order drill, calisthenics, and desert survival skills, always with a drill instructor by his side and a summer sun above.
Anthony and the others were treated like raw recruits— but not for anything like a modern army. Charles Long’s boot camp for wayward teens was not quite the same as others around the country. His was an imagined imitation of something right out of the 19th century – the Buffalo soldiers.
Long’s idea at the beginning, a dozen years ago, was for men like him to celebrate or “re-enact,” as he would say, the famed black cavalry of the old west. He even gave himself a rank and got everybody to call him “colonel.”
And with their prancing horses, campaign hats, and cavalry uniforms, the Buffalo soldiers were a favorite attraction in local parades. They even performed as escorts for visiting dignitaries, like then-governor George Bush and retired general Colin Powell.
At one event in 1994, Powell asked Long to help troubled kids.
Long: When you get a general to ask me to do something like that, I took great pride in it.
To a former Marine like Long, General Powell’s suggestion felt more like an order. So Long expanded his Buffalo soldier program to include at-risk kids.
He wasn’t trained for such a thing, wasn’t a counselor or therapist, but that didn’t seem like an obstacle to Long, who had his own ideas about the value of psycho-therapy.
Long: So, you prescribe a child medication? Oh, it’s okay because it’s legal? He’s still taking a drug. So that’s more acceptable to you than if he’s taking cocaine, crack or smoking marijuana?
Long’s idea of therapy consisted of drill instructions and desert isolation.
Long: Not only do we have rattlesnakes out here, we have mountain lions out here. We have coyotes out here. And because of the problem of us not having a great amount of rainfall the last couple of years, we have bears out here. Going into the desert is an opportunity, in my opinion, to face your demons. Jesus went there. And you want to know why I go there? He went there.
That’s the other thing: Long is very clearly a sincere evangelical Christian who considers himself a “soldier of the Lord.”
Morrison: What makes you a soldier of the Lord?Long: In my opinion, I honestly believe, know, and can say, that by my faith in God, I’m here today.
So, Long built his boot camp not solely on military discipline but also on old testament principles.
Long: It’s called "not sparing the rod," is what it’s called.Morrison: You beat them? Long: No, sir. I do not beat children. No, sir. I have a paddle. Three strikes? And you’re subject to corporal punishment. But you don’t get corporal punishment by a paddle unless your parents have said, “Oh yeah, go ahead,” and give them permission for that.Morrison: Right, but you use a paddle—Long: Yes, sir. And I’m the only one to do that. Morrison: Sometimes are they chained together...Long: We have extreme volatile situations at times, that one of the ways to help get a child to calm down is to restrain him.Morrison: I’d love to know if there’s any body of evidence, anywhere, that says that the kind of program you’re running actually makes a positive difference in the lives of people.Long: I have six young people in Iraq right now who literally started out in the Buffalo Soldiers as young people who were disrespectful. We have proved to the families who brought children to the Buffalo soldiers that going to the desert is a miracle worker.
One of Long’s most noted supporters was the local sheriff Joe Arpaio, a man who’d developed his own national reputation for tough love.
Joe Arpaio, local sheriff: I was impressed with his efforts to take care of kids, young kids, especially those that have problems.
In Sheriff Arpaio’s jails, inmates work in chain gangs are made to wear stripes and pink underwear, and some actually sleep in desert tents, much like Long’s Buffalo soldiers.
Arpaio: The kids seemed to really appreciate that program.
Arpaio and Long seemed a perfect match, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff” in the land.
Arpaio would even attend Buffalo soldier graduation ceremonies. In appreciation, Long awarded the sheriff the “Buffalo soldier humanitarian award.”
Of course there was one big difference between the two: Sheriff Arapio was dealing with convicted criminals, Charles Long with confused youngsters.
Morrison: Didn’t you put these kids in position of mortal risk?Long: Excuse me… give us some, if you can, respect, that we’ve been in the desert for 13 years. And we had out of 13 years, we had an incident.
By “incident” he means the very story you’re about to hear: what happened to young Anthony Haynes who was being punished one day Buffalo soldiers-style. He was forced to stand in the desert for hours on a blazing summer afternoon.
That evening his mother, Melanie was called to the hospital, and no one told her why.
Hudson: I thought I was going to treat a child with a stomach ache. But when I got to the hospital, they took me into a separate room as soon as I told them who I was. And that’s when doctors come in and told me that my son was gone. And I just looked at him and I pointed, “Don’t you tell me my son’s dead.”
Who or what killed Anthony Haynes? And why would these two boosters of tough love, the desert sheriff and the Buffalo soldier, soon find themselves on opposite sides of the law?
In seven years of operation, Charles Long’s Buffalo soldier boot camp had taken in close to a thousand kids. The program had become a kind of local legend among parents struggling with their wayward children.
Parents called the experience "wonderful" for their children, and their attitudes after the boot camp "completely different."
Rick Balfour, parent of a camper: In the military they talk about boot camp in terms of sort of breaking down the person to a degree so that they can build them back up again. And in a sense it’s sort of the same model. Piccoli, parent of a camper: It’s tough. I mean you’ve got people in your face, people that are intimidating you. They’re making you run miles at a time. They’re busting those kids’ butts. But it’s teaching them discipline. And it’s teaching them that they can go that extra step. They become very proud of themselves. They become proud of each other. They support each other. It is an amazing thing what they have to go through, those kids.
Now, though, a 14-year-old boy under Long’s care, Anthony Haynes, was dead.
The day Anthony died
There were dozens of witnesses with different accounts of Anthony Haynes death, but there are certain facts no one disputes: At the end of his first week in camp, on July 2001, Anthony and about 20 other kids wanted to quit the program. In response, Long made them stand for hours in the desert sun on a day that reached 114 degrees.
About four hours into this punishment, Anthony collapsed.
Long was convinced the boy was faking it. Nonetheless, he ordered one of the drill instructors to take Haynes to a motel down the road for a cool shower.
When Haynes was brought back a few hours later, he was dead.
Keith Morrison, Dateline correspondent: How did you find out what happened?Melanie Hudson, Anthony Haynes’ mother: I actually got a phone call—it was about 10:30 that Sunday night, July 1st. I don’t remember much about that from then on. All I knew is my world just fell apart.
The next morning, after word spread among the families, furious parents showed up at the camp, demanding to know what in the world was going on.
Corralled at the camp by reporters, Long was willing to answer questions from just about anybody, except one: Melanie Hudson, Anthony’s mom.
(videotape of media that day) Long: I’m surrounded by the media at this particular time. Just tell her I’ll see her when she gets here.
By that afternoon, angry parents and the reporters had seen evidence of the treatment children claimed to be receiving at the Buffalo soldier boot camp. By evening, most of the kids had been removed by their parents, and Long closed the desert camp down.
Three weeks, later Anthony’s autopsy report was released stating he died from dehydration and oddly enough, near drowning while left alone in the motel shower.
Cause of death? Accidental.
Long immediately reopened his program in a Phoenix-area park, with the help of the remaining supportive parents.
Piccoli: He saved my family.Morrison: So, even after the death of Anthony Haynes, after all of this stuff has happened, all of the negative publicity has come out, you would still put your children in this program?Piccoli: I did.
As did a few other parents who still believed him and thought that Long’s heart was in the right place.
Balfour: I don’t know what happened and it’s a horrible thing. But the the crime has really been that Chuck Long has been portrayed as a murderer. And he’s not.
And over the next few weeks, the controversy faded and eventually, seemed to go away for good. The death of Anthony Haynes seemed just a tragic mishap, nobody’s fault, really.
But to Long’s old supporter, Sheriff Arpaio, something about it didn’t seem right. So he put some detectives on the case: 20 of them, in fact. Full time.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio: We expanded this operation to make sure we got to the bottom of this whole boot camp situation that occurred.
Sheriff Arpaio knows a thing or two about getting publicity and soon there was national press coverage— a lot of it. Then, the chief medical examiner went over the autopsy report and changed the cause of death from accidental to suspicious. Long soon began to feel some heat.
Morrison: Is it a little personal between you and the sheriff?Long: I can’t speak for Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And I would not point my fingers at him and try to think why he and his department would choose to throw stones at us. That’s all I got to say about that.Sheriff Arpaio: He was on hand. He had his uniform, his "colonel" rank. He was there. So, he can’t hide from any responsibility.
Long and his family felt the strain as Sheriff Arpaio kept up his investigation through the summer and into the coming school year: They were slowly ostracized. Friends stopped returning phone calls, and the children were taunted at school.
Long: It’s rough. But my children, will hopefully benefit from this experience, and will grow up to understand that if you ever run into a bump in the road again they’ll be stronger for it.
But the resiliency of Long’s family would be tested a few months later when Sheriff Joe Arpaio, once a Buffalo soldier supporter, had Charles Long, handcuffed, taken to jail and charged with the second-degree murder of Anthony Haynes.
The prosecution's case
As he waited for his trial to begin, Long tried his best to keep up his family’s faith and maintain an iron front against doubters. But when the trial started, the prosecution laid out a case which appeared to be quite damning. They underscored Long’s “Don’t spare the rod” philosophy.
Long’s boot camp, said the prosecutor, was engaged in the systematic humiliation and physical abuse of children.
One young man, called by the prosecution, testified that after an escape attempt, Long threatened him with a hunting knife. Another camper said he also tried to get away—but was caught and spent days shackled to a barbecue post. One teenager claimed that he and others were randomly beaten by members of the staff.
Chris Delaney, camper: I received a very large scar on my face. They were extremely violent. I mean ...Keith Morrison, Dateline correspondent: What did they do?Delaney: I had people jumping on my chest...
All these stories, the prosecution claimed, established a culture of abuse that eventually lead to Anthony Haynes’ murder.
And then, in court, the terrible story was revealed in testimony: Anthony Haynes’ last day.
That Sunday morning, Long was relaxing at a motel about a dozen miles down the road, according to one parent who was at the camp volunteering his time that weekend.
(Court transcript) Defense attorney: And when you were out there at the camp, Saturday night, who was there with you to supervise those children?Corriere, parent/volunteer: Nobody but me and Hutty.
Hutty was Troy Hutty, a drill instructor.
On early Sunday morning, he says, his son and others told him they had been systematically beaten by drill instructors a few days before.
(Court transcript) Attorney: And so after seeing the bruises on his chest, what did you do?Corriere: I said, I ain’t putting up with this s**t, and I told Justin to go get his stuff -- we’re leaving.Attorney: You were upset at the time?Corriere: I was very upset.Attorney: So did you take any action with respect with camp?Corriere: We started calling other parents.Attorney: Why were you doing that?Corriere: Because we wanted them to get their kids out of there; they didn’t need to be there.
But, when alarmed parents called Long, demanding to know what was going on and a rebellion began to grow, kids testified, Long did not investigate their claims. Instead, he rushed from his motel to the camp and demanded to know which kids wanted to quit his program. Campers, like Chris Delaney, said he used a military term: “drop on request,” or D.O.R.
Delaney: “Drop on request” is a term used when you want to leave for anywhere, like the military, to have a D.O.R. in basic training, you can leave at any point in time. Morrison: So, Charles Long used that? “Does anybody wanna go D.O.R.? Does anybody wanna leave?”Delaney: Yes.Morrison: How many people said they did?Delaney: I’d say about three-quarters.
Including Anthony Haynes.
Melanie Hudson, Anthony’s mother: What I understood, that if they got in that D.O.R. line, parents were supposed to be called immediately.
But the prosecution produced witnesses to say that Long did not call parents. Instead, they testified, Long ordered students wishing to leave the program to stand in formation on this patch of desert.
As the hours slipped by, one of the drill instructors, Troy Hutty, told the court, he noticed Haynes behavior took a sudden bizarre turn.
(court transcript) Troy Hutty, drill instructor: He was eating’ dirt. Some—Deputy country prosecutor mark: Did you actually see him eating dirt?Hutty: Yes.Barry: How could—Hutty: He had dirt in his mouth and dirt around his teeth and whatever. I gave him water. Tried to make him rinse his mouth out, He didn’t wanna drink any water. He was just being real defiant.
Kids and drill instructors watched as Haynes, now dehydrated, flopped to the ground and appeared to go into convulsions.
Morrison: What did his face look like?Delaney: Blank.Morrison: Like, he wasn’t even there?Delaney: Yeah.Morrison: Was he breathing?Delaney: It was like just barely actually breathing... shallow. Just enough for me to hear.
But according to prosecution witnesses, Charles Long did not summon medical help or call 911.
Instead, he ordered drill instructor Hutty and several kids to load Haynes into the back of a pick up truck. Long ordered that Haynes be taken to a motel a dozen miles away for a cold shower. Hutty testified that he tried to rouse the unconscious Haynes by hitting him.
Hutty: Smacked him in the face. Tried to get his you know, “Wake up. Come on let’s go. Stop playing. Let’s go.”
The kids said they helped undress Haynes and drag him into the shower.
Delaney: We placed him into the tub, had him sit straight up, with his back to the back of the shower... We turned on the shower. Never hit his face. Actually—more or less never hit him. He was never in a position where water could actually get into his mouth or anything like that. His mouth was closed.Morrison: How long did he sit in there?Delaney: He sat there for at least a good 17 minutes.
When Hutty finally checked on Haynes, he was repulsed by what he found.
Hutty: He just was spittin’ up this—this mud stuff.
They dragged Haynes out of the shower; he continued to vomit mud.
Delaney: One of the instructors there pushed on his stomach and mud just started coming out of his mouth. We’re like, “What in the world?” And, the more he pushed on his stomach the more it came up.
So, did they finally get medical help? No.
The prosecution made the point that rather than call 911, Hutty instead phoned Long, who gave the order to bring Haynes back to camp.
Morrison: So, you carried him back to the truck?Delaney: Yep. Still not responsive, just limp.Morrison: Still clearly alive at that point?Delaney: I wouldn’t necessarily say that—I don’t think it was actually checked. I don’t think we actually even knew whether or not at that time, you know—Morrison: You couldn’t tell if he was alive or dead?Delaney: No. At this time I don’t think anyone was actually thinking about it. I think we were just thinking like, you know, guess we all just thought he was still alive.Morrison: When you got back to the camp what did you do with him?Delaney: We took him out of the truck and we laid him on his sleeping bag. And at this point I sat him down and I realized his pupils are dilated. He’s not breathing anymore.
And only then did Long’s wife called 911— the prosecutor said, much too late to save the boy.
EMT: What happened?Carmelina Long: He refused to drink water. Every time we tried to hydrate him, he was just refusing because he doesn’t want to be here. He was eating dirt all day. EMT: Is he breathing at all?Carmelina Long: Is he breathing colonel? They want to know is he breathing?Charles Long: No!Carmelina Long: No he’s not.
Then there was the emotional testimony of Anthony’s mother.
Melanie Hudson, Anthony Haynes' mother: The doctor looked at me and told me they did everything they could for him. And I looked at them, and I said, “Don’t tell me my son’s dead.”
In court, Charles Long was battered by damning testimony from one prosecution witness after another.
But was Long really so callous, so negligent? Was it tough love that killed Anthony Haynes? Or, as the defense was about to claim, was it something else altogether?
The defense's case
Defend as he might his philosophy of helping troubled kids, Charles Long’s so-called “tough love” now stood condemned by a phoenix prosecutor as negligent, uncaring, even brutal.
But was that unfair to the real Charles Long?
As the trial dragged on, this deeply religious man never wavered from the daily routines that were so reassuring to his wife and four children. His days in court were bracketed by morning chores and dinner time prayers.
Charles Long: I have been taught very well to appreciate my creator’s justice. So time will take care of everything. The truth will be told.
Now in court, the defense set about telling Long’s version of the truth: that Anthony was a very sick boy, both mentally and physically. He had conditions Long’s attorney claimed Anthony’s mother had not sufficiently revealed.
The first witness called to support that argument was Long’s own wife, Carmelina. She reported on a strange conversation with Anthony’s mother shortly after the boy’s death.
(Court transcript) Carmelina Long: She said he had been trying to kill himself for three years and he finally did it. And I asked her why she didn’t tell us that before. And she said, “Because you wouldn’t take him.” And, no, we wouldn’t have taken him had we known he was suicidal.
Had Anthony actually committed suicide out in the desert?
Under cross-examination, Anthony’s mother revealed her son had a number of emotional problems starting at an early age.
(Court transcript) Defense attorney: He was slapping his siblings, and you were very upset with that, is that—Melanie Hudson, Anthony Haynes’ mother: That was in March.Defense attorney: He would engage in fire-setting, is that right?Hudson: He did one time, I believe, yes.
The psychiatrist who had been treating Anthony took the stand and was asked about a report that warned that Anthony was a suicide risk.
(Court transcript) Defense attorney: Anthony is reported, and this would be by his mother, to be ingesting inedible objects. Further, it states that Anthony is at risk of suicide. Constant observation is recommended. What did you do with this information, Dr. Cobourn?Dr. Cobourn, psychiatrist: I continued to speak with the family and discuss his safety with them. And at no point did they express that they felt he was at danger of harm to himself.
Certainly, his doctors and others had been sufficiently concerned about Anthony’s mental health to have prescribed, over the years, a veritable stew of powerful psychotropic drugs.
Dr. Cobourn: Wellbutrin, Tenex, Adderall, Trazodone and Depakote.Defense attorney: Why would Tony be given anti-psychotic medications?Dr. Cobourn: He would have severe temper tantrums and that would lead to some physical aggression. I think we talked about instances of slapping his siblings, pushing the step-father.
But, now, after making a case for suicide, the defense offered a second— and altogether different theory.
They called, as a witness, the doctor who performed the autopsy on Anthony, the one who ruled the boy’s death accidental.
Iliescu, medical examiner: 99.9 percent of pathologists are going to call this manner accidental. There’s no question about that.
Because, while performing the autopsy the doctor discovered Anthony had a serious medical condition.
Iliescu: Anthony was not a healthy individual. His liver was a toxic liver—not very severely toxic, but it was a diseased liver.
His liver was damaged by one of the medications he had been taking. And the other drug Anthony was on? A powerful stimulant.
Iliescu: Anthony’s pulse rate was 160 to 180 at one point at the boot camp.
And then the examiner suggested that Anthony’s death had occurred not in the desert, but back in the motel, while under the care of the drill instructor, Troy Hutty because there was water in the lungs.
Iliescu: I was more concerned about the hotel room than anything else. I felt that’s where the death took place.
If the medical examiner was right, claimed the defense, it was Hutty whose actions led to Anthony’s death, all while Long was far away.
And there was something else about Hutty, the drill instructor: He had also been charged in connection with Anthony’s death but had made a plea deal with prosecutors for a lesser charge— negligent homicide— in exchange for his testimony against Charles Long.
On the stand, Hutty testified that he had given Anthony an extra dose of his powerful medication when the boy had begun to hallucinate earlier in the day.
Mark Barry, deputy county prosecutor: What prompted you to give him his medication?Troy Hutty: Suspected that maybe that might treat his ailment were, you know, being erratic.
Did that extra medication, administered by a man who had no medical training, start Anthony on his slide toward death? Overweight, out of shape, his liver damaged by one mood-altering drug, his heart racing from another, Anthony Haynes was in no condition to stand for hours in the hot Sonoran desert.
The jury might like to have heard Charles Long himself answer questions about his “tough love,” punishment methods, or why he made the decisions he did.
But the loquacious Long decided that when it came to his own trial, he would remain silent.
Was Long guilty of second-degree murder? Or was Anthony’s death an accident? Or did this sad, disturbed boy intend to kill himself all along?
The jury of four men and eight women had no idea, as they left the court, how difficult it would be to reach a verdict.
Jury has a hard time deliberating
Melanie Hudson, the bereaved mother; and Charles Long, who had applied his own special methods to try save her son, waited anxiously in the courtroom just a few feet from each other—as the jury deliberated on the death of Anthony Haynes.
Three of the jurors sat down with "Dateline" to talk about the case and Charles Long.
Keith Morrison, Dateline correspondent: Did you think he would testify?Janet Johnson, juror: I thought he would. He was there. We should have heard from him.
But was he guilty of second-degree murder?
On that question, it soon became apparent, the jury was deeply divided.
Morrison: When you went to deliberate, what happened? Jack Patton, juror: What once was a normal jury suddenly took on a totally different light.Morrison: What do you mean, “different light”?Jack Patton, juror: We had one person who was stuck at one end of the scale. And we had another person who was stuck at the other end of the scale. And neither of them were willing to compromise.
They discussed Anthony’s mother Melanie Hudson.
Betty Tucker, juror: My heart broke for her. I think that Melanie Hudson was a desperate woman and she just cried out. And Col. Long wanted to help her.Morrison: Should she have taken any responsibility for what happened do you think? For turning him over to a camp when he was on those heavy duty medications?Betty Tucker, juror: She lost her son for the rest of her life I think that that’s quite a bit of responsibility.
They considered the actions of Troy Hutty, the man who’d made a deal for a reduced sentence in exchange for his testimony against Long.
Morrison: What about Troy Hutty? Did you have a sense of wanting to find him, in some way, responsible also? Betty Tucker, juror: Yes. Absolutely. He was there.Jack Patton, juror: When you listen to Troy Hutty’s testimony, everything was, “The Colonel told me to do this.” “The Colonel to me to do that.” Well, I’m sorry, you’re an adult.
But a verdict on Long? That seemed beyond them.
Morrison: The story about the possibility of suicide was first presented by Long’s wife.Janet Johnson, juror: I’ve never heard of anyone committing suicide by eating dirt and refusing to drink water.Jack Patton, juror: I don’t think anybody dehydrates themself to death.
One day passed, then two— jury deliberations went into the next week and the one after that. But still they couldn’t agree.
Morrison: What was it like being on that jury?Betty Tucker, juror: It was horrible.Janet Johnson, juror: It was just so heated. And it was like butting your head against the wall. We got nowhere.
Finally, they sent a note to the judge, saying they were deadlocked.
Charles Long became progressively hopeful and prayed for deliverance.
Charles Long: The fact that I have no control over this jury. All I can do is pray and expect a miracle.
Anthony’s mom, though was praying for a conviction.
Melanie Hudson, Anthony’s mom: I’d like to see him do the maximum time. And that way, gives him time to think about what he did to that child.
Three times, the forewoman reported the jury was unable to reach a verdict.
After the third notice, the judge ordered them to rest and come back for one more day.
The next morning, as Melanie Hudson and Charles Long came to court expecting a mistrial to be declared word came from the jury foreman—the deadlock had broken.
Jack Patton, juror: We had reached a verdict, but I don’t think anybody was happy that we’d reached a verdict.
The jury in the case of Charles Long had come perilously close, several times, to deadlock. Finally, they had a verdict.
Keith Morrison, Dateline correspondent: When you were finally ready and you came back into court to deliver the verdict, what did it feel like?Betty Tucker, juror: It didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel good at all.
After six weeks of testimony and seven days of deliberations it came, finally, to this: Charles Long, savior of lost children, was convicted of killing one.
The jury’s painful compromise was to find Long guilty of a lesser charge: not murder, but reckless manslaughter. They also found him guilty of aggravated assault, for threatening one of his young charges with a hunting knife. Charles Long would be spending the next six years of his life in a prison cell.
Jack Patton, juror: We did our civic duty. But I don’t think there’s anybody on that jury who actually can say, “Well, we sent him to jail and I feel good about that.”
Charles Long finally speaks out
When we finally had a chance to speak to Long we hardly recognized him. Just shy of his 60th birthday, we found him grayer and 40 lbs. lighter after five months in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail.
Dateline correspondent: Arpaio, a fan of yours.Charles Long: I was a fan of his.Morrison: And now you’re in his jail.Long: Jesus ended up in Caesar’s jail. Morrison: Are you saying you’re equivalent?Long: No. Oh, no, no. But I’m a good study of Jesus, though.
Long, who once presided over boot camp graduations with Joe Arpaio, was now in a unique position to experience the sheriff’s version of tough love.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio: He’s eating the bologna, wearing the pink underwear and everything, like everybody else. So, he’s not getting any favoritism. Ask him how he likes the bologna sandwiches.
Long, meanwhile, insists he was railroaded.
Long: In Arizona, guys who look like me represent three percent of the entire population here. Now, if this had happened to me in Detroit, in Chicago, in Philadelphia, in Washington D.C. — I’d have got a better mix on that jury. Morrison: And you think you might not have been convicted?Long: That’s correct. I would not have been convicted.
We remembered those days back in the desert when he told us so forcefully about the importance of personal responsibility.
Morrison: You talked about honor. You talked about character. You talked about taking responsibility for what you are responsible for.Long: Amen.Morrison: And you’re not doing it, are you?Long: Why am I not doing it?Morrison: You say you’re not guilty, you don’t deserve to be here.Long: Well, my peers said I’m guilty. That’s America’s justice system.Morrison: What the jury decided was somebody has to pay for this young man’s death. So it should be the person who was responsible for the behavior of those in the camp to which people are sent.Long: That a that’s a catch-22 question. Somebody has to pay for this child’s death. This child shouldn’t have died to begin with. His mother should have never put him in the camp. In a boot camp. Because boot camp is gonna pull a child one way. I got the drug pulling the kid another way. I mean, come on. Darling, you don’t have to be a graduate from Harvard University Medical School to realize that don’t work.Morrison: Where does the buck stop? Does it stop with you? Or does it stop somewhere below you or with mother or somebody—Long: Good question. I like this question. I like this question. I’m gonna—Morrison: It looks like you’re scattering the blame—Long: No, sir. I’m not scattering the blame.Morrison: Are you trying to tell me that his mother should be in jail?Long: No sir. I’m not gonna wish that on nobody. I swear to God, I can’t. You know Jesus taught me to forgive. “Lord forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And I gotta go with that. I gotta stay with that. That’s my salvation. That’s what’s gonna help me.
But if part of the old colonel is still determined to wage his own personal battle... the rest of him has taken up a new opportunity his current address affords: In prison, there is a ready supply of lost souls to save.
Morrison: What are you doing in here with the other inmates? Are you trying to help them?Long: (Laughter): I mean, I’m being accused of running a boot camp in here. Bible study boot camp.Morrison: A bible study boot camp? Long: Yes sir.Morrison: Now look, Chuck...Long: You’re asking me what I’m doing in here.Morrison: I know. How can you—Long: We pray. We pray a lot.Morrison: How can you have a Bible study boot camp? The two are—Long: Because there’s a lot of young people. I don’t want people in here losing hope. I’m a guy that says: “Hey, you don’t know Jesus. And you never gave God a chance. Then maybe you might want to think about it. Because it can give you some peace. If I can help you find some peace in your heart and your soul, then you can get through this.” Because I believe that none of this will last forever. None of it.
Except of course, what happened to that troubled boy named Anthony Haynes. Some things can’t ever be undone.
Charles Long’s boot was seasonal and in turn exempted from Arizona state regulations that govern year-round programs. Since Anthony Haynes’ death, the law in Arizona has changed. Now all boot camps must comply with state regulations.
Meanwhile, Charles Long is appealing his convictions.