Through-out the course of the investigation and prior to his eventual confession to police on June 3, 1993, Jessie Misskelley would make numerous statements implicating both himself and his friends, Jason and Damien in the murders. Prior to making his original statement Jessie would even display odd behavior suggesting his guilt.
FACTS PREDATING MISSKELLEY’S CONFESSION-
Jessie’s documented confessions began in the few days following the murders. During Jessie’s confession to police on June 3, 1993, he informed investigators that he had given away the shoes he wore on the night of the murders to his friend Buddy Lucas.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Ok. So you had a white t-shirt with a basketball design on it? (22 second pause) Ok, uh, what about shoes. What kind of shoes did you have on?
MISSKELLEY: White and blue Adidas.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: White and blue?
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: And who has those shoes now?
MISSKELLEY: Buddy Lucas.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: And how old is Buddy?
MISSKELLEY: He’s about 18 or 19.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Why, why does he have your shoes?
MISSKELLEY: We went, we was coming home one day and it was raining and he didn’t have nothing else to wear so he put on one of my shoes.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Ok, and where does he live at?
MISSKELLEY: In Lakeshore.
When investigators spoke to Lucas on June 10, 1993 he produced for them the shoes Jessie had given to him, initially telling them, that Jessie had just given him a pair of shoes to wear home one day after his own had gotten muddy. However, a few months later, Buddy’s uncle, Eddy Wilson told the police that Buddy knew more than he was telling them, stating that when he had confronted Lucas about the shoes, he said that when Jessie had given them to him there appeared to be blood on them. Shortly there after, Lucas was picked up by police again on October 14, 1993, and it was at this time, he informed them that on May 6, 1993, the day immediately after the murders, he had gone to visit with Jessie. During this visit, Jessie suddenly began to cry and confessed to him that himself, along with Jason Baldwin, and Damien Echols, had hurt some boys the night before during a fight, and he didn’t know what to do. According to Lucas, Jessie wanted to turn Jason and Damien in to the police, but didn’t know how to do so without going to prison himself, because he had also hit the victims and chased them to prevent them from escaping. He then after confessing gave Lucas the shoes he wore on the night of the murders and said he didn’t want to see them again.
A full detailed summery of the confession to Buddy Lucas can be read at the link below:
Lee Rush, the live in girlfriend, of Jessie’s father, Jessie Misskelley Sr., had also noticed strange behavior from Jessie at the time after the murders. She told the police on the night of his confession, that he had had several instances where he woke up in the middle of the night screaming and had mysterious crying fits.
A full account of Jessie’s crying fits can be found at the link below:
During the time following the murders, Jessie began to talk a lot to an older female friend who he babysat for, named Vickie Hutcheson, discussing with her in detail his friend, Damien Echols and even agreeing to help Vickie meet with Damien on one occasion, in which he brought Damien over to Vickie’s house, and then on a second occasion driving around with her to try and find him. Jessie at the time had been unaware that Vickie was reporting the information she was getting from him about Damien to the police and was trying to catch Damien on tape confessing to the murders. This never happened, but Hutcheson eventually lied to the police and claimed that Jessie and Damien had taken her to a meeting of witches out in a wooded area. This meeting was known as an Esbat and involved teenagers participating in an orgy.
Vickie had evidently made up the story to try and collect on the large reward money being offered to anyone with information that led to the arrest of the killer of the three boys.
Immediately following the trial though, Vickie began to give statements in which she suggested she made up the entire claim of the Esbat, stating that Jessie was innocent, and that she knew he was innocent because of a statement he made to her:
Vickie made the following statement to Defense Investigator, Ron Lax.
Taken from page 410 of the book, “The Blood of Innocents.”
In the interview with Lax and Stidham, Hutcheson said Misskelley had joked before his arrest that he would tell police he committed the murders if he was ever questioned. Hutcheson said she’s sure this happened because “I was in my right set of mind that day.”
“I about died” when Misskelley made his joke, Hutcheson said. “Because he goes, “I’ll just tell them I did it.” And I said, “No you wouldn’t. You stupid? what’s wrong with you, boy?” And he started busting out laughing and he was like, “It was a joke.”
On July 21, 1993, investigators interviewed a prisoner by the name of Jesse Hurst, who alleged that Damien Echols had made some statements about Jessie Misskelley. The statement itself which Hurst gives is confusing, as Hurst mixes up the names Jason and Jessie, often referring to Jessie as Jason. While he does confuse the names, it seems obvious from the context of the conversation that he’s referring to Jessie Misskelley. Hurst also seems to confuse when the conversation took place. He says he was told it was two weeks before the crime, but there was no murders yet, so that wouldn’t exactly make sense, so the context of the conversation would be that it occurred two weeks after the murders.
RIDGE: ONE THING WAS MENTION EARLIER THAT JASON AND DAMIEN HAD, A CONVERSATION
JESSE: YEAH (YES)
RIDGE: WHEN WAS THAT CONVERSATION SUPPOSE TO OF HAVE TAKEN PLACE
JESSE: HE SAID TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE MURDERS
RIDGE: OKAY, WHAT WAS SAID ABOUT THAT CONVERSATION?
JESSE: HE SAID THAT JASON TOLD HIM THAT IF THE POLICE COME BY HIS HOUSE ASKING WHO DID IT, HE WAS GOING TO ADMIT TO IT AND SAY YEAH I DID IT.
RIDGE: OKAY, NOW THIS IS TWO WEEKS PRIOR TO THE MURDERS, BEFORE THE MURDERS, SO JASON WAS TELLING DAMIEN HE WAS GOING TO DO IT?
JESSE: YEAH (YES) AND DAMIEN TOLD ME THAT HE THOUGHT HE WAS JUST JOKING, HE DIDN’T THINK HE WAS SERIOUS
Audio of the conversation with Jesse Hurst can be found at this link:
The statements from Buddy Lucas, Jesse Hurst, and Vickie Hutcheson all state that Jessie Misskelley was wanting to confess to the murders, and had said that if the police had questioned him that he was going to tell them he did the murders.
It had also seemed very important for Damien to tell the police on May 10, 1993 during a police interview, that there was only one killer, and that if there was more than one killer, there would be a fear of someone talking.
From the transcribed report of Damien’s interview:
DAMIEN STATED THAT HE FELT THAT IT WAS PROBABLY ONE PERSON BECAUSE IF IT WERE MORE THAN ONE PERSON SOMEBODY WOULD PROBABLY TELL ABOUT IT SOONER OR LATER. HE SAID THAT THERE WOULD BE A FEAR OF SQUEALING BY ONE OF THE PERSON IN THE ACT IF IT WERE MORE THAN ONE PERSON.
The Full May 10, 1993 interview of Damien Echols.
During Jason Baldwin’s appeals, at his Rule 37 hearing, his mother, Gail Grinnell testified that Jason and Jessie had had a falling out right after the murders, involving some shirts that belonged to Jason which had gone missing. It was also stated that Jessie had tried to take a necklace that belonged to Jason as well:
Q] Uh, and describe, first, talk about Jessie. Were Jason and Jessie buddies?
Q] Why not?
A] I don’t know, uh, something to do with some T-shirts and he went to the skatin’ ring one night and they tried to steal, Jason came home and told me that Jessie tried to steal a necklace of his. This was after the murders. At one time they had been friends.
A] Kind of.
A] And they moved from the trailer park and, uh, Jessie had stolen some shirts, uh, he got, uh, he had borrowed some shirts from Jason and Jason couldn’t, he gave ’em to somebody that Jason couldn’t get ’em back from.
Q] Uh-huh. So in May of 1993, were Jason and Jessie hanging out together as buddies?
A] And you know, Jessie didn’t come to our house. He took off and went, he came over to our, he popped up before the murders of those children and came over to our house and said he had just got back from California.
Q] Are you talking about Jessie?
According Gail Grinnell, at some point after the murders, Jason told her that he and Jessie had had a falling out while at Skate World, skating rink. Jason had told his mother that Jessie had stolen a few shirts of his that had mysteriously gone missing after the murders, and mentioned that Jessie tried to take a necklace of his.
A necklace belonging to Jason and Damien Echols ended up becoming an important item of evidence in the case. Both teenagers, Jason and Damien apparently shared clothing, including a pendent necklace with an axe on the end of it.
It was later discovered that on this necklace was human blood from two different people. One of them, being Damien Echols, and the other possibly Stevie Branch, one of the victims.
On May 15, 1993, Jessie Misskelley, and his older friend David Sims, who was 22-years-old at the time, and his younger friend, Dennis Carter, who was 15, had called the police from a bowling Alley stating they had seen three little boys, who were around 8 or 9 years old fleeing from a man near some train tracks. When the police arrived, they pointed the finger at a man named Tracy Laxton, saying that Laxton not only had tried to lure three little boys into the woods just moments prior, but had approached them as well, offering to let them drink in his camp in the near-by woods.
Ultimately Laxton was investigated and cleared of any involvement in the murders, but the people who implicated him in the murders was shocking.
According to Jessie’s friend, David Sims, on the night they went down to the police station to report Tracy Laxton as a suspect in the murders, Jessie told Sims that he thought Jason and Damien had done the murders.
Sims had also stated that Jessie was scared of Damien:
The facts surrounding the Tracy Laxton incident can be read at the link below:
In the days after Jessie reported Tracy Laxton, there was still more statements made by Jessie. One girl, Felicia Williams reported a minor statement by Jessie from May 27th, in which he pointed the finger at another teen, named Robert Burch, who was rumored to have killed the victims with Damien Echols:
The last time we had a conversation was around May 27th & someone was having a party & me and my boyfriend & his nephew were outside & we talked to Jessie & then Robert Burch wanted to fight my boyfriend’s nephew & Jessie went to talk to Robert, & someone in the crowd said that they think Robert killed the 3 boys & Jessie just agreed. I can’t say I was surprised about him (Jessie) killing them, I am just shocked that it was someone that I know & live by.
More about Robert Burch can be read at the link below:
A girl named Kim Floresca stated in a news story for the newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, that appeared on June 7, 1993, that the day before the police questioned him, that he confessed to her and a few other kids during a car ride:
Local teens often travel to the Stonehenge site at night to socialize and marvel at its legend and chilling atmosphere.
“Sometimes people think it’s funny trying to scare other people,” said Kim Floresca, 15, who just completed 10th grade at Marion High School. “It’s supposed to be a place where cults go out, and they’re supposed to sacrifice virgins and animals and stuff.”
Floresca said she once went to the Stonehenge site about two years ago with a group of teens who included Misskelley. The night was just a typical night, she said, and Misskelley did nothing out of the ordinary.
Floresca said she never heard of the other two suspects visiting the site.
Floresca said Misskelley told her and other students the day before he was arrested that he participated in the killings.
A group of students were driving last Wednesday after school to a friend’s house to go swimming when Misskelley began telling his bizarre tale, she said.
“He was saying he hit the little boy and the little boy ran off and he was taking him back to where Damien and the other boy were,” she said. According to Misskelley’s story, Echols had already killed the two other boys, she said.
Floresca said she didn’t believe Misskelley at the time.
Floresca in her statement to The Commercial Appeal, gave a detail of the crime that had not even appeared in Jessie’s June 3, 1993 confession:
“He was saying he hit the little boy and the little boy ran off and he was taking him back to where Damien and the other boy were.”
Jessie had according to Buddy Lucas, also made a similar statement:
LUCAS – COUPLE, I SAID WAS YOU INVOLVED? HE SAID YEA, I SAID WHAT DID YOU DO? I FINALLY GOT IT TALKED OUT OF HIM WHAT DID HE DO, HE SAID I HIT UH, A COUPLE IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD
RIDGE – OKAY, AND
LUCAS – AND EVERYTHING TO KEEP THEM FROM RUNNING AND EVERYTHING
Jessie had only told the police in his initial confession, that he had chased down one of the victim’s, Michael Moore, and brought him back to where his friends, Jason and Damien were. Jessie had made no mention of hitting Moore and had denied to the police at that time that he had hit any of the victims or even killed any of the victims.
Jessie’s June 3, 1993 confession:
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Where does he run to?
MISSKELLEY: That one, he runs out, going out the, out the park and I chased him and grabbed him and brought him back.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Which way does he go, I mean, does he go on back towards where the houses are
MISSKELLEY: He goes on back. . .
DETECTIVE RIDGE: He’s going to Blue Beacon, is he going out towards the fields,
MISSKELLEY: He’s going. . .
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Where’s he running to?
MISSKELLEY: Towards the houses.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Towards the houses?
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Where the pipe is that goes across the water?
MISSKELLEY: Yeah, he’s running out there and I caught him and brought him back, and then I took off.
Jessie later in his confession swears up and down that he only witnessed the murders and helped bring Michael Moore back, a statement which investigators were very skeptical on.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay, let me ask you something, now this is real serious and I want you to be real truthful, and I want you to think about it before you answer it, don’t just say yes or no, real quick. I want you to think about it. Did you actually hit any of these boys?
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Now, tell us the truth.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Did you actually rape any of these boys?
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Did you actually kill any of these boys?
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Did you see any of the boys actually killed?
Much like what Jessie had told Buddy Lucas, he had been trying to implicate his friends, Jason and Damien in the murders without admitting his own involvement, because he didn’t want to go to prison as well.
A real question to ask here though, is how could Lucas and Floresca know that Jessie had chased down the boys and hit them in the head, when Jessie had not even confessed that detail yet? The only way either witness could know that detail was if Jessie had confessed to them just as they claimed.
Jessie would only begin to mention that he hit the boys following his February 4, 1994 conviction, beginning that very same day. Jessie suddenly began to admit that he played a much larger role in the murders than he had ever confessed to previously, saying he had actually hit the victims as well and admitting that he had lied to the police about various elements of his confession to try and avoid going to prison:
More can be read on these post conviction confessions at the following link:
And in an added bit of information, Heather Cliett, Jason Baldwin’s girlfriend, alleged in an undated statement that her best friend, Jennifer Bearden, who also was trying to date Damien Echols and spoke with him regularly, had informed her that Jessie Misskelley killed the victims with the help of Damien’s friend, Murray Farris and Damien’s girlfriend, Domini Teer.
It had been following Jessie’s reporting of Tracy Laxton on May 15, 1993 as a suspect in the murders, as well as Vickie Hutcheson’s statements to police, in which she lied and said he and Damien had taken her to an Esbat, that the police decided to finally speak with the 17-year-old, Jessie Misskelley, which ultimately resulted in the June 3, 1993 confession. And according to multiple people, Jessie had made several statements indicative of guilt prior to this confession, including statements that he had wanted to turn his friends in, but couldn’t because he had also participated in the murders.