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Gonzales was released under house arrest. His case was delayed for more than a year. During that time, he lost his home, business and all his savings. "I'm living out of my garage next to my office," the mechanic says.

Last month, the case was settled. Gonzales entered one guilty plea to criminal damage and was placed on three years' probation. Everything else was dropped.

The strategem--placing an undercover officer with Goodrum to enrage Gonzales--came as a surprise to County Attorney Jack Williams.

"I don't think I even knew about it until after the police report was filed," Williams says. "I would have discouraged it."

Matlock scheduled a meeting with Mack and Williams on March 24, 1994, to present the results of Valenzuela's investigation.

The meeting was explosive.
Mack and Williams were clearly agitated.
The two had just finished a phone call with the Attorney General's Office moments before. Attorney general investigators had been reviewing the sheriff's department's handling of Stephanie's disappearance; the investigators had also run into unconnected allegations about Mack's conduct.

At the time, though, Matlock had no idea what the attorney general investigators were up to.

Matlock says she and her family hoped the meeting would be a catalyst that might trigger some progress in the investigation, which stalled after Stephanie's body was discovered five months earlier.

But constructive dialogue was not in the cards.
According to several witnesses who attended the meeting and were interviewed separately, Mack angrily took charge of the encounter. A blue binder containing Valenzuela's report--a document of several hundred pages--sat on a table to be turned over to Mack and Williams for their review.

Without opening the report, Mack initiated the meeting by "jumping up and hitting the book as hard as he could and slamming his fist against the blue binder and yelling, 'I'm sick of you accusing me of being a child molester,'" Matlock says.

The family was stunned.
Mack and Williams then stormed out.
"They never opened the cover of the book, yet they knew it was a pack of lies about him being a child molester," Matlock says.

Nowhere in Valenzuela's lengthy report on Stephanie's disappearance were any accusations that Mack was a child molester.

Mack confirms that he initiated the discussion about the child-molesting accusations after learning that Valenzuela had mentioned them to "someone else."

"I brought it up," Mack says. "Sure."
Mack says he wanted to dispell any such allegations, which he adamantly denies.

Valenzuela says he had heard reports of such activities, but did not include them in his report on Stephanie's death.

He did, however, relay the accusations to the attorney general's investigators, according to two memorandums, issued in February 1994 by the attorney general's special investigations section.

The Attorney General's Office issued a statement last week saying it has "no evidence" that "in any way corroborates" the child-molesting allegations.

"These matters are not within our investigative jurisdiction," reads a statement released by attorney general spokeswoman Karie Kloos. The attorney general has referred the allegations raised by Valenzuela to Graham County Attorney Jack Williams, who says he will pass the claims to another county for investigation.

Mack denies any sexual misconduct and took a polygraph test concerning the allegations. The polygrapher says Mack was truthful when he denied the molestation allegations.

New Times contacted one of the alleged victims, who said nothing improper ever occurred between her and Mack. Mack says he plans to seek legal action against Valenzuela for spreading false allegations about him.

The stormy March 24 meeting ended any hope that Valenzuela and Mack would work together to bring a closure to the events surrounding Stephanie's death.

With Mack and Valenzuela deadlocked, Matlock pinned her hopes on the Attorney General's Office review of her daughter's disappearance.

The mother was to be disappointed. Mack and Valenzuela each would claim victory.

And Stephanie Proffitt's death would remain a mystery.
Special agent Rene Luna completed his review of the case in June and issued a final report last month. It concludes that "there is insufficient evidence to pursue this investigation further."

Luna's report said "it appears that the Sheriff's office has performed an adequate investigation."

The report was seen as vindication by Mack that his office did its job and that Stephanie's family has been grasping at straws.

"This whole thing coming from the family that anyone was trying to avoid this investigation, or go around it, or somehow drag our feet, or that we didn't care, is totally absurd and made up by the people saying it," Mack says.

The report, however, was far from a glowing assessment of the performance of Mack or the medical examiner.

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John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty