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.


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