Defining the Crime

Now that we know all the background on what happened in this case, as laid out in the “Understanding the Crime” post, we can decide what sort of individual committed this crime.

To summarize our conclusions from that post, the facts led us to these conclusions.

We know that this was the crime scene and not a dump site.

We know that the victims were likely sexually assaulted.

We know the killer didn’t bring anything to tie the victims up with and instead improvised, by using the shoe laces.

We know that the victims were likely attacked with sticks, being beaten over the head. This would suggest that the killer also acquired a weapon at the crime scene. These injuries would also likely suggest a blitz style attack.

We know Michael Moore had likely tried to flee.

We know the victims died from multiple types of injuries.

We know that a knife was likely used to mutilate the victims.

We know the victims were also drowned.

We know a possible piece of evidence was some candle wax located on the shirt of one victim.

We know the killer both arrived at the scene, and left on foot.

We know that this was a popular area for children and teens to come hangout.

We know that the person involved in this crime has shown some traits of a disorganized offender.

And lastly, we know that there may have been more than one person involved in the commission of this crime.

Three different criminal profilers would give opinions on this case. The three profilers were Brent Turvey, Pat Brown, and John Douglas.

Turvey’s profile has more or less been discredited by Pat Brown’s analysis of the case, which heavily criticized Turvey as trying to custom fit his profile to the defense’s alternative suspect, John Mark Byers.  In his profile he suggests that Robin Hood Hills is a dump site and not where the victims were murdered, but the problem with that, is we know that’s not the case. John Douglas would even discredit Turvey by stating in his profile that it was where the murders occurred, and not a dump site.

Now since Turvey’s assessment is in question lets discuss the Douglas profile. His profile also seems to be custom fitted to a suspect. This time Terry Hobbs. In fact Douglas has gotten in trouble in the past for tailoring a profile to match a suspect. This was the Guy Paul Morin case, which occurred in Canada. At the time investigators there were working the murder of a girl named Christine Jessop, and had a few suspects, but wanted help from Douglas to possibly help them steer the investigation.

It was alleged that Douglas some how found out about one of the suspects, a man named Guy Paul Morin, who was a neighbor of the girl. With this information he tailored his profile to fit him. The investigators were so impressed that this profile just so happened to match a suspect in every way, that they pushed Morin as the top suspect.

Douglas then instructed the police that they should shake up the suspect and see what he does by releasing a profile to the media, and that this profile should match the suspect completely. So John then tailored a second profile that fit Morin even more closely than before. Then he gave this profile to the police who broadcast it on TV. When it was broadcast Morin’s father mentioned to him that it sounded just like him. This appeared to be a joke, but the police used that to suggest that Morin was guilty of the crime, and that even his family was suspecting him. Douglas also told them how to question the suspect, saying they should have a giant photo of a fingerprint in the room blown up nice and big to make it look like they had matched his prints to the crime. He also said they should put filing cabinets in the room with Morin’s name on it big enough for him to read, so as to give him the impression that they had a mountain of evidence against him, and thus he’d feel compelled to just give up and confess. The police would eventually arrest Morin, with many saying that they would never have done so had it not been for the brilliant, and spot on criminal profile which so closely matched him.

Here’s a link where you can read a little about this.

Guy Paul Morin would spend several years behind bars proclaiming his innocence until DNA finally proved that he was just as he had always maintained, innocent. Christine Jessop’s brother would later accuse Douglas of having custom fitted the profile to match Morin, which had led the investigation astray.

The Canadian courts at one point wanted Douglas to testify about his work on the case in light of the allegation that he tailored his profile.  However Douglas chose not to even reply to messages left by the courts, and since he wasn’t a Canadian citizen they couldn’t compel him to testify.

Here’s a quote from the first link about this matter.

“Commission counsel, and several parties to the Inquiry, wanted Douglas to be called as a witness. Commission counsel and staff spoke with Douglas’ representative several times. By letter dated June 18, 1997, Sandler renewed the Commission’s request that Douglas attend as a witness. As reflected in that letter, the summons issued by the Commission to Douglas could not be enforced in the United States. Though Douglas never specifically declined to testify here, there was no response to the requests for attendance made orally and in writing.”

So Mr. Douglas, just refused to answer questions about how he arrived at those opinions, and wasn’t going to admit to his unethical behavior, which had caused an innocent man to be sent to prison. He didn’t bother to go to Canada and confront these allegations that he sometimes tailors profiles to fit suspects. He just kept ducking it. John has even tried to explain away the DNA evidence insisting how closely Morin matched the profile.

One of the things he even wrote in the profile was that the perp liked music, and Jessop had just gotten a new flute. Her neighbor Guy Paul Morin was a clarinetist, and so she must have gone to show him her new flute. This was one of the things in the profile that led to the arrest.

You can read some of John’s own claims about this case here in his book Journey into Darkness, where he tip-toes around the fact that he still very much believes Morin is guilty. Even leaving things vague when he mentions if he still believes he’s guilty, by saying it’s for the courts to decide if Morin did it or not.

Here he is in the book trying to explain away the semen not matching Morin.

“I also believe that so much time has passed, custody of evidence may have been compromised over the years and the crime scene, body, and clothing were in such a poor state to begin with that I would have serious doubts at this point about the infallibility of any scientific testing.

In addition, a number of sordid and very troubling revelations have come to light since the first trial, including the fact that Christine’s brother, Kenneth, three years older than she, and several of his friends had been sexually abusing her since she was four. Appalling as it is to contemplate, I don’t think we can be certain where the semen deposits in her underwear originated. The DNA evidence might just be a large red herring in this case, as occasionally happens.”

Now Douglas’ profile seems to have been fitted to resemble Terry Hobbs, the defense team’s current alternative suspect.

John also goes into a ramble, immediately talking about Satanic crimes in his profile claiming there’s never been a murderer who claimed to have Satanic motivations. This isn’t to suggest that this was a motive, but Douglas seems to ignore the Richard Ramirez case.

Ramirez has discussed his beliefs in numerous interviews on the matter, such as this one with true crime author Philip Carlo.

CARLO: Speaking of spirituality, let’s talk about Satanism. There’s been a lot in the press, Richard, about your devotion to and your affiliation with Satan. Can you tell a bit about what Satan means to you?
RAMIREZ: What Satan means to me…Satan is a stabilizing force in my life. It gives me a reason to be; it gives me…an excuse to rationalize. There is a part of me that believes he really does exist. I have my doubts, but we all do, about many things.

CARLO: When did you first turn away from—as I know you were brought up a—and turn to Satan?

RAMIREZ: From 1970—well, throughout my childhood and up to the time I was eighteen years old, I believe in God. Seventeen, eighteen years old. Then, for two or three years, I became sort of like an—I didn’t believe in anything. When I reached the age of twenty, twenty-one thereabouts, I met a guy in jail and, uh…he told me about Satan and I picked it up from there. I rad books and I studied and I examined who I was and what my feelings were.

Also, my actions. Just like the Hezbollah and different terrorist religious organizations around the—it is a driving force that motivates them to do things and they believe in it whole-heartedly. It had the same effect on my life.

CARLO: In other words, their spirituality was what was the driving force in their life, and Satan became, in a sense, your spirituality and the driving force behind you.

CARLO: Richard, do you believe that Satan helps people to be able to do things they wouldn’t normally do? For instance, in Matamoras, Mexico, Adolfo Constanzo killed many people and he was committing human sacrifices to protect the drug cartel down there from the police, and he feverently believed that Satan would protect him and so therefore made human sacrifices. Do you feel that kind of reasoning has any place—
RAMIREZ:— place in Satanism?

CARLO: Yeah.
RAMIREZ: I don’t know the structure of Hell itself, or demons or demonology, but I do know where you tamper with witchcraft, when you tamper with Satanism, be it voodoo—

CARLO: —Santeria—
RAMIREZ: Yeah, any type of sacrifices or contacting the spirits, you’re dealing with things that are very delicate—and dangerous. I myself am no warlock, I’m not a wizard. I’m not one of these types of individuals that knows his witchcraft from A to Z. but, I have read of instances where people end up getting killed and…u…arrested for tampering with the wrong demons and not using the right types of…uh…the right process of sacrifices and the right types of rituals. You have to know what you’re doing. Everything from ropes to chalices—

CARLO: Everything has to be done right.
RAMIREZ: Exactly. From what I know, certain symbols—like Pentagrams—are supposed to protect you from the demons themselves.

CARLO: Yeah. You were seen in court once with a Pentagram inside your hand and you held it up and showed it to the press and the audience. Why did you do that? Did you feel that it would protect you, or were you just making a statement that you were in alliance with the Devil?
RAMIREZ: Yes, it was a statement that I was in alliance with…the evil that is inherent in human nature.

Here Douglas, ignores other cases, suggesting that no such crime has ever happened, simply because there isn’t many on record with multiple killers.

Douglas also states this in his profile.

“This analysis is based upon information available at the time this report was prepared and assumes that the information provided was obtained through comprehensive, thorough, and well-planned investigation. Should any additional information or case materials become available at a later date those materials would be reviewed in order to determine whether they are germane to issues discussed herein. Subsequent to such a review, certain aspects of this analysis may be subject to modification or change.”

The information this profile was based on, was the defense claims of animal predation, which has already been discredited in previous posts. This profile also skips over any and all information pertaining to the sexual assault, as the defense was trying to insist the assault never took place in order to hurt the state’s case.

Naturally, as Douglas states, the profile would need “modification or change”.

Douglas would also say this, confirming that it was based on discredited defense arguments.

“Relative to instant case, this crime was presented by police and prosecutors as “satanic” and according to the medical examiner (“ME”) one particular victim was emasculated by the killer. The ME’s conclusion had a major impact and influence when initially analyzing the case relative to determining the offender’s primary motive. However, as set forth herein, the ME’s initial findings and conclusions according to one of America’s foremost forensic pathologist, Dr. Warner Spitz., M.D., and forensic scientist, Dr. Jon Nordby, P.H.D, were inaccurate. In their professional opinion all three victims were attacked post-mortem by some predatory animal.”

Douglas also cites defense attorney Dennis Riorden as providing him everything he needed to come to his opinions, thus skewing his perspective.

Douglas also jumps to the Satanic aspect that the defense has often used to try and trivialize the prosecutions case. In reality the prosecution seemed to believe the crime was likely a “Thrill Killing”, and would even question Damien Echols in court on the subject.

Q. Now, Officer Ridge has that when you were asked these questions that you say, “It was a thrill kill.”  Is that your words?

A. He asked me what did I think could be the possible motivation.

Q. Okay. And you indicated a thrill kill, is that right?

A. Right.

Echols would also make this statement while on the stand.

22 Q. Question number 11, “How do you think the person
23 feels that did this?” The answer was, “Probably makes
24 them feel good, gives them power.” Now, I guess
25 Officer Ridge said that, too?

1 A. No, I used common sense on that. If someone was
2 doing it, then they must have wanted to. And if they
3 were doing something they wanted to, it must have made
4 them happy. I don’t think they were doing it because
5 someone forced them to or because they didn’t want to.
6 Q. So in your mind the person that killed these three
7 kids, it is common sense that killing three
8 eight-year-olds would make you feel good?
9 A. Whoever did it, it must have.
10 Q. Okay. And it gives them power. That’s also
11 another common sense perspective from you?
12 A. Pretty much.
13 Q. Now, when you say, “gives them power,” is that
14 based on what you have read in these books?
15 A. No, it had nothing to do with that, just the crime
16 itself.
17 Q. Killing three eight-year-olds gives you power. I
18 don’t understand that. Explain that to me.
19 A. They probably thought, well, that they were like
20 overcoming other humans or something.

While the prosecution wasn’t positive as to the motivation behind the crime, they offered up numerous possibilities, and Douglas chose to ignore this rational one.

“When initially reviewing the case materials my first impression was that the case was a “lust murder” with the Byers victim being the primary target.”

Douglas here had suggested that he thought originally that the crime was a possible “lust murder” prior to injecting the defense claims into his profile.

John also claims that the person responsible for this crime was an organized offender, who was criminally sophisticated, but Pat Brown disagreed with her profile. John also claims that the victims were not mutilated, and stating there was bite marks on the bodies despite any evidence. He also suggests that maybe a parent killed the boys while trying to punish them, and simply got carried away.

Pat Brown would have a completely different opinion.

In her research on the case she would say this about the crime.

“The crimes were committed by more than one person.
The offenders lived nearby the crime scene.
The boys were targeted because they were easy to access and control.
The boys were probably followed and conned or lured into the woods.
The boys were overpowered by larger assailants and the crime was committed at the scene, most likely in the water during the waning daylight hours.
The crime was planned but not in the sense that it would necessarily end with homicide. Like wilding, crimes involving groups of young teens often end extremely violently. Nothing but a knife or two was brought with the offenders nor was anything but the weapons taken away. This shows lack of maturity or criminal experience. The offenders did not attempt to get rid of the evidence. The water was a lucky break.
The crime was violent and was a show of power. Essentially, it was a thrill crime.”
In her’s she doesn’t seem to think there’s anything really sophisticated about the crime, which differs from Douglas. She also isn’t biased towards either the prosecution or defense scenarios, as her profile was done independently. And instead of a parent punishing a child, and the child’s friends, and then sort of getting carried away, which Douglas had claimed, she thought it was a thrill killing, just as the prosecution did.
For now to get a grasp on what sort of crime this is when three profilers are in disagreement, we’ll try looking into other means, by using research from profilers in general.Let’s try using a CAP Model with this crime(a tool that profilers sometimes use to help identify the type of crime). The CAP Model itself is like a diagram with certain aspects of a crime plotted in certain locations. And those locations are then separated into sections. Now here’s what a CAP Model actually looks like.
CAPIt’s arranged into 5 different types. Predator, Rape, Fury, Perversion, and Undifferentiated. Now the last one, Undifferentiated, means that items involved in a crime are too common to place them into one of the other 4 categories. So in reality, there’s more like 4 types of crimes here. You’ll also notice that certain elements of a crime are placed on the model, and those sections correspond to a number. That number helps us figure out what type of crime this is. There’s more elements to this, but this is just a very brief explanation. Additionally all the elements in each section of the Model do not have to be found in the crime. They are there simply to show the likeliness of the offender of a crime to engage in other criminal acts.Now, all the aspects of the crime that were considered of value(certain things like debates on if there was mutilation or predation turned out not to matter for this as stabbing was considered so common with the model that it doesn’t effect it in either way) were then popped into this model to arrive at the type of murder. From this, it appeared that the crime was likely a “Fury Murder” according to this type of model.

Richard N. Kocsis would espouse on this in a text book he authored on criminal profiling.

“Cluster 3 suggested a pattern of crime scene behaviors that had a very
violent nature but with much less calculation and deliberation being evident, perhaps coupled with a motive of revenge—an anger theme seemed to underscore this region. Thus, cluster 3 seemed to clearly identify a fury pattern.”

“In the previously discussed literature, the presence of souvenir or token
collection behaviors indicates an offender who exhibits the predator pattern (3–5). However, in the current model, souvenir and token collection features are exhibited in the adjacent fury pattern. Irrespective of the statistical classification of these behaviors within the fury pattern, they appear in a close bordering proximity to the predator pattern. This suggests that although these behaviors are statistically distinguished as being within the fury pattern, they can nonetheless appear to be associated with the predator pattern when adopting a broad directional interpretation of the model in contrast to the present regional clusters.”

“The fury pattern represents an explosive, unfocused obliteration of the
victim. A number of similarities exist between the fury pattern and existing
literature. The excessive uncoordinated violence and overall disorganization characteristic of this pattern demonstrates a similarity to the visionary killer espoused by Holmes and Holmes (4) or the archetypal disorganized offender category espoused by the FBI in its organized–disorganized dichotomy.”

Fury murders according to Kocsis tend to be a lot less organized, and Douglas claimed this was an Organized crime. This seems to lean more towards a Disorganized Offender.

Now Fury crimes tend to have all sorts of motives but are characterized by the anger the killer shows. Fury crimes also tend to be characterized by the victim being bludgeoned. This is also behavior which seems to suggest a Disorganized Offender.

Now lets take a look at Disorganized Offenders to see what we have here.

“The Disorganized Offender is around 16 to late 30s in age. The victims just happen to be there at the wrong time. These offenders are usually high school drop-outs and they have a below average intelligence. They may not be employed and if they are it would be out of sight from society, maybe a dishwasher or a janitor, or something along those lines. This type of offender feels that society rejects them and in return they have rejected society. These offenders don’t clean up very well, usually there is a lot of evidence left at the crime scene.”

So, so far we have an idea that whoever committed the crime was a younger criminal, possibly as young as 16, or as old as his late 30’s. We know they’re probably not that bright, and we know they could be drop-outs.

“Disorganized offenders characteristically conduct blitz attacks on their victims due to a lack of social adequacy needed to verbally subdue their victims. They tend to have poor personal hygiene and are very reclusive (O’Connor, 2005). A disorganized rapist will often blindfold his victim or batter her face in an effort to depersonalize him or her (Owen, 2004). Any sexually sadistic acts would be committed after the victim is killed and the body will be left in plain view if still at the crime scene (Owen, 2004). Some disorganized killers take trophies or souvenirs of the victims in order to re-experience the events of the rape. Finally, a ‘disorganized’ crime scene will contain a myriad of fingerprints, footprints, and/or weapons used in the assault, making it much easier for investigators to narrow down the suspect pool by way of crime scene analysis.

In contrast to the disorganized offender, the ORGANIZED OFFENDER conducts extensive planning for the crime and staging of the crime scene to avoid detection and identification. Some of this staging will include removal of evidence such as weapons and restraints used in the attack. He tends to personify victims and is fairly adept at striking up conversations in order to lure their victims into submission. He very specifically chooses his victims by age, appearance, gender, lifestyle, occupation and other details which would be trivial to anyone but him. This offender’s lifestyle can be characterized as ‘put together’. He lives with a spouse or long-term partner, has a steady skilled job, and quality personal transportation. Physically, he is generally of above average weight and height and presents himself as non-threatening. FBI Special Agent John Douglass notes that “general organized offenders are hypothesized to kill after undergoing some sort of precipitating stressful event, such as financial, relationship, or employment problems” (Canter, Alison, Alison, & Wentink, 2004, p.2). Finally, the organized offender generally ranges in age from 18 to 45 years but is usually under the age of 35.

You may notice the phrase “tend(s) to” is used often here. This is due to the fact that the aforesaid generalizations are exactly that: generalizations. Offenders can learn over time; therefore, these general descriptors do not unequivocally describe every disorganized offender. While there are definite differences between both types of offenders, there are some commonalities which should be recognized as well. While both types of offenders are loners, organized offenders are loners due to his feelings of superiority over other. Both also have fathers who were inconstant in childhood discipline; however, the organized offender’s childhood is much more stable and ‘upper class’ than that of a disorganized offender (Owen, 2004). While the disorganized offender has no interest in the media, the organized offender will keep track of the goings on in the media in an attempt to keep up with police and media coverage of the crime (Owen, 2004). They may even go to the extent of keeping directly in touch with the local newspaper. As a precaution, organized offenders may even move or switch jobs to avoid being caught.”

So according to the above we know that this type of person prefers to carry out the crime in a blitz attack, just like the head injuries the victims received in this case. It states that this is “due to a lack of social adequacy needed to verbally subdue their victims.” This type of killer may even leave evidence behind. This person is less likely to conceal or transport the bodies of the victims in a major way. The bodies were simply dumped in the near-by ditch. There was no transportation of the bodies.

Here’s from another site.

“Age: These offenders range in age from 16 to their late 30s. The selected victim is simply a victim of opportunity who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Many disorganized offenders experience their acting-out phase between the ages of 17 and 25.
Sex: Male
Race: Usually the same race as the victim, but local ethnic make-up should be considered.
Marital status: Single
Education/intelligence level: High school drop-out. Possibly community college. Below average intelligence. Considered a marginal student.
Physical characteristics: Thin, possibly with acne or some physical malady that contributes to an appearance that is different from the general population.
Employment: This type of offender may not be employed. If he is he will most likely seek out unskilled work. His job will be a simple menial one, requiring little contact with the public. Dishwasher, janitor, maintenance man etc.
Residence: Close to the area of the crime scene. Usually lives alone in a rental property or with his parents or with a significantly older female relative.
Arrest record: Arrests for voyeurism, fetish thefts, burglary, exhibitionism or other nuisance offenses.

This offender rejects society which he feels has rejected him, maybe because of some societal aversion. He is an underachiever with a poor self-image and his appearance is messy or even dirty. He is a night person and he commits his crimes in a blitz-style manner and tries to quickly silence the victim.
The crime scene will be random and sloppy and the body is often left at the place of the attack. There is no real effort to conceal the body and the murder weapon might even still be there.
There is often a lot of evidence on crime scenes left by disorganized offenders, such as smearing of blood and fingerprints. This type of offender may also take a souvenir. The souvenir can be an object or article of clothing or in some cases even a body part.”

So from that we know that the this killer probably lives near the crime scene, isn’t married, and may live with his parents or with an older, likely female relative. The relative bit seems a bit too specific, so for this reason, we should treat it as living with a relative.

This killer is likely the same race as the victims. A physical appearance that may be different from the general population. This person’s also an underachiever who feels society has rejected him.

They may also be unemployed, or work menial jobs as well.

So, so far we have an idea that whoever committed the crime was a younger criminal, possibly as young as 16. We know they’re probably not that bright. We know they could be drop-outs. They likely live with family, and they may not have a job.

“Victimology. The victim of a disorganized offender may be known to the offender since he often selects a victim of opportunity near his residence of employment. The victim is often from his own geographical area because this offender acts impulsively under stress and also because he derives confidence from familiar surroundings to bolster his feelings of social inadequacy.”“The risk factor of a disorganized sexual homicide victims is situational in the sense that by crossing the path of the offender, her risk is greatly elevated. The victim essentially becomes a casualty because he or she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Crime Scene Indicators Frequently Noted. The crime scene of a disorganized sexual homicide reflects the spontaneous, and in some cases symbolic, quality of the killing. It is random and sloppy with great disarray. The death scene and the crime scene are often the same.
The victim location is known since it usually is where he or she was going about usual daily activities when suddenly attacked by surprise. There is evidence of sudden violence to the victim, a blitz style of attack. Depersonalization may be present, as evidenced by the face being covered by a pillow or towels or in a more subtle way, as with the body rolled on the stomach.
There is no set plan of action deterring detection. The weapon is one of opportunity, obtained at the scene and left there. There is little or no effort to remove evidence, such as fingerprints from the scene. The body is left at the death scene, often in the position in which the victim was killed. There is no attempt or minimal attempt to conceal the body.”

So from the above we know that this type of killer is someone from the area where the murder occurred. They kill in their area because it’s more comfortable for them. This is home for them after all. Victims are usually random and may be someone they just saw in the area a lot. It also may simply be a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. We also know from this that the killer will often acquire the tools for committing the crime at the scene. In this case the victims were bound with their own show laces, and likely sticks found at the crime scene could have been used. Both the bindings and the sticks were then left at the scene. A common trait for this type of crime.

Now here’s some more from the same source as above.

“Staging. Secondary criminal activity may be present, but usually it is more indicative of less sophisticated offender (disorganized offenders are often below average intelligence) than staging to confuse law enforcement.
The body may be positioned or deposited in a way that has special significance to the offender based on his sexually violent fantasies. It may be intended to make a statement or to obscure certain facts about the crime, for example, to disguise postmortem mutilation he is uncomfortable with. This should not be confused with staging, since the offender is generating a personal expression (personation) rather than deliberating trying to confuse the police.
Another example of the disorganized offender’s personation of his ritualized sexual fantasies is the excessive mutilation of the breasts, genitals, or other areas of sexual association, such as the thighs, abdomen, buttocks, and neck. This overkill is the enactment of his fantasy.”

So this type of killer is known for sexually mutilating their victims. This seems to further suggest that Christopher Byers was indeed mutilated by his killer, though it’s more or less irrelevant to a disorganized offender profile.

“Common Forensic Findings. The disorganized offender is often socially inept and has strong feelings of inadequacy. These feelings of deficiency will compel him to assault the victim in an ambush, blitz style, that will immediately incapacitate her or him. Injury effected in a disorganized sexual homicide is usually done when the offender feels the least intimidated and the most comfortable with the victim. This will be when the victim is unconscious, dying, or postmortem. In addition, sexual assault will probably occur at this time for the same reasons.
There may be depersonalization, which entails mutilation to the face and overkill (excessive amount or severity of wounds or injury) to specific body parts. The face, genitals, and breasts are most often targeted for overkill. Body parts may be missing from the scene.
The blitz style of attack common to this homicide is often manifested by focused blunt trauma to the head and face and lack of defensive wounds. There is a prevalence of attack from behind. Since death is immediate to establish control over the victim, there is minimal use of restraints.
Sexual acts are postmortem and often involve insertion of foreign objects into body orifices (insertional necrophilia). This is often combined with acts of mutilation–for example, slashing, stabbing, and biting of the buttocks and breasts. Since these acts often do not coincide with completed acts of sexual penetration, evidence of semen may be found in the victim’s clothing or (less frequently) wounds.
Most frequently death results from asphyxia, strangulation, blunt force, or the use of a pointed, sharp instrument.”

The victim is often unconscious or dead as a result of injuries to the head due to a blitz attack when the killer mutilates them or sexually assaults them. Wounds to the face and genitals are common. The blitz attack is done for control. Semen from the assault is also often found on the victim’s clothing, and there was indeed some possible semen found on a pair of pants belonging to one of the boys.

So after all that, let’s think about who could have done this crime. They’re young, possibly as young as a teen. We know this is a place kids and teens come to hangout and play. We know this offender’s the kind of person who may be a high school drop-out. We know the killer has to be from the area, and the victims had to have been familiar with the location. This means the killer was probably familiar this particular location as well. They also likely arrived there on foot. So this is someone young, who’s probably dropped out of school and spends time in an area where teens are present. This is also someone who likely still lives with their parents and doesn’t have a car. There was also evidence of possible accomplices at the scene, with as many as 2 or 3 different styles of knots used, and three sticks possibly used by the killer(s) in the commission of the crime. There had also been the lack of mutilation to one of the victims and the fact that one victim appeared to have fled. Adding to the notion of multiple killers present.

Well, what kind of individual would fit the bill of someone young and familiar with an area where children and teens commonly hangout? What type of individual travels the neighborhood on foot, and is likely unemployed? They also likely live with their parents or some other relative. They don’t have a car, and they run around in group of people. What does that all sound like? A teen, or more correctly multiple teens. Being that this is a hangout for young people, teenagers would have been very familiar with this location. Dawn Moore had even seen some leaving the area just prior to the boys arriving. It’d be less likely that multiple adults were staking this area out and ganged up on the boys. From the lack of criminal sophistication, it would seem apparent that someone younger had been involved, and this group of teens had over powered the children.

This would all seem to jive with Pat Brown’s profile. She would also remark on her belief that the WM3 were guilty in the quote below.

“Now, who would be likely to live near the scene, not have a vehicle, have a posse big enough to handle three boys and be recognizable to the boys so they could lure them without them running away? Since the boys were dead by dusk (rigor mortis evidence and livor evidence and no evidence of the bindings being on a live body for any period of time), who was unaccounted for at that time? The crime was planned (even if just minutes before, when the boys were spotted going into the woods) but no materials were brought; a sign of a fairly inexperienced killer/killers or a sign of youth. The sexual aspects of the crime encompass power and control as do the actual murders. Who does this sound like to you? How about that cold-blooded psychopath who wanted to kill people and drink blood and be God, who knew the boys, lived near the boys and had his homeys with him?

The Bite Mark Claims

The following article is broken down into four parts for the convenience of the reader.

Part 1Our Tale Begins: A summery of the Defense Team’s original claims. Containing theories of human bite marks.
Part 2When at First You Don’t Succeed, Lie, Lie, Again: A look at the changing claims, of the Defense. Introducing animal bite marks into the equation.
Part 3The Truth, Reality’s Best Friend: A look at the Prosecution’s opinion. With statements from prosecution experts, and those who actually performed the autopsies, and a break down on the injuries.
Part 4The Simplest Solution is Often the Right One: Additional evidence contradicting the defense claims, including thoughts on a likely murder weapon, evidence of antemortem injuries, luminol, and footwear from the victims.


Over the years the defense team would make numerous claims about the wounds present on the victims. For years they acknowledged that the wounds were mutilations made with a knife. Later they would also insist that all of the serration patterns which had matched to a knife the state had connected to the defendants, were actually human bite marks, but that a knife was also involved.

At the time of the human bite mark claims they had hired a criminal profiler to construct a profile that would point away from the WM3. This profiler was Brent Turvey, who was adamant that the bites were made by John Mark Byers, the step-father of Christopher Byers.

(Brent Turvey)

In an online chat he’d list wounds that he and the defense alleged were on the victims.

<Ratgrrl> What are pattern wounds exactly and what other kinds of wounds did you see on the kids?

<Brent_Tur> Rat– Potential footwear impression on the back of Stevie Branches head. Belt marks from a severe whipping, cutting deep into the tissue on Chris Byers thigh, and an impression from the knife hilt in the genital area of chris byers, where he was emasculated.

Turvey was eventually cross examined about these claims in the following exchange.

Q.   Mr. Turvey, let me refer you now over to page fourteen of
your report and it’s the section under wound pattern analysis
on this — and this refers to the victim, Steve Branch.


Q.    Are you there?

A.    Yes, I am.

Q.    Okay. Now, if I understood your testimony yesterday, when
you first received the material regarding the autopsy photos,
did you indicate that the pictures of Steve Branch were some of
the very first ones you examined?

A.    Yes, I did.

Q.    Okay. And if I understand, you characterized —
understood your testimony, as soon as you looked at the picture of the face of Steve Branch, based on your experience and knowledge and training, as soon as you looked at it, the thought bite mark jumped in your mind?

A.    Bite mark, yes, with an explanation.

Q.    Okay.

A.    My explanation being that I am not qualified to determine
the difference between a human bite mark and an animal bite
mark which is why I immediately said, okay, hopefully, a
forensic odontologist had looked at these.

Q.    Which one were you looking at?

A.    Which one?

Q.   Yeah.

A.    I was looking at the entire area.

Q.    Okay.

A.    There wasn’t a particular one. There — there were
several areas that could have had — that could have been
injuries that were the result of bite marks…

Q.   Okay. Were you aware of any efforts performed by the medical examiner’s office to specifically examine all three of the bodies for the purpose of ascertaining if there were any– any injuries consistent with bite marks?

A.    I — I have no report that says to me that they — whoa.
I apologize. Let me back up for a second. There is a mention of the tooth impressions on the victims  — of the inside of the victims’ mouths —

Q.    Right.

A.    — that were the result of their own lips being pressed
against their teeth. However, outside of that, I have no
knowledge of any — any efforts made by the medical examiner in

Q.   Okay. When you looked at the photographs of Steve Branch,
immediately the lights go off, you say in your head that —
that we may have bite marks here.

A.    Yes. 

Q.   Okay. And would you also expect a forensic pathologist looking at those same photographs to have the same reaction?

A.    I would hope but with an explanation. Can I — can I

Q.    Sure.

A.    My — my experience is that sometimes they see ’em and
sometimes they don’t…

A.   Sure.

Q.   Okay. And you would expect if bite marks were this
obvious that they jump out at you on the first perusal of the
photographs that you could get — you could rely on getting
some input back from the pathologist regarding that area?

A.    I’m not sure I understand the question.

Q.   Okay. You would expect a pathologist to give you some
guidance if you submitted those type of materials to him?

A.    It depends on what you ask the pathologist to do and how
much money you paid him, I suppose. If you only asked him one
question and that’s all you asked, I wouldn’t expect him to
give you anything beyond that question necessarily. It depends
on the forensic pathologist and what was asked of him…


Q.   But the — one of the first steps you would take if you
suspected bite marks is to send it to somebody like a forensic
pathologist to determine do they concur with your opinion?

A.    No. No, that would not be my first step.

Q.    You would — you would go directly to the odontologist?

A.   Yes, I would.

Q.    Okay. And not — not send the photograph for examination
or perusal by — by a forensic pathologist?

A.    It depends on the forensic pathologist. If the forensic
pathologist was also a board certified forensic odontologist,
then I’d be happy to send them to him

Q.    Did you notice what you believed to be bite marks on other
areas of the bodies of other victims?

A.    Yes, I did.

Q.    Okay. And did that enter into some of the opinions you
formulated that there were bite marks on multiple victims?

A.    Potentially bite marks, yes.

In the documentary “Paradise Lost 2: Revelations”, it was cited with a certainty that since John Mark Byers had his teeth pulled, it was proof that these were bite marks… and now the defense team could never prove it in court. In reality Byers simply needed dentures, and liked to gab, giving multiple stories for why he got them pulled. The documentary crew and many supporters of the WM3 would try to suggest that this proved he was the real killer.

Turvey would also suggest that the injuries to Stevie Branch’s genitals were caused by masturbation, and not an injury caused by the perpetrator.

Q.    Okay. Now, I’m — I’m referring to page sixteen of the
report regarding the sexual assault and rape indicators
regarding Steve Branch.

A.    (EXAMINING) Yes.

Q.   Okay. And is it fair to say that in your report that you
concluded that the injuries to the penis of Steve Branch were
the result of self-masturbation or masturbation play.

A.    Those are two possibilities, yes.

Q.   Okay.

A.   Very strong possibilities.

Q.   And you state in the report, it is the experience of this
examiner that this particular type of abrasion injury is
commonly seen as the result of repeated manual masturbation
without sufficient lubrication.

A.    That’s correct.


Years later the defense would drop these claims once they moved on to a new suspect. This time accusing Stevie Branch’s step-father Terry Hobbs. With this new accusation, came new bite mark claims. The bite marks were now the result of animal predation. The problem with this is that defense experts could never settle on what animals had caused the injuries. Some said dogs. Some turtles. Some were vague, but suggested any number of animals. All of these experts also based their opinions off of photos, and did not actually perform autopsies, nor view the bodies in person. This would naturally make it more difficult for an expert to judge if wounds were postmortem, perimortem, or antemortem.

One of the several experts the defense sought out to try and prove their claims was Terri Haddix, who would even claim how he used such cutting edge computer software as Adobe Photoshop to prove that the wounds in the autopsy photos were the result of animals feeding on the corpses and not the result of being mutilated with a knife. He would then vaguely say that a knife looked like it could, maybe make some of the wounds, but that he’d expect more cutting.

Another expert who weighed in on the bite mark claim was Werner Spitz.

(Werner Spitz testifying for the defense in the Casey Anthony trial.)

Spitz would say the following on the matter.

“Looking at the body of Michael Moore (Exhibit 48Q) I see a pattern on the right shoulder. The pattern is shown in other photographs including 48I. The pattern is all part of one event. It is inconsistent with a tool like a serrated knife.

The pattern is shown in other photographs including 48I. The pattern is all part of one event. It is inconsistent with a tool like a serrated knife.

This seems to look like the paw of a large animal. There are also scratches that look to me like animal mutilation.”

Paw marks? The defense is currently claiming turtles made these injuries, but Spitz was suggesting that there is paw marks on the victims. As it would turn out Spitz favored dogs as the culprits in his theories.

Spitz also suggested that the victims weren’t even beaten.

“My interpretation of the injuries to the head was that first, there is no evidence of bleeding in the brain. My interpretation is that they may have been handled by large animals, shaken around”

According to him, animals, likely dogs, shook them around causing the skull injuries. He was actually trying to suggest that nearly all of the injuries were the result of dogs picking up the bodies with their teeth, and slamming them into rocks and trees.

“The injuries that I saw are entirely consistent and
compatible with animal predation and the shaking of the bodies by an animal. The injuries to the face, to the head, the degloving of the penis, the tearing off of the scrotum, those injuries are not man-made. I cannot tell you where they occurred. The penis was not removed, it was degloved. Degloving or mutilation of the genital area by certain animals is not that unusual. I have an exemplar of it with me in one of the books I referenced.”

Spitz made all of these claims with no proof to back it up. He gave no explanation when it came to the fact that the killer(s) had dumped the bodies under water and pressed them into the mud so they wouldn’t be found. Did the dogs drag the bodies out of the water, and then put them back? Did the dogs wear scuba gear and attack the bodies underwater? How did the boys actually die then? Did they drown? There had only been evidence that two of them drowned.

After learning more about who Werner Spitz, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that his claims would be downright… crazy, as he has a record of making ludicrous claims in other cases.

Lets start with the Casey Anthony case. Here’s some nice quotes about Dr. Spitz from former prosecutor Jeff Ashton’s book “Imperfect Justice”.

“Dr Werner Spitz was a forensic anthropologist who was over the age of eighty. Back in the eighties and early nineties, he was one of the leaders in his field. Over the last ten years or so, he had inserted himself into a number of high profile cases; O.J. was one, Phil Spector was another. Now he had involved himself in this case. I felt he was desperately searching for a way to maintain some relevance in his field.

His testimony was twofold. First, Dr. Spitz attacked Dr. Garavaglia for having not opened Caylee’s skull at autopsy. She had left it intact. That was a violation of basic autopsy protocol, he continued. Second, he was the only witness trying to render the opinion the skull had been removed from the crime scene. He testified that someone could have removed it, taken it home, put duct tape on it, and returned it to the scene.

When Dr. Spitz had performed his own autopsy, he had opened the skull and found some residue, which he claimed to be able to recognize from sight as the decomposition of the brain. To him, the residue indicated that the skull had been on its side when the brains decomposed. I called this the “brain dust” testimony.

On cross, I started with his criticism of Dr. Garavaglia’s autopsy, about the violation of protocol claim, that Dr. G had not opened the skull. Dr. Spitz had been one of the authors of a basic text book on forensic anthropology. I took his book up to the stand, put it down in front of him, and said, “Show me where you say it is protocol to open the skull when it is skeletonized.”

He leafed through the pages and did not find any reference to his claim. I next asked him if he was familiar with any other written protocol on the opening of the skull at autopsy. And he answered no. Next, I addressed the “removal and return of the skull” theory. I went through what I thought would be necessary to carry out what he was alleging. Someone would have to take the skull and the mandible home, put them in an anatomically correct position, tape the two pieces together, and put the skull back in the exact location where it had been. Dr. Spitz argued that though it would be difficult, it could be done.

I showed him the photo taken at the medical examiner’s office, showing that strands of hair were draped over the skull. I asked him how the hair could fall so perfectly back to its original position in a re-created scene. I pointed out that the manner of the hair falling on the skull was not consistent with being on its side.

Dr. Spitz got belligerent with me, to a point where he didn’t know how to answer. He said that maybe the medical examiner had staged the photo. So I showed him the photo taken at the scene with the strands of hair in exactly the same position. He then claimed that maybe the police had staged the skull. In my opinion, Dr. Spitz’s testimony ended up being completely discredited.”

What a credible expert we have here. Let’s read on. Another time he was called to testify for the defense in the trial of serial killer Richard Ramirez.

The appeals documents point out Spitz’s testimony, making claims that the defense would try try and twist so as to suggest other people had really committed the murders, and that only maybe a few were even linked.

“The defense focused on the lack of physical evidence tying defendant to the charged crimes, attacked the reliability of the identifications of defendant, and offered the alibi that defendant was in Texas when the crimes against Mabel Bell, Florence L., and Carol K. were committed.

The manager of Jennie Vincow’s apartment building testified that the windows in the victim’s apartment were in working order following the murder.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz testified, based upon the temperature of Vincow’s apartment, her body temperature when found, and the circumstance that her body had been covered, that Vincow had been dead four to five hours when her body was discovered.

The police officer who discovered the AC/DC cap at the scene of Dale Okazaki’s murder testified the cap was just inside the threshold of the garage.

Okazaki’s roommate, Maria Hernandez, was shown a photographic lineup that did not include defendant’s photograph, and she said one of the photographs resembled her attacker. That person was apprehended and questioned, but then released.

A police officer who responded to the scene where Tsai-Lian Yu was murdered testified that witness Jorge Gallegos told him that he never saw the assailant fight with the victim, did not hear gunshots, and would not be able to identify the assailant. Photographs later taken of the crime scene showed poor lighting conditions that would make an identification of the assailant difficult. A defense pathologist testified that Yu’s injuries were consistent with her having been shot while seated in her car.”

The defense pathologist in the Tsai-Lian Yu portion was Werner Spitz.

The defense team with the help of Spitz had been trying to also suggest that Jennie Vincow’s son, who had discovered her body, killed his elderly mother, which was why they were looking to argue the time of death.

This is a quote from page 488 of “The Night Stalker: The Life and Crimes of Richard Ramirez” by Philip Carlo, concerning some of Spitz’s testimony on behalf of the defense.

“The defense called Dr. Werner Spitz, who stated he had studied the morgue photographs of all fourteen murders in the case. In his opinion, Veronica Yu was shot inside her car, and going by body and ambient temperatures, Jennie Vincow had died two hours before she’d been found.

  Not happy with this witness, Halpin demanded to know why the doctor was so sure Veronica had been shot from inside the car. Spitz replied that the wound was on the right side of the chest and the bullet’s trajectory left-to-right. He then told the jury how he had calculated Vincow’s time of death.”

The defense even went so far as put her son on the stand and make him recount having seen his mother’s remains, and how her head was barely attached to the body. They also attacked him for refusing to take a polygraph and not being cooperative with the police after having witnessed the sight of his mutilated, and partially decapitated mother. He sobbed through-out much of his testimony, and many of the jurors would find it painful to watch.

Lastly lets take a look at the Phil Spector case.

Spitz would testify in that case, to how the victim spontaneously shot herself, despite that her teeth were clenched when the bullet was fired. Now normally when someone shoots themselves, they put the gun in their mouth, and tend… not to inflict extra harm upon themselves, such as shooting through your teeth first.

Here’s some quotes from another site.

“Dr. S: There’s a lot of pressure in a confined space. […] The recoil shattered the teeth but the gases expelled them out […] across the room.

Weinberg then puts up an image of the excised tongue up on the ELMO. To me, this is one of the grossest photos. I know that seems strange but to me, it just is.

DW: Do those appear to be blunt force trauma from something being forced into the mouth?

Spitz identifies the large dark area on the left side of the tongue may not be a bruise at all! It may be soot!

Dr. S: No. There’s a lot of trauma there. […] Lots of explosive trauma in the mouth.

To me, it’s possible this is not what Weinberg expected him to say. It’s interesting that he doesn’t go over the autopsy diagrams with Dr. Spitz from the autopsy report to verify or not verify that this area of the tongue may or may not have been caused by the gun. We know for certain that this area of the tongue is a bruise because Dr. Pena dissected it and found how deep it went. For Dr. Spitz to look and a photograph of it and say that it may not be a bruise, but soot, is pretty sad. It sends me the message that it’s been a long time since he familiarized himself with the evidence.”

It’s needless to say that while Spitz is a famous, and very high paid expert often deployed by defense teams, his testimony is also questionable.

The defense team would also hire yet another famous, yet questionable expert, this time in the form of Dr. Michael Baden. Baden was noticeably famous as a celebrity forensics expert, having testified for the defense in the O.J. Simpson case. Below is an article on his testimony from the civil case.

“At Simpson’s criminal trial, which ended in acquittal last year, Michael Baden testified that it was likely two people armed with two knives committed the murders. He repeated that Monday at Simpson’s wrongful-death civil trial.

But under a sometimes shrill cross-examination by Edward Medvene, one of the lawyers representing the Goldman family, Baden said there was strong evidence to support a one-killer theory.

In particular, he backed off the two-killer theory when told that another defense witness, Henry Lee, had testified in a pretrial deposition that only one pair of shoe prints was found leaving the scene.

The testimony came in the second week of the defense case, expected to go until mid-January. The plaintiffs have presented their side.

Also, Baden previously had testified that Goldman struggled for as long as 15 minutes before crumpling to the ground and dying. If so, it would have been impossible for Simpson to begin his attack at 10:40 and return to his home by 10:55 as the plaintiffs contend.

Baden said he based his opinion on trails of blood down Goldman’s clothes and blood in his shoe. Baden said the evidence suggested death was caused by bleeding from the jugular vein, from which blood oozes slowly.

But under cross-examination, when confronted with pictures of Goldman’s clothes that showed relatively small amounts of blood, Baden couldn’t point to evidence that there was more than half a quart of expended blood. At least 1.5 quarts must be lost for a person to die, experts say.

The plaintiffs’ pathology expert, Werner Spitz, testified last month that death came within seconds after the attacker pierced Goldman’s aorta.

Baden acknowledged that Goldman could have collapsed within two or three minutes. “I think it was pretty quick, a few minutes, whatever,” he said brusquely.

Baden also contradicted Simpson’s testimony on how Simpson cut himself. Baden told jurors that while examining Simpson five days after the murders, Simpson said he thought he cut himself going to his car to get his cell phone.

Simpson told police the same thing after the murders. But when he testified in the civil trial, Simpson emphatically denied cutting himself in Los Angeles. He said he cut himself on broken glass in Chicago.

Tuesday’s testimony was the third time since last Thursday that Simpson’s forensic witnesses seemed to waffle. Last week, DNA expert John Gerdes repeated testimony criticizing Los Angeles police department techniques for collecting DNA. But he then acknowledged that most of the test results in the case were reliable.

And before Baden on Monday, expert Herbert MacDonell repeated his testimony that a bloodstain found on socks left on Simpson’s bedroom floor was deposited after the socks had been taken off. He based that on tests detailing how blood passed from one side of the socks to the other.

That was the cornerstone of a defense argument that the blood was planted. Under cross-examination, MacDonell conceded the seepage could have occurred when police criminalists applied wet swatches to the socks to pick up the blood sample.

Analysts said the testimony weakened the defense’s case.

”The big three (witnesses) have not delivered the kind of doubt-raising impact that the defense hoped they would have done with this jury,” says Southwestern law professor Robert Pugsley. “The failure is particularly significant in light of Simpson’s poor performance on the stand.”

Also Tuesday, an alternate juror was dropped after bragging in a Christmas card to a friend that he was on the panel. The friend, a sheriff’s deputy, reported it to court officials. The ouster leaves four alternates.

By Jonathan T. Lovitt, USA TODAY “

Baden had been claiming that Simpson was innocent, because he felt that there was two killers, and Simpson just wouldn’t have had the time to commit the murders. But, at the civil trial, Baden’s expert opinions seemed to fall apart. To this day, despite being proven wrong, he refuses to back down from his claims. The only bit he admits is that maybe O.J. was guilty, but if he was, he’d have to have had an accomplice.

In this video you can see Baden still making the multiple killer claim, even with the fact that there was only one set of bloody foot prints left by the killer, and O.J.’s blood found next to those prints.

In the West Memphis Three case, Baden would suggest a theory to help out the defense, claiming snapping turtles along with a whole slew of other animals had possibly caused the injuries.

“I cannot be specific about what animal might have caused the injury, but my view is that the injuries I saw were consistent with animal activity. I did review the affidavits of Shawn Ryan Clark and Heather Hollis, who explained that they had been swimming in the ditch and had seen alligator snapping turtles in it.
“I would not purport to identify specific animals that might have inflicted the injuries. I would defer to forensic veterinarians. They could have been turtle injuries, there were scrape marks that might look like turtle claw marks, and there might have been dogs or other animals. Some of the injuries on the bodies are triangular and consistent with my experience with the sorts of triangular injuries
caused by snapping turtles. (BMHR 1921-1923).”

The defense later with the help of Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson would eventually engage in the production of a documentary called “West of Memphis”, in which the turtle claims would be furthered. The documentary was directed by Amy Burg, with Jackson and Damien Echols as producers. It would feature scenes with turtle wranglers and autopsy photos that it would claim matched up to the shape of turtle mouths.


The state would counter all of these animal predation claims with their own experts.

Dr. William Sturner would state the following.

“As to the injuries to Christopher Byers, I did review the testimony that they had a “serrated…quality” to them. (BMHR 2885) My opinion was that the injuries to him are not characteristic of animal predation. They look like incised, gouged, penetrating wounds. Some are antemortem wounds that may have leeched out in
the water – perimortem might also be correct. (BMHR 2887)
“I would have told Dr. Peretti if I had seen a particular pattern to the injuries. I did not see evidence of animal predation. (BMHR 2912).”

The original state Forensics expert Frank Peretti would also state the following on the defense’s ever changing claims.

“Peretti was asked by the State to review the testimony given by defense experts Spitz, Baden, Souviron, and Ophoven. He said he only read part of Spitz, all of Baden, and some of Souviron. He said he couldn’t read much, because the defense expert’s opinions were ‘ridiculous.’ He was pressed by Burt, became irritated, and then stated angrily that Spitz was ‘incoherent,’ Baden ‘reasonable,’ and Souviron out in ‘left field.’ He said Spitz’ description of a dog shaking the bodies, smacking them against trees did not make sense. He went further and said that he felt their testimony was nothing more than a personal attack against him, to make him look incompetent. He said only Baden said that the autopsies conducted were fine. He said he didn’t think their opinions meant much, because they had not looked at the actual bodies. He said he didn’t feel badly for not supplying the information the experts asked for, because he had asked for photos and other materials from them, and did not receive anything. He went further and said he felt important being attacked by all these experts. He said he was only one person who was right, why did they need so many to prove he was wrong.”

Two experts would also state that the knife the state believed was used in the murders, had matched up to the wounds perfectly.

Both of these experts had impeccable credentials, and were well respected in their field. One was Homer Campbell and the other was Peter Loomis.

Homer Campbell has in the past even worked on cases with FBI profiler John Douglas.

And Peter Loomis has even worked on famous serial murder cases.

Here’s what they would say to Shaun Wheeler, a long time investigator into this case.

Homer Campbell would say this.

“I believe the injurie to the left forehead and upper lid of the left eye were produced by the knife recovered or one similar. I also sent the photos of the injuries and the knife to another for evaluation and he agrees.”

Peter Loomis was the individual Campbell sent the photos to for evaluation.

Here’s what Peter Loomis would have to say.

“Bingo. The circular mark sure looks like the butt of the survival knife. The measurements fit. The diameter of the injury is 30mm, and the diameter of the prominent circular area of the butt of the knife is 29.8mm.
The 3 lacerations under the eyebrow look like they were made by the serrations on the back side of the knife. The measurements also fit here. The lacerations measure 11.2mm between them, and the serrated points on the knife vary between 11.1 and 11.4 mm. Of course the photo
 with the wooden ruler is blurry depicting these serrations but I can still measure them.”

Now here’s one of the photos of the wounds that the two experts are talking about. This photo was at one time purported by the defense to show a human bite mark(Remember those claims by Brent Turvey?). As it would turn out these wounds would be matched to a knife, and not human teeth.

(Warning) This photo was used since it’s been debated as a “bite mark”, and also happens to show the area in question. (Warning)

Look at the ruler next to the wound. Study the size. What you’re seeing according Campbell and Loomis is multiple wounds at that spot. Notice the large circular wound with the “X” shaped wound in the middle. Look at the size of it compared to the ruler.

Now look at the knife handle.

Do you see how it’s round and the same size as that wound? It even matches up almost perfectly to the measurements on the rulers.This is the likely source of that wound. The “X” shaped wound likely got there from the compass that used to be on the end of the handle as well. It possibly may have broken during the attack, thus explaining it’s absence from the knife. The “X” possibly being caused by the center piece in the middle of the compass.

In this video we can actually see this knife handle compared to the wound.

Now go back and take a look at those crescent moon shaped wounds. Notice how they go, cut, space, cut, space, cut.

Now take a look at this photo of the same knife.

Do you see all those serrations on the back of the knife? See how it goes notch, space, notch, space? Look at the size of them on the knife. See how they’re of similar size to the wounds? They even measure up to be about the same size as well, just as the experts claimed.

In court Deputy Prosecutor John Fogleman demonstrated how the knife created similar serration patterns on a grapefruit.

MR. FOGLEMAN: I told you we would be getting back to this knife. And this is one of those deals where y’all are gonna have to look at some of those pictures. And you may even have to study some of them back in the jury room.

THE COURT: Refer to it by exhibit number.

FOGLEMAN: Exhibit 77.

THE COURT: Alright.


FOGLEMAN: There are–if you’ll look at those photographs, there are marks on Christopher Byers where you’ve got like a dash–where it’s a cut–a cut and open space, a cut and an open space. And if you take this knife (INDICATING) and do that (INDICATING) then you look closely you can see it leaves a cut and an open space, a cut and an open space.



During the presentation, the knife clearly made the same type of serrations that Peter Loomis had compared exactly to to the very same knife, and matched to Stevie Branch. And according to Loomis the measurements were about the same.

Fogelman went further during his closing statements.

“This is the picture, the area circled–dash, dash, dash, dash. Now keep in mind one thing, when you go back in the jury room, get your–this is not to scale right here. (INDICATING) Now I’m gonna be fair. If I lay this up here, boy you’ll think–boy, that’s sharp. And just matches, just practically perfectly.

But now listen, now. This is not one-to-one. Keep in mind this is a rounded leg. So there’s a little bit of distortion. But if you take this, and take a piece of paper–get your ruler back there and measure the spaces on here, you’re gonna find that in between each of these blade is a quarter inch and the blade itself is three-sixteenths. Take a little piece of paper, and on this scale right here–not on your ruler, but on this scale–go three-sixteenths and a quarter, and three-sixteenths and a quarter and where your three-sixteenths are, make a straight line–just like this would be. (INDICATING.) And then, on the flat part right here (INDICATING) these two that are larger, if you do it–think about, it’s rounded. This strikes a rounded surface. The ones on the end are only gonna have part of the blade. Take that, and you lay it on the two larger cuts and you’re gonna find that they match. They fit. That is one example of how this knife matches–not just a little bit, but so much more than that knife or any other serrated knife.

He compared this knife to a knife submitted by the defense, belonging to John Mark Byers. The Byers knife was an attempt by the defense to suggest that Mark Byers had been the real killer. Fogleman, made point by point though that the survival knife they recovered was the more likely weapon.

“Now, I’m saying that that shows, that this exact knife caused it–now I submit the proof that shows this knife caused this–but true, it could be another knife like this, but I submit to you the proof–the circumstantial evidence shows that this knife–State’s Exhibit 77, caused those injuries right there. (INDICATING.) Now, if you look at those, there are similar injuries right here. (INDICATING.) And look at the gap between that cut and that cut. (INDICATING.) Now, you’re gonna have a harder time on this particular one because see in the picture how the ruler is bent. (INDICATING.) They’ve got it pushed down so you’re gonna have distortion in the measurements. But look at this one–and then there’s another one on here that is almost as telling as these and those on that picture. (INDICATING.) This is State’s Exhibit 71C. See this wound right here? (INDICATING.) See how wide and jagged and gouged that wound is? See that? (INDICATING.)” Well, you take this knife and drag it across with a serrated edge and boy you’ve got a straight line. Take this knife and drag it and it rips and tears just like in the picture.

Ladies and gentlemen, you go back there and look at those pictures, and as Mr. Davis asked you in jury selection–look at those pictures closely. Now there’s another way that these knives can make markings and that’s scrapes. And you’ll see that–that this knife has a vastly different pattern if it’s scraped against the skin than this knife. (INDICATING.) And it’s obvious just by looking at it. You got a larger gap and then you’ve got two narrow gaps–two narrow gaps, a large gap, two narrow gaps, a large gap. For this one you’ve got–it’s pretty uniform, and you’ve got a quarter inch, three sixteenths, quarter inch–it’s uniform all the way down. Where this one you would have a large gap, then you’ve got the blade which is smaller, and then the larger gap. This one you’ve got a number of different blade patterns and it’s going to make a completely different scrape than this knife. (INDICATING.)”
During closing statements during the Echols/Baldwin trial, Prosecutor Brent Davis would describe how the knife was sharp on both sides, and how the knife inflicted these injuries.

“The other thing to keep in mind is– and John didn’t mention this, but remember this knife has two cutting surfaces. It’s got one here and it’s got this serrated portion back here. Now, the ripping type injuries you see on the children are on the inside of the thighs and the back of the thighs and the inside of the buttocks. Ok. When this surface is being used to remove the genitals and the knife is worked in and they’re trying to remove the genitals this back surface is what’s going to be coming in contact with the inside of the thigh and the back of the buttocks. The knife that you were shown over here, the Byers knife, it has but one cutting surface. If they’re using that knife to remove the genitals, then the back of that knife has no cutting surface at all and wouldn’t leave any marks on the inside of the leg or the back of the leg. And I ask you to go back there and look at this and think, when you look at those photographs and where those injuries are–think of how this knife is used, and I know it’s not pleasant. But think of it and then look at where those marks are and how they match up with this particular size of blade.”

Now in Peretti’s rule 37 statement he’d say the following about  the injuries to Stevie’s face.

“There were contusions of the ears and injuries that I noted to be, irregular gouging wounds, cutting wounds on the left side of the face. I characterized them as gouged in that the tissue was torn and pulled. State Exhibits 34 and 35 show the pattern injury to the top of the face. State Exhibits 36 and 37 shoe the bell shaped injury and the injury to the ears. I did not section these injuries. There was a pattern injury that I concluded might have been a belt buckle.”

Now here’s the gouging injuries Peretti is describing.

(WARNING) Photo of wounds on Stevie’s face. (WARNING)

Now in this next image some portions of the wound have been highlighted. These show what look like almost straight lines in this wound.

Now, these wound’s could have been where the knife entered at.

Now in this next one, you can see there’s like a line going down to one of these gouging wounds.

This line could be from the blade touching the skin, either on the front or back side, as the gouging injuries were being inflicted.

Now this next one shows what looks like a second line also going down towards the gouging wounds.

Now in this next one we see almost two crescent moon shaped injuries, with an opening at the bottom of each.

These could be caused by someone pressing a knife at the location, explaining the openings in the bottom of the shapes, and trying to cut the victim’s face. Possibly the victim may have been resisting, leaving this injury.

Next in Peretti’s rule 37 statement he said this concerning the injuries to Christopher Byers.

“There were multiple wounds in the inner thighs. In my view all of the wounds occurred prior to death. Though I wrote that the wounds looked post-mortem, you could see hemorrhage in the tissues. There were some injuries to the buttocks and what I described as superficial cutting wounds in parallel lines. There was some drying of the tissues. I don’t know any kind of animal that would have caused this kind of pattern of wounds. There were a number of contusions found elsewhere on the body. I found diffuse pallor caused by the loss of blood. He had bled out. There were ghost cells found on the penis slides. These indicated the leaching of blood. The serrated knife that you have here could have inflicted the pattern wounds on the skin. I found that the knife shown to me by the State (State’s Exhibit 42) had patterns consistent with linear gouges on the remains of Mr. Byers.

I characterize certain contusions in the thigh area as defensive wounds.”

So these injuries on the inner thigh region may have gotten there as defensive wounds, from Christopher resisting as he was castrated.

(WARNING) Photo of the inner thigh of Chris Byers. (WARNING)

Now let’s go back to what Brent Davis said in closing.

“The other thing to keep in mind is– and John didn’t mention this, but remember this knife has two cutting surfaces. It’s got one here and it’s got this serrated portion back here. Now, the ripping type injuries you see on the children are on the inside of the thighs and the back of the thighs and the inside of the buttocks. Ok. When this surface is being used to remove the genitals and the knife is worked in and they’re trying to remove the genitals this back surface is what’s going to be coming in contact with the inside of the thigh and the back of the buttocks. The knife that you were shown over here, the Byers knife, it has but one cutting surface. If they’re using that knife to remove the genitals, then the back of that knife has no cutting surface at all and wouldn’t leave any marks on the inside of the leg or the back of the leg. And I ask you to go back there and look at this and think, when you look at those photographs and where those injuries are–think of how this knife is used, and I know it’s not pleasant. But think of it and then look at where those marks are and how they match up with this particular size of blade.”

So, there were serrated patterns all over Stevie and Chris, and these injuries seemed to match up to a large survival knife.


Now this all seems to suggest that a knife isn’t that far-fetched as the source of the mutilations.

Another thing to consider is the fact that there was still one lace in the shoes belonging to the victims.



Now the victims were tied up with their own shoe laces, with six laces used to tie the victims up. Two of these laces were actually the remains of one lace which had been cut in half, which is why there’s another lace still in the shoe. That right there would mean that there was a knife used in this crime, which counters the defense claims that the wounds were the result of animal predation.

Luminol photos would also show blood at the crime scene, again suggesting that the victims were likely cut with a knife.



In a letter to prosecutor Brent Davis, Frank Peretti stated that there was hemmorhaging of the wounds.

” First, Dr. William Q. Sturner, (the Chief Medical Examiner at the time of the autopsies) and I personally examined the bodies of the three boys along with Dr. Kevin Dugan, a forensic dentist. Dr. Dugan’s finding that none of the wounds appeared to be human bite marks was subsequently corroborated by Dr. Harry Mincer.

Second, as part of the autopsy process, tissue samples were taken from some of the superficial and penetrating wounds. When Examined grossly and microscopically these samples demonstrated presence of hemorrhage, clearly indicative of antemortem injury and not postmortem animal activity.

Third, physical examination of the penetrating wounds showed a lack of soft tissue bridging typical of wounds caused by tearing or biting. These wounds did show clearly incised edges, indicating they were caused by a sharp instrument.

Finally, I have consulted with Dr. Charles Kokes (the current Chief Medical Examiner) regarding the autopsies and he concurs in the findings made and the conclusions drawn from them.”

Antemortem, means the boys were alive when the injuries were inflicted, meaning they had to have been done by their killer(s). This further makes it unlikely that animals were responsible.

Sturner would back up these statements.

“To me, the injuries to Mr. Byer’s inner thighs had some fresh blood in them, and that would qualify them as antemoretem or perimortem injuries. I reviewed the histological slides of Mr. Byers penis, and there was fresh hemorrhage, and also some ghost cells of bacteria there. The fresh blood cells are indicative of antemortem or perimortem injuries. 

The injuries to Steve Branch’s face, around the mouth seemed to me to be perimortem or antemortem as well. I thought that there was evidence of more than one impact to him, given the findings at autopsy.
I think that I heard about the discussion about the possible bite mark with Dr. Dougan after the fact. My opinion was that the injury to Steven Branch’s check came from some kind of cylinder, something that was could be used to pound. I did not view those injuries as animal predation. The findings about his pallor were important because they reflected blood loss.

As to the injuries to Christopher Byers, I did review the testimony that they had a “serrated…quality” to them. My opinion was that the injuries
to him are not characteristic of animal predation. They look like incised, gouged, penetrating wounds. Some are antemortem wounds that may have leeched out in the water – perimortem might also be correct.”

He would also talk about his experience with two of the defense experts, and how it’s normal to disagree on cases. He’d also mention a pipe like injury to Stevie’s face.

“I have co-authored a paper with Dr. Michael Baden. He is an excellent
forensic pathologist. I know Dr. Spitz as a well-known authority in the field. The same is true of Dr. Di Maio. I would consider all of their opinions to see where they stood in relation to my own. Experts can have differences of opinion. 

I am not familiar with Dr. Joseph Cohen, or that he had testified in the
Echols Rule 37 , and that he was a New York Assistant Medical Examiner. It is my opinion that pathologists in that office would have seen cases of animal predation in his professional experience.

I do not believe that I made any notes in connection with my examination of the bodies. I did a kind of “curb-side consult” It was Dr. Peretti’s case.
Had I been asked to testify at trial, I would have expressed the view that it
was a cylindrical tool that had left an imprint on the left cheek of Mr. Branch. I don’t recall ever being approached by a defense lawyer in the case about that subject. My view was that the lesions on Mr. Branch’s face were of an unusual shape and I thought it was some kind of a pipe that made them.

I agree that it is helpful for a forensic pathologist to consult with a certified forensic odontologist. They are usually on staff in major offices. 
In my own professional experience, it has been very unusual to have seen a removal of genitalia as in Mr. Byers’ case. I might have seen only one other case in Chicago.”

Remember the statements by Loomis and Campbell about the bottom of the knife? They suggested that the handle of the knife left a circular pattern.


The bottom of the knife was round, and was essentially a metal pipe. Sturner also suggested a pipe for some of the injuries to Stevie’s face.

The knife also once had a compass that went on the knife, common to many survival knives, much like the one pictured below.


This compass may have looked something like this.


So the bottom stuck out with a little metal part, which most likely caused the “X” shaped injury, that was mentioned.

With all of that said, it’s safe to say that the wounds were likely not the result of animal predation, and no solid evidence of definite bite marks on the bodies. There’s also 7 experts suggesting that the wounds were made with a knife, luminol photos, which seem to confirm that the mutilations occurred on the ditch bank, rather than in the water as a result of animals feeding on the bodies.

There was even possibly blood seen pooling on the top of the water at the crime scene on the night of the murder. At the time it was thought to be an oil slick. It was reported by Jackie Hicks in the book “The Blood of Innocents”.

page 44

“Searching until the wee hours, Hicks and Terry Hobbs spotted what they thought was an “oil slick” on Ten-Mile Bayou about 3 A.M. “Terry asked me, ‘What’s that on the water?'” The men couldn’t tell. They went home, and Jackie decided he should brace his daughter.

“We better prepare for the worst,” he told her.

So this meant that the bodies were bleeding in the water. Blood was actually floating on top of the water at this point. Couple that with the fact that the wounds hemmorhaged, an a cut shoe lace, and it all seems to suggest that there was a knife involved in this crime.

The Evidence of Sexual Assault

In this section we shall address all apparent evidence of a sexual assault as it pertains to this case.

The article is broken into 4 parts for the ease of reading.

Part 1: The Semen Stain- A look into biological evidence found at the scene.
Part 2: The Dilation- A look into the evidence of sodomy.
Part 3: The Sexual Injuries- Autopsy evidence, suggestive of a sex crime.
Part 4: The Bindings- Detailing the sexual aspect of the bindings.

Part 1: The Semen Stain

Kermit Channell would state the following in court, concerning the pants of one of the boys.

Fogleman: Alright. And what uh – now I believe you indicated that you ran tests for blood on these items and I’m sure you’ve said it, but what were the results of those tests as far as blood?

Channell: Uh – they were negative.

Fogleman: Alright. And then did you uh – and what was the other type of test or what other item were you looking for?

Channell: I examined these items for the presence of semen.

Fogleman: Alright. And what type of test did you run for that?

Channell: The first test that I used is basically a screening tool. I laid the clothing out and because of the nature of the clothing, uh – being very dirty and soiled, I used a laser, which emits an ultraviolet light, which helps to pick up any possible stains that you might not be able to see uh – with the unaided eye. I did find some areas. I made cuttings of those areas and then further tested them for the presence of acid phosphatase. Acid phosphatase is an enzyme which is found in semen. Uh – it is also found in other items, for instance blood. But however, it is not in the same quantities. We can not quantitate the amount of acid phosphatase present, therefore we use it again as a screening tool to tell you whether or not there could be semen present. I then took those cuttings and took an extract from those cuttings and looked microscopically to see if I could identify any sperm cells present, which I could not on either pair. I further examined those cuttings for the presence of what is termed P30, which is a prostatic antigen which is specific to the male prostate. In this examination, uh – I did have some positive controls along with my cutting samples, which indicated to me that there could be some interaction with the material that was hindering me with getting a proper answer, uh – therefore, I had to conclude that I could not determine based on my testing that semen was present and because of that reason, I then took those cuttings and submitted them also to Genetic Design where they could employ DNA testing, which is far more sensitive then my testing.

Fogleman: Alright. Let me ask you this, how many screening tests did you run on the pants or the cuttings, either one? For semen I mean.

Channell: Actually, I ran the laser as a screening test and also the acid phosphatase as a screening.

Fogleman: And on those two screening tests, uh – what was the reaction?

Channell: Uh – these reactions were positive.

Fogleman: Positive for what?

Channell: Uh – for those specific screening tests. What we employed those screening tests for – for instance, if one screening test is positive that lets us continue with our testing. If it however was negative, then we would stop with the analysis at that point.

Fogleman: And so, both tests were positive as a screening test for the presence of semen?

Channell: That’s correct.

According to this, there was possible evidence of semen present on the clothing of one of the victims.

Michael DeGuglielmo would also testify about the semen.

17 Q. From all of that, what can we conclude about the source of
18 the DNA or possible source of the DNA in the two cuttings from
19 these pants?
20 A. What I know from those two particular items, is that we did
21 obtain a small amount of DNA, basically a threshold amount for
22 our testing. The testing that we use is specific for human or
23 higher primate. By that I mean there is some cross reactivity
24 between higher primates as far as the DNA sequences. Human
25 beings, gorillas, chimpanzees and great apes will have some

1 similarity in the actual DNA sequence. Because of that, they
2 are not just human specific, but we know that the DNA that we
3 detected is from the source of a higher primate.
4 The other thing is that the small amount of DNA we
5 detected were present in the male or sperm portions of the
6 extraction which would be indicative of the DNA having come from
7 a sperm origin.

So, the strong implication seemed to be that there was semen on a pair of pants.

Channell would also testify that the water from the ditch had destroyed much of the DNA evidence such as any trace of semen that there might have been.

Fogleman: Alright. And um – in regard to these pants and all the other items that you examined, what effect if any does uh – an item of evidence being in water have on your ability to find items?

Channell: Uh – being uh – wet, especially being say, submerged in the water, or even being dirty or soiled has a very detrimental effect on any type of biological materials that you might find. Being in the water can make it virtually impossible at times to identify any type of material.

Fogleman: Okay. And uh – does cold water as opposed to hot water have any particular effect on blood in particular?

Channell: I believe with uh – there are some studies with one versus the other, but uh – regardless of water temperature, still it will deteriorate the sample.

So there was some possible semen present at the scene. This would would be a key indicator that there was sexual activity between the killer(s) and the victims. It would be difficult to prove however as Channell would also state.

Fogleman: What uh – is the effect of a body being submerged in water on your ability to find semen in the oral cavity?

Channell: Uh – being submitted – uh – being in the water would have a very detrimental effect. Uh – with uh – with the water, it will have a tendency to flush out anything that could be there and very much hinder any identification that we can make.

If it was there, which it seemed to be, it was completely destroyed by water.

Part 2: Dilation

During the autopsies it was noted that the anuses of the boys had been dilated, a sign of possible sodomy.

This being from Stevie Branch’s autopsy.

Genital/Anal Area Injuries:
The anus was dilated. No injuries were noted. The anal and rectal mucosa showed mild hyperemia, but no evidence of injury.

Stevie showed signs of dilation, but no obvious sign of injury. The evidence of dilation could mean that Stevie was sodomized, however it’s difficult to say for sure, because there was no visible injury present. An argument put on by defense experts has been that the dilation was caused solely by the bodies being in the water, and not sexual assault.

This next one is from Chris Byers’ autopsy.

Genital and Anal Injuries:
The anal orifice was markedly dilated. Examination of the rectal and anal mucosa showed them to be diffusely hyperemic and injected. There were no injuries present.

Again there was dilation, but no obvious injuries.

This would be Michael Moore’s findings.

Anal/Genital Region:
The penis was circumcised and showed no injuries. The anus was dilated and showed no external evidence of injury. Mud and debris was present in the anal orifice. Subsequent autopsy demonstrated no internal injuries noted to the scrotum or testes. The mucosal surfaces of the rectum were slightly hyperemic and showed no evidence of injury.

Just like the others he had dilation, and all three victims had evidence of dilation present.

Peretti would say this on the dilation in a phone call.

DR: I .. no. I did not say that. I did not say that. I told him that he asked me about anuses. I told him that anuses on two of the kids were dilated and it could happen one of three ways; probably due to the bodies being in the water, it could be done by certain foreign objects into the rectum or a small penis. He asked me if there were any injuries. I said there were no injuries surrounding the anus. That’s what I told him.

He would suggest that based on the dilation alone he couldn’t say if the victims had been sodomized or not, but he suggested three ways that could leave them this way, including an object, or a small penis as a possibility. The men convicted for the crime were teenagers, so the possibility of a small penis could be valid.

He would also make this statement.

There was no unusual injury to the anal area. But because of the the
combination of the bodies being found nude and being hogtied together with some of the other injuries suggested ‘at least in some part’ a sexual assault.

Part 3: The Sexual Injuries

From the autopsy it noted numerous injuries and mutilations to Christopher Byers’ genital region.

The skin of the penis, scrotal sac and testes were missing. There was a large gaping defect measuring 2 3/4 inch by 1 1/2 inch. The shaft of the penis was present and measured 2 inches in length. The gaping defect was surrounded by multiple and extensive irregular punctate gouging type injuries measuring from 1/8 inch to 3/4 inch and had a depth of penetration of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch. Some of these wounds showed hemorrhage in the underlying soft tissue, others did not. In between the thighs there were multiple areas of yellow abrasions with skin slippage. The medial aspect of the left thigh showed a yellow abrasion.

If this act was committed by the killer, which seems to be more than likely, then that in itself would be considered a sexual act. By specifically focusing on the genitals, and trying to remove them entirely it shows a sexual nature in this crime. From these injuries it was like someone laid on top of the boy and stabbed and cut him repeatedly in the groin region as if there was a struggle between the victim and killer. It appeared as if they had tried to remove the entire genitals by cutting around them, and then tried to pull them off. This removed the testicles, but the penis was degloved, removing only the external portions of it and leaving behind the internal muscle structure.


Moving on to Stevie Branch, he also had a strange injury to his genitals.

The mid shaft of the penis to include the glans was diffusely red-purple with overlying very fine superficial scratches. There was a clear band of demarcation at the mid shaft which showed that the proximal portion was uninvolved.

Something had obviously been done to the boy’s genitals based on this injury.

This a diagram of a penis from a medical website:


Using this diagram we can see a rough example of the injury to Stevie’s genitals.



Testimony from the medical examiner would also suggest that maybe the victims had been forced to perform oral sex.

Davis: Doctor, in your experience as a medical examiner when you see injuries to the ears and injuries to the inside surface of the mouth, what does that indicate to you in a person that’s eight years old and has died this type of death?

Peretti: Well, there’s a number of possibilities but commonly when we see the ears contused on both sides or bruised with all lying fine linear scratches…

Stidham: Your Honor, I’m going to object. May I approach the bench?

The Court: [unintelligible] Well, rephrase your question. I think that is probably overbroad.

Davis: Doctor, let me ask you, have you seen–in your past experenience as a medical examiner, have you seen similar injuries to the ears of children?

Peretti: Yes, I have.

Davis: Okay. And in those cases were they frequently also accompanied by injuries to the child’s mouth?

Peretti: Yes, they were.

Davis: Okay. And based on your past experience and expertise and training, do those type injuries indicate to you, based on your expertise and training, a particular type trauma that has occurred to cause those injuries?

Peretti: Well, my practice these type injuries I have seen in children that are held by the ears who are forced to perform oral sex. They can also be due to putting a hand over the mouth to cause the injuries to the mucosal surface of the lips or they could be by grabbing someone by the ear.and just pulling.

Davis: And there were injuries consistent with that found in your autopsy on Michael Moore, is that correct?

Peretti: Yes, that’s correct.

These injuries also possibly could have been caused by someone trying to cover the mouth of the victim in some way.

Part 4: The Bindings

In a memo from defense investigator, Ron Lax, it stated that Lax had contacted a forensics expert named Chris Sperry as to the motivation of this case.

Sperry would tell Lax, that based on the way the victims were found tied, he believed the motive was sexual.


It made no sense for the defense to insist that the boys weren’t the victim’s of some kind of sexual assault, as the way they were found was completely unnecessary to the commission of the crime–it was completely unnecessary act, to strip the victims naked and bind them in the manner that they were.

In fact the manner used in the bindings are typical of rapes and is often used in BDSM. The victims were technically hogtied, but not in a typical fashion. Instead they were bent over with their hands bound to their corresponding ankle, rather than tying the hands and feet together, causing their legs to be forcibly spread.

Here’s a youtube video demonstrating this same position as a sexual pose common in the bondage community.

Now the defense would have us believe that there was no assault, but let’s frame a picture here. The victims are found naked in a hogtied fashion. They had been stripped by their killer. If this wasn’t sexual why strip the boys naked? Not only that, but if this wasn’t sexual, why tie the boys up in a sexual manner? That in and of itself seems odd. Why strip the victims naked, and tie them in this way? They were bound not with their feet tied together, but in a way that would force their legs to remain spread, and in a bent over position, hands to ankles.

If one couples this with the possible semen, and the fact that the anuses of the victims all appear dilated. It seems more suggestive of sodomy, and sexual assault.

We also know that one of the boys, Christopher Byers was missing his genitals. If this act was done by his killer(s), this would mean he was sexually mutilated. To further add to this, there was also apparent genital injuries found on Stevie’s body. These items all seem to accumulate and increase the likelihood that the victims had something sexual done to them.

From all of this we can say that it was more than likely that the victims were sexually assaulted.

The Crime Scene

To reach a conclusion as to who committed these murders, we must first understand the location of the offense in order to arrive at an opinion as to what individual(s) may be responsible for this heinous crime and what actually happened.


Establishing the general layout of the area, should help with forming an opinion.

(Photo of the location.)

We’ll start with this drawing produced by the police of the location known as Robin Hood Hills.


Robin Hood Hills, was a wooded area, often frequented by children in the area and stretched along next to a busy service road. It had a separate, smaller area with-in it, which was heavily wooded, known as Devil’s Den. Devil’s Den was location in Robin Hood in which the bodies were ultimately located. This area had heavy tree coverage and had a path that dropped down over 40ft in height, making it out of sight from anyone in the area, as well as had a small, shallow, man made drainage ditch which ran through it and emptied out into the much deeper 10 Mile Bayou. The 10 Mile Bayou itself was another body of water that stretched through the region and separated Robin Hood Hills from the neighborhood next-door to it. The ditch had been made for run off from the field near-by, which at one time was a wheat field according to the drawing.

This drawing also show’s the entrances to the crime scene, as well as all of the trails leading through it. Of these trails, at least one was made by police in order to removed the bodies of the victims from the woods. There were really only two location that one could enter into Devil’s Den.

You have would have to walk across a bridge formed out of a utility pipe, then turn right and walk up a trail that lead into the location.

To get into the location in the first place though you had to walk past dead end near the neighborhood on the other side of Robin Hood Hills, which then required you to walk over the bridge made out of the large pipe.

This is the dead end.

aaron_h_photos_07(Photo of the dead end.)


aaron_h_photos_02(What it looked like as you walked past the dead end.)

This is the pipe bridge.

Once across the pipe, you could then enter the crime scene through a near-by trail.

This path then led down a steep hill into the Devil’s Den area.


This path curved down into the location, as shown by this diagram, showing the top portion as “turtle hill” and a slope leading down from it.


This path led down into the location where the two officers are shown on the right side of the below photo.


Below this were three trees which were growing together near the ditch that ran through the woods.

You could walk down from the trail, to a ditch bank where these three trees grew.


The three trees:


The ditch bank:


The shallow ditch could easily be crossed near to the three trees:


You would just walk down from the path above:


And then you could then easily cross to a second ditch bank located on the other side of the ditch.


The other ditch bank.


Photo showing both ditch banks. The three trees growing together can be seen in the middle of the photo. On the right side of the photo you can see detectives standing on the path leading up “turtle hill”, which leads back up toward the pipe bridge. And then lastly on the left side of the photo you can see a detective across the water on the other ditch bank.


Below is Sgt. Mike Allen trying to grab a shoe out of the water without falling in to the ditch. This photo was taken prior to the discovery of the bodies. In the photo he has himself standing on the bottom of the three trees that were growing together.

The water itself also was not very deep, and went about up to a person’s knees.

Situated near the second ditch bank was a path that led out of the woods and to a field near the service road. This was the second way to enter and exit the crime scene.






You could walk up from the service road, to up behind Blue Beacon and then walk along a path to the pipe bridge.


This path was often used as a short-cut by locals to cut to and from the service road through to the neighborhood on the other side.

This is a photo of Andrew Harris, one of the Blue Beacon witnesses from the night of the murders:


Harris had been working the night of the crime, and stated that in the year prior to the murders, Blue Beacon had been robbed twice, and the robbers had arrived and escaped by going through Robin Hood. For this reason they began locking their back door and keeping an eye on traffic, such as strange cars parked in the area. Employees also sometimes walked through Robin Hood to get to and from work and the neighborhood on the other side of the bridge.

Nobody from Blue Beacon on the night of the murders saw any strange cars parked near the woods on the night of May 5th, and they would have noticed it, because of their vigilance over the previous robberies.



The victims would have had trouble walking their bikes over this pipe without dropping them, or falling in themselves, making it unlikely that they took the bikes into Robin Hood with them.

Here’s a photo of a friend of the victims’, Aaron Hutchinson, who was the same age as them, crossing this bridge. Notice how he’s walking across. Then imagine what it would have been like for the victims to try and cross that with their bikes.


Based upon this, it seems more than likely the victims left their bikes out near the entrance to the pipe somewhere.



From the criminal profile of John Douglas:

“It is my opinion the victims came into the woods of Robin Hood Hills by the most common method and that was by crossing the wood and pipe make-shift bridge. It is inconceivable that they carried their bikes across this very narrow width bridge. It is inconceivable that they carried their bikes across this very narrow width bridge. Nor is there any evidence they entered Robin Hood Hills at another location or were killed somewhere else and disposed of in Robin Hood Hills. It required much balance crossing the bridge and the chances of falling off the bridge while carrying their bicycles was high. It is my opinion the victims left their bicycles hidden in the tall grass and weeds before they each walked across the pipe bridge.”

The bikes were later found dumped off of the bridge into a section known as 10 Mile Bayou. They had been located floating beneath the bridge.



It’s likely that their killer(s) walked across the bridge and grabbed the bikes, walked them in a little, and tossed them off. Had the boys brought the bikes in with them, it seems most likely that the killer(s) would have tried to conceal them in the drainage ditch where the bodies of the victims were located, or left them in them concealed in the woods or brush, or even have tossed into the Bayou from a different location, or even concealed in brush. Instead they were tossed off of the bridge, having been found right underneath it, indicating that the bikes likely did not travel far from the bridge.


Ryan Clark, the brother of one victim would claim to have seen snapping turtles in the area. He alleged he carried snapping turtles from the 10 Mile Bayou in a deposition written years after the crime had occurred.

Clark, and his ex-girlfriend, Heather Hollis(previously Heather Cliett), would claim to have seen turtles and wild dogs out there, after the defense pursued that theory, having already previously made the suggestion. Also of note was the fact that Heather Hollis had also been the girlfriend of Jason Baldwin at the time of the murders.

Both Clark and Hollis at the time of their depositions seemed to be attempting to implicate Ryan’s step-father, John Mark Byers in the crime. Hollis was even sure to point out that Byers used to beat his son.

However not very many other people who played in those woods recalled seeing turtles or wild dogs out there.

The children shown in these photos when asked if they had ever seen a turtle in the area, replied that they had never seen a turtle out there.




There was possibly some turtles in the 10 Mile Bayou shown below the pipe brige, but not necessarily the ditch that ran through the Devil’s Den area, as Heather Hollis and Ryan Clark seemed to be suggesting

A video shot years later in 2009, shot after the location had changed drastically did show a turtle in the 10 Mile Bayou, however it was not a snapping turtle like Ryan Clark alleged he was finding.

Video of the turtle.

Photos of the area from 2013:



The scene had long since changed since 1993 when the crimes had occurred.

To date of witnesses in the case, only Ryan and Heather ever claimed to have seen or encountered giant snapping turtles out there back in the early 90’s. And both had only mentioned the information on the dogs and turtles after the defense brought it up years later.

The point on the animals is important in this case, as the nature of the wounds on the victims is disputed between the prosecution and the defense in this case.

A rebuttal of these predation claims can be read here.


Dawn Moore, the older sister of victim, Michael Moore, had described seeing three teens exit the woods on the day of the crime, just prior to the victims being spotted entering the area. The location had been a popular hangout for teens as well as kids in the area. Teenagers often used the Devil’s Den area to drink and do drugs.

From the statement of Dawn Moore:

viewed Dawn Moore who stated that she was out looking for her brother. She stated that she saw three boys (1 W/M and 2 B/M) coming out of Robin Hood near the ditch that goes to Devil’s Den. She stated that they were near the Hydrant accross the street and as she drove by one of them asked if she wanted a shot. She felt that they were talking about drugs. She stated that she didn’t see the little Boys that evening.

Statement of Dawn Moore.

Many teens would also claim to have spent time out there. Heather Cliett(Later know as Heather Hollis), said that she had been out there before, and had even seen the victims playing at the location on numerous occasions.

Heather Cliett police notes from May 10, 1993.

(A beer can found in Devil’s Den near where the bodies were.)


(Drink cups and garbage floating among the clothes of the victims.)


The Slicked Off Ditch Bank

A few locations were spotted on the edges of the ditch near where Michael Moore’s body was recovered from. This area appeared to be slicked off, like someone had done something to it, possibly, having scrubbed it with their hands and leaves.

(The slicked off ditch bank.)

Bryan Ridge testified that appeared to him that someone cleaned off one of the ditch banks, possibly trying to wash evidence away such as blood:

RIDGE: Yes sir, Exhibit 27 is the bank on the east side from where the body of Michael Moore was located, this area right here between this slanted line and this tree is like a shelf, an area that is not as extremely sloped as the rest of it. You can see where it appears to be slicked off where something has scooted across the bank or cleaned of debris or whatever. That is Exhibit 27.

Testimony of Bryan Ridge.

There was also lines in the mud, which showed that this couldn’t have been caused by someone just walking over the area. It was more like someone was scraping something across it trying to remove evidence.

Whoever did this was clearly trying to get rid of something that was at the location.

When the location was eventually sprayed down with luminol the whole area lit up, as if there had been a massive amount of blood there.

This is a photo of the area taken when they sprayed it.

Then they took this photo of the location, in the total darkness.

It appeared that someone had been trying to wash away, and cover up the blood.


This sketch shows the blood over the ditch bank next to Michael Moore’s body and on the ditch bank next to where the bodies of Stevie Branch and Christopher Byers were located.

(Ditch bank next to the bodies of Stevie Branch and Chris Byers, which registered as having blood on it.)

From the luminol, it appeared the victims were killed on both sides of the ditch. Moore was probably killed on the West side of the ditch on the slicked off ditch bank,while Stevie and Chris were murdered on the East bank, where luminol also lit up.

Click here to read more about defense theories.

Crime Scene or Dump Site?


The scene of the crime as most are aware was and always has been Robin Hood Hills, a patch of woods located next to the Blue Beacon Truck Wash.

(Robin Hood Hills and Blue Beacon Truck Wash.)

Now many have erroneously reported, or argued over the years that this was not the actual scene of the crime, but merely a dumping site used to dispose of the victims after their murder. This however isn’t the case as the facts testified to at trial have repeatedly demonstrated.

A long time claim associated with the case has been the insistence that there was no blood at the scene, and an odd personal incredulity argument that the victims did not have mosquito bites, and thus if the victims did not have mosquito bites and there was no visible blood, then the murders must have taken place elsewhere and the bodies of the victims disposed of at the scene.

Now those claims are false and misleading, and will be addressed later on.

But, why would someone suggest that this was a dump site in the first place?

Well, it was suggested by defense lawyers for the West Memphis Three, in an attempt to exclude their three three teenage clients from the crime, as well as explain away Jessie Misskelley’s multiple confessions in the case.

The notion was put fourth at trial and became a major claim by Jason Baldwin’s lawyer, Paul Ford, which is shown in this example from Paul Ford’s closing statements:

Dr. Peretti. Prosecutor asked Dr. Peretti, “Would you expect to find mosquito bites on those boys before they died?” “Yes, I would.” “Did you find any?” “No, I didn’t.” We know that they are tied up, they are naked, and they’re uninjured. And how can we conclude that? Well number one, if they’re tying them up hand and foot the way they did, they can’t take their clothes off. Can’t get their clothes off tied up that way. So you know they have to be naked before they get tied up.

And are they injured at the time they’re tied up. Makes no sense there either. Because there’s no blood on them. There’s not a drop of blood on those clothes. So these boys are tied up, naked, and uninjured. And so all of this stuff that happens to them, happens when they’re naked. And there’s not a mosquito bite, not a one. And they were down there in that mosquito infested woods, in that ditch, without a mosquito bite? That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

Closing statements by Paul Ford at the trial of Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin.

The reasoning behind Ford’s assertion was this was two fold. He could argue that the prosecution had the facts all wrong, and therefore the evidence might all be wrong. And then ofcourse the other aspect that the defense was pushing would be that neither Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols, or Jessie Misskelley had owned a vehicle, and therefore could not have driven the bodies to the scene. On the Misskelley side of things, Jessie obviously would have had to have been lying if the victims weren’t even killed at the location.

Unfortunately numerous problems arise with this defense scenario…

First off, it makes no sense that the boys were killed somewhere else since they had last been seen entering Robin Hood Hills area on the day that they disappeared by Bryan Woody, and seen playing in the general location by several additional witnesses.

Dana Moore, Michael Moore’s mother testifying at the trial of Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols:

FOGLEMAN: Okay. Approximately what time did you last see uh, Michael?

MOORE: At 6 o’clock [inaudible]

FOGLEMAN: And where did you last see him?

MOORE: Uh, going down 14th Street.

FOGLEMAN: And who was he with?

MOORE: Steve and Christopher.

FOGLEMAN: And how were they uh, going?

MOORE: Uh, they were on bikes. Chris was riding with Steve 
and Michael was riding his bike. 

(Direction Dana Moore saw the three boys riding.)

Debra O’Tinger also stated that she saw the victims close to 6:00 Pm, riding their bikes near her house, which was located near Robin Hood Hills:

Q: Will you please state your name and address?

A: Debra O’Tinger. 1309 (???) Goodwin Avenue, West Memphis.

Q: I want to direct your attention to May 5th, 1993, the day that the three boys disappeared.

A: Um-hum.

Q: Were you at home that day?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Did you see the boys?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: About what time was it when you first saw them?

A: Around six, close to six.

Q: What were they doing?

A: They were in my yard.

Q: Were they walking?

A: One was walking and one was on a bike.

Q: How many boys were there?

A: Two at the time.

Q: When they were doing whatever they were doing, did you see them later?

A: No, sir.

Q: Do you know the boys? Did you know them?

A: No, sir.

Q: What exactly did you see the boys doing?

A: One (???) rode the bike through my yard, and I had just planted a (??? vine? tree?), and he had rode right by it and that was it. They were just going through my yard. That was it.

Q: How many boys did you say you saw?

A: Two at the time. We were leaving to go to my mother’s.

Q: I may just be confused. Let me show you this and ask is that yours?


Q: Would you mind reading over that for a minute?

A: Yes, sir. (EXAMINING)

Q: Was that your statement?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: I’m a little confused. In the statement you mentioned three boys.

A: Right. One had come around the side of the street where Goodwin Avenue and Goodwin Circle – –

Q: Okay, so there were – – 

A: Three.

Testimony of Debra O’Tinger.


Bryan Woody also testified that on his way home from work, that as he was driving near Robin Hood Hills, he spotted the boys.

Bryan Woody testifying at the trial of Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin:

Fogleman: Ok. Uh – I want to again direct your attention to May the 5th, 1993. Um – were you somewhat acquainted with Steve – Stevie Branch at that time?

Woody: Uh – no.

Fogleman: Alright. Ok. Um – what time did you get off work that day?

Woody: 6:30. 

Fogleman: Alright. And after you got off work, where did you go?

Woody: Well, I went to my mom’s house to pick up my wife and my little boy so we could go home.

Fogleman: Alright. And as you approached um – 14th street on Goodwin, what if anything did you see?

Woody: I seen uh – four kids going into uh – Robin Hood – you know, right there where the road dead ends. 

Fogleman: Ok.

Woody: And there was two of ’em that was pushing a bike, one that was carrying a skateboard and there was just one that was walking. And it was like – you know, I was going 40 mph trying to get home, so – but I seen ’em ’cause one of ’em had spikey hair and my little boy had spiked blonde hair just like it – you know, it just caught my eye. 

Fogleman: Alright. Uh – were you aware – did you know whether or not any of the little boys who were missing had that kind of hair cut?

Woody: Well, not until the next day at noon when I went to my parents’ house for lunch. My mom asked me – you know, she said “There’s some kids missing.” and I seen it – you know, and I said “Well, I think I seen them yesterday.” I said that little spike headed boy – you know, he looked familiar.

(Where Bryan Woody saw the victims at around 6:30.)

John Mark Byers, the step-dad of Christopher Byers also elaborated on the Woody sighting in this statement.





Police interview of John Mark Byers.


Not only were the victims last seen around Robin Hood Hills, but they were seen riding their bikes in the exact direction down the street toward Robin Hood Hills.

Not only were the victims last seen at Robin Hood, but their clothes and bikes were found at the crime scene as well. That would mean that the killer would have had to have snatched the boys up from the woods, killed them elsewhere, and then returned them back to the woods, while in the process of dying, tossed them into the ditch to drown, and also transported the bikes and clothing back to the crime scene.

(Victim clothing recovered at the crime scene.)

A very improbable scenario!

The defense even stated this accusation during the appeals, with a criminal profile manufactured by expert, Brent Turvey. This profile was tailored by the defense to try and match up to the defense’s alternative suspect at the time, John Mark Byers, Christopher Byers’ step-dad, who the defense was alleging to be the “real” killer.

                                   (Brent Turvey.)

Excerpts from Turvey’s profile read-

First Turvey describes the abduction from Robin Hood Hills:

“The three victims in this case were last seen together on two bicycles riding towards the Robin Hood Hills area. It is most likely that the assailant approached them while still together. This high likelihood and the sudden violent nature of the wounds, coupled with limited resistance on the part of the victims, is very suggestive. 

These elements together suggest that someone that the victims knew and trusted approached them. They further suggest that once the confidence of the three victims was won, the assailant was able to take them to another location and gain control of them in some manner.

It is clear that the assailant was much larger and stronger than the victims, so physical intimidation and fear were factors. This would have been a factor in the initial approach. It is also clear that the assailant had a knife, but this would not have been displayed during the initial approach. The method of approach in this case was most likely a con of some kind to acquire trust, followed up at another location by a sudden, violent attack to gain control.”

Next Turvey describes the killer wanting to take the victims back to Robin Hood Hills:

“…he removed them to a location that he was familiar with, where he could feel dominant and establishes his authority by his presence alone.”

Turvey elaborates further:

“Removal of the victims to a location that he controlled: This act put the offender and the victims in an environment that the offender controlled. It facilitated an unseen, uninterrupted attack upon the victims, providing the assailant with the time to engage in those activities that he desired.”

Finally Turvey for some odd reason decides to describe a very specific vehicle for the killer, a vehicle which Mark Byers happened to own:

“Transportation If he does own a vehicle, it would be masculine, like a truck. This would also be consistent with the type of vehicle he would need to transport the victims to the disposal site. It would further be in strict keeping with his macho self-image of strength and control. The offender’s own vehicle was likely used in this offense.”

Brent Turvey’s criminal profile.

This ludicrous allegation by the defense actually lasted for years, even being portrayed as if it were vailid in documentaries such as Paradise Lost.

Picture their scenario:

In this scenario the three victims were abducted from Robin Hood Hills, then all three killed elsewhere, then the killer took their naked, tied up bodies, drove them out back to Robin Hood Hills while a full on search of the woods was in the works, and dumped the bodies, clothes, and bikes back at the site and some how avoided detection without being seen by a single witness.

Now if this dump site scenarios didn’t happen, then what did?

For starters they were last seen entering the woods and then their bodies were later on discovered there. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. On top of this their clothing was recovered from the location as well as the bikes they used to get there. From that It just seems the most logical that they would have been murdered there.

John Douglas, a second criminal profiler later hired by the defense also scoffed at the idea that the victims were murdered or transported elsewhere, as the there was no evidence to suggest a secondary crime scene.

From the criminal profile of John Douglas:

It is in my opinion the victims came into the woods of Robin Hood Hills by the most common method and that was by crossing the wood and pipe make-shift bridge. It is inconceivable that they carried their bikes across this very narrow width bridge. Nor is there any evidence they entered Robin Hood Hills at another location or were killed somewhere else and disposed of in Robin Hood Hills.”

Prosecutor Brent Davis also addressed the accusations in his closing statements during the Echols and Baldwin trial:

“The logical scenario was, if–to catch and corral three eight-year-olds, and–I think it would have been nearly like catching a cubby of quail, there had to be more than one person doing it. To inflict injuries from multiple weapons, there had to be more than one person doing it. I mean you could, one person could use three different weapons but logic tells you if you got different type knots tied on the children and extremely different from one side to the next. If you got three different weapons causing the injuries, if you got situations where the injuries are dissimilar–three weapons, three types of knots–those type differences, you realize that it had to be more than one person. If there’s one person how do they corral the kids, how do they tie the kids up. The head injuries had to be first. The head injuries – Mr. Ford says they can’t be because there’s no blood. But the type head injuries that you see here, a lot of the blunt trauma and I think each if the kids sustained some blunt trauma to their head, now there are some injuries that are in the nature of cuts and open wounds. But the blunt trauma type injuries would debilitate the children, yet not cause this massive bleeding. But whether–if they’re alive they aren’t debilitated first then how in the world could you get them out of the woods. I mean even if they’re gagged, it’s daylight because they’re in the woods around six-thirty–it’s still daylight and you’re having to take them out with one side an interstate highway and the other side a three-hundred to five-hundred unit apartment complex or a truck wash. I mean how do you get the kids out? And if you do why in the world do you come back and dump them there? I mean, if you want them to be found you could put them in a lot better places and if you didn’t want them be found, why in the world would you want to bring them back to where they were abducted in the first place? I mean, it literally doesn’t make sense.”

Closing statement of prosecutor Brent Davis at the trial of Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols.

Another claim by proponents of the dump site theory is that it’d be too dark to kill the boys in those woods at that time of day, which is untrue.

Using the link below, it shows that the sun didn’t even start to set until 7:50 PM in West Memphis.

Sun down calculator for May 5, 1993 in West Memphis, Arkansas.

So, if the boys entered those woods at some time around 6:30 or so, there would have been more than an hour’s worth of light. With that said, it’s safe to say that the claim about it being too dark is simply untrue. The boys could have been dead or unconscious any time after 7 or 8, and there still would have been some light for their killer to see and dispose of evidence, because the sun didn’t start to set until 10 minutes to 8:00.

Paul Ford, as mentioned earlier was Jason Baldwin’s lawyer had also harped on the claim that no blood was found at the crime scene. He even brought it up in his opening statements at trial:

“The prosecution told you that around six o’clock to six thirty in the evening of May the 5th, these three young boys were out playing, riding their bicycles. And their parents missed them, they began to wonder where they are, and they immediately became concerned they way I would with my children. And they began to look, and they began to holler, where are they? The way we all would. When it became an apparent that they weren’t at the neighbors next door, they became more concerned. They began to search even harder, the way everyone would if their children were missing. But unfortunately, they didn’t find them that night. And the search was called off and they’ll wait till morning. When morning comes, the police get involved again. The police and the parents and everyone is concerned and they are looking for these boys, as they should. And they were up approximately 2 o’clock on the afternoon of May the 6th, they found them. They secured the scene, which was described to you. They taped it off with the yellow tape that you see on crime scenes or where fires occur so people are to stay out, don’t disturb the area. There may be facts, there may be clues, there may be evidence left out here, don’t disturb it. They do that. And as they searched that area, you’ll see, from their own testimony, they found nothing. Not even a drop of blood.”

Openning statement of Paul Ford at the trial of Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols.

Now let’s get to the luminol photos in this case.

Click here to view all the luminol photos in this case.

Now, for those who don’t know, luminol is a chemical that those in law enforcement use to detect blood at crime scenes. The chemical when sprayed reactes to the chemicals that make up blood, and cause the blood to glow when exposed viewed in the dark.

Numerous locations would light up when sprayed by detectives working the crime scene, which showed the likely presence of blood all over the ditch banks near where the bodies were located.

Some of these spots spots even lit up for a large amount of blood, particularly at these two locations:

The ditch bank located right next to where the bodies of Chris Byers and Stevie Branch were found. It was noted that there was blood all over this location, but no photographs were taken of the luminol reactions on this ditch bank, because when the police pulled the bodies out of the water, they set them on the bank. And these bodies were also still bleeding when pulled from the water and detectives were also walking around in the blood on the ditch bank. So it could not be determined which spots of the blood were from the murders and which were from the body recovery.

(Where Chris Byers and Stevie Branch were murdered.)

Then there was this second ditch bank, located next to where the body of Michael Moore was found. It registered for blood in three distinctive locations.

(Where Michael Moore was murdered.)

One of these spots was where Michael Moore’s body was set by police after he was pulled from the ditch. This location is shown marked in blue on the photo below.

However, there remained two unexplained spots, which are marked in red in the above photo. And of those spots was one very large collection of blood drops, shown to measure roughly 3ft in diameter. It was about the size of a child and could not be explained as just from the recovery, but had to most likely be from the murders.

(Blood from the murder of Michael Moore.)

Some have even said that if this is blood, which the luminol photos and reactions strongly suggest, then it wouldn’t be enough to say that the victims were murdered there. That it could have gotten there from the bodies being disposed of. This would again seem very unlikely, and in light of the information and the fact that the human body doesn’t bleed as much as one would expect, it but be wise to try and determine how much blood is in a child.

So, to further make a point on how much blood a child’s body would hold, here’s a site on how to calculate how much blood the body has.

Link to blood calculator website.

According to the calculator, a victim such as Christopher Byers only had 2.3185562048 liters of blood. So he had roughly a bit more than 2 liters of blood, which isn’t a really a whole lot, and could have left the blood found in the unphotographed luminol reactions. It’s also impossible to see how much blood was in those reactions because no photos were ever taken.

(Police diagram showing where blood was detected.)

His height and weight were obtained from the autopsy report.

Autopsy of Chris Byers.

To dumb that down a bit that’s about enough blood to fill a bottle of pop, so just for reference here’s an image of a 2 liter bottle of Pepsi.


Now imagine that poured out on a wet ditch bank. It’s simply not as much blood as an adult body would have, and the amount of blood detected was fairly consistent then with amount found.

The killer(s) had even allegedly tried to wash down the ditch banks, trying to scrub, and scrape off the locations, possibly with water; sticks and leaves.

This is shown in numerous areas located around on the ditch bank near the body of Michael Moore:

Someone was clearly trying to remove something off of those ditch banks.

Bryan Ridge testified that appeared to him that someone cleaned off one of the ditch banks, possibly trying to wash evidence away such as blood:

RIDGE: Yes sir, Exhibit 27 is the bank on the east side from where the body of Michael Moore was located, this area right here between this slanted line and this tree is like a shelf, an area that is not as extremely sloped as the rest of it. You can see where it appears to be slicked off where something has scooted across the bank or cleaned of debris or whatever. That is Exhibit 27.

Testimony of Bryan Ridge.

Well, why would someone be trying to wash away evidence if there wasn’t any blood on those ditch banks?

Another famous criminal profiler, Pat Brown would eventually do her own profile of the case, having taken a look at the work of Brent Turvey.

Through her dissecting of Truvey’s profile she would have this to say on issues such as the time of death:

James M. Moore – The lividity question. Turvey writes that the report state that “the lividity was present. It also states that the lividity WAS blanched with pressure.” Turvey goes on to explain that “lividity begins about thirty minutes after death has occurred. After 4 or 5 hours, dependent on environmental conditions, lividity fixes and will not blanche. It takes about 8 to 10 hours for lividity to become fixed. (This is a contradiction. Is Turvey saying lividity fixes in 5 hours or 10 hours?)

Let’s use a description of lividity (livor mortis) from Adelson’s The Pathology of Homicide. He states “In the early postmortem period, livor is usually not “fixed”, and its distribution can be altered by changing the decedent’s position. Thus, if a corpse which was supine for a brief interval after death is turned over so that it is prone, lividity which had been developing in the dorsal areas disappears slowly, and anterior lividity appears. Ordinarily, livor becomes fixed eight to ten hours postmortem and remains in its areas of development even thought the bodily position is changed and formerly lower sites are now no longer dependent. However, here as elsewhere in the area of postmortem chronology, there is no rigid time-table. Fixation of livor has been reported as early as one hour after death, and absence of fixation has been noted twelve hours postmortem.

Okay, got that? What all that means is the only thing lividity with fixation can tell you is that the person has been dead at least an hour and possibly more than twelve hours. This means if the boy’s were killed at the last time they were seen, 6:30 PM and lividity rushed in within the hour, then fixation could have occurred by 7:30 PM. If lividity took four hours Turvey mentions on his first round, then they could have been killed at 6:30 PM and the lividity set in at 10:30pm. If we go with Turvey’s longest guess of ten hours, then a 6:30 murder would have lividity set in at 4:30 in the morning. But, once the lividity is set, it is set! So whether, lividity fixed at 7:30pm, 10:30pm, or 4:30am, it doesn’t tell you when the murder itself took place. The most important use of lividity is to note if the body has been moved and interesting marks show on the body depending on what the body was touching.

So Turvey goes on to state, “This COULD (emphasis mine) place the time of death (which can only be given as a range (WHAT RANGE?) of James Moore at sometime after daybreak (again time not given) on May 6th, 1993.” Since lividity can’t tell us any accurate time of death, why is Turvey trying to create a time of death at dawn? (Remember Byers only possible times available to commit the crimes).

Turvey then discuss rigor mortis. He does a fairly decent job with this. Interestingly enough, though, he avoids discussing the time of death on this. Why? I believe he is avoiding the issue because he can’t place the time at daybreak. The report states in the autopsy of James M. Moore, according to Turvey, that “Rigor was present and fixed to an equal degree in al extremities. “ Turvey does admit that “Rigor reaches full even distribution within 12 to 24 hours after death.” Yes, indeed. Spitz and Fisher’s Medicolegal Investigation of Death states “In temperate climates, under average conditions, rigor becomes apparent within half an hour to an hour, increases progressively to a maximum within twelve hours, REMAINS for about twelve hours and then progressively disappears within the following twelve hours.” Also, “Hypothermia and cold environmental conditions (cold streams) slow the chemical reactions and the rigor process.

So, where does this leave the time of death? Well, since the body of Moore was in full rigor, he was likely dead AT LEAST twelve hours. Hmm…this means since the body was found at 1:45pm, this would mean Moore had to have been murdered at least by 1:45 am. Considering that rigor mortis doesn’t disappear for at least twelve more hours, he could conceivably been killed at 1:45 PM the day before! Add the cold water and the process could be retarded further. This would completely destroy any possibility of Moore being murdered at dawn. Could this be why Turvey won’t make a guesstimate here?

So, how DO we decide when the boys died? If as Turvey states, “by itself, the use of Rigor Mortis to determine a time of death, or a time range of death, is not advised. (Was it advised with lividity which is even more inaccurate?) Several biological indicators should be used.” I tend to agree with that, so let’s look at a realistic view of the time of murders. One of the most important points to focus on is the lack of deep furrows and abrasions left by the shoelace ligatures on the body of Moore. As Turvey states and I agree with him here, “This indicates the victim was not struggling when the ligatures were in place.” Yes, Moore had been quickly incapacitated by blows to the head and then tied up. He died however from drowning. So, let’s go back to our two time possibilities with Byers; right after the boys were last seen at 6:30pm and in those early hours before dawn. IF Byers did not kill the boys until dawn, where were they for those approximately twelve hours in between? Tied up I guess in some unknown location! For twelve hours! Are we to assume that the Moore child was so incapacitated during that time that he at no time regained enough consciousness to at any point struggle against his ligatures BUT he was not so badly injured that he didn’t die until he was dumped in the stream? Were the other two boys left tied up for some twelve hours alone except for when Byers had a moment to check up on them? Where were these three boys being kept? Let’s assume now that the three teenagers grab them and didn’t kill them until morning. This is equally unlikely. So we can pretty much put together the evidence of the time the boys were last seen, the lividity and rigor information, and a bit of logic and come up with the murders occurring in the immediate hours after the boys were last seen.


So according to her the boys could not have been held captive for hours. It simply would make the most sense that they were killed once they entered those woods and ran into their killers at about 6:30 or 7 that day.

Defense investigator, Ron Lax also consulted with a Dr. Chris Sperry, who informed Lax, that the boys might of died closer to 8:30.


Chris Sperry’s opinion on the case.

As they say, often times the simplest solution is the right one. It’s simple Occam’s Razor.

We’re left then with a time of death that’s most likely in the window of 6:30-8:30.

Now here’s another aspect of the dump site claim, the claim about the mosquitoes. It’s been claimed by the defense that there were no mosquito bites on the bodies, which meant that the boys could not have been murdered in the woods… however that’s a misleading claim, and completely unproven.


The defense would not only argue over mosquito bites but the presence of maggots on the bodies.

Neil Haskell’s claims during the Rule 37 Appeals.

However, a letter to prosecutor, Brent Davis additionally covered both the mosquito bite claim and the claims concerning the maggots.

The letter reads as follows:

Forensic Entomology Enterprises

c/o M. Lee Goff, Ph.D.

45-187 Namoku St.

Kaneohe, HI 96744

21 Sept. 1998

Mr. Brent Davis

Prosecuting Attorney

Second Judicial District of Arkansas

P.O. Box 491

Jonesboro, AR 72403

Dear Mr. Davis:

I have reviewed the materials you sent to me regarding the Affidavit of Dr. Neal H. Haskell relating to the petition for a new trial by Defendant Echols. In your letter, you posed a number of questions and I will respond to each here:

1. With respect to the question of Dr. Haskell’s qualifications as a “forensic scientist” to comment on correlation between lividity, blanching and time of death, I do not believe he is qualified to offer an opinion as to time of death based on this phenomenon. In his affidavit, Dr. Haskell has cited references to the phenomenon and implied an opinion while not actually stating an opinion. As he does state, a forensic pathologist would be the appropriate individual for comment, not a forensic entomologist. By training, Dr. Haskell is a forensic entomologist.

2. With respect to possible injuries caused by fish or aquatic anthropods such as crayfish, I question that these could be determined from examination of photographs alone and without specific knowledge of the antropod and fish populations for the particular site. I do not find any suggestion that these data were available for this case. Even if these data were available, I doubt these would be of use in providing an estimate of the postmortem interval or the period of immersion in water. The second part of your question again goes to Dr. Haskell providing an opinion outside of his area of expertise, entomology. Unless he can demonstrate that he has conducted studies specifically designed to investigate these types of injuries or significant practical experience, I believe he is providing an opinion outside of his area of expertise.

3. The forensic entomologist determines the minimum postmortem interval or period of time since death by analyzing the species and developmental states of the insects present on a decomposing body. In many instances, this period will account for the entire postmortem interval but this may not always be the case. There are factors which may delay access of insects to the body for oviposition or larviposition. These factors can include, but are not limited to, periods of darkness, temperatures below the threshold for adult fly activity, submersion of the body, wrapping of the body and burial.

The key point here is that the period determined is the minimum period.

3a. & b. In determining the minimum period of time through analyses of fly larva or maggot development, it is essential that the maggots be correctly identified to the species level. Different species have different patterns of reproduction and different rates of development. For example, flies in the family Calliphoridae typically lay eggs, while those in the family Sarcophagidae deposit first instar or first stage larvae directly onto the body. Recovery of first instar larvae of species of Calliphoridae indicates that a period of time required for hatching of the egg into the first instar larva has passed. By contrast, a first instar larva of a Sarcophagidae species may have been deposited on the body immediately prior to collection or observation. In this case, there were observations of maggots but no mention of eggs. Photographs you submitted show the bodies lying exposed on the bank of the ditch following removal from the water. During the period of time the bodies were exposed prior to transport to the funeral home, it is possible for Sarcophagidae species to have deposited the maggots in the natural body openings of the head, as noted by the Coroner in the Supplemental Reports. In the photographs submitted (#007156; 007168; 007174; 007176; 007177; 007236; 007303) there appeared to be blood present on the head. This would have been an attractant to flies for oviposition or larviposition once the bodies were removed from the water. As the maggots were not collected, no measurements made, or photographs taken specifically to demonstrate the maggots, no firm conclusions can be reached on this aspect, but there is a strong possiblity that the maggots were deposited following recovery of the bodies on 6 May 1993.

3c. The question of nocturnal oviposition or laying of eggs during periods of darkness is not completely resolved. While there is a general agreement among forensic entomologists that nocturnal oviposion is not the normal pattern, there has been some evidence of occasional nocturnal oviposition. In tempearate areas during periods of high temperatures, when a body or food source is placed in close proximity to resting adult female flies, egg laying does sometimes occur. Greenberg (1990, J. Med. Entomol. 27: 807-10) documented nocturnal oviposition by Calliphoridae species in Illinois. In tropical habitats, Calliphoridae may oviposit at night if the body is placed near their resting places (personal observations).

3d. If eggs or larvae were deposited in natural body openings prior to the body being submerged, there is the strong possibility that the eggs or maggots would have been washed off. In studies conducted here in Hawaii in intertidal areas and anchialine pools, permanent colonization of carcasses below the water line was prevented as the water washed off fly eggs and larvae (Davis & Goff, manuscript in preparation).

3e. Under these circumstances, the forensic pathologist would have been well advised to have preserved the maggots and consulted a forensic entomologist, simply to avoid later confusion of issues. As the evidence was not collected and preserved and there do not appear to be any photographic records available showing the maggots, involvement of a forensic entomologist by a defense counsel appears to have no real value to determining the postmortem interval. Typically, entomological evidence requires determination of the period of development of the maggots to estimate the minimum postmortem interval and is used after 24 hours of decomposition. In this case there is no basis for this activity. The total elapsed time between the last sighting of the victims and recovery of their bodies was 19.5 hours for Moore and they were pronounced dead and notes taken at a time approximately 22 hours after this last sighting. This time frame would have allowed for development of Calliphoridae from egg to first instar larvae or for first instar larvae to have been deposited by Sarcophagidae on the bodies while they lay on the bank following removal from the drainage ditch. One point which would tend to favor the latter scenario is that maggots were not noted in the area of the groin of Christopher Beyers but were seen in his eyes and nose. In invasion of a corpse by flies, the favored areas are the natural body openings associated with the head, followed by the genitals and anus. Wounds which occur before death (antemortem) or at the time of death (perimortem) while the heart is still beating are very attractive to flies due to the amount of blood present. Wounds produced after death (postmortem) when the heart is no longer pumping blood are not as attractive. In this case, it appears from the photogrtaphs that some blood was associated with the heads of the victims, but, from the photographs provided, I could not detect any blood associated with other parts of the bodies. This blood, although probably diluted, would have been attractive to adult flies once the bodies were removed from the water. The adults would then have first exploited the natural body openings of the head for depositing eggs or larvae. It should be noted that, the head would also have been closer to the edge of the plastic covering the body than the wounds associated with the groin, thus making the head more accessible to the files.

3f. The invasion of living tissues by fly larvae is termed myiasis. This condition does occur, but, given the cirumstances of this case, I would not anticipate this as an explanation of the presence of maggots on the bodies of the victims. Again, without specimens to examine to make species identifications, it is impossible to offer a definitive opinion but I believe this scenario is unlikely.

3g. The question of mosquito bites is interesting. I base my comments on my work (10+ years) with mosquitos as vectors of avian malaria here in Hawaii and personal experience with mosquitoes in California. Any bites inflicted on the victims by mosquitoes would have had to occur prior to their deaths. Adult female mosquitoes are obligate blood-feeding ectoparasites. They require blood from a living host and will not feed on a dead host. Male mosquitoes are nectar-feeders and can not take a blood meal. The tissue reaction to the mosquito bite varies in severity among individuals and is not an immediate reaction. A period of time is required for the inflammatory reaction to develop at the site of the bite. If the individual was killed prior to the reaction developing, there would be no area of inflammation visible. The bites of mosquitoes are relatively small puncture wounds and, lacking visible inflamation, these would not be readily apparent on a dead body. I have attempted to locate bites on bodies of dead birds, where the approximate site was known, with very limited success. A pathologist should be consulted with respect to the duration of inflammatory reaction following death. I do not feel that Dr. Haskell’s conclusions that “they were not nude nor murdered in that brushy, wooded swamp like area” is supported by the lack of apparent mosquito bites.

My overall impression of the circumstancs of this case, based on the materials you have provided to me, is that a forensic entomologist would have been able to contribute little if anything to the resolution of the question of the postmortem interval for the victims or any other apsects of the case. Evidence was not collected and preserved which could be analyzed by the entomologist. The photographs I have examined do not provide any details which can be analyzed by an entomolgist. Speculations regarding potential significance of mosquito bites are not supported by the evidence presented. While there was an awareness of the significance of entomological evidence within the forensic pathology community in 1993, collections were not made and analysis, therefore, is not possible. Given the lack of entomological evidence, I do not feel the defense counsel would reasonably be expected to contact a forensic entomologist in the defense effort.

I hope this will be of use to you in your investigation. I am enclosing a copy of my current curriculum vitae for your information. Should additional information or clarification be needed, please feel free to contact me. As I mentioned earlier, I will be in Spain and Italy during the period 25 Oct. through 17 Nov. 1998, presenting workshops.

Sincerely yours,

M. Lee Goff

Professor of Entomology

Diplomate and Chair of Executive Board,

American Board of Forensic Entomology

This segment of the above letter is very important on this issue:

“The tissue reaction to the mosquito bite varies in severity among individuals and is not an immediate reaction. A period of time is required for the inflammatory reaction to develop at the site of the bite. If the individual was killed prior to the reaction developing, there would be no area of inflammation visible. The bites of mosquitoes are relatively small puncture wounds and, lacking visible inflamation, these would not be readily apparent on a dead body. I have attempted to locate bites on bodies of dead birds, where the approximate site was known, with very limited success. A pathologist should be consulted with respect to the duration of inflammatory reaction following death. I do not feel that Dr. Haskell’s conclusions that “they were not nude nor murdered in that brushy, wooded swamp like area” is supported by the lack of apparent mosquito bites.”

Mosquito bites according to the information need time for the inflammatory reaction of the human body to form in order for them to become visible to the human eye. As such this renders such claims as baseless, because it’s something that can be neither proven or disproven.

Pat Brown also covered this issue.

First, let’s look at behavior and reality. The boys were seen going on their bikes into the wooded area. Their bikes were found there. We can conclude the boys were in that area in the evening. If there were lots of mosquitoes, the boys would have gotten bitten up regardless of whether a crime then occurred or did not. We also do not know exactly how bad any mosquitoes were at that location and at the time the boys went into the location. Now, to the discussion in Turvey’s profile.

Turvey points out a lack of mosquito bites as proof that the injuries the victims sustained occurred in a location other than on the ditch bank or in the water. First of all, Turvey does not mention what the autopsy report states. Next, one must wonder if the photos would be of sufficient quality to glean this sort of information. ( Later on in this profile, Turvey complains that the autopsy photos are of such poor quality he cannot see the ”HUMAN bite marks” clearly enough to identify them as such). Let’s assume that there were indeed no mosquito bites on any of the victim. In order to make any absolute point about this issue, we must first ascertain what kind of mosquito activity is in the area. It is not enough to ‘assume’ that mosquitoes would be biting because there is a stream running through the woods. IF indeed there was a reasonable amount of mosquito activity, the next question would be “at what hour” do the mosquitoes tend to become a problem. If the boys were murdered before dusk, WOULD we see any evidence of mosquito bite marks on the bodies? Unfortunately, when Turvey makes his claims that the assaults could not have occurred outside., he offers us no substantial proof to back his argument.

Click here to read more about Pat Brown’s thoughts on the case.

So, all the evidence, including witnesses, the blood at the scene, and time of death would seem to show that the victims were murdered in the woods. Even John Douglas, an expert working with the defense states that the victims were murdered out in the woods and that there is no evidence to support a secondary crime scene.