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.
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.
This is the pipe bridge.
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.
ANIMALS AND ROBIN HOOD
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.
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.
TEENS AND ROBIN HOOD
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.”
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.
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.
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.“
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.
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.