You can read further about the knife injuries at this link:
Part 1- Discovery of the Knife : The circumstances surrounding the discovery of the Lake Knife.
Part 2- The Trail of the Lake Knife : The facts and evidence surrounding the knife and the spin put fourth by the defense and supporters over the years.
Part 3- The Lies of Gail Grinnell : Statements concerning Gail Grinnell relating back to the knife and her son’s involvement in the murders.
Part 4- The Other Weapons : An account of other weapons Jason Baldwin disposed of in the days following the murders.
Part 5- Jessie Misskelley : Jessie’s claims on the knife.
PART 1: Discovery of the Knife
After the arrests of the West Memphis Three, the police would begin the search of their homes for any evidence related to the crime.
At Jason Baldwin’s trailer they noticed that it backed up to the water, there was an enormous lake that sat right behind it.
It was very large, and appeared to be a good place if one were to try and get rid of evidence.
With that, the authorities eventually decided to search the portion of the lake that was nearest to Baldwin’s trailer. This search did not take place until a few months after the arrests, on November 17, 1993, and would involve a dive team.
Several items were located according to a report.
After about an hour of searching a diver popped back up with a survival knife in hand, which had been found submerged in the mud below.
(Recovery of the knife.)
This knife was later determined to be consistent with the injuries on the bodies. It had serrations on the back of it, which were like a saw blade, and under observation, appeared to have been the weapon that made a series of unique cuts on the inner thighs of Chris Byers, and left patterns on Stevie Branch as well.
The media had shown up the time to document the incident, due to the news that authorities were searching the water behind a suspect’s home.
This knife was determined from a map made by the police that it could have only been tossed in the water from the pier behind Jason Baldwin’s trailer. To arrive at the location where it was found from any other location, It would have to of been thrown over 100 ft. just to arrive at the spot from where it was recovered.
PART 2: The Trail of the Lake Knife
Supporters of the WM3 would originally insist that this knife was planted by the police or prosecution. Their own lawyers would try and insist this, claiming that the police knew there’d be some evidence there, because since after all “they” planted it.
Then years later the defense would acknowledge that the knife likely belonged to Jason Baldwin, instead claiming that the prosecution knew it’d be there, and on top of it all, that this knife was in the water a year before the murders.
(Dennis Riordan, Damien Echols’ defense attorney with former client Phil Spector)
A neighbor named Joseph Samuel Dwyer, who had been friends with Jason Baldwin had stated that he had seen this knife in his possession, describing it as a “Rambo” knife. He also said that he had seen Jason’s mother, Gail toss it in the water.
” I remember [Jason Baldwin] had a big knife that I thought of as a “Rambo knife”. It was about a foot long.
A knife of Jason’s ended up in the lake that was in the Lakeshore Trailer Park. I assumed that this was the big “Rambo” knife, but I do not know if it was. […] I arrived at Jason’s trailer just after Jason’s mom had thrown a knife into the lake. At the time, Jason’s Mom was walking toward the trailer from the direction of the lake. Jason was at the trailer and was mad that she had just thrown his knife into the lake. I remember that Jason said something about going to get the knife.
The knife was thrown into the lake before the three boys turned up missing. I do not recall exactly how long before it was, but I remember that it definitely happened before the boys were found dead in Robin Hood Woods. […]
I know that after Jason’s mom had thrown his knife into the lake, Jason did not have the large “Rambo” knife anymore. I never saw him with that knife after I heard it was tossed into the lake.”
A witness had put the knife in Jason’s possession, saying that he saw Jason and his mother arguing over the knife, after which she tossed into the water behind their trailer.
Dwyer gave this statement in 2006, years after the fact, and tried to suggest that the knife was placed there before the murders, according to his memory years later, of an event from when he was a kid of which he had no way of knowing the exact date, nor kept any record of the day in question, because after-all, he was a child.Yet, with the defense’s help he was able to arrive at the conclusion that it was a year before the murders.
Dwyer was some how able to remember that this was “before” the murders in 2006, yet didn’t come forward with this information during the original investigation, back in 1993, when the information would have been of the most value, with no way to provide any sort of time stamp on his account.
Dwyer’s statement however would seem to prove that the knife was not planted, as the defense had alleged prior, and that it was indeed concealed in the water, by Jason Baldwin and his mother.
Riordan, based on the statement of Dwyer insisted that the knife was already in the lake, and took things and further emphasized that the knife was in the water a year before the murders, and some how Deputy Prosecutor, John Fogleman knew about it ahead of time and conspired to frame Jason, because the knife looked bad.
He would make this statement in the film “West of Memphis”:
“The reason [for the deception] is that Fogleman had been told how it got in the lake — it had been thrown in the lake by Jason’s mother…thrown into the lake a year before the crimes. He knew that knife in the lake had nothing to do with the crime, because he had been told when it was thrown in the lake.“
So, by the admission of Damien’s defense lawyer, this was Jason’s knife and it had not, nor ever had been planted by the police or prosecution .
But the then there were additional statements that describes the knife in detail, and placed it in Jason’s trailer around the time of the murders, further showing that that knife was the same one tossed in the lake, and had not been done so a year before.
These accounts originated from the live in boyfriend of Jason Baldwin’s mother, Gail Grinnell. Her boyfriend, Dennis “Dink” Dent, had only lived with her for about a month, and was kicked out of the house around Mother’s Day, which was May 9, 1993, after the murders. It was Dennis Dent, who told John Fogleman, that he had seen the knife in the trailer before, offering a detailed description of it, only to then change his story and say he had been told about the knife and had been discussing with Gail how to help alibi her son:
“DENNIS: I remember him talking about, oh, the boys were talking to him, Matthew had been talking about a, some kind of knife that his dad had given him or his dad, Larry, had given him a knife. Some kind of survival knife.
RIDGE: Okay, describe it
FOGLEMAN: What did you say about the handle? What did you tell us about the handle.
DENNIS: I was just saying it being a survival knife, I think I had seen one laying around the house at one time, that had a little old compass on it. A little old thing, where you stick your survival matches into.
FOGLEMAN: How did you get into the part where you put your matches?
DENNIS: You would screw it off, you screwed it.
RIDGE: How long would that knife had been? About how long was it?
FOGLEMAN: Just estimate
DENNIS: I don’t know. I ain’t gone say or not. I remember seeing a knife. I don’t ever remember ever seeing one there. I’m telling
FOGLEMAN: I thought you just said, you saw one around the house?
DENNIS: Naw, I’m saying that Gail said that it had been around the house and she had broken the blade or her husband had broken the blade or some body broke the blade on it, but
FOGLEMAN: I maybe confused, I thought you said earlier that Jason said that and not Gail, was it Gail that said that, or was it Jason?
DENNIS: It may have been all of them, to be honest with you, cause uh
FOGLEMAN: You don’t remember who said that?
DENNIS: Naw, all of the talking, you get two or three different conversations going about
FOGLEMAN: Where does his dad live? Larry?
DENNIS: Larry, somewhere around Little Rock. A pretty good ways from here, I don’t know exactly where it is. I’ve never been there.”
So Dennis here, says there was a knife just like the one in the lake, which had just been sitting around in the trailer. His statement is confusing, but he pretty accurately described a knife that he supposedly never saw, even mentioning that the compass unscrews to store matches in.
A photo of the handle of the knife, shows where the compass unscrewed to put the matches in.
So, the police found this knife that had been in Jason’s trailer, and his mother had apparently concealed it in the water behind their home after an argument with Jason. Then her boyfriend describes seeing the knife, then immediately changes his story and says he never saw it.
To cap it off Jason Baldwin claimed during his Rule 37 hearing that Dennis “Dink” Dent had only lived with his family for about 1 to 2 months.
Q] Was there anyone else living in the household with you at the time, besides your immediate family members?
A] Uh, my mom had a live-in boyfriend named Dennis and we all called him “Dink.” His full name was Dennis Dent.
Q] And, and just in terms of, uh, uh, your knowledge, if you know, uh, what age group was Mr. Dent in at that time; how old was Mr. Dent, and again in May, 1993?
A] I believe he may have been five years older than I am now, maybe 36, 37; maybe 40. I really couldn’t tell you, but somewhere around there.
Q] Uh, now was, uh, had he been as of, let’s say, uh, May 5, 1993, had, had Dink been living in that trailer for a long period of time?
A] At that point I’d say possibly a month, maybe a month and half. At the most, two.
So, if this knife was supposedly tossed in the water a year before as Riordan tried to claim, how could Dent have seen it, if he had only lived with Jason’s mother for 1-2 months at the time of the murders?
Damien’s ex-girlfriend, Deanna Holcomb also told authorities about how she had seen him with a similar knife in 1992 and related the story in court:
Fogleman: Ok. I want to show you what has been introduced as exhibit 77 and ask if you’ve seen a knife like that before?
Holcomb: Yes sir.
Fogleman: Alright. Where did you see it and under what circumstances?
Holcomb: Uh – I saw it in his coat pocket. His lea – his trench coat pocket.
Fogleman: Alright, how did you see it in his coat pocket?
Holcomb: Um – I went to hu – put my arm around his waist and it was there.
Fogleman: Alright. Did – well, did you uh – how did you – what did you do after you found it there?
Holcomb: I took it out to look at it.
Fogleman: Ok. And it was – was it a knife like that?
Holcomb: Similar, yes sir.
Fogleman: Alright. What was – what if anything was different about the knife that you pulled out of Damien’s pocket?
Holcomb: It had a compass on the end.
Fogleman: On the end, ok. You’re talking about right here?
Holcomb: Yes sir.
Fogleman: I don’t know if the jury saw that – would you point to the area where the compass was?
Holcomb: Right there.
Fogleman: Now, could you identify the person that you’ve – that you said uh – had a knife like that?
Holcomb: Yes sir.
Fogleman: Is he in the courtroom?
Holcomb: Yes sir.
Fogleman: Would you point him out for the jury?
Holcomb: Right there.
Fogleman: Which one?
Holcomb: The one in the black sweater.”
“Fogleman: Call James Parker. Your Honor, may uh – Miss Holcomb go home?
The Court: She’s free to go.
She also mentioned a compass that was on the bottom of the handle, but the compass had been missing from the “Lake Knife”, because it had broken off.
A guy who sold that exact knife would testify, and say that it indeed had a compass on the end of it.
The Court: – Do you swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth in the matter now pending before the court so help you God?
Parker: I do.
The Court: Come right up here.
Fogleman: Would you state your name and occupation for the jury?
Parker: Um – my name’s James Parker, um – I sell – I operate a knife company in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Fogleman: Alright. And uh – what is the name of your knife company now?
Parker: Uh – mine’s Parker’s Knife Collector Service.
Fogleman: And who was uh – Parker Eagle Brand Cutlery?
Parker: That was a business that my father owned that – they’re default now, they filed bankruptcy in 1990. They’re no longer in business.
Fogleman: Alright, and how long have you – did you work in that business as well?
Parker: Yes sir.
Fogleman: I want to show you what’s been introduced as state’s exhibit 77. If you would look that over, could you identify that?
Parker: I’ve seen knives like these before, um hum.
Fogleman: Alright. And in particular, uh – I believe that says on the handle, uh – ‘Special Forces Survival II’, is that right?
Parker: Yeah, it’s on the blade.
Fogleman: Alright, is that a type of knife that your company or uh – your father’s company distributed?
Parker: Yes, it’s a knife similar to it – like it, um hum.
Fogleman: Alright. And uh – at what time did your father’s company distribute a knife like this?
Parker: Around 1985 to 1987.
Fogleman: That was during the big ‘Rambo’ craze?
Parker: Yes sir, other companies – that knife, other companies had ’em made just like it. It’s a generic type knife.
Fogleman: Ok. And – but your company did distribute one like this?
Parker: Like that one.
Fogleman: Alright. And on the – there’s a hollow part on the end of this, uh – on the knife that ya’ll distributed, what went on the end there?
Parker: A compass accompanied – went on the end of it.
Fogleman: I want to show you what I have marked for identification as state’s exhibit 96 and see if you can identify that. Can you identify the – wh – what did I just hand you, first of all?
Parker: A catalog from 1987.
Fogleman: Alright. And who’s catalog was that?
Parker: That was Parker’s kni – Parker’s Cutleries, the default company’s catalog.
Fogleman: Alright. And referring to the page I’ve got marked, uh – the item J634 –
Parker: – Um hum.
Fogleman: – Uh – can you identify that item?
Parker: Uh – yes sir.
Fogleman: And is that a knife like this?
Parker: Yes sir, that’s one like that, um hum.
Fogleman: Alright. And it indicates that a compass accompanies it, is that right?
Parker: Yes sir.
Fogleman: Your Honor, we would offer state’s exhibit 96.
Davidson: No objection, your Honor.
The Court: Alright, it may be recieved without objection.
Fogleman: Referring specifically to this item, J634, can you – can you read what’s right there on the handle?
Parker: It says ‘Special Forces Survival II’.
Fogleman: Alright. And if you could read on – on the handle here, what that says.
Parker: ‘Special Forces Survival II’.
Fogleman: May I exhibit to the jury, your Honor?
The Court: Yes.
Fogleman: I don’t have any further questions, your Honor.
Price: Mr. Parker, do your records indicate how many of this type of knife were sold between 1985 and 1987?
Parker: No, that – the company that manufact – had that knife manufactured, or ones like it, is out of business now.
Price: Where was that company?
Parker: What was it?
Price: Yeah, what –
Parker: Parker Cutlery.
Price: Alright, but did Parker Cutlery actually manufacture the knife or just distribute it?
Parker: No sir – no sir, they distributed a knife like that one. They might not have even distributed that same one.
Parker: It’s a generic style knife.
Price: Do you know who actually manufactured this particular knife?
Parker: It was a manufacturer in Japan.
Price: Ok. Alright, would they have manufactured this knife and also other knives similar to that?
Parker: Yes sir.
Price: Ok. Do you have any knowledge specifically as to how many of these particular knives were manufactured by the company in Japan?
Parker: No sir.
Price: Ok. And it was the – the former Parker company – were they the only distributors of this knife in United States or were other companies –
Parker: – Other companies also distributed the knife.
Price: Ok. Do you know approximately how many other companies distributed this particular type of knife?
Parker: Not an exact number.
Price: Ok. Do yu have an approximate number?
Parker: Around 5 or 6.
Price: Ok. And do your records indicate if you ever sold this particular knife or a knife very similar to this to Damien Echols?
Parker: No sir.
Price: Ok. Nothing further.
Ford: No questions.
Fogleman: When he asked you whether your records uh – reveal that you sold any knife like that to Damien Echols, uh – do you have records showing who each individual knife was sold to?
Parker: Oh, no.
Fogleman: Ok. I don’t have any further questions.
So, we know for a fact that the lake knife once had a compass on the end of it, just like everyone else said. This all seems to further shoot down the defense claim that the knife was planted, and not only that, but put the knife in Jason’s trailer around the time frame of the murders, not a year before like the defense claimed. This is why the defense abandoned the claim that the knife was planted, and tried to make it solely Jason’s knife from a year before the murders. However, it could also be placed with Damien Echols.
Now, here’s the location where the compass had once been, as Deanna Holcomb, and even the person who sold the knife, had described.
The compass would unscrew, from the bottom, as shown in the picture above.
Damien would also admit in court, to having owned similar knives like this in the past.
Q. There’s been a great deal of testimony about certain types of knives. Did you ever have a knife collection?
Q. When and where did you have a knife collection?
A. I’ve been buying knives for a long time. I had one in Arkansas, but it wasn’t anything important, two or three knives. And then when I went to Oregon, I started buying them a lot when I was working up there. They had this knife shop, and I used to go up there all the time. Then when I moved back to Arkansas, they were still there with my parents. I didn’t bring them back with me.
Q. There’s been a great deal of testimony about State’s Exhibit 77. Have you ever seen this particular knife until it was introduced into evidence at this trial?
A. Not that knife, no.
Q. Have you seen a knife similar to this knife?
A. I had one sort of like that, but mine didn’t have a black handle. The handle on mine was camouflaged, and it had the camouflage case and everything. The blade on mine was black. It wasn’t silver like that.
Q. Do you know what happened to that knife that you had?
A. I had a bunch of those. I don’t know whatever happened to them. They were like real cheap. I used to buy them all the time.
Q. Were they — knives similar to these — were they called Rambo knives?
Q. Was that a Rambo type knife, the one that you had?
He makes sure to say how he had a different knife, but then says that he bought multiple, because they were cheap.
A. I had a bunch of those. I don’t know whatever happened to them. They were like real cheap. I used to buy them all the time.
Q. Were they — knives similar to these — were they called Rambo knives?
A “bunch of those”, means he had more than one, but he tried to say he only had one knife like this.
So, his Ex-Girlfriend distinctly remembered him having a knife just like the “Lake Knife”, and he himself admitted to owning several just like it, only to try and suggest that they were all like the single camouflage one he described.
Jason Baldwin also had this knife in his trailer, and his mother supposedly tossed it in the water. When the knife was recovered it proved to be a very good match to wounds on the bodies.
To cap it off, a knife like this was suggested early on as the possible source of the castration injuries to Chris Byers. Early reports in the investigation had misidentified Chris Byers as Michael Moore, but highlighted that a knife with a serrated edge had caused the injury.
In court, this would be said on the knife, by the prosecution.
“This is an item of evidence that applies to both defendants, remember Deanna Holcomb–Damien’s former girlfriend–she says that she saw this in his pocket. I said, “Well how did you see it in his pocket?” “Well I was hugging him and I felt it in there and I pulled it out.” And she identified, she didn’t say this was the knife. You remember her testimony. She said it was a knife similar to this.
But you know what–the thing that I submit shows her credibility about this knife is–she said there’s one thing different about it though, or maybe there wasn’t, there was one thing different–it had a compass. The one that I saw him with had a compass in the end. And do you remember Jim Parker, the man we brought from Chattanooga, whose family had the Parker Knife distributing company and they distributed knives just like this. When the knife was distributed what did it have? It had a compass. Now, this knife also applies to Jason Baldwin. Where was it found? Where was it found?
First of all, you got the drawing on here, Detective Allen drew that, remember that? And he said, ‘hey I’m no engineer, I’ll just–I’m kind of guestimate’, and I think he was just a little off on this spot but the chart by the engineer is more accurate. But you’ve got this dock right here. This dock right here, which is right behind Jason Baldwin’s trailer. And forty-seven feet–not from the dock, but from these trees over here you find this knife. This knife right here. And you say, well maybe it was thrown from this trailer over here–over here–well, this trailer right here you got–remember the testimony about that tree right there they measured from? And you see the picture how it spreads out and he testified was about as tall as this building and that’s in May. And then they find it in, what was it, November the seventeenth maybe. Something like that. The most likely spot for this knife to have come from is that dock behind Jason Baldwin’s house. Now you say, well–so–you know, Dr. Peretti said this knife or that other knife, either one of them could have caused all those injuries. I will come back later and I wanna show you, and you look at the wounds–remember Mr. Davis, when he was selecting you for the jury, he asked you–you know, would you be able to look at those pictures and look at them closely–look at them closely. I’ll come back later and show you, and ask you to look at the pictures, and you’ll see that a knife like this–not like that other knife, but a knife like this, with this serration pattern caused the injuries–some of the injuries to Chris Byers.”
Deputy Prosecutor John Fogleman then demonstrated the knives in court, showing the unique pattern the back of the blade made.
“Now, I wanna talk a minute about these knives.
MR. FORD: Your Honor, may we approach the bench?
(THE FOLLOWING DISCUSSION WAS HELD AT THE BENCH OUT OF THE HEARING OF THE JURY.)
MR. FORD: Your Honor, this grapefruit demonstration is not evidence. That grapefruit is not in evidence. This demonstration is not in evidence. It’s not scientific. It’s not reliable.
THE COURT: I don’t know what he’s going to do.
MR. FOGLEMAN: Well, I’m going to show the jury, your Honor, the marks that this knife makes when it strikes something.
MR. DAVIDSON: That’s improper, your Honor.
MR. FORD: That’s improper, your Honor. That is improper.
MR. FOGLEMAN: This is for demonstrative purposes and —
MR. FORD: It is not either. He’s trying to make a demonstration—
MR. DAVIDSON: —expert—
MR. FORD: –That is improper, your Honor.
THE COURT: I’m not sure as. What is your reason for it being improper? I think you can use a demonstrative evidence.
MR. FORD: You can make demonstrations and experiments in front of the jury. Those have to be under Rule Seven Hundred series — experiments. That’s what he’s doing. He’s conducting an experiment.
MR. FOGLEMAN: It’s not an experiment. It’s not even evidence.
MR. FORD: Your Honor, this is improper. We ask that he be restricted from doing it.
MR. FOGLEMAN: It’s argument.
THE COURT: I’m going to take a ten minute recess at this time. Do you want to take it back there? Do you want to continue on?
MR. FOGLEMAN: I want to continue, Your Honor. I’m almost finished.
THE COURT: Alright. I’m going — tell me again what you’re going to do so I’ll know.
MR. FORD: Your Honor, don’t do it — just go ahead and make your point where the jury hears you before the Judge tells you it’s improper.
MR. FOGLEMAN: I’m just going to show the types of marks that this knife makes and that knife makes. That’s all, your Honor.
MR. FORD: That’s a demonstration and experiment.
THE COURT: Well, overruled. I’m going to allow it.
(RETURN TO OPEN COURT)
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. Now if you take this knife (INDICATING)—
THE COURT: Exhibit number.
MR. FOGLEMAN: —Defense Exhibit 6, and even with the slightest pressure, it makes a straight line. If you just press enough to break the skin of the grapefruit it makes a straight line, a curvy straight line. If you take it and just barely move it, it makes something like that but the spaces in between are very short. You look–use your common sense. Look at these two knives. Are you gonna expect to find similar markings from those two knives. You don’t have to be an expert to see that–that this knife is gonna make markedly different marks than this knife. 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.
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.)”
The knife was demonstrated, that it could fully replicate the wound patterns found on the bodies.
The cold hard facts of the case showed, that this knife was connected to the West Memphis Three, and that it matched to injuries on the victims.
PART 3: The Lies of Gail Grinnell
Jason Baldwin’s girlfriend would suggest that he would have probably told his mother about the crimes if he had done them, and that she’d likely lie for him.
“Does believe that Jason’s mother would lie to keep him out of trouble. Does believe that if Jason was involved that he would have told his mother.”
So, for some reason Gail Grinnell tossed a knife her son had in his possession in the lake behind their home, and Jason’s girlfriend, Heather Cliett felt that she’d lie to save him from prison. For some reason a witness saw Gail and Jason fighting over this knife, and he was mad about the incident. Why would she hide it and everyone lie about it if it wasn’t involved in the commission of this crime?
Gail had even made an incriminating statement when her son was arrested.
FOGLEMAN: OKAY, ALRIGHT, NOW DO YOU REMEMBER THE NIGHT THAT…, THAT THEY ARRESTED JASON AND THEY WERE SEARCHING YOUR TRAILER?
FOGLEMAN: OKAY, NOW I UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN YOU CAME IN YOU WERE VERY UPSET, WHICH I UNDERSTAND AND YOU MADE A STATEMENT TO YOUR HUSBAND ACCUSING HIM OF TURNING JASON IN FOR THE REWARD MONEY, WHAT DID YOU THINK THAT YOUR HUSBAND COULD HAVE TOLD THE POLICE?
ANGELA: I DON’T KNOW, WHY I SAID THAT
FOGLEMAN: YOU JUST DON’T WHY YOU WOULD OF SAID THAT?
ANGELA: WELL I JUST UM,
FOGLEMAN: YOU JUST DON’T KNOW?
ANGELA: I (INAUDIBLE) I DON’T KNOW WHY I WOULD OF SAID THAT
FOGLEMAN: ALRIGHT, HAS UM, WHAT IS,
ANGELA: I JUST,
FOGLEMAN: GO AHEAD
At her son’s Rule 37 hearing she would again try to lie. She’d try to suggest that Jason hadn’t even been friends with Jessie or Damien.
A: (Pause.) Yeah.
Q: Okay. Were they good buddies?
A: They weren’t best friends. They were friends, but Jason had other firends also.
Q: But they hung out?
A: But they, Damien had separate friends that weren’t friends with Jason.
Q: But I gather it’s a different sort of friendship then, with Jessie; am I right? In my sense that I’m hearing you say is Jason and Jessie were not buddies at the time, there had been some falling out? Jason and Damien were buddies and Jason and Jessie were buddies?
A: They weren’t real– no they weren’t close friends, they, uh, and Jessie and Jason weren’t real close. Jason wasn’t, uh, didn’t hang out with Damien a whole lot.
A: He had kind of quit hanging out with Damien.
Q: Okay. Now, Gail, going back to when you got interviewed by the police on June 4th of 1993, did you tell them, you gave them the school records that proved where he was?
A: I mean, he had other friends besides Damien.
Q: I understand. Like Ken Watkins?
A: Yeah, he had a lot of friends. And Damien had friends.
A: That wasn’t friendly with, didn’t know Jason.
Jason however would state this in an interview, after his release.
“Somehow or another, they made the decision to set me & my two best friends up for the crime”
So, Gail seemed to be willing to lie, and was even willing to help her son dispose of key evidence. In recent statements to social media, Gail would also suggest two new stories for how the knife ended up in the lake.
In the first statement she denies throwing it in, adding a new twist, sayig that Jason disposed of the knife in the lake, but then adds that none of her children(including Jason) ever owned any knives. Jason however we know for a fact owned knives several knives and numerous witnesses testified as such, including his friend and accomplice, Jessie Misskelley.
Jason’s brother Matthew would link a knife and an ice axe to Jason, which he had traded away, because he was afraid the police would try and use them to link him to the murders.
Gail, after making the admission on Facebook, that Jason threw the knife in the lake, quickly produced a second version pf how the knife ended up in the lake, insisting, Officer Murray framed her son for the murders by planting the knife, after she spurned him.
Jason Baldwin offered up yet another account of the knife in the book, “Dark Spell,” by Mara Leveritt, which is found on page 17 of the book:
“Gail was protective–but fragile. It was not unusual for her to freak out when an accident happened. Jason recalled one time in 1992 when his mom, his brothers and some other kids were fishing from the dock and Terry, who was seven or eight at the time was rummaging through the tackle box. Inside the box was a knife that some cousins in Mississippi had given Jason some years before. Terry began whacking the dock with the knife and cut himself in the process. He wasn’t seriously hurt, but when Gail saw the blood, Jason said ‘she got real upset. She grabbed the knife and threw it in the lake’…”
These three stories all contradict each other. Riordan and Jason state that Gail threw it in the water. Gail then says Jason threw it in the water. Then Gail changes her story and says Officer Murray threw it in the water to try and frame Jason because he was romantically interested in her.
PART 4: The Other Weapons
Returning to Jason’s borther, some time before May 11, 1993, Jason’s brother Matt took a knife and an ice axe and traded them to two teens, Billy and Kenny Newell who were both brothers. Billy Newell had originally traded the weapons to Jason in exchange for a few t-shirts. Now Jason suddenly wanted to trade back the knife and axe.
James William Thomas Newell III(Billy)
11 May 93 Lakeshore Drive
6:16 P.M. West Memphis, Ar
7**-**** (Mae Manuec)
I worked at the Carnival from Wednesday until Friday and I had three T-shirts that I had traded a pic and a knife for, to Jason Baldwin, before I worked at the Carnival.
When I got home yesterday I found the pic and knife where Jason had brought it back. I mad the statement to some kids that “I wonder if these were the weapons that were used to kill the boys.” Then I said maybe I’d better call up to the police and tell them.
I know Damien and I think he’s one of his own along with his sidekick, Jason. I don’t belong to any gangs and just recently moved here from Forrest City.
Sgt M.M. Kesterson
Statement of Kenny Newell
Jason was over at our house and Billy wanted to
trade something for some shirts. And the only thing
Billy has good enough to trade is the weapons. Billy
picked the shirts he wanted and they traded. And 3
or 4 days later Jason’s little brother brong the pick
and the nife back and got the shirts but we didn’t
find the testement shirt so he still has it.
Jason Baldwin and his brother Mathew Baldwin
lives west from our house at the street right before
the last one by the fild 3 or 4 trailers down on the left.
Billy Newell is my brother. The first trade took place at the early part of last week. The second trade took place
at the last part of the same week.
This statement was completed at 6:28PM on the 5-11-93
These are the weapons:
Matthew Baldwin discussing the trade:
FOGLEMAN: ALRIGHT, DO YOU REMEMBER AROUND THIS TIME UM TAKING A KNIFE AND A MOUNTAIN CLIMBING UH PICK, TO SOMEBODY’S HOUSE?
MATTHEW: (INAUDIBLE) THAT WAS, THAT WAS ABOUT A WEEK AFTER THAT I TOOK THAT OVER TO UH, KEN’S AND BILLY NEWEL’S HOUSE BECAUSE UH, JASON TOLD ME TO, BECAUSE THERE WERE TRYING TO BLAME HIM FOR USING IT OR SOMETHING
FOGLEMAN: KENNY NEWEL?
MATTHEW: IT AIN’T KENNY NEWEL, IT WAS BILLY NEWEL
FOGLEMAN: BILLY NEWEL?
FOGLEMAN: ALRIGHT, AND YOU SAY THAT THIS WAS ABOUT A WEEK AFTER?
FOGLEMAN: THAT YOU TAKE THAT BACK?
FOGLEMAN: WHY DIDN’T JASON TAKE IT BACK?
MATTHEW: I DON’T KNOW
FOGLEMAN: HE TOLD YOU
MATTHEW: HE SAID HE COULDN’T GO NO WHERE
FOGLEMAN: HE COULDN’T, WHY COULDN’T HE GO ANY WHERE?
MATTHEW: BECAUSE HE WAS BABYSITTING
FOGLEMAN: FOR WHO?
MATTHEW: FOR MY MOM, HE WAS BABYSITTING ME AND MY LITTLE BROTHER
In an online chat, Matt would also offer this account of how the knife ended up in the lake, offering yet another different account of how and why the knife ended up in the lake:
What does this show? That after May 9th, when the police interviewed him, Jason was getting rid of weapons.
On May 9, 1993, Shane Griffin and I talked with Damien Echols, Dominic Teer and Jason Baldwin at 5:00PM, in the front yard at Jason Baldwin’s house at 245 W. Lake Dr. S., Lake Shore.
They said that on Wednesday, 5-5-93, that they had gone to Jason’s uncle’s house and Jason had cut the lawn. Unsure of time they went or address. It is somewhere off Dover behind Blockbuster Video. Damien phoned his father to pick them up at the laundrymat at Missouri and N. Worthington. They said they were picked up at 6:00PM and Damien’s father took Jason and Dominic home and Damien went home.
Shane Griffin, at this time started asking the questions on the sheet (questionaire) and did complete the sheet on Damien. He was asking Jason the questions when Jason Baldwin’s mother arrived. We were standing in the front yard at Jason Baldwin’s house trailer. Mrs. Baldwin was very upset and accused us of picking on her son and said she did not want us talking to him. I attempted to reason with her but to no avail. We, then left.
In all likelihood the knife ended up in the lake some time following the May 9th, Mother’s Day interview by police, when Jason’s mother came home to see the police questioning her son and broke up with her boyfriend Dennis Dent. Following this, in the days after she and her son fought over a knife, which was tossed in the lake. And possibly on May 10th Jason had his brother Matt dispose of a knife and ice axe, by trading it back to the Newell brothers.
PART 5: Jessie Misskelley
The knife, from the voyeuristic nature of the confessions given by Jessie Misskelley, particularly the original confession where he describes how he has to look down to see Jason and Damien at the location where they were killing Chris Byers and Stevie Branch, it’s highly plausible that Jessie was only aware that Jason had a knife and not on what it exactly looked like, since Jessie wasn’t the one wielding the knife. He wasn’t the one in control of it, and in the pre-confession notes Jessie states that Jason has a knife, but that neither he nor Damien had one:
Jason has a folding knife
Damien doesn’t have one
Jason always carries knife
The fact is that he was saying Jason had a knife before he even confessed to the murders.
Most people if they were going to falsely confess to the crime would have put that knife in Damien’s hand, the logical suspect, yet that was not the case here.
Jessie would give multiple accounts of the knife, even saying in one of the accounts that he didn’t know what the knife looked like and that Jason had several knives, creating the possibility that he was aware that Jason had the murder knife, but was describing the wrong knife:
“DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay. How long was the knife that Jason was using?
MISSKELLEY: About that long (faint).
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, you’re describing a knife that would be about 6 inches long, is that right?
DETECTIVE RIDGE: And, what kind of blade did it have on it?
MISSKELLEY: Mm, like a regular, just a regular knife blade
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Was it a knife that you fold up, or was it a, like a hunting knife?
MISSKELLEY: It was
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Just one piece
MISSKELLEY: Just a fold up knife
DETECTIVE RIDGE: It was a folding knife?
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay, uh. Does Damien have a knife?
Misskelley’s first confession.
Jessie also states in another confession that he had seen the knife he was describing before, but then says he doesn’t know what the knife used in the crime looked like:
DAVIS: Had you seen that knife before?
DAVIS: What, who, who’s knife was it?
DAVIS: What did it look like?
MISSKELLEY: I can’t remember. He keeps all kinds of knifes, I can’t remember. All I know is it’s a lock blade.
DAVIS: When you say a lock-blade, one that folds out and locks?
Focus on that, “I can’t remember.”
Link to second post-conviction confession.
Here he would also describe it as a very long bladed buck knife:
STIDHAM: What did the knife look like? You told me once before but I want to make sure I understand.
JESSIE: It’s like a – like a Buck – pocketknife – Buck knife.
STIDHAM: About 4 or 5 inches, the whole knife
JESSIE: Oh, probably about that long. (Indicating)
STIDHAM: How long was the blade?
JESSIE: Not counting the ends of it, I would say the blade was about something like that. (Indicating)
STIDHAM: Six inches or so?
JESSIE: Without counting the whole thing.
What is interesting to note, is that this description of the knife is given months prior to the November 17, 1993 discovery of the “Lake Knife”.
And also in this same confession, Jessie offered up a confusing answer on if he had seen the knife before, saying he hadn’t seen it prior on that day, but may be describing a different knife, which he had seen in Jason’s trailer before:
STIDHAM: You ever seen it before that day?
JESSIE: Not that day, I’d seen it before it though.
STIDHAM: Where at?
JESSIE: At his house. Jason’s house.
STIDHAM: Where did he keep it?
JESSIE: Sometime he carries it around in his pocket and sometime he leaves it in his drawers and stuff. Cause he’s always coming up with all kinds of stuff, knives and all that.
And he also says knives in the plural,saying Jason had multiple knives.
What really matters and gets lost in this is that Jessie Misskelley knew Jason had the murder knife, described it’s length prior to the police finding it and that a knife compatible with the injuries was found behind Jason’s trailer, concealed in the water. And that this knife was a serrated knife and early theories on the injuries to Chris Byers suggested that the weapon used was a serrated knife.
It can be thought of like an equation: Jessie says Jason did the mutilations. The theory is that a serrated knife caused the mutilations. A witness sees Jason and his mother argue over a knife and throw it in the lake. That knife is recovered. The knife recovered is serrated just like what would have been used on the boys. This knife was hidden as if whoever put it there were disposing of evidence. Jessie knew Jason had the murder weapon and the murder weapon was found hidden behind Jason’s home. Jessie’s description is wrong on the knife because he(Jessie) didn’t use it; he didn’t stab or mutilate anyone and only Jason was using it according to him, he was however aware that one was being used, who used it, and who had it. He knew the who, what, when, and where.
The brunt of it is, that the description of what the knife looked like is insignificant in light of other details and circumstances in the case.
In the end the lake knife comes back to the WM3, and has never been successfully explained away by the defense. This knife was also consistent with the injuries to Chris Byers and Stevie Branch and a serrated knife was even thought to be one of the murder weapons in early theories by investigators.