To reach a conclusion as to who committed these murders, we must first understand both the evidence and the location of the offense in order to arrive at an opinion as to what sort of individual(s) may be responsible.
Establishing the general layout of the area, should help with forming an opinion.
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 a busy service road, found on the other side of the location. It had a separate, small wooded area known as Devil’s Den, in which the bodies were located. This area had heavy tree coverage and 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, another body of water that stretched through the region. 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 enter into Devil’s Den. One located towards the dead end near the neighborhood on the other side of Robin Hood Hills, which requires you to walk over a bridge made out of a large pipe.
This is the dead end.
(Walking past the dead end and on to the location of the bridge.)
This is what it looked like, walking to the bridge.
This is the pipe bridge.
This path 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 ditch bank:
The shallow ditch could easily be crossed near to the three trees, shown in these photos.
You could then easily cross to a second ditch bank located on the other side of the ditch.
The ditch bank.
Photo showing both ditch banks.
Situated near this 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 the crime scene.
You could walk up from the service road, to up behind the Blue Beacon and 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.
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. Employees also sometimes walked through the woods to get to and from work. Nobody from Blue Beacon saw any cars parked there 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.
These bikes were later found dumped off of the bridge into a section known as 10 Mile Bayou. They had been 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 they would have been tossed into the Bayou from a different section, 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.
ANIMALS AND ROBIN HOOD
Ryan Clark, the brother of one victim would claim to have seen snapping turtles in the area. He claimed to have carried snapping turtles from the 10 Mile Bayou in a deposition years later. Clark, and his friend/ex, 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. Both Clark and Hollis, seemed to be attempting to implicate Ryan’s step-father John Mark Byers in the crime at the time of their statements. Hollis was even sure to point out that Byers used to beat his son.
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 area however, the body of water which ran under the bridge, but not necessarily the ditch that ran through the Devil’s Den area. A video shot years later in 2009, after the location had changed drastically did show a turtle.
Photos of the area just 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 the giant snapping turtles out there back in the early 90’s. And both only mentioned the dogs or turtles until 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.
TEENS AND ROBIN HOOD
Dawn Moore would also describe seeing teens exit the woods on the day of the crime, 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.
“Saw 3 boys coming out of Robin Hood
1 W/M 17 Yellow Black Shorts & Top Striped Shoes
1 B/M 17
1 B/M 17
They asked if I wanted a shot
I though of Drugs / Felt it would be needles
5:30-6:00 Sun still out and light outside
45 minutes later saw W/M and at least 1 BM
go into a house North of Kim’s house
close to Goodwin
about the fourth house off of Goodwin on
On this date, I interviewed 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.”
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 seen the victims playing at the location on numerous occasions.
Lastly this is the area, known as Devil’s Den, where the bodies were found, and where teens came to hangout.
First we have a path leading into it, up a 50 ft hill, known as Turtle Hill, which is on the West bank.
This would lead someone back up towards the pipe bridge.
Now this is a photo looking towards where the murders occurred.
This next photo is looking up from inside the area.
Looking down at the location from a camera position in a tree.
Another shot of a path.
This is the area where the murders appear to have occurred.
Near this location there was also a path that lead over to a wheat field, which was next to the crime scene.
At the time this spot was a wheat field.
They also found several beer cans, and various other items in the area.
Garbage and drink cups were strewn about, and floating in the ditch.
This is another shot of Devil’s Den.
This is the ditch the victims were found in.
A few locations were spotted on the edges of the ditch near where Michael Moore was found. This area appeared to be slicked off, like someone had done something to it, possibly, having scrubbed it with their hands and leaves.
There was also lines in the mud, which showed that this couldn’t have been caused by someone just walking over the area.
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 location also had almost like a “V” shape made in the luminol.
The portions that light up seem to jut out at two different points, almost like a letter “V”.
This is another image of the luminol from the slicked of area.
Luminol photos also detected blood leading up this trail.
This meant that whoever killed the boys had crossed through the ditch and onto the other side.
This sketch shows the blood near the trail.
From the luminol, it appears the victims were killed on both sides of the ditch. Moore was probably killed on the West side, near the trail with the blood near it, while Stevie and Chris were murdered on the East bank, where the luminol lit up.
We should address next the bodies and how they were found to determine what happened.
The bodies were of:
All three had gone missing the day before, at roughly 6:30 P.M.
The victims, had possibly been dragged to the ditch, as evidenced by apparent scrapes in the autopsy photos(defense experts would at one point try to claim these drag marks were made by turtle claws, for their animal predation theory), and placed in the water. Evidence suggests that two of the victims died as a result of drowning on top of the injuries they received.
This was noted in Michael Moore’s autopsy.
Evidence of Drowning:
The hands and feet showed washer woman wrinkling. The sphenoid sinus contained 2 ml. of bloody fluid. Petechial hemorrhages were present on the epicardium, pleura, and thymus. The lungs were edematous and extruded abundant amounts of frothy material.
The autopsy showed that he died from multiple injuries including drowning, meaning he was still technically alive when he was put in the ditch. In Stevie Branch’s autopsy it was also noted that he had drown as well.
This 8 year old, white male, Steve Branch, died of multiple injuries with drowning.
This also means that Stevie was still technically alive when he was placed in the ditch. The only one of the victims who didn’t show evidence of drowning was Christopher Byers who appeared to have died from his injuries.
From these findings it means that the killer(s), dragged the victims into the water and drowned them, then they pressed them down into the mud. They used sticks and their shoes to do this. And tried to weigh down the bodies.
Noticeably Michael Moore’s body was located 27 feet away from the bodies of his friends, which is noted in crime scene notes.
dictated by Lieutenant Diane Hester:
Body #2 was found 27 feet south of body #1
Body #3 was found approximately 32 feet south of body #1
The width of the stream where body #1 was found is 4 feet 3 inches – 2 inches, 3 inches? 4 feet – correction, 4 feet 2 inches – and what? The width is consistant to where the other – body #2 and body #3 were found also.
His body had also been near multiple trails leading out of the woods. This raises a few questions. Why had Michael been left at a separate section? Had someone else subdued and killed Michael while another was dealing with the other boys? Possible. Maybe Michael had run from his killer(s), only to be caught? Also possible.
It also appeared that Christopher at the very least had been moved as well, from the luminol photos. He had been likely killed on the slicked off ditch bank, and moved, to the location where Stevie was.
When taken out of the water it was discovered that the victims were tied up with their hands bound to their ankles in a hog tied fashion. The victims were also still bleeding when they emerged from the ditch. Michael Moore had blood running out of his nose from his injuries, and Stevie was bleeding from large gaping lacerations to his face. Christopher Byers also had most of his genitals missing. All that remained was the internal muscle structure of the shaft of his penis. His testicles and the skin of his penis were gone. He also appeared to have numerous lacerations, and gouges into his groin region.
It turned out, the bindings used on the victims were the shoe laces from their own shoes. The killer(s) had improvised the bindings on the scene, having acquired this tool while committing the crime, rather than bringing any means of binding the victims with them. The killer(s) also noticeably left the bindings on the victims rather than take them away from the scene in case of any evidence being left behind. This shows that either the killer didn’t care, or didn’t think that the bindings could be potential evidence against them. This information on the lack of planning, and removal of the bindings could suggest a disorganized offender, as criminal profilers often refer to it.
Another observation of the bindings, was that the three victims had been bound with 5 of the shoe laces, and the 6th lace remained still in it’s shoe.
The reason for this was that one of the laces had been cut in half, meaning that a knife, or some other cutting tool, was involved in this crime. The victims also had several injuries to them, which could have been inflicted with a knife, such as the injuries to Chris Byers.
An expert named Lisa Sakevicius would testify at trial the following on the knots.
7 A. Michael Moore.
8 Q. What were your findings as to the knots on Michael Moore?
9 A. Two pieces of black shoestring, one each tied between the
10 wrist and leg on the right and left side. The knots on the
11 wrist and leg on the left side were both square knots. The knot
12 on the wrist on the right side was a series of three half
13 hitches. The knot on the left side of the right side was a
14 series of four half hitches.
15 Q. On the left side what kind of knots did you have?
16 A. Square knots.
17 Q. And on the right side what kind of knots?
18 A. You had a series of three half hitches and then a series of
19 four half hitches.
So Michael Moore had been tied up with two distinctly different types of knots on each side of his body. Why wouldn’t the murderer have used the same knots while tying the victim? It was as if one person was tying one side, and someone else was tying the other. So we had square knots used on his left side, and half hitches on his right.
This expert would also testify to possibly two different types of knots used for binding Stevie Branch.
20 Q. On Exhibit 81 — if you would refer to that exhibit.
21 A. That is from Steve Branch.
22 Q. What were your findings as to the knots on Exhibit 81?
23 A. Examination of the ligatures revealed a black shoestring on
24 the right side tied in three half hitches with an extra loop
25 around the leg to a single half hitch with a figure eight around
1 the right wrist. The left side consisted of a white shoestring
2 tied in three half hitches around the wrist to three half
3 hitches around the leg.
4 Q. So on the left side on the wrist you had three half
6 A. Correct.
7 Q. And on the ankle you had three half hitches?
8 A. Correct.
9 Q. On the right side on the leg you had three half hitches
10 with what?
11 A. An extra loop around the right leg.
12 Q. On the wrist you had?
13 A. A figure eight.
14 Q. With one half hitch. Is that right?
15 A. Yes, sir.
So, Stevie was tied on one side, with half hitches, and on the other, more half hitches, but they were with an extra loop, like a figure eight. So, Stevie was also tied with possibly two different types of knots. Why would the killer have used two different knots on him, and a third type of knot on Michael? He was also tied up with two different laces.
16 Q. Refer to Exhibit 82.
17 A. That would be from Chris Byers. Examination of ligatures
18 revealed one black shoestring tied in a double half hitch around
19 the right wrist to a double half hitch around the right leg.
20 The ligature on the left side consisted of a double half
21 hitch around the wrist and leg but was tied with a white
23 Q. When you say, “a double half hitch,” is that the same as
24 two half hitches?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. So on Exhibit 82 all of the knots on both wrists and both
2 legs are the same?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And on Exhibit 80, which was Michael Moore, on the left
5 side you had the same kind of knots both on the leg and wrist
6 which were square knots?
7 A. Yes, sir.
8 Q. Tell me one more time what those were on the right side,
10 A. On the right side a series of three half hitches on — I
11 called it the wrist — and then on the left side four half
13 Q. You lost me there.
14 A. I think what I mean is the wrist and the leg.
15 Q. You had three half hitches and four half hitches?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And then on Exhibit 81 on the left side you had both the
18 wrist and ankle with three half hitches?
19 A. Three half hitches around the wrist and leg.
20 Q. You had some half hitches with some differences on the
21 right side, some extra —
22 A. Correct.
23 Q. You said there is a loop and then a figure eight. What do
24 you mean?
25 A. Instead of just being once around, it had been wrapped
1 around twice and then the knot was tied.
Now, unlike the other two victims, Chris Byers appears to be tied in the same manner on both sides. His bindings also appear to be the same as those on the one side of Michael Moore. He is however bound with two different laces, just like Stevie. From all this evidence pertaining to the ligatures it appears that it was possible that more than one person was involved in tying the victims up. From this, we’re presented with possibly two, or three different types of knots, being used on the victims. Meaning there may have been as many as two, possibly even three people binding them.
A document from the crime lab would document the different knots.
Here’s some examples of what these knots look like.
And, the possible third knot was like a half hitch with a figure 8 knot, so here’s a figure 8 knot just for reference.
The killer(s) had also scattered the clothes of the victims, tossing it into the ditch. Some of the clothing even caught on tree branches. There was also countless items at the scene, that it was uncertain on if they were related to the crime, or not. There were liquor bottles, cans, cigarette butts, a bag of clothes, fast food drink cups, and numerous other trash items discarded in the area.
The clothing of the victims would also reveal, a few possible pieces of evidence.
Lisa Sakevicius stated the following.
“having been first duly sworn to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then testified further as follows:
By Mr. Fogleman:
Q: You are the same witness who testified yesterday, I believe?
A: That’s correct.
Q: Yesterday after you left, some mention came up about whether or not there was any evidence of candles at the scene. Did you find any evidence of candle wax in your examinations?
A: On the item, my E-2 item, which was a shirt, I did find a blue wax.
Q: Item E-2, which is state’s exhibit 44, the white polka dot shirt, correct?
A: That’s correct.
Q: What did you find on this shirt?
A: Blue wax.
Q: Is that blue wax consistant with candle wax?
What appeared to be some blue candle wax had been discovered on the shirt of one of the victims, at the crime scene.
In another post it’s also been pointed out that several pieces of additional evidence seemed to show that the boys were sexually assaulted.
Next we should take a look at the injures inflicted upon the victims to determine how the boys were murdered.
The Autopsy on Michael Moore reveals this.
Neck, Chest, and Abdominal Injuries:
In an area measuring 3 inches by 3/4 inch, situated over the right side of the neck and scapula region, was an area of contusion with an overlying 1 1/4 by 1/2 inch abrasion. Situated medial to this contusion, extending onto the left side of the neck, was a 1 by 3/4 inch contusion.
Situated on the right shoulder were three scattered contusions measuring about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Adjacent to this was an area of focal red-purple contusion. Below this contusion an area measuring 2 1/4 by 1/4 inch were multiple linear, diagonally oriented abrasions surrounded by contusions. These abrasions were interspaced by a distance of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Situated on the lower right side of the chest were two 3/4 inch contusions. Below this contusion were two parallel oriented abrasions which measured about 3/4 inch each and were interspaced by a distance of 1/8 inch.
Situated over the lower left side of the abdomen were a group of linear abrasions which were interspaced by a distance of 1/16 by 1/8 inch.
A 1/4 inch ovoid contusion is present over the left knee. Binding abrasions were present on the ankles bilaterally. Situated above and below these binding abrasions were faint red-purple contusions.
A 1 inch contusion was present on the back of the forearm. Situated over the right upper back were two diagonally oriented interrupted abrasions, each measuring about 4 1/2 inches. They were interspaced by a distance of 1/2 inch. Situated below this abrasion and on the left side was a 4 by 2 inch area of contusion. Below this contusion, extending to the right mid back were two linear diagonally oriented abrasions which were interspaced by a distance of 2/16 inch.
Situated over the right buttocks were multiple linear scratches measuring from 1/2 inch to 3/8 inch. Punctate linear scratches were present on the inferior aspect of the left buttocks region.
Upper Extremity Injuries:
The wrists showed binding abrasions. Situated around these abrasions were contusions.
Situated on the left antecubital fossa was 1/8 inch abrasion. Below this were linear abrasions measuring from 1/16 inch to 1/2 inch.
Situated in the right thenar eminence was a 1 inch cut. Situated on the left thenar eminence was a 1/8 inch superficial laceration. Situated on the back of the left hand was a 3/4 inch scratch and a 1/16 inch abrasion which was present on the anterior surface of the left thumb. The hands showed bilaterally washer woman wrinkling.
Internal Evidence of Injury of the Neck, Chest, and Abdomen:
There were multiple bite marks present on the lateral margins and tip of the tongue. There was no hemorrhage noted in the muscles of the neck. The hyoid bone and larynx were intact. No petechial hemorrhages were present on the larynx or epiglottis. There were no penetrating or perforating injuries noted to the chest, abdomen, or pelvis.
HEAD: (CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM) Injuries of the head were previously described. Sections through the cerebral hemispheres, brain stem and cerebellum, revealed no nontraumatic lesions.
I. Multiple injuries with drowning.
a. Head injuries—multiple facial abrasions and contusions.
b. Multiple abrasions and contusions of lips.
c. Multiple scalp lacerations and contusions.
d. Multifocal subgaleal contusions and edema.
e. Multiple fractures of calvarium and base of skull.
e. Subarachnoid hemorrhage and contusions involving the cerebrum and cerebellar hemispheres.
II. Binding of wrists and ankles in “hog-tied” fashion.
III. Multiple contusions, abrasions and lacerations of torso and extremities.
IV. Defense type injuries of hands.
V. Anal dilatation with hyperemia of anal/rectal mucosa.
VI. Evidence of drowning—washerwoman wrinkling on hands and feet.
a. Washer woman wrinkling on hands and feet.
b. Petechial hemorrhages of heart, lungs and thymus.
c. Pulmonary edema and congestion.
d. Aspiration of water into sphenoid sinus.
VII. No evidence of disease.
VIII. Terminal aspiration.
Autopsy showed that the decadent’s hands were bound to his feet in a “hog-tied” fashion. There were multiple traumatic injuries consisting of contusions, abrasions, and lacerations involving the head, torso, and extremities. The skull showed multiple fractures with associated brain injury. Defense type injuries consisting of cuts were present on the hands. The anus was dilated and contained mud. Spermatoza were not detected in the oral and anal smears. In addition, there was evidence of drowning, which included “washerwoman” wrinkling of the hands, pulmonary edema and congestion, aspiration of water into the sphenoid sinus and petechial hemorrhages involving the heart, lung and thymus. The alcohol detected is probably the result of decomposition. No drugs were identified in the body fluids.
This autopsy showed numerous injuries from a beating. Autopsy photos would show that he was hit with a blunt object of some kind with sharp corners. Whatever it was, had likely caused much of the injuries to him. He also appeared to have been savagely beaten about the face and head. His nose was even bleeding when his body was pulled from the water. The beating had been so savage that had he not been drowned, he surely would have died as a result.
Stevie Branch’s autopsy would state the following.
The right ear showed multiple confluent contusions and abrasions. Scattered abrasions were present over the right eye. A 1/2 inch contusion was present in the right medial periorbital region. A 2 inch scratch was present below the right eye. Multiple scratches were present over the right mandible. Situated on the right mandible was a bell-shaped type abrasion which showed a central area of pallor and abrasion. The lips were abraded, with multiple superficial lacerations. The mucosal surfaces showed multiple contusions, lacerations and hemorrhage. The gums were hemorrhagic. Extending above and below the left eyebrow was a bell-shaped patterned abrasion. The base measured 3/4 inch. The distance between the base and the dome was 1 1/4 inch. A 1/4 inch laceration was present immediately adjacent to the superior medial margin.
The left parietal scalp showed multiple superficial cuts and abrasions. The entire left ear was contused with overlying finely linear abrasions.
The entire left side of the face to include the left ear and an area measuring 5 1/2 by 5 inches, showed multiple confluent red abrasions with multiple gouging type irregular cutting wounds and overlying abrasions. The cutting wounds measure from 1/8 to 1 3/4 inches. Many of these wounds terminated into the oral cavity.
The left occipital scalp was edematous and showed a contusion with overlying abrasions measuring about 4 inches in greatest dimension.
Subsequent examination of posterior neck muscles showed extravasated hemorrhage in the posterior neck muscles. Reflection of the scalp showed multifocal subgaleal contusions. There were no fractures noted to the calvarium. The base of the skull showed a 3 1/2 inch fracture with multiple extension fractures which terminate in the foramen magnum which measured 3 1/2 inches. The left posterior cerebral hemisphere showed multifocal subarachnoid hemorrhage. There were fracture contusions involving the posterior surface of the left cerebellar hemisphere. The right frontal lobe showed focal subarachnoid hemorrhage.
So, Stevie also was beaten like Michael about the head, only his face was mutilated, having received numerous cuts to it.
Multiple scattered abrasions were present on the front of the chest.
Lower Extremity Injuries:
Multiple scratches and contusions were present on the lower extremities. On the left thigh there was a 1 inch yellow scratch. Also, there was a patterned grid-like impression. The margins were diagonally oriented and measured respectively 3 inches laterally and 3 1/2 inches medially. There was evidence of binding abrasions and contusions involving the ankles. The binding abrasions were yellow tan with abraded margins.
Upper Extremity Injuries:
On the back of the hands were multiple scattered contusions. Scattered contusions were also present on the thenar eminence bilaterally.
Binding abrasions with surrounding red contusion were present on the wrists.
Present over the left upper back were two contusions measuring approximately 2 inches and 1 by 1 1/2 inches.
I. Multiple Injuries:
a. Multiple facial abrasions, contusions and laceration
b. Subgaleal contusions.
c. Fractures of base of skull.
d. Subarachnoid hemorrhage of cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres.
II. Bindings of hands and feet.
III. Contusion of penis with superficial scratches.
IV. Dilation of anus.
V. Multiple contusions, abrasions, and lacerations of torso and extremities.
VI. Terminal submerging.
a. Wrinkling of hands and feet.
b. Water in sphenoid sinus.
c. Pulmonary edema and congestion with bloody, frothy fluid in airways.
VII. Terminal aspiration.
VIII. No evidence of disease.
Autopsy demonstrated multiple cutting and gouging wounds and abrasions involving the facies. There were fractures of the base of the skull and hemorrhage involving the brain. There were multiple contusions, abrasions, and lacerations involving the torso and extremities. The penis showed injuries consisting of segmental intense hyperemia involving the mid shaft, glans and head of the penis with overlying very fine scratches. There was evidence also of terminal submersion consistent with “washerwoman” wrinkling of the hands and feet. There was pulmonary edema and congestion, along with the bloody, frothy fluid, in the air passages and water in the sphenoid sinus. Petechial hemorrhages were present on the epicardium and pleura. The anus was dilated, with no external evidence of injury. The anal and rectal mucosae were slightly hyperemic and showed no injuries. Spermatoza were not identified on the oral and anal smears. No drugs or alcohol were detected in the body fluids.
So, like Moore he was savagely beaten, even fracturing his skull. He also appeared to have been horrifically mutilated on top of being drowned.
Next is Christopher Byers.
The right ear was abraded and contused. The inferior aspect of the right ear showed multiple linear abrasions measuring 1/2 inch to 1 1/4 inch. On the bridge of the nose were multiple abrasions. Situated between the nose and the upper lip was a semi-lunar abrasion measuring about 1/8 inch. A 1/4 inch abrasion was present at the lateral aspect of the lower lips. A 1/8 abrasion was present on the midline of the lips. The mucosal surfaces of the lower lip showed a 5/16 inch laceration. The frenulum was contused and was surrounded by a 1/2 inch contusion. Multiple superficial bite marks were present on the mucosal surfaces of the right and left cheeks.
A 3/16 inch laceration was present above the left upper lip.
Situated on the superior aspect of the bridge of the nose was a 3/16 inch abrasion.
Situated above the left eyebrow were two abrasions measuring respectively 1 inch and 3/4 inch. Situated on the right eyelid was a 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch contusion. Adjacent to the medial aspect of the left eye was a 1/8 inch abrasion.
A 1/8 inch abrasion was present adjacent to the lateral aspect of the left eyebrow.
Situated on the left zygomatic region were two circular abrasions, each measuring 3/16 inch. Below these was a 1/4 by 1/8 abrasion.
The left ear was contused and situated behind it were five linear abrasions measuring respectively 1/2 inch, 7/16 inch, 1/2 inch, 7/16 inch, and 3/4 inch. A 1/8 inch abrasion was present on the helix of the left ear. In front of the left ear were five haphazardly oriented abrasions, measuring 5/16 inch to 1 3/4 inch.
Situated on the left parietal scalp was a 1 1/4 inch laceration.
Reflection of the scalp showed hemorrhage in the soft tissues underlying the laceration. There were multifocal, subgaleal contusions with associated edema.
There were no fractures noted to the calvarium, however, the base of the skull shows multiple fractures. In the left posterior cranial fossa was a fracture measuring 3 1/2 inches in length. Extending from this fracture were multiple radiating fractures which involved the entire posterior left cranial fossae. Situated on the left posterior medial cranial fossa was a 1/4 inch ovoid punched out fracture. A 1 inch fracture also involved the left middle cranial fossa.
The brain showed multifocal subarachnoid hemorrhage involving the left posterior cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres. Associated fracture contusions were present.
So far we’re seeing a pattern that the killer hit all three boys in the head, incapacitating them.
Situated on the left side of the neck were a few scattered abrasions.
Subsequent autopsy of the neck showed no hemorrhage in the strap muscles of the neck. The hyoid bone and larynx were intact. No petechial hemorrhages were noted. No fractures were noted.
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.
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.
Situated on the posterior surface of the left buttocks was a 1/2 by 1/4 inch contusion and a 1 3/4 inch linear abrasion.
Situated on the posterior surface of the right buttocks were two faint contusions, each measuring about 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch.
The left buttocks showed five superficial cutting wounds measuring from 1/2 inch to 2 1/8 inch.
Situated on the right buttock region were multiple linear superficial interrupted cuts measuring from 3/16 to 1/2 inch and were interspaced by a distance of 1/8 inch. Scattered linear abrasions were present about the anal orifice.
Injuries of Right Leg:
Situated on the right anterior thigh was a 1 by 1 3/8 inch reddish contusion. Below this contusion was a patterned contusion consisting of two ovoid red-purple contusions, the superior one measuring 3/4 by 7/16 inch, and the inferior one measuring 3/4 by 1 1/8 inch. Extending from both of these contusions, the superior one measuring 5 3/16 inches and the inferior contusion measuring 4 1/2 inches. The interspace between these two linear contusions was about 3/4 inch.
A 1/4 inch abrasion was present on the anterior surface of the right leg.
The ankles showed evidence of yellow-red binding abrasions. On the left ankle below the binding abrasion was a 3/4 inch by 1/2 abrasion.
Situated over the posterior right thigh and leg were multiple scattered abrasions and contusions. A 2 1/2 by 2 3/4 inch contusion was present above the ligature binding site of the right ankle.
Injuries of the Left Leg:
A 1/4 inch abrasion was present on the right knee. Situated below the right knee were three red contusions measuring 3/4 inch, 1/4 inch, and 1/2 inch each. A 3/4 by 1 inch abrasion was present on the left ankle. The posterior surface of the left lower leg and ankle show confluent contusions.
From these injuries it seems 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. These wounds were more than likely inflicted by the 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.
Multiple scattered abrasions were situated over the upper back region.
Injuries of Right Arm:
Scattered abrasions were present over the right arm and forearm. A yellow binding abrasion which was not surrounded by contusion was present on the right wrist.
Injuries of Left Arm:
Multiple scattered abrasions are present on the anteroposterior surfaces of the left arm. A binding abrasion was present on the left wrist and at the superior margin of this abrasion was a faint red-purple contusion.
I. Multiple Injuries:
a. Multiple facial contusions, abrasions, and lacerations.
b. Contusions and abrasions of ears.
c. Left parietal scalp laceration.
d. Fractures of base of skull.
e. Subarachnoid hemorrhage of cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres with fracture contusions.
g. Abrasions of front of neck with no evidence of neck muscle injuries.
II. Genital mutilation with absence of scrotal sac, testes, skin and head of penis, with multiple surrounding gouging and cutting wounds.
III. Dilated anus.
IV. Bindings of wrists to ankles behind back in “hog-tied” fashion.
V. Multiple contusions, abrasions, and lacerations of torso and extremities.
VI. Terminal aspiration.
VII. No evidence of disease.
Autopsy demonstrated bindings of the hands and feet behind the back in a “hog-tied” fashion with shoe laces. There were multiple abrasions, contusions and lacerations of the facies which resulted in hemorrhage and fracturing of the skull. The skin of the penis, scrotal sac and testes, were missing. Surrounding the perineum were multiple cutting wounds. The anus was dilated with a hyperemic mucosa. There were no injuries present. Spermatoza were not detected in the oral and anal smears. In addition, there were multiple and extensive contusions, abrasions, and lacerations involving the torso and extremities.
Christopher Byers appeared to have been just as badly beaten as the others, only he was sexually mutilated as well. Why were Stevie and Chris mutilated, but not Michael? This could again suggest more than one killer. At the least, there was one person who mutilated Stevie and Chris, but whoever killed Michael did not mutilate him. There could even be one killer per victim, with one killer mutilating Stevie, another mutilating Chris, and a third savagely beating Michael.
In another post it was demonstrated that it’s very likely that these mutilations were made by the killer, and not the result of animal predation.
Now, what could have also caused the injuries from the beating?
Whatever it was it had sharp edges, but was blunt, causing skull fractures. The most likely source then would be three large sticks that were found in the drainage ditch with the bodies and clothing.
Three sticks were found on top of some of the clothing belonging to the boys.
From their position it would seem likely that someone had placed them on top of the items, and even wrapped the clothes around one of the sticks, meaning that they likely were placed there by whoever dumped the clothing into that ditch.
This is some court testimony regarding the sticks.
RIDGE: (RIDGE exhibiting photos to the jury) Okay this is me, removing one of the shoes from the water. In the background here you can see that there’s trash floating in the stream here. Particularly there’s a stick right here that would it be carved or whatever. I don’t know it’s just a stick that we found floating in the water near the crime scene. Okay and this picture basically is taken in this area here from the north looking to the south. And that is Exhibit 19. Exhibit number 18 is some of the items floating in the water that were found. There are a couple of sticks here. We’ve got a white tennis shoe, a black tennis shoe, a boy scout cap. I believe this is a pair of child’s underwear. And there’s another shoe here and this is the way these items were found in the water. And again that is the portion of the bayou just below, there’s some limbs that came out into the ditch just below Michael Moore’s body. Okay, this is a picture of the, we have 2 sticks here, and on the end of one of those sticks is a uh, turned out to be a white shirt. As I was approaching the body of Michael Moore this stick actually came dislodged from the bottom of the stream and up came with it the shirt that looked like it had been jobbed down in the mud in the bottom of the stream.
FOGLEMAN: What to do you mean when you say it became dislodged? What happened? What did you see when you first walked?
RIDGE: Okay, when I first walked the stick was sticking up in the mud.
FOGLEMAN: You could see it?
RIDGE: And as I’m going to the body it became dislodged, and when it came floating up the shirt was wrapped around the end of the stick.
RIDGE: Okay and this is me—
FOGLEMAN: Refer to the Exhibit number
RIDGE: Excuse me, that is Exhibit 42 and Exhibit number 38 is me removing that shirt from that stick that came floating up. Uh,the stream in this area, there’s little or no trash as far as leaves and limbs or anything. It’s just those items that were disturbed when I went into this creek and that stick was one of those items that was disturbed.
FOGLEMAN: Alright, how about further down the stream?
RIDGE: There, as in this picture, this stick with the carvings on it, which is Exhibit 32, you can see there’s trash all in the stream at this particular area. This is upstream, which is near the body of Michael Moore, that is Exhibit 38. Exhibit 32 is downstream from that area, about in this area.
FOGLEMAN: What movement, if any, of the water was there?
RIDGE: Very little movement. It was just a very slow water.
FOGLEMAN: Alright you can retake the stand. I want to show you what I’ve got marked for identification purposes as State’s Exhibit 53 and ask if you can identify that?
RIDGE: (RIDGE opening bag) Yes sir, I can identify this.
FOGLEMAN: Alright, and how can you identify it?
RIDGE: It was packaged and labeled by me as Evidence number E-17, and it was the stick that was found floating in the water below Michael Moore.
FOGLEMAN: Alright is that the stick that’s in your hand and State’s Exhibit 32?
RIDGE: Yes sir, it is.
FOGLEMAN: Alright your Honor we would offer State’s Exhibit 53.
STIDHAM: No objection Your Honor.
THE COURT: Alright, it may be received without objection.
FOGLEMAN: I want to show you what has been marked for identification purposes as State’s Exhibits 54 and 55 and ask if you can identify each.
RIDGE: (RIDGE opening bag) To 55 yes sir, I can.
FOGLEMAN: And how can you identify it?
RIDGE: This is packaged in a package and labeled by me and dated by me.
FOGLEMAN: And where did you recover these?
RIDGE: It was originally in the ditch near Michael Moore.
(RIDGE putting 55 back in the bag)
(RIDGE taking 54 out of the bag)
RIDGE: Yes sir, I can identify this one also.
FOGLEMAN: Alright, and how can you identify it?
RIDGE: It’s one of those sticks that was floating in the water near Michael Moore.
FOGLEMAN: Alright. Now were one of these sticks the one that had the clothes?
RIDGE: Yes sir, I believe it was this one but, I can’t say for sure which one.
FOGLEMAN: When you say this one, which exhibit number are you referring to?
RIDGE: This would have been Exhibit 54.
Fugleman: Your honor, we would offer State’s Exhibits 54 and 55.
STIDHAM: No objection Your Honor.
THE COURT: Alright, they may be received without objection.
Further testimony about the sticks would be mentioned here.
Ridge: This item is a stick that – when Sergeant Allen told me he had located the body and pointed out the area where the body had been located, I was up on the west bank which is a high bank. Ok. I proceeded to the north, come down into the creek, and began walking down into the creek and searching that creek. In searching the creek, I would start in the waterline on one side, rake all the way through and get back on the other side – see if anything was there before I would walk through that area, which could possibly destroy any evidence. Ok. I had walked approximately 10 feet and gotten almost to that body when this stick was uh – dislodged and when it came floating up out of the water uh – this shirt was discovered, and the shirt was wrapped around the end of the stick –
Ridge: – and all that was jabbed down into the mud in the bottom of the ditch.
Fogleman: Alright. Now when you say it was dislodged when you were walking toward that area, what if anything could you see about that stick?
Ridge: Just the end of the stick sticking up out of the water.
Fogleman: Ok. And uh – when you say you were walking that way, were you doing this – or what were you doing?
Ridge: I was searching the ditch as I was going.
Fogleman: Alright. You talking about inch by inch?
Ridge: Yes sir.
Additional testimony further suggested that the sticks were involved in the crime. It was felt that someone had possibly handled the sticks, meaning they weren’t just simple debris floating in the water.
Fogleman: I also want to hand you state’s exhibit 53 and ask if you can identify that item?
Turbyfill: This also has my initials on it, uh – case number. It’s a stick. Case number and initials are also out at the end of it. And uh – I did process this for latent fingerprints and again, there were no latent fingerprints on it at all.
Fogleman: Were there any other tests or examinations you did on that?
Turbyfill: I did – on all these items, more than one test was ran on each one in attempt to – to uh – detect latent impressions, everything from – from uh – visual examination to uh – superglue examination – exposing to superglue to develop any invisible latents. And chemical processing after which, laser was used to detect prints and no latent prints were detected.
Fogleman: Ok. Uh – now did you do some kind of test that relates to – to uh – amino acid?
Turbyfill: Right. That’s the chemical test on wood – unpainted wood and paper, cardboard items. That’s an amino acid indicator that which we exposed this – the stick to the uh -chemical and again, no prints were developed.
Fogleman: Alright. Did you have a reaction as far as the amino acids?
Turbyfill: Some – it’s the pinkish reaction that you see on the wood, is the reaction. And that also can be caused from amino acid from whatever source, which could be – you know, from the chemicals in the water – whatever. If there’s any amino acid there, it will show up pink.
Fogleman: Alright. So the – so you did have a reaction about the amino acids?
Turbyfill: It’s just strictly a chemical uh- color reaction, but no – no defined friction skin ridges or anything like that.
Fogleman: Alright. Alright. Ok. And what – I’m a little confused – what is the purpose of the thing about the amino acids?
Turbyfill: The body has amino acids in it and one of the chemicals that we use reacts or colors that particular amino acid. And this pink reaction is the result of the coloring of that amino acid. Which uh – fingerprints has that amino acid and on paper, unpainted wood, and cardboard we can detect fingerprints using that chemical. So – I mean that, just because there’s reaction, that doesn’t mean it was handled or that it was a fingerprint.
Fogleman: Ok. So it could mean that it was handled or it could be from something in the water?
Turbyfill: That’s correct. It’s possibly because it was handled.
Fogleman: Ok. I don’t have any further questions, your Honor.
It was thought from the clothing wrapped around the one stick that the killer used them to weigh down the bodies, forcing them down into the muddy water, and shoving in the clothes in an attempt to hastily conceal the evidence at the scene. The sticks could have also been used, to cram the bodies down into the mud.
Initially only one of the sticks was retrieved by investigators, but a few weeks later they’d return, and using the photos take the other two sticks as potential murder weapons.
Other photos such as the one above show them as being about the size of baseball bats.
These could have easily inflicted those wounds upon the victims. And if the sticks were indeed murder weapons, this would further give credence to this being the work of a disorganized offender, as again, like the bindings, the killer acquired them at the scene of the crime. The injuries to the heads would also suggest a blitz style attack, which is a common feature amongst disorganized offenders.
Another thing about these sticks is that there’s three of them, further adding to the notion that there may have been more than one killer.
We know that this was the crime scene and not a dump site as supported by a previous post on the subject.
From all of the information cited we can also determine that the victims were likely sexually assaulted.
We also know that a knife was certainly used in this crime from the evidence of one of the shoe laces being cut. With that along with numerous other reasons mentioned in the “Bite Mark” post, it seems more probable that the mutilations were inflicted by the killer, and not the result of animal predation.
We know that sticks were likely used to beat the victims in a blitz style attack.
We know the victims were bound with their own shoe laces, since the killer(s) did not bring any means to tie them.
The victims died from multiple injuries, including drowning, and one of the victims appeared to have tried to flee.
There was also a strange piece of evidence on the shirts of one of the victims. Some blue candle wax. This may or may not mean anything as a piece of evidence.
According to a statement by John Douglas who had written a profile on the crime while working for the West Memphis Three defense team, the killer traveled to and from the scene by foot.
“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. 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. This is an important aspect of the crime to consider, because the offender in all probability threw the bikes into the bayou after crossing back over the pipe bridge walking in the same general direction where both he and the victims lived.“
The witness from Blue Beacon also did not see any strange cars in the area. So we know the killer didn’t use a car in this crime either. He also could have entered and left from either side of the woods.
We also know that there’s a strong chance that there may have been more than one killer involved in this crime.
We know that this is a popular location for children and teens as evidenced by the photos, the statement of Dawn Moore, and debris at the scene(drink cups, beer cans, liquor bottles, garbage, and cigarettes found at the location).
And lastly some of the evidence seems to suggest a disorganized crime.