Jessie’s June 3, 1993 Confession

Click here to read the entire transcript of Jessie’s confession.

Click here to read Jessie’s follow-up interview.

Click here to read a follow-up statement Jessie gave to his lawyer about the confession.

According to Jessie Misskelley’s June 3, 1993 confession, on the day of the crime, after he had gotten off of work and during the middle portion of the day, he(Jessie Misskelley), and his two friends, Damien Echols, and Jason Baldwin met up near Lakeshore Trailer Park, where Jason Baldwin lived. It was from there that they walked along the busy service road, to Robin Hood Hills.

In this portion of the confession, Jessie is specifically asked whose car they drove in, to which Jessie corrects Det. Gary Gitchell, saying that they didn’t drive to the crime scene, they walked there:

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay.

MISSKELLEY: I went with them and then I

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Now, were you in a car? Whose car were you all in?

MISSKELLEY: We walked

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: You all walked?

MISSKELLEY: Right, we walked and then uh,

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Where did you go?

MISSKELLEY: We went up to the Robin Hood

DETECTIVE RIDGE: You went to the Robin Hood, explain to me where those woods are.

MISSKELLEY: By uh, Blue Beacon Truck Wash.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Just a little patch of woods

MISSKELLEY: A little patch of woods

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Behind Blue Beacon?

MISSKELLEY: Behind it, right back there behind it.

(The service road in front of Robin Hood Hills.)

(Robin Hood Hills, a wooded area nextdoor to Blue Beacon Truck Wash.)

According to Jessie, the victims left their bikes near where they entered the woods, suggesting the pipe bridge, and it was from there, that Damien lured the boys across the bridge.

MISSKELLEY: They, they laid their bikes down when they come out to the, I mean, when they hollered for them to come, come out there, they

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Where did they lay their bikes down at, that’s what I’m asking?

MISSKELLEY: I don’t know where they laid their bikes down at, cause I was, I was behind Damien and nem, way, way behind them.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay

MISSKELLEY: When they hollered, when they seen them boys

DETECTIVE RIDGE: The little boys came on over? 

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.


(Where Jessie said the victims encountered their killers.)

(Where Jessie states the victims left their bikes.)

From the criminal profile of John Douglas:

“It is my opinion the victims came into the woods of Robin Hood Hills by the most common method and that was by crossing the wood and pipe make-shift bridge. It is inconceivable that they carried their bikes across this very narrow width bridge. It is inconceivable that they carried their bikes across this very narrow width bridge. Nor is there any evidence they entered Robin Hood Hills at another location or were killed somewhere else and disposed of in Robin Hood Hills. It required much balance crossing the bridge and the chances of falling off the bridge while carrying their bicycles was high. It is my opinion the victims left their bicycles hidden in the tall grass and weeds before they each walked across the pipe bridge.”

(The bikes pulled from the water next to the bridge.)

Going back to Jessie’s same statement from the June 3, 1993 confession, he specifically states that Damien called out to the boys, which caused them to come over:

MISSKELLEY: They, they laid their bikes down when they come out to the, I mean, when they hollered for them to come, come out there, they

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Where did they lay their bikes down at, that’s what I’m asking?

MISSKELLEY: I don’t know where they laid their bikes down at, cause I was, I was behind Damien and nem, way, way behind them.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay

MISSKELLEY: When they hollered, when they seen them boys

DETECTIVE RIDGE: The little boys came on over? 

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.

Notice, he says the boys came “out there,” after they “laid their bikes down.” Then when he’s asked by Bryn Ridge if that’s what he means, Jessie agrees.

Just from this statement alone, Jessie knew that the boys laid their bikes down before crossing the pipe bridge, and described them being lured across by Damien Echols, and according to John Douglas, the victims would have left their bikes near the entrance to Robin Hood Hills, at the pipe bridge.

So, what Jessie stated was all very similar to what actually happened.

Damien himself also made this statement to the police on May 10, 1993, in which he suggested that the killer lured the victims:

DAMIEN STATED THAT HE FIGURED THAT THE KILLER KNEW THE KIDS WENT INTO THE WOODS AND EVEN ASKED THEM TO COME OUT TO THE WOODS. HE STATED THAT THE BOYS WERE NOT BIG, NOT SMART, AND THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN EASY TO CONTROL.

Police report of Damien Echols’ May 10, 1993 interview.

 

Damien testifying at trial in regards to this matter:

Q. You also said and told Officer Ridge, is it not
correct that you told him that the killer knew the kids
went out there, knew the kids and asked the kids to
meet them out there? Is that what you told him?

A. He asked me was that possible, and I said, “Yes.”

Q. So once again, are you saying that you didn’t say
this, that he just threw out the idea there and you
just agreed to it?

A. Right.

Q. And if he says something different, that would be,
he would be lying about it, right? You are the one
telling the truth?

A. I wouldn’t put it past him.

Q. Did you also tell him that they would be not big —
speaking of the three eight-year-olds that were
murdered — they would be not big, not smart, and easy
to control?

A. Right.

 

So, according to Jessie, at the pipe bridge, Damien calls out to the victims and lures the boys across and into Devil’s Den, where the bodies were later recovered by police.

(From the bridge into Devil’s Den.)

(Path leading down into Devil’s Den.)

Once inside Devil’s Den the boys were grabbed by the three teenagers and attacked on a ditch bank, which was located next to three trees that were growing together.

Jessie described it as follows:

DETECTIVE RIDGE: So, there is like a tall bank, were you, where were you at on that bank?

MISSKELLEY: I was up there, I was standing up there on the top.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, where were they at?

MISSKELLEY: They was at the bottom.

(Path leading down to the ditch bank below.)

It was here, on this ditch bank where the crime occurred.


(Investigators standing on the ditch bank where the boys were attacked.)

Jessie during the confession described a vicious beating that they gave to all three of the victims on this ditch bank, though Jessie kept trying to down play his own involvement, saying he just stood by and watched while his friends did everything, occasionally slipping up such as in this example:

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, when did they take their clothes off?

MISSKELLEY: Right after I, they beat up all three of them, beat them up real bad

Notice, Jessie first starts to say that he beat up the victims, using the word, “I,” then catches himself and says “they.

Below he describes the beating, pointing out which victims for the detectives using a photo from a newspaper:

MISSKELLEY: When I was there, I saw Damien hit this one, hit this one boy real bad, and then uh, and then he started screwing them and stuff and then uh,

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, you got in front of you a picture, that was taken out of the newspaper I believe, it’s got three boys and these are the three boys that were killed on that date in Robin Hood Woods, okay. Which one of those three boys is it you say Damien hit? The third picture (Jessie seems to be affirming this in the background), which will be

MISSKELLEY: Michael Moore

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: This boy right here,

MISSKELLEY: Yeah,

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Alright, that’s uh the Byers boy, 

MISSKELLEY: Christopher

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: That’s who you are pointing at?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm. 

DETECTIVE RIDGE: If you read the captions, the grisly slain from left, 8 year old Michael Moore, Steven Branch and Christopher Byers. (Jessie seems to be echoing these names as Ridge speaks). Okay, so you saw Damien strike Chris Byers in the head?

MISSKELLEY: Right

DETECTIVE RIDGE: What did he hit him with?

MISSKELLEY: He hit him with his fist and bruised him all up real bad, and then um Jason turned around and hit Steve Branch

(Newspaper photo of the victims used for identification by Jessie.)

The victims were all in-fact beaten severely. Chris Byers had bruises and there were injuries all over his body and the bodies of Stevie Branch and Michael Moore.

Upon questioning, Jessie also admitted they used sticks to beat the victims, but only claimed that Damien used one to beat the boys:

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Did you ever use, did anyone use a stick and hit the boys with?

MISSKELLEY: Damien had kind of a big old stick when he hit that first one, after he hit him with his fist and knocked him down and then he got him a big old stick and hit him.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: What did the stick look like, I mean was it like a, a, a big log like that or is it, is it a stick?

MISSKELLEY: It, I would say it was about that, about that big around, I would say about that long.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Okay

DETECTIVE RIDGE: About the size of a baseball bat, maybe just a little bit bigger around?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm. That’s about right.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: That’s what you’re describing with your hands, right?

MISSKELLEY: Right

In fact a large baseball bat like stick was found right next to Michael Moore’s body with a shirt from one of the victims wrapped around it by his killer.

This stick was labeled in evidence as E-139 and matched the description of the weapon Jessie alleged was used.

There was however a second stick recovered at the crime scene which was also strange. It had portions missing like someone had handled it, and it was found next to the bodies of Christopher Byers and Stevie Branch.

This stick was labeled as E-17, and matched up to some of the injuries inflicted on Michael Moore, Stevie Branch, and Christopher Byers.

In a statement following his June 3, 1993 confession, Jessie described the stick Damien used differently, giving a description that matched to E-17:

STIDHAM: Okay. You remember there being a stick out there that day in the creek? One that was kind of long and skinny looked like a maybe a broom handle? But it wasn’t a broom handle it was a stick that maybe the bark –

JESSIE: I don’t – I – never seen one.

STIDHAM: – stripped off of it?

JESSIE: I don’t remember seeing one. I remember Damien carried a one, a stick, a lot. He carried a stick a lot.

STIDHAM: What did it look like?

JESSIE: It was grooved in the handles and stuff, you know, carved like.

STIDHAM: Carved? Let just try and draw a picture of it here. I don’t – You don’t see a pencil in here anywhere do you?

JESSIE: On the desk.

STIDHAM: Well, imagine a broomstick, uh, you know a broom stick is obviously made out of something mechanical – a wood lathe. This is kind of a long, skinny stick, and then there’s places where the bark has been peeled off. And it’s like stripes. Does that sound familiar?

JESSIE: Uh-huh. Yeah. I’d say it’s about – good bit longer than that.

STIDHAM: You’re saying Damien carried that around a lot?

JESSIE: Yeah, he carried it around a lot – (inaudible)

 

(E-17 along with E-138 and E-139, which were the two other sticks recovered by the police.)

Jessie in another statement given after his conviction, told the prosecution, that he and Damien had attacked the victims with sticks, thus explaining why Jessie told his lawyer that Damien used E-17 to strike the victims, yet described Damien as using E-139. In reality it was Jessie who used E-139, the large baseball bat like weapon, but in his June 3, 1993 statement he was trying to shift all the blame onto Jason and Damien.

From Jessie’s February 17, 1994 statement, in which he discusses the sticks with Prosecutor, Brant Davis.

DAVIS: Ok. Were they, at some point did they get hit with anything besides your fist?

MISSKELLEY: Stick.

DAVIS: Who hit’m with a stick?

MISSKELLEY: Damien, I hit, I hit one of’m with a stick…

Now, getting back to Jessie’s June 3, 1993 statement, in which Jessie stated that the first victim that got struck really bad, was Christopher Byers:

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: This boy right here,

MISSKELLEY: Yeah,

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Alright, that’s uh the Byers boy, 

MISSKELLEY: Christopher

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: That’s who you are pointing at?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm. 

DETECTIVE RIDGE: If you read the captions, the grisly slain from left, 8 year old Michael Moore, Steven Branch and Christopher Byers. (Jessie seems to be echoing these names as Ridge speaks). Okay, so you saw Damien strike Chris Byers in the head?

Jessie stated that it was Christopher Byers who first got struck in the head with a stick by Damien, which he described for his lawyer as being E-17, the thin stick that was missing bark on it:

MISSKELLEY: Damien had kind of a big old stick when he hit that first one, after he hit him with his fist and knocked him down and then he got him a big old stick and hit him.

Byers did in-fact have a head injury that was consistent with E-17 on the top of his head.

The Byers head injury.

Click here to read more about the stick injuries and evidence.

Going back to Jessie’s confession, he stated that the victims weren’t even tied up until later on, when the victims were all about to be tossed into the ditch, saying that they were just beaten very badly and held down by their killers:

MISSKELLEY: They beat them up so bad so they can’t hardly move. They hadn’t tied, had their hands tied down and he just sit on them.

There was in-fact numerous amounts of evidence on the bodies of both Chris Byers and Stevie Branch that they had been restrained prior to being tied up.

Found on Christopher’s thigh were several bruises:

Bruises on Christopher’s thigh.

Another photo of Christopher’s bruises.

Located on Christopher’s mouth were also fingernail marks from where someone had tried to cover his mouth:

The fingernail marks.

Located on the body of Stevie Branch was an odd mark on his thigh, consistent with the stick known as E-17 being held down across his thigh.

Stevie’s thigh injury.

After being beaten, Jason and Damien had started stripping Christopher Byers and Stevie Branch, while Jessie was attacking Michael Moore.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, when did they take their clothes off?

MISSKELLEY: Right after I, they beat up all three of them, beat them up real bad

Jessie said then that after Branch and Byers were beaten and stripped, that Jason and Damien began cutting them with a single knife:

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay, now when it’s going on, when it’s taking place, you under. . . you saw somebody with a knife. Who had a knife?

MISSKELLEY: Jason

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Jason had a knife. What did he cut with the knife? What did you see him cut or who did you see him cut?

MISSKELLEY: I saw him cut one of the little boys

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, where did he cut him at?

MISSKELLEY: He was cutting him in the face.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Cutting in the face. Alright, another boy was cut I understand, where was he cut at?

MISSKELLEY: At the bottom

DETECTIVE RIDGE: On his bottom? Was he face down when he was cutting on him, or

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm. 

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Now you’re talking about bottom, do you mean right here?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: In his groin area?

MISSKELLEY: (No audio register) 

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Okay

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Do you know what his penis is?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm, that’s where he was cut at.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: That’s where he was cut.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Which boy was that?

MISSKELLEY: That right there.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: You’re talking about the Byers boy again?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Okay

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Are you sure that he was the one that was cut?

MISSKELLEY: That’s the one that I seen them cutting on.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, you know what penis is?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, is that where he was cutting?

MISSKELLEY: That’s where I seen them going down at, and he was on his back. I seen them going down right there real close to his penis and stuff and I saw some blood and that’s when I took off.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Was uh, were you all close to the creek at that point?

MISSKELLEY: Yes sir

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Where, where was the little boy actually at?

MISSKELLEY: He was close by

 

(Location where Chris Byers and Stevie Branch were cut up.)

The fact that Jessie also picked out Jason Baldwin as the one who had the knife was interesting, because one would expect, that if you were going to falsely confess to watching Damien and Jason commit the murders, that it would be Damien, the guy who’s the supposed leader here to have used the knife.

Yet, it was Jason Baldwin, who had a knife hidden in the lake behind his trailer.

(Jason’s knife recovered from the lake behind his trailer.)

Click here to read about Jason and the lake knife.

Click here to read more about the knife injuries to the victims.

Jessie further described the murder weapon to his lawyer, months before the police ever recovered it behind Jason’s trailer, saying that he hadn’t seen it before, but thought it might have been a folding knife, but then describes it as very large, with a blade over 6 inches long, and the knife being even longer when you counted the handle.

Here his lawyer, Dan Stidham asks him about the 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.

Jessie was wrong on it being a folding knife, but right on the length and description of the blade.

Jessie also provided more details of the castration to his lawyer following his confession to the police:

STIDHAM: Was there a lot of blood there on the ground?

JESSIE: I don’t know –

STIDHAM: – out there where they were hitting them with sticks and stuff?

JESSIE: Yeah, there was a lot of blood.

STIDHAM: A little bit or a whole lot or …?

JESSIE: I’d say a lot.

STIDHAM: Okay. And that was at the low bank of the creek –

JESSIE: Uh-huh. (Affirmatively indicating)

STIDHAM: – which would be on this side going toward Blue Beacon?

JESSIE: Right.

STIDHAM: That’s where actually all the hitting and cutting took place?

JESSIE: Yeah.

STIDHAM: Then where the little boy was when Jason cut him? Was he laying on the ground there? Or –

JESSIE: He was laying on the ground there. Can’t remember whereabouts, not unless if I was there to see it I could say whereabouts.

STIDHAM: Okay. And when he cut his thing off you don’t know what happened to it, did you see him throw it?

JESSIE: I seen him sling his arm that way. (Indicating)

STIDHAM: Was it towards the creek or towards that way, or?

JESSIE: Towards, like, the woods and stuff.

STIDHAM: So he didn’t throw it like toward the creek?

JESSIE: Huh-uh. (Negatively indicating)
 

Jessie had also been able to pick out which two victims had been mutilated with a knife and which parts on them had been cut, which was all factual. Jessie even knew Jason had the murder weapon.

So, after witnessing Chris Byers getting castrated, Michael Moore had gotten free, with Jessie stating that he(Jessie) had to chase him down, because he was starting to get away.

MISSKELLEY: Then the other one took off, Michael uh Moore took off running, so I chased him and grabbed him and held him, til they got there and then I left.

Jessie, in his June 3rd statement kept trying to say to the police that he did not participate, and that he just handed off Moore to his buddies, Jason and Damien and then left, but continued to keep adding additional details. Upon questioning by police, he suggested that when Moore was caught, that they were at a second location, seeming to suggest a different ditch bank located on the other side of the water.

Jessie noticably said he, “held him, til they got there,” indicating that he was in a different location than Jason and Damien.

In this exchange, Jessie seems to further describe the second ditch bank:

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Can you describe to me what in those woods, what’s the location where you were?

MISSKELLEY: Uh,

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Is there a path that you go down?

MISSKELLEY: Uh, down a little path

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, where does that path go to?

MISSKELLEY: It leads out there close to the uh field, close to the interstate.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay

MISSKELLEY: That’s where I was at.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright.

MISSKELLEY: I was close by the interstate.

(Second ditch bank shown on the left side of the photo. Other bank is on the right, behind the three trees in the middle of the photo.)

(The second ditch bank.)

This second ditch bank was right next to a path out of the woods, which led into a field directly next to the service road.

(The path out of the woods.)

During questioning on this subject, Det. Ridge seems to get Jessie confused on where Michael Moore was fleeing to exactly:

DETECTIVE RIDGE: When he hits the first boy and then Jason hits another boy, and one takes off running, 

MISSKELLEY: And the other takes. . .

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?

Jessie then responds during this line of questioning that Moore was running back to his house:

MISSKELLEY: Towards the houses.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Towards the houses?

But from the context it becomes obvious that Jessie is just saying where he assumed Moore was trying to go, not where he chased him.

Jessie had actually chased him across the ditch, but consistently tried to deny that he went into the water to kill the boys, but also kept slipping up on that matter.

Here, in this example, Jessie states that when he left the crime scene his clothes were wet and muddy:

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Did you have some blood on your clothes?

MISSKELLEY: I didn’t have no blood on them, I wasn’t, I didn’t get close to them.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Were your clothes wet still?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm, they were damp.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Muddy?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.

Yet in this example, he states that he did get into the ditch, but… prior to when the victims showed up:

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay, the night you were in these woods, uh had you all been in the water?

MISSKELLEY: Yeah, we’ve been in the water, we were in it that night, playing around in it.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: You were playing around in the water? Alright, what were you doing in the water?

MISSKELLEY: Just

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Besides just playing, the little boys, had they been in the water? Did they get into the water with you all?

MISSKELLEY: No, they didn’t get into the water with us

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay, what were you doing in the water?

MISSKELLEY: We were just sitting there, throwing stuff at each other.

It was obvious that Jessie had gotten muddy from the crime, not because he had been “playing” in the water with his pals.

Criminal Profiler, John Douglas,  discussing the murders in the documentary, “West of Memphis”:

“To do what he did to the children, hide the clothing, and hide the children–he got in the water, he got muddy.”

Jessie Had traveled across the ditch shown below.

(Sgt. Mike Allen trying to cross the ditch without stepping in the water.)

Luminol reactions further found blood on this ditch bank in three different spots.

(Moore’s body shown as number 6 on the diagram.)

Of these spots, one location, was where the police set Moore’s body after they pulled him from the ditch.

(Middle location is where the police set Moore’s body.)

Of the two remaining spots, one location on that ditch bank remained of interest, where it appeared to show that a bloodbath took place. A pooling or collection of blood determined to measure roughly 3ft in diameter was located, which was about the size of a child. This was likely the site of Moore’s murder, as his dead body was found in the water right in front of this ditch bank.

(Luminol photo of the questioned location, showing blood all over this location.)

Further Moore’s body was located 27ft away from the bodies of Christopher Byers and Stevie Branch, which is shown in diagrams from the crime scene and in crime scene notes.

(Police diagram of the crime scene showing the locations of the bodies.)

From the crime scene notes, it states, that body #2 was located 27ft away from that of body #1(Michael Moore).

The exact quote from the notes:

#2 Body 27’ South of #1 Body

Link to the crime scene notes.

What Jessie had described, his chasing of Michael Moore to prevent him from escaping, had explained why Moore was on the other ditch bank, and why his body was found 27ft away from the location where his friends were murdered.

And according to Jessie, after Moore tried to escape, they beat him and stripped him as well, then decided to tie up all three of the victims to make sure they couldn’t get away.

The portion of Jessie’s confession where he states that the boys were all already beaten unconscious when they were tied up:

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: I’ve got a feeling here, you’re not quite telling me everything, now we’re, you know we’re recording everything, so this is very, very important to tell us the entire truth. If you were there the whole time, then tell us that you were there the whole time, don’t leave anything out. This is very, very important, now just tell us the truth.

MISSKELLEY: I was there until they tied them up and then that’s when I left, after they tied them up, I left.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: But, you saw them cutting on the boys,

MISSKELLEY: I saw them cutting on them, and then they, they

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: So, what else, what else left is there, after that?

MISSKELLEY: Then they laid the knife down beside them and I saw them tying them up and then that’s when I left.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Were the boys conscience (sic) or were they

MISSKELLEY: They were unconscious then

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Unconscious

 

Jessie lastly said that before he left the crime scene, that Jason and Damien pulled the victims into the water, where they drowned.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Did you ever see the boys in the water?

MISSKELLEY: (unintelligible, yawn?) Uh, yep, down by the water.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Alright, how did the boys get in the water?

MISSKELLEY: They um, pulled pulled them in there, to the water.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Alright, when you say they who, who is it that pulled them into the water?

MISSKELLEY: Jason and uh, Damien.

Notice, Gitchell did not ask if the boys were pulled into the water, just if he had seen the boys in the water. And Jessie indicates that they were pulled in.

Following this, Jessie fled the crime scene, leaving out the path near where Moore was killed, and out to the service road. It was at this time that he fled the crime scene and walked home.

(Route out of the woods and to the service road.)

(Route back toward Jessie’s home.)

Following this confession, where Jessie insisted to police that he was only a witness in the murders and had only helped chase down one victim, Jessie’s father went on the news and also stated that his son was only a witness to the murders.

Transcript from the interview, which aired on June 7, 1993:

Misskelley Sr. : “I don’t believe he did it. ’cause he–

Reporter : “Do you think he might have been with them when they did it?”

Misskelley Sr. : “Yeah he could have been with ’em. But he did not have anything to do with it, I don’t believe.”

Link to the news clip:

Jessie Misskelley Sr. stating that Jessie witnessed the murders.

In Jessie’s June 3, 1993 police confession, which led to his arrest and the arrests of Jason and Damien, Jessie knew these key facts:

  1. Jessie named two suspects in the murders, who had no alibis, and was able to name specifically which one of those suspects had the murder weapon.
  2. Jessie knew the location of the murders and said he and his two accomplices walked to the crime scene, which was just as he said, next to Blue Beacon Truck Wash.
  3. Jessie knew where the victims left their bikes.
  4. Jessie knew the victims were lured into a wooded area.
  5. Jessie knew the victims were beaten until they couldn’t move.
  6. Jessie knew that Chris Byers and Stevie Branch were mutilated with a knife, and was even able to describe which victims had which injuries and where those injuries were.
  7. Jessie knew the victims were beaten with sticks.
  8. Jessie knew that Michael Moore had tried to run away.
  9. Jessie knew that the victims were all naked and unconscious when they were tied up.
  10. Jessie knew that the bodies were dragged into the ditch.

Jessie maintained his confession for at least 3 months with his lawyer, Dan Stidham, even discussing with him taking a guilty plea in exchange of a lighter sentence.

STIDHAM: Okay. I’m going to leave it on. Uh, you realize that I’m taping this conversation? Okay? Uh, he called and said that if you’d be willing to testify and help with the case that he would, uh, recommend that you get life in prison with the possibility of getting paroled. He would waive the death penalty, you wouldn’t have to worry about the jury giving you a death sentence, and you wouldn’t have to worry about staying in prison without the possibility of parole. He said that he would let you basically be sentenced to first degree murder, uh, and give you life with the possibility of getting paroled some day. Now. Let me explain to you, basically what that means. Life in prison means that the governor can commute your sentence to a specific number of years. I doubt seriously, Jessie, if any governor in the state would ever do that considering the nature of the crime and those little boys’ bodies, and those parents of those little boys are going to be screaming at the governor not to do that, so, basically, life in prison could mean the same thing as life in prison without parole. We’ve got to make a decision here pretty quick about what we’re going to do, cause if we’re not going to take their offer, then we need to start getting a defense ready. (pause) How do you feel about the life? Doesn’t get to the first degree murder and getting life in prison with the possibility of getting out someday, because if the jury gets mad at those pictures they could give you life without parole or even the death sentence. Do you understand the difference?

JESSIE: Yeah.

STIDHAM: I told the prosecutor that, uh, I would prefer that you plead guilty and get a certain number of years, that way you know exactly someday when you’re going to get out. You can calculate it and say, I got to do this much time and this is my release date. And, he said he wasn’t interested doing that. He said I can recommend life, but I can’t recommend a certain number of years. I told him that I didn’t think you’d be interested in life because I don’t think the governor would ever commute it. But that’s your decision and not mine and I can’t make it for you, all I’ll do is lay out the options for you.

JESSIE: I – I – I don’t want to do too much time. You know, I don’t want to be lying to an attorney.

STIDHAM: Well.

JESSIE: You know I understand how, about what you’re saying.

STIDHAM: Do you understand that this is a very, very serious situation? There’s those little boys here are dead, one of which was mutilated, and that a jury is going to take that very serious, do you understand that?

JESSIE: Uh-huh. (Affirmatively indicating)

STIDHAM: Do you also understand that if the prosecutor makes a recommendation of a certain number of years, that it’s probably going to be a lot of years, it’s not going to be five, ten years, it’s probably going to be more like forty.

JESSIE: Yeah, I understand.

STIDHAM: Now, if you got a 40-year sentence, you wouldn’t serve 40 years, you would serve probably half – 20 years. You’re 18 now and in 20 years you’ll be 38, but at least you’ll be getting out someday. Cause the chance even on a 40 year sentence that you may only serve l0 years. But if you go down there, keep your nose clean and don’t get into any trouble you can get out. See, we’re not talking about just going for a week or two or a month or two or a year or two, we’re talking about a lot of years here, Jessie, and, you know, if the prosecutor comes back and says uh – I don’t know that he will, he may not make another offer – he said life in prison was his best offer, take it or leave it. Uh, but if he comes back and says it’ll be 40 years, or 50 years, would you be willing to consider that?

JESSIE: I don’t want to spend, you know, almost all my life in jail. You know, in prison.

STIDHAM: I don’t want you to either. You know, on a 40 year sentence you might serve 12 years, 15 years, uh, you know that’s a long time, but at least you’re going to get out. If it goes the other way and that jury, I’m telling you Jessie, that jury may…(end of tape.)

STIDHAM: Jessie, the tape ran out. It’s now 11:37. The tape ran out and the last part of our conversation didn’t get recorded. We had talked about we think the prosecutor has made this offer of life without – life with the chance of getting parole, and let me plead first degree murder. You indicated to me that you wouldn’t be willing to consider that – somewhere in the regular 50-year sentence knowing that you would have to serve all of that, of course, is that correct?

JESSIE: Yes.

STIDHAM: So, when you say 25 or 20 or 25 years, that’d be the equivalent of a 40 or 50 year sentence. You understand that, right. Under the current guidelines, under a
Class Y felony you’d have to serve half of your sentence before you’re eligible for parole. So, on a 30 years sentence you’re looking at 15 years, on a 40-year sentence you’re looking at 20 years, and on a 50-year sentence you’re looking at 25. Do you understand that?

JESSIE: (inaudible)

STIDHAM: So, what you’re saying then is that you want me to tell the prosecutor you’re not interested in the life sentence, but you would be interested in a number of years sentence, and you would be willing to consider somewhere around 40 to 50 years? That’s what you’re saying?

JESSIE: Right.

STIDHAM: Okay. So that – that’s what I’m going to do then, is I’m going to tell the prosecutor that we’re not interested in his offer, and, uh, we’ll go from there. Okay? I’m going to talk to your dad, and I’m going to get him back up to talk to you and the three of us will sit down and talk about this, and, because if we don’t get a deal made we’re going to have to start getting ready for trial. You’re doing real good. You’re not talking to anybody and you haven’t been talking to anybody in here have you? About the case? Don’t do it, it’s just, you need to maintain your silence, don’t talk to anybody about the case but me and Mr. Crow, and right now, under the circumstances, things seem to be going pretty well. The confession is what’s hurting us right now. And we’ll get back with the prosecutor and talk to him and when I hear from him back I’ll get your dad up here and the three of us will sit down and talk about it some more, okay?

JESSIE: All right. 

 

Click here to read more about the events that led up to Jessie’s confession.

Click here to read about other events in the month before Jessie confessed.

Click here to read about corroborating evidence Jessie provided after his conviction.

Advertisements

Facts about the June 3, 1993 Confession

 

Click here to read all about the facts predating Jessie’s confession.

(Mugshot of Jessie Misskelley.)

On the morning of June 3, 1993 it was decided to finally question Jessie Misskelley after his name had repeatedly popped up during the course of the investigation. That morning, Sgt. Mike Allen drove over to Jessie Misskelley’s trailer and spoke with his father, Jessie Misskelley Sr. His father informed Allen, that his son was sleeping over at Vickie Hutcheson’s house, and that he’d drive over and pick him up. Moments after that Jessie arrived and put a shirt on, then drove with Sgt. Allen down to the police station.

From Det. Bryn Ridge’s report concerning the events of June 3, 1993:

DETECTIVE SGT. MIKE ALLEN HAD ASKED JESSIE MISSKELLEY SR. IF IT WERE POSSIBLE FOR HIM TO TALK TO JESSIE JR. AND I UNDERSTAND THAT JESSIE SR. WENT AND PICKED JESSIE JR. UP AT WHICH TIME HE TURNED HIM OVER TO DETECTIVE SGT. MIKE ALLEN AT APPROXIMATELY 9:45 A.M. ON 060393.

According to notes of Jessie’s interview with police prior to taking a polygraph, Jessie told them all about Damien, saying that he had last seen Damien in person at Vickie Hutcheson’s house, which he said had been three weeks prior. He also stated that Vickie had asked him about introducing her to Damien, which was why Damien was over Vickie’s in the first place. He in addition had informed her that Damien was “sick” in the head. He further told the police that in his opinion Jason Baldwin had not seen Damien in over two months, which was an odd statement, as if he were trying to cover for Jason, but not Damien.

Other details he provided during the interview, were that Jason and Damien were always together and that Damien’s girlfriend was Domini, however he didn’t know what Domini’s last name was, but knew she was pregnant. He had also stated that Damien liked to drink blood, and had witnessed him do so during a fight involving Jason Baldwin and another teenager, named John Perschke, who had punched Jason in the nose, causing him to drip blood onto the ground. According to Jessie, he saw Damien go over to the blood, dip his finger in it and lick it off of his finger. When the police interviewed Perschke at a later date, he stated that Jessie Misskelley and several other teens, including Jessie’s friends Buddy Lucas, Damien Echols, and Jason Baldwin, had attacked him. And during this fight, Jessie pulled out a knife and pressed it to John’s throat, asking him, “would you like to be dead?”

Statement of John Perschke

During an interview shown on the talk show, “Geraldo,” Damien also discussed the question of his drinking blood, stating as follows:

“I wouldn’t say that I drank blood, uh, a lick.” 

 

Echols then stuck his tongue out to emphasis that he only “licked” blood as he put it.

Video of interview with Damien Echols.

(Echols sticking his tongue out during interview concerning blood.)

Besides the statements about Damien being “sick”, and how he liked to drink blood, Jessie told the police that he had heard that Damien and Robert Burch had committed the murders. He said he didn’t know much about Burch personally, but knew he used to live in Highland Trailer Park.

Link to more info on Robert Burch and the Skating Rink Confessions.

Jessie stated that as for himself, he was working at the time of the murders, which he falsely believed had happened in the middle of the day, so, Jessie had told the police that he had gotten off of work at 5:00 PM during this interview. Jessie’s claim of working until 5:00 would later turn out upon investigation to have been a lie, as Jessie had only worked until 12:30 PM that afternoon. Why would he be trying to lie about when he was working?

Notes of Sgt. Mike Allen.

Notes of Det. Bryn Ridge.

Handwritten statement of Jessie’s boss, Ricky Deese.

And according to Jessie, after he got off work at 5:00(he lied though), he went home and stayed home.

Det. Bryn Ridge’s account of Jessie lying about what time he got off work:

SGT. ALLEN WAS TAKING NOTES AS QUESTIONS WERE BEING ASKED ABOUT MISSKELLEY’S WHEREABOUT ON THE DATE THE VICTIMS WERE MURDERED. MISSKELLEY STATED THAT HE WAS WORKING THE WEEK THAT THE BOYS WERE KILLED AND THAT HE HAD BEEN AT WORK ON THE DAY THAT THEY WERE KILLED. HE FURTHER STATED THAT HE HAD GOTTEN OFF WORK THAT DAY AT APPROXIMATELY 5:00 PM AND THAT HE WENT HOME AFTER WORK WHERE HE STATED THAT HE STAYED AT HOME THE REST OF THE DAY. HE STATED THAT HE HAD NO FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOMICIDE. AS HE WAS MAKING THESE STATEMENTS HE WAS NERVOUS AND FAILED TO LOOK AT ME IN THE EYES AND HAD THE GESTURES THAT HE WAS BEING DECEPTIVE IN THE INTERVIEW.

Det. Bryn Ridge’s report on Jessie’s Confession.

 

Det. Bryn Ridge testifying at trial concerning what time Jessie had gotten off of work:

FOGLEMAN: Alright. Now did you later — or first of all, what did he tell you about where he was that day?

RIDGE: He said he had been roofing earlier that day and that he had gotten off work at —

FOGLEMAN: What time?

RIDGE: He said 5:00.

FOGLEMAN: Alright. And did you check with the person he was doing the roofing for?

RIDGE: Yes sir, I did.

FOGLEMAN: You talked to him.

RIDGE: Yes sir.

FOGLEMAN: And did you find out that Jessie wasn’t telling you the truth about how long he had been working that day?

RIDGE: Yes sir, I did find out.

FOGLEMAN: In fact, what time did you find out he got off work?

RIDGE: 12:30 that afternoon.

Why was Jessie lying about what time he got off of work? For some reason Jessie felt he needed an alibi for himself during the middle portion of the day. And by the end of this interview, as investigators become more and more suspicious of Jessie’s statements, Jessie agreed to take a polygraph.

And according to the polygraph report he was lying when he denied any involvement or knowledge of the murders. The examiner, Bill Durham specifically stated that he was “Lying his ass off.”

Jessie Misskelley’s polygraph report.

It was at this time that Det. Gary Gitchell and Det. Ridge began to question Jessie about his polygraph results.

During this interview, Jessie suddenly began to change his story, saying he knew more about the murders, and explained why he knew, claiming that he had some phone calls with the REAL KILLERS. And who were the killers? His friends, Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols.

He informed Detectives’ Gitchell and Ridge that the night before the murders he had received a call from Jason Baldwin, with Damien Echols heard in the background. According to Jessie, they were planning to go out and “get some boys and hurt them.” He could hear in the background of the call, Damien say to Jason, that they should tell Jessie, “that they were going to get some girls or something.

Jessie stated that he knew what they were up to, and told them that he didn’t want anything to do with it.

He further claimed that he had known who the victims were, because Damien once showed him a picture of the boys while he was hanging out with him and some other teenagers.

Jessie then launched into a bizarre story claiming that what Vickie Hutcheson had been alleging was true, that he and Damien were at Satanic cult meetings together with several other teens, saying it was a group of about 8 or 9 people, who were all friends. The names he gave the two detectives were:

Dennis Carter
Jason Baldwin
Damien Echols
A boy named Adam (Likely Adam Phillips)
Another boy named Ken (Likely Ken Watkins)
Another teenager, which Jessie just referred to as the “New Dude”
Tiffany Allen
Domini Teer
Christina Jones
And another unknown boy described as having blond hair, and being tall and heavy-set

Of theses supposed meetings, which based on the names just sounded like a list of friends that Jessie, Jason and Damien had often spent time hanging out with. And according to Jessie, he said that they had met in numerous different places and would often build fires and just hangout. He claimed however to have once seen a briefcase that someone had brought with them, which had inside a couple of guns and some marijuana and cocaine.

But that wasn’t all, Jessie invented a story about how his group of friends was a cult and would initiate people in by killing dogs, then skinning the dog and eating part of it to get in. And that afterwords the entire group would partake in an orgy and all have sex with one another, including Jason and Damien, who he said were bi-sexual.

The final statement Jessie said concerning these cult meetings was that they all took place on Wednesday nights, and that these meetings had occurred at Robin Hood Hills before, but on that Wednesday night that the victims were murdered, there had been no cult meeting.

The detectives, also inquired with Jessie about the red car, that Vickie Hutcheson claimed Damien and Jessie had picked her up in on the night of a supposed cult meeting. Jessie responded that he thought that Damien might have driven a red car that was owned by Damien’s step-dad, Jack Echols.

The detectives also inquired multiple times about his statement that he had seen a picture of the victims before, stating that this was how he knew that they were victims murdered by Damien. In his description he gave to the police, Jessie said that the picture just showed three boys in front of a house. And accordingly Damien had been watching the victims for a very long time prior to the murders, having seen them in Robin Hood Hills previously and having taken a photo of them. A statement, eerily similar to that of Jessie’s emerged from that of Jason Baldwin’s girlfriend, Heather Cliett, who also told the police she had seen the victims in Robin Hood Hills before.

According to police notes from Officer Diane Hester on May 10, 1993, she picked up Heather Cliett, who had been a friend of Christopher Byers’ older brother, Ryan Clark and also was dating Jason Baldwin at the time of the murders. And when she picked up Heather, she not only led Officer Hester to Robin Hood Hills, but also into Devil’s Den, the area in the woods where the victims were murdered, and said she had seen all three of the victims on multiple occasions playing in Devil’s Den.

Hester’s notes:

PICKED HEATHER CLIETT UP FROM EAST JR. HIGH – WENT TO THE DEAD END OF GOODWIN – SHE TOOK ME TO A PLACE THAT THE KIDS CALL DEVILS DEN WHERE SHE HAS SEEN ALL 3 VICTIMS ON SEVERAL OCCASSIONS RIDING THEIR BIKES. TOOK A FEW PICTURES – RETURNED HER TO SCHOOL @ 10:30 A.M.

Link to Diane Hester’s Notes.

Yet another possible connection emerged out of this interview. According to Christopher Byers’ mother, Melisa Byers, a few months prior to the murders, a man dressed all in black and with black hair had stepped out of car in front of her home and had taken a picture of her son Christopher. Melisa testified to this during Jessie Misskelley’s trial:

Q: Directing your attention to the last of February or the first part of March of 1993, was there an incident involving your son where he said something about a picture being taken of him?

A: Yes, he told us a man had taken a picture of him.

Q: Explain the circumstances of that, where you had been and how long you had been gone.

A: My other son Ryan was home and I needed some milk and cigarettes so there’s a little corner store right down Barton, it’s about two blocks from my house.

So Ryan was upstairs in his room, Chris was playing in the carport, and I said, “I need to run to the store right quick.”

So I left Chris at home. Ryan was there with him. Me and my husband jumped in the car, ran down to the corner store, bought cigarettes and milk and came right back.

When we pulled up in the carport, Chris come running out of the house, and he said, “Mama, there was a man here and he took a picture of me.” 
I said, “What do you mean, took a picture of you?”

He said, “He pulled up in the driveway and he scared me so I ran out in the yard so I could get away from him and he took a picture of me.”
And I said, “What did the man look like?”

He said, “He had black hair. He had on a black coat, black shirt, black pants and black shoes, and he drove a green car.”

The way he described it to me – – he was only an eight-year-old child – – the way he described it to me was like a suit, a man in a suit. That’s what I thought – – a man in a suit, you know, and I didn’t go any further than that.

Q: When he ran out of the house, I mean – –

A: He was under the carport playing.

Q: Well, when he ran out of the house to tell y’all is what I’m talking about. What – –

A: He had ran back into the house and had locked the door.

Q: Okay. And when he ran out to tell you about this, what was his demeanor?

A: He was excited. He was frightened. And Ryan was upstairs and, of course, supposed to be watching his baby brother.

(Damien dressed all in black like in Melissa’s testimony.)

Based on the information procured from Melisa Byers and Jason’s girlfriend, Heather Cliett, it seemed possible, that Damien might have been stalking the victims prior to the day of the murders, similar to Jessie’s account.

The crime according to Jessie had been planned at least to some extent prior by Damien, who he said had also been watching different boys at the local skating rink where he and his friends liked to hangout, apparently looking for potential victims to try and attack.

After all this information had been relayed to Gitchell and Ridge, the two detectives inquired about if either Jason, or Damien had a knife. According to Jessie, Damien didn’t have a knife, which seemed like an odd thing for Jessie to say, considering if he were falsely pointing the finger at a suspect, most people would have claimed that Damien had a knife. Yet, Jessie only stated that Jason had a knife, and further said that Jason ALWAYS carried a knife on him, but said that it was usually a folding knife.

The police notes on this matter reads:

Jason has a folding knife
Damien doesn’t have one
Jason always carries knife

The detectives also once again visited Jessie’s claims that he knew about the murders first hand, because of phone calls he had had with Jason and Damien, saying that there were three calls. One call the day before the murders, trying to convince him to go with them to hurt someone, a second call the next morning from Jason, and a third call the night of the murders from Jason, with Damien in the background of the third call, saying, “We did it! We did it! What are we going to do now? What if somebody saw us?

Det. Bryn Ridge’s report on what happened next:

DURING THE CONVERSATION I STILL FELT THAT JESSIE JR. WAS NOT BEING COMPLETELY TRUTHFULL ABOUT WHAT HAD BEEN SAID DURING THE CONVERSATIONS ON THE PHONE AND HIS TIMES ABOUT WHEN HE HAD GOTTEN OFF WORK ON THE DAY OF THE MURDERS. WHEN ASKED AGAIN ABOUT THOSE TIMES HE STATED THAT HE DIDN’T HAVE A WATCH ON AND THAT HE WASN’T SURE ABOUT THE CALL TIMES OR OF WHAT TIME HE HAD GOTTEN OFF WORK. HOWEVER HE WAS SURE THAT THE PHONE CALL HE HAD GOTTEN FROM JASON WITH DAMIEN IN THE BACKGROUND HAD BEEN AFTER DARK ON THE NIGHT AFTER THE MURDERS.

I ASKED IF HE WERE WILLING TO TAKE A POLYGRAPH ABOUT THE STATEMENT HE HAD JUST GAVE HE STATED THAT HE NEEDED TO THINK ABOUT WHAT HE HAD TOLD.

JESSIE TOLD OF ON ONE OCCASION HE HAD GONE TO THE SCENE OF THE MURDERS AND SAT DOWN ON THE GROUND AND CRIED ABOUT WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO THE BOYS. HE HAD TEARS IN HIS EYES AT THIS TIME TELLING ABOUT THE INCIDENT. I FELT THAT THIS WAS A REMORSEFUL RESPONSE ABOUT THE OCCURRENCE AND THAT HE HAD MORE INFORMATION THAN WHAT HE HAD REVEALED UP TO THIS POINT.

After this, Gitchell took out a piece of paper and drew a circle on it, asking Jessie if he was involved in the murders, saying that everyone who’s involved in the murders was inside the circle he drew. Then he asked Jessie, if he was inside or outside of that circle?

From the trial of Jessie Misskelley:

 

Fogleman: And was there something about a circle?

Gitchell: Yes sir.

Fogleman: Alright. Now was that done before or after you started tape recording?

Gitchell: That was before we started tape recording.

Fogleman: And do you recall the sequence of what took place when?

Gitchell: Uh, during Detective Ridge and I’s, uh conversation with Mr. Misskelley, uh there was a, I believe — I hope this is right — there was a, the diagram which I did, and then the picture and then the tape.

Fogleman: Alright. Were they one behind the other or were things in between?

Gitchell: Uh, there was some in between from the diagram, was the first thing. Then some time passed. And then there was the picture, um, just a few minutes passed from that point to the tape.

Fogleman: Okay. Now on the diagram, describe to the jury what this, what this was, this diagram.

Gitchell: Okay, um, a lot, I’m assuming a lot of people may be familiar with um a term, straddling the fence.

Fogleman: Um-hmm.

Gitchell: And that was sort of along the lines that I was thinking uh, when talking to someone that you do not feel is telling you the complete truth. Uh, quit straddling the fence, be on one side of it or the other. Uh, I did something a little different, in so much as I drew a circle, and I had several dots within that circle and several dots outside.

Fogleman: Okay.

Gitchell: And I asked, which side is he going to be on, on this outside or the inside.

Fogleman: Alright. Now who’s inside the circle?

Gitchell: Uh, no one in particular. No one named or, um, but I, I indicated that law enforcement was on the outside of the circle.

Fogleman: Alright. In general, what was on the inside?

Gitchell: Uh, in general, uh, just who was responsible for these crimes.

Fogleman: Alright. When you did this diagram, did you say these dots inside represent a particular named individual or individuals?

Gitchell: No sir.

Fogleman: Alright. And what did you do with the circle and the dots?

Gitchell: Uh, you mean afterwards or? Just pretty much like I did then, just did it on a piece of paper and that was it.

Fogleman: (interrupting) Alright.

Gitchell: And, of course, showed that to Jessie ’cause he was right there.

Fogleman: Alright. And when you showed it to him, what happened, what did you do?

Gitchell: Uh he, he immediately said that uh, he wanted to be on the outside of the circle with the law enforcement.

Fogleman: Okay. And, um, and then I take it you had some more conversation.

Gitchell: Yes sir.

Fogleman: And then what took place?

Gitchell: Uh, a short time later, uh, I stepped out of the room, uh…

Fogleman: (inaudible) before you, alright is that when you got the picture —

Gitchell: (interrupting) Yes sir —

Fogleman: — when you stepped out of the room? Okay.

Gitchell: I stepped out of the office that we were talking to Jessie in, and um, got this picture, and then also I remembered a recording, uh, of a phrase, just only a phrase, I believe probably a four to five second phrase within that recorded statement that I wanted to play for Jessie.

 

According to Det. Gary Gitchell, following this, he began to feel that Jessie was far more involved in the crime than he was letting on, so he stepped out of the room and grabbed a picture of one of the victims laying on an autopsy table and an audio recording. He then showed the autopsy photo to Jessie to elicit a reaction from him:

Fogleman: Alright. Now, when you came back in the room, uh, I want to show you State’s Exhibit 76 and ask if you recognize that?

Gitchell: Yes sir, this is the, um, photograph that I showed Jessie. It has the number 3 on the front of the photograph, and on the back it’s number 107.

Fogleman: Okay. And what was the response to the photograph?

Gitchell: When I showed Jessie this photograph and he took it into his hand, and he just, he just went back in his chair like this. And, and he just locked in on it, fixed in on the photograph, and just kept staring at it and staring at it. And I could tell that he just was — I didn’t know how long he was going to do that. So I, I took it from his hand, and set it on the table that we were working on.

 

(Gary Gitchell demonstrating how Jessie looked at the photo.)

According to notes taken by Det. Bryn Ridge, Jessie stated in reaction:

Jessie looked hard at Picture and said it was of “Moore Boy” and that it was one of the boys in the Polaroid.

Jessie stated that he didn’t want to be a
part of this that Damien and Jason killed he
did not.

Post-Polygraph interview notes by Bryn Ridge.

Next Gary Gitchell played for Jessie a tape recording of Aarron Hutcheson, a 8-year-old boy, who Jessie baby-sat for, who was friends with the three murder victims, and also was the son of Vickie Hutcheson, the woman that claimed Jessie took her to a cult meeting.

From the trial of Jessie Misskelley:

Fogleman: Okay. And then what happened?

Gitchell: Briefly, just a few minutes after that, of course I um had the tape, which I do have that tape with me at this time —

Fogleman: Alright. Your Honor —

Gitchell: — and I played this small portion of that tape.

Fogleman: Your Honor, we would ask permission to play that portion of the tape.

The Court: Alright. You will be permitted to do so.

Gitchell: This may take a little, you know, problems I had.

(squeaky speeding up of tape noise)

TAPE: Nobody knows what happened but me, out of all — (clicked off)

Gitchell: Should I do that again, your Honor?

The Court: I think so.

TAPE: Nobody knows what happened by me, out of — (clicked off)

Fogleman: Okay, what, what did he say for the jurors that didn’t pick it, catch it?

Gitchell: He said, “Nobody knows what happened but me.”

Fogleman: Okay. Alright. And when you played this tape, what was the defendant’s response?

Gitchell: He, he immediately stated that he wanted to tell us about it, at that point.

Fogleman: Alright. And um, at some point thereafter did Detective Ridge leave the room?

Gitchell: Yes sir, he did.

Fogleman: Alright. And uh, while Detective Ridge was out of the room, what took place?

Gitchell: Uh, at that point, uh, Jessie indicated to me that uh, he was present during that time that the boys were murdered.

Fogleman: Okay. Now was there (cough) had there been some statement, uh, or what statements if any did the defendant make in your presence about having been, uh, at the scene?

Gitchell: He, he had stated earlier that he had been at the scene, um, that um, also that he had gone back to the scene…

Fogleman: Alright, you said gone back. Were those his words?

Gitchell: Yes.

Fogleman: Alright. Did he say that before or after, uh, he admitted being there when it took place?

Gitchell: Uh, let’s see. I, it may have been before.

Fogleman: Okay.

Gitchell: It, it does get a little confusing, even for me.

Fogleman: Alright. What did he say about when he went back to the scene?

Gitchell: That, uh, he went out into the woods, where this occurred, the murders, and he set out and cried.

Fogleman: Alright. And uhh, after he admitted to you that he had been there, um, or I may be jumping ahead of myself. Now tell me again what he said to you while he was, while Detective Ridge was out of the room.

Gitchell: That uh, he was, he was present when the, the boys were murdered.

Fogleman: Alright. And after he admitted to you that he was present, what was the defendant’s response?

Gitchell: Uh, basically, uh, I stopped him at that point.

Fogleman: Alright.

Gitchell: And uh, then I wanted to make sure it, it was obvious at this time we had more than just uh, a person that we were trying to get information from as to other parties. Uh, it was obvious to us that uh, we had a person here that uh, was involved.

Fogleman: Was there any kind of emotional response?

Gitchell: Uh, from Jessie?

Fogleman: Yes.

Gitchell: Uh, well he was emotionally upset, you could tell that, uh, it was an emotional time for myself also.

Fogleman: Alright, when you say it was emotional for him and you could tell it, what told you that —

Gitchell: Well he had, he had tears coming down his eyes.

Fogleman: Alright. Had y’all yelled at him or been mean to him or —

Gitchell: No sir.

Fogleman: — threatened him or promised him anything, done any of those things?

Gitchell: None of those things happened whatsoever.

Fogleman: Alright, now after he admitted to being there, what did you do in order to preserve the conversation?

Gitchell: Okay, uh, I instructed that uh, Detective Ridge, I went out to the room said we need to get a tape recorder which is, this is the identical tape recorder that was used. Uh, the tape recorder was brought into the room, myself and Detective Ridge at that point, we advised him of his rights for the third time that day.

According to Gitchell, Jessie broke down crying after hearing the audio tape of the child he baby-sat for, saying he knew what really happened, because he was there when the murders happened, but insisted that he was only a witness and did not take part in the actual murders. Much like what Jessie had told Buddy Lucas, he had wanted to turn Jason and Damien in, but was afraid of going to prison himself. Jessie would stick to his claim that he was only a witness and only helped in the murders for the next three months, even with his lawyer.

Confession by Jessie Misskelley to his lawyer, Dan Stidham.

Jessie’s father would also be interviewed by the local news, three days after his son confessed, insisting that Jessie was only a witness to the murders.

Transcript from the interview, which aired on June 7, 1993:

Misskelley Sr. : “I don’t believe he did it. ’cause he–

Reporter : “Do you think he might have been with them when they did it?”

Misskelley Sr. : “Yeah he could have been with ’em. But he did not have anything to do with it, I don’t believe.”

Link to the news clip:

Jessie Misskelley Sr. stating that Jessie witnessed the murders.