William Heirens: The Victims Who Lived Part 1

  In researching other controversial convictions involving innocence claims from famous killers, this blog has elected to do a series of pieces involving a close look at the claims of serial killer, William Heirens, kicking off with a look at his lesser known victims who survived their encounters with a teenage killer.

William Heirens


img (5)               (Newspaper ad for the Midway Drexel Apartments.)

  The crime took place on Friday, October 5, 1945 at the Midway Drexel Apartments, located at 6020 Drexel Avenue, near the University of Chicago, which today according to a quick glance at Google Maps the apartment building no longer exists and is now a rather large parking lot used by the University of Chicago. The victim in the crime was a 27-year-old Army nurse named Evelyn Peterson, who was living at the penthouse apartment with her two sisters after finishing out her tour of service on terminal leave, and took place sometime after 6:30 A.M.

Evelyn Peterson photo

  The perpetrator of the crime was William Heirens, a then teenager and notorious serial killer, who following his later guilty plea in a series of murders and crimes, spent the remainder of his life arguing his innocence. And on this particular morning Heirens entered the Midway Drexel apartment building  wearing a leather jacket and carrying a briefcase with him. And as he often did with the many burglaries and crimes he committed he rode the elevator to the top floor in order to begin systematically trying apartment doors to see if they were unlocked, where upon arriving at the top floor he noticed a woman, Helen McDonald, the sister of Evelyn Peterson leave her penthouse apartment. He then proceeded to walk around trying doors to see if any rooms were unlocked, moving from floor to floor, before leaving the building and trying to gain entry to yet another apartment building, but failing to gain entrance at that one.

Evelyn Peterson and sister

  Upon being unable to get into a different building he decided to return to the Midway Drexel, once again taking the Elevator back to the top floor, apparently deciding to see if he could enter the penthouse from the roof, since he saw Helen McDonald leaving and therefore assumed the penthouse would be vacant. While on the roof he located a Skylight window that he could drop down into the penthouse with ease, but before making his entrance, he stopped and defecated near the window, after which he popped open the window and lowered himself inside.

  Inside the apartment Evelyn Peterson was just tidying up with her sister gone, not realizing that Heirens had broken in, only seeing a shadow on the floor when Heirens crept into the room behind her. Before she could turn and see who it was, he struck her in the head with a metal rod of some kind, perhaps some sort of pipe or burglary tool that he had brought with him. She immediately blacked out from the fierce blow to her head and fell to the ground.

  During the time Peterson was blacked out, he located an electrical cord from a table lamp in the apartment and loosely tied his victim’s arms. He also tore open a suit case, dumping the contents on the floor,  locating $150 which he stole in his ransacking, and then quickly left the penthouse and shut the door. Instead of just leaving and fleeing though, he then began banging on the door, shouting, asking if whoever was inside needed help, pretending to be a helpful stranger. Why did he do this? Did he want to invent an excuse for why he had been in her apartment in case there were any witnesses to the crime? Did he sincerely want to help Evelyn Peterson after having attacked her, perhaps not wanting to claim another murder victim? Whatever was his reason, Heirens was now pretending to be a stranger who stumbled upon a crime, trying to steer and control his connection to the crime; that he wasn’t the perpetrator.

  Evelyn Peterson awoke in her apartment to the sounds of Heirens banging on her door, calling for her, noticing her hands were tied up. She got up off the floor with her hands still bound and walked to the apartment door and opened it, letting Heirens in. Heirens once again entered the apartment, helping put a blanket around Evelyn Peterson, but not untying her, simply telling her to stay quiet, walking her to a chair in the living room and sitting her down. Evelyn was barely able to talk, but Heirens offered to help her call someone, but was unable to reach her sister Margaret over the phone, who worked at a hospital with her other sister Helen. Heirens then left Evelyn and told her he was going to get her some help.

  Upon leaving the apartment, Heirens boarded the elevator again, riding it to the main floor of the building, and located the office of the building Super-Intendent, David Vosberg, to which he stated, “There’s an injured woman upstairs, you should call a doctor.”

  “Where,” inquired Vosberg.

  “In the Penthouse,” said Heirens.

  “I’ll go up immediately,” replied Vosberg, rushing from the room and to the penthouse to check on the tenant. Meanwhile Heirens left the building, heading off to his near-by college.

  Once at the apartment, Vosberg found the door to the apartment was unlocked and let himself in. He found Evelyn Peterson sitting in the chair in her living room still tied up. She was in a confused and dazed state, but wasn’t bleeding from her attack. Vosberg untied her and immediately called an ambulance and the police to the building, taking her to the hospital. At the hospital it was determined that her skull was fractured, but that the object that was used to beat her had not broken her skin.

img (2)                   (Chicago Tribune article on the Peterson attack.)

  Detectives investigating the attack on Peterson at the time had initially considered the helpful youth who found Evelyn Peterson a suspect, but according to the book, “Murder Man,” by Thomas Downs, had dismissed him during their investigation, never managing to locate the youth at the time and find out his identity as William Heirens. They wrongly concluded that he was just a helpful stranger, just as Heirens had passed himself off as, concluding that maybe he was a door-to-door salesman who had let himself into the building, hence the briefcase and then left, because he perhaps he didn’t want to explain how he had gained entrance to the building in the first place. An investigation by detectives working the crime scene turned up fingerprints from the suspect. They were also able to determine that Peterson’s attacker had entered through the skylight window, noticing that the burglar had defecated near the window.

  Following Heirens’ final arrest by police, detectives matched his fingerprints to a print found in Peterson’s apartment, they also pointed out the similar circumstances to other burglaries by Heirens, in which he had defecated at the crime scenes, as well as the crime having occurred near his college, and eye witnesses which included David Vosberg and Peterson herself, who identified him as the helpful youth who found Peterson. However Heirens initially denied the attack, despite the evidence against him, shown here in this excerpt from his police interview:

Q. Now, Bill, on Oct. 5, 1945, at 6020 Drexel Avenue in Chicago, a girl, Evelyn Peterson, who was a Wac lieutenant, was raped and robbed in her apartment in a penthouse at that address, about 5 o’clock in the morning. Did you do that?

A. I didn’t do anything like that.

Q. Do you know who did do that?

A. No.

Q. Do you know where you were on the morning of Oct. 5, 1945?

A. No. Five o’clock, I don’t get up that early.

Q. Your finger and palm prints were found at that place, Bill. Can you explain how they got there?

A. I can’t explain, but they can’t be mine.

Q. The landlady identified you as being there.

A. Well, I was not there.

heirens police line-up

img (3)                   (Chicago Tribune article on Evelyn Peterson.)

img (1)

  Eventually the eye witnesses identified him as the young man in the leather jacket carrying a briefcase, who had been casing the apartment building, and after confessing to his involvement in the murders of Josephine Ross, Frances Brown, and Suzanne Degnan, Heirens also admitted his involvement in the attack on Evelyn Peterson as well, however after pleading guilty to the murders and numerous other crimes, he slowly began to deny his guilt in all of the crimes, including the Evelyn Peterson case, providing a convoluted story to author Delores Kennedy in the book, “William Heirens: His Day in Court,” arguing that he was simply out robbing apartments on the morning that Peterson was attacked, and while in the process of looking for an apartment to rob, he stumbled upon Evelyn Peterson, who had been attacked and robbed by another burglar, and that it was just all a crazy coincidence that he, a burglar had stumbled on a woman who had been beaten unconscious and robbed by another burglar, while he was in the process of looking to rob an apartment in the same exact building at the same exact time. In his story he also admits that he was there, and that it was his fingerprints in the apartment and that the witnesses did in fact correctly identify him as being present in the apartment building at the time of the attack and even in the apartment.

Located on pages 84-85, of “William Heirens: His day in Court,” by Dolores Kennedy, Heirens’ account of the crime reads as follows:

  “Simultaneously, Bill’s fingerprints were compared with the lone “smudged” fingerprint found on the wall in the Drexel Avenue apartment of Evelyn Peterson, an army nurse who had been assaulted on Oct. 5, 1945 and robbed of $150. Despite her protestation that ‘I saw the man for a minute and I wouldn’t be able to identify him,’ Peterson acquiesced, flew back to Chicago from her residence in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and viewed Bill in a police lineup. Her response of ‘I am more inclined than not to say he is the man, but I must think about it because I am confused,’ satisfied police, and they determined that the fingerprint belonged to Bill.

  “It was a particularly confusing situation. Police reported that Lieutenant Peterson’s assailant had, apparently, entered her penthouse apartment through a skylight on the roof. The intruder struck her on the head from behind, ransacked her apartment, stealing the money, and fled. Shortly thereafter, a young man appeared at her door, found her in need of help, and, at her request, tried to call her sister at Billings Hospital where she was employed. Unable to connect with the sister, he left the apartment and notified the manager that one of his tenants was injured.

  “Bill Heirens admits that he was prowling through the building at 6020 Drexel Avenue on the day in question.

  “‘I had just started the university and was still living at home during that period,’ he says. ‘My dad had dropped me off on his way to work and I had an hour before class. I decided to put it to use by burglarizing. I entered the Midway-Drexel and went to the top floor to begin my routine of covering the floors downward. As I got out of the elevator, a woman coming down a short flight of stairs from a penthouse apartment met me and asked who I was looking for. I made up a name and was told he didn’t live on that floor. The woman was Evelyn Peterson’s sister, Helen McDonald, and she was on her way to work at Billings. I rode the elevator with her, left the building and went to another apartment building south of there, but couldn’t gain admittance.

  “‘I returned to the hotel and again went to the top floor. This time, I heard someone shouting and banging on the door on the penthouse apartment. I looked up the staircase and saw Margaret Peterson, another of Evelyn Peterson’s sisters, trying to open the door with her key. I asked her if she needed help and she said her key did not work and perhaps her sister was playing a trick on her. She said she had just gotten off work and was anxious to eat breakfast and go to bed. Since she couldn’t get into the apartment, she decided to have breakfast elsewhere and return.

  “‘I left with her, but didn’t leave the building. When Margaret Peterson referred to her sister, I thought she meant Helen McDonald, who I knew had already left the apartment, so I believed there would be no one home. The door to the penthouse was located in an area that couldn’t be seen from the hallway, so I thought I could break in the door by forcing it. To make certain no one was home, I knocked on the door.

  “‘As I was knocking, the door latch clicked and the door opened. Evelyn Peterson stood there with a blanket around her. She was in a daze and appeared to be hurt. I thought she might have slipped and fallen, or maybe something exploded in the apartment, so I led her to a chair and looked around. She asked me to phone Billings Hospital for her sister and gave me a phone number, but I got no answer and began to realize that my position was precarious as I didn’t want to have to explain what I was doing there. I left the apartment, rode the elevator to the lobby, and informed the manager that a tenant had been injured.

  “‘At that time, I didn’t know the names of the people involved and didn’t know a crime had occurred. I believed that Evelyn Peterson had been injured in an accident. Nine months later, when I was arrested, I was told that my fingerprints matched those found in the Peterson apartment and was charged with assault and robbery. And, of course, I was identified by the manager as the man who had told him about Evelyn Peterson.’

  “News reports of the incident speculated that the assailant was holding the door from inside, thus preventing Margaret Peterson from entering.

  “‘If my case had gone to trial,’ Bill says, ‘Margaret Peterson would have had to testify that I was with her when she was trying to open the door, so I could not have been responsible for her sister’s injuries.'”

  For some reason Dolores Kennedy tries to cast doubt on Heirens’ involvement in the attack on Peterson, acting as if the recovered fingerprints of Heirens inside Evelyn Peterson’s apartment might not be his stating, Bill’s fingerprints were compared with the lone ‘smudged’ fingerprint found on the wall in the Drexel Avenue apartment of Evelyn Peterson,” trying to argue that they were “smudged,” therefore maybe they weren’t his as she seemed to be implying. She cements this view with Heirens’ statement:

  “I was told that my fingerprints matched those found in the Peterson apartment and was charged with assault and robbery.”

  Again, seeming to try and cast doubt on the match, and indeed elsewhere in her book she attempts to cast doubt on other fingerprints matched to Heirens in the murders he pled guilty to. But why should we doubt the match in the Peterson case, when Heirens himself says in his own words that he was there in the apartment building and even in the victim’s apartment, saying he had found her after the attack? Clearly he was there, by his own admission.

  Kennedy also tries to cast doubt on the eye witness statements, particularly that of Evelyn Peterson, the victim herself in the attack, directly accusing her of being pressured by the police to falsely identify Heirens in her attack, stating:

  “Despite her protestation that ‘I saw the man for a minute and I wouldn’t be able to identify him,’ Peterson acquiesced, flew back to Chicago from her residence in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and viewed Bill in a police lineup. Her response of ‘I am more inclined than not to say he is the man, but I must think about it because I am confused,’ satisfied police, and they determined that the fingerprint belonged to Bill.”

  Again, Kennedy’s accusations against the victim and witnesses fall flat, as Heirens says he was there in the building and in the apartment, so why doubt the victim identification? Why is she so determined to try and cast doubt on the fingerprint identification and the eye witness identifications with no evidence to support her accusations in the Peterson case? Again, Heirens’ own admission he was present makes her dispute on the print and identifications a moot point, as it’s direct evidence of his involvement in the crime; it’s Heirens stating first-hand that he was present at the crime scene when the crime occurred.

  Addressing Heirens’ other claims that he makes to Dolores Kennedy, that he never went to the roof and entered Peterson’s apartment through her skylight window, author Lucy Freeman, stated the following in her book, “Before I Kill More…” on page 38 in regards to burglaries committed by William Heirens:

  “Police reported that defecation and urinations frequently appeared in the burglarized rooms. Feces were sometimes left in the middle of the floor or the bathtub, or perhaps in a jewelry or handkerchief box. They had been found, too just outside the trap door through which the assailant had entered Miss Peterson’s apartment, according to Officer Arthur T. Linderman, who took the official photographs of most of the scenes of the crimes for the police department.”

According to Lucy Freeman, Officer Arthur T. Linderman, who photographed the crime scenes of many of the cases committed by Heirens, that at the Evelyn Peterson crime scene, detectives found human feces left near her skylight window, just like many of his other burglaries, which seemed to be committed for the thrill of it; that Heirens was doing his crimes because to him they were fun, doing them for a thrill. And the fact that he defecated on the roof indicates he was indeed up there, outside of her skylight window as the circumstantial evidence would suggest from the pattern established in his other burglaries.

  His final claim to Kennedy involved Margaret Peterson, the sister of Evelyn Peterson, insisting that he could not have been in the apartment attacking Evelyn Peterson, because he and Margaret Peterson were outside banging on the door to the apartment:

  “‘If my case had gone to trial,’ Bill says, ‘Margaret Peterson would have had to testify that I was with her when she was trying to open the door, so I could not have been responsible for her sister’s injuries.'”

  It’s very convenient for Heirens to claim that Margaret Peterson would have made claims that some how absolve him when the witness was no longer alive to refute his accusation. Where was she during his initial appeals in the 1940’s and ’50’s, why didn’t she say something at that time? Or why didn’t Heirens during his initial appeals? Or when he initially plead guilty, why didn’t either he or she say anything then? His lawyers didn’t have the information on what she would have said? Heirens never mentioned it to them? Heirens never told them that he had an alibi witness that supposedly proved he didn’t attack Peterson? He never discussed the crimes he was pleading guilty to with his lawyers? Wasn’t it also very possible based just on his own story that because he saw Hellen McDonnell leave the apartment and saw Margaret Peterson struggle and fail to get into the apartment, that he decided the apartment was therefore empty and safe to break into, resulting in him walking to the roof of the building? Or maybe Margaret was unable to gain entry to the apartment, because Heirens had already broken in therefore concocted an alibi for why he was in the apartment with the unconscious victim?

  It stretches believability  to argue that Heirens was innocent in the Evelyn Peterson case, as his fingerprints were found in the victim’s apartment. Eye witnesses, including the victim herself and the building superintendent, David Vosberg, identified Heirens as being in the victim apartment and in the building on the day in question. Circumstantial pattern evidence was located in the form of the human feces found outside the Skylight window of the victim’s apartment, again indicating Heirens was involved, and you also had the circumstantial evidence that Heirens was a burglar, who admitted he was in the building on the day in question looking to break into apartments that day. The evidence is so strong, that even in arguing his innocence in the case, he had to admit that he was there and did in fact help the victim and spoke to David Vosberg, which would be direct evidence of his involvement. The crime even occurred near the University of Chicago, where Heirens was going to college at the time, with the building now demolished and turned into a parking lot for the very same college. In fact the evidence is so strong in this case that it demonstrates that Evelyn Peterson was extremely lucky that day, and could have ended up the next murder victim of a serial killer, but for whatever reason, perhaps because of a fear of being caught, or guilt over attacking her, Heirens spared Peterson’s life that day.


A Killer’s Confession?

Tuesday, May 11, 1993. The time? Roughly 11:23 AM. A phone rings inside the West Memphis Police Station, as an operator answers the line, responding, “Police Department?

Immediately the voice of a young male, possibly a teenager begins to talk in a taunting manner, stating, “I’m the one who killed the kids, three kids, what ya’ gonna do?” The caller then hastily hangs up the phone and the line goes dead.

A police report on the incident was made the following morning by Diane Ramsey.

Who was this mysterious caller? Was it the killer?

Listen to the actual audio at the link below and decide for yourself:

Audio of the killer’s confession?


The Boot Injury

Jackie Hicks, the grandfather of Stevie Branch on Page 134 of the book, The Blood of Innocents:

“Some son of a bitch has done a number on this baby with a pair of combat boots or engineer’s boots,” Hicks told himself, then others.

Jackie would make the same assertion during his March 16, 1993 appearance on the show Geraldo. During the episode, Geraldo Rivera asked Jackie about what had happened to his grandson, which is described below:

Geraldo: Tell us. Help us understand that. What did they do to him? 

Mr. HICKS: What did they do to him? His jaw was completely tore loose from his face. His eye was busted in the socket. His chest and all was kicked and stomped. His face was kicked and stomped–just pitiful, pitiful. It’s something that a decent human being wouldn’t even do to a live dog, let alone a human being.

In both the film, West of Memphis and in news accounts on animal predation claims in the murders of Michael Moore, Stevie Branch, and Christopher Byers, a heavily cropped and enlarged autopsy photo was shown, alleged to be a turtle bite by those working for the defense or the film makers and celebrities helping the defense.

A link to a photo of the alleged “turtle bite” injury.

However testimony during the appeals process revealed that this injury was inflicted while alive, inflicted by an unknown implement according to Dr. Frank Peretti. And in fact there were numerous related injuries all on the face and head of victim, Stevie Branch, which one could not see in the cropped and enlarged photo that the defense and film makers presented to the public. But most significant was a rectangular or square like pattern which is visible in  numerous autopsy photos and even in the photo presented in West of Memphis.

The “turtle bite” injury seen in another autopsy photo, in a non-enlarged photo, with very minimal cropping.

The mysterious pattern highlighted.

A collage of several different photos of the same injury showing the rectangular pattern.

It appears, just from looking at multiple autopsy photos, that there was a pattern on Stevie’s face, like that of the sole of a boot or shoe print, which was more likely the source and cause of the so-called “turtle bite” injury.


(Brent Turvey.)

Brent Turvey, a criminal profiler, hired by the defense had similarly discussed in an online chat the possibility of footwear impressions being on the head of Stevie Branch, though he discussed an injury on the back of the victim’s head that was shown during appeals to not be a footwear impression but an injury resulting from the back of his head slamming into the ground as the front of his head took a massive impact from whatever had struck him.

Below is Truvey’s conversation mentioning additional types of injuries the defense was looking into:

<Ratgrrl> What are pattern wounds exactly and what other kinds of wounds did you see on the kids?

<Brent_Tur> Rat– Potential footwear impression on the back of Stevie Branches head. Belt marks from a severe whipping, cutting deep into the tissue on Chris Byers thigh, and an impression from the knife hilt in the genital area of chris byers, where he was emasculated.

Link to Turvey’s full online chat.

Notice he mentions a footwear impression, but as stated before the specific injury he was discussing was determined to be the result of an impact to the front of Stevie Branch’s face, and therefore could not be a footwear impression. However that still left the injuries that Jackie Hicks described, saying that it looked like someone kicked and stomped on his face. Did Hicks just presume that his grandson had been kicked and stomped on with a pair of boots? Or did someone in Law Enforcement tell him that theory? And why was the defense investigating the notion that he had his head stomped on?


(Boots worn by Damien Echols.)

An Overlooked Witness?

In September of 1993, a then 27-year-old woman, by the name of Carrie Morris, provided a handwritten statement to police, alleging that on the date of the murders, that she had witnessed Damien Echols following Michael Moore in the hours prior to the crime. And as an additional item of interest, Mrs. Morris, happened to also be a long time family friend of the Moores, and could recognize Michael on sight.

Today in 2018, Carrie Morris still says she saw Damien following Michael on the day of the murders. In a series of posts she has made to social media, she again reaffirmed what she saw.

(Carrie Morris’s statements on Facebook.)

(September 29, 1993 police statement by Carrie Morris.)

Her 1993 police statement reads as follows:

On Wednesday, May 5, 1993, I was going toward Barton we, when I saw Michael Moore walking about 3 house’s in front of Mr. Echols. Michael Moore was going home to get his bicycle to go trail riding with Steve Branch. This was at about 3:30 or 4p.m. About an hour later Michael, Steve, Chris came and ask my daughter (Tiffany Morris 8 years old) to go ridin with them. I told them no. We left to go to Memphis, when they were chasing my truck. This was about 4:30pm.

Her timeline of events has the incident occurring at sometime around the window of 3:30 or 4:00 PM.

A police interview with Damien Echols’ friend, Jennifer Bearden states that on the day of the murders he was on the phone with several girls, including Bearden, her friend Holly George, and Jason Baldwin’s girlfriend, Heather Cliett. According to Bearden she was on the phone with Damien at some time around 3:15 or 3:30 PM that day, and that during this call he stated that he was going to walk to his friend, Jason Baldwin’s house.

An excerpt from Bearden’s interview with Detective Ridge:

Jennifer: We weren’t talking about much we were just talking about you know if we were going to the skating rink this weekend, that weekend, and um, and Holly had to get off the phone, because her mom needed to use it. And um, I said Damien I’ll call you right back, she said, he said okay, and so he hang up, and um call, and I called him back. And we talked for a little bit, and he goes can you call me back, I’m going to Jason’s, he said call me in about 30 minutes, and I said okay. I called him back in about 30 minutes at Jason’s.

Ridge: And about what time was that call you made to Jason’s?

Jennifer: Between, it had to be some where in between 4:15 and 5, something like that 5, 5:30.

Ridge: Who answered the phone at Jason’s?

Jennifer: Jason.

Ridge: And did you talk to Damien?

Jennifer: Yeah, I talked to Jason about 5 minutes and the (inaudible) with Damien and he really wasn’t talking, because they were playing video games with his little brother Matt.

Based on Bearden’s events, that meant that sometime between 3:15 and 3:30, Damien got off the phone with her and began walking to Jason’s house. This gave Damien a roughly half hour to 45 minute window in which Carrie Morris could have in-fact seen Damien, as she said she saw him at some point between 3:30 and 4:00PM.

(Location of the sighting in relation to Damien’s home and the crime scene.)

Testimony from Damien at trial also stated that he often walked from his house directly to the service road on the other side of Robin Hood Hills in order to reach Jason’s house. And to do this he often walked around or near 14th Street.

(Area Damien walked to get to Jason’s house.)

Returning to Carrie Morris’s statement, she further stated:

Damien & Michael were both walking South on 700 block North Wilson on the East side of the street. I know it was Damien Echols because I saw his picture in paper after he was arrested. I knew it was Michael from school and knowing his parents all my life & known Michael for about 3 years ever since they moved back from Florida.


(Exact location of the Morris sighting.)

According to the sighting, Michael Moore was seen walking on the block behind his house, while Damien followed behind him.

(Homes of LG Hollingsworth and Heather Cliett in relation to the sighting.)

It’s of note that the location that Morris spotted Damien is also near-by to the homes of Heather Cliett and LG Hollingsworth. Cliett was one of the girls Damien had spoken to multiple times over the phone on the day of the murders, and LG was a friend of his who also happened to be the cousin of his then girlfriend Domini Teer. LG was also himself was investigated as a suspect in the murders and made a handful of statements indicating he could have been involved the crime, possibly after the fact.

Heather Cliett though, in an affidavit made in 2008 added a startling new piece of information to the puzzle. She claimed that on the day of the murders, stating that on May 5th, 1993, prior to the victims going missing, Christopher Byers was at her home. This is significant, as Damien had been speaking with her on the phone on that same day, and in relation to the Carrie Morris sighting, Damien was a short distance from Heather’s home when he was seen following Michael Moore around.

(Excerpt from Heather Cliett’s 2008 Affidavit.)

Given the time frame and location, the statement made by Carrie Morris would seem very significant, as it could be true. The time is compatible with the time that Damien left his home, and is in the general direction he would have walked to get to Jason Baldwin’s house, so it’s the right time and the right place. And the location of the sighting is near the home of one of the girls Damien was talking to on the day of the murders, and this same girl says that one of the victims was at her house that day.

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:


MISSKELLEY: I went with them and then I

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



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.


MISSKELLEY: When they hollered, when they seen them boys

DETECTIVE RIDGE: The little boys came on over? 


(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.


MISSKELLEY: When they hollered, when they seen them boys

DETECTIVE RIDGE: The little boys came on over? 


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:


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,


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

MISSKELLEY: Christopher

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


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?


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 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?


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?


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,


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

MISSKELLEY: Christopher

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


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?


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


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


DETECTIVE GITCHELL: In his groin area?

MISSKELLEY: (No audio register) 


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?



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?


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?


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?


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?


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.


MISSKELLEY: That’s where I was at.


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.



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?


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



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?


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.


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?


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.

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:


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:


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:


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:




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.

Facts Predating Jessie Misskelley’s June 3, 1993 Confession

(Jessie Misskelley trying to hide his face as his confession is played.)

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.


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: 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.

                   (Buddy Lucas.)

A full detailed summery of the confession to Buddy Lucas can be read at the link below:

The Buddy Lucas Confession.

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.

(Lee Rush.)

A full account of Jessie’s crying fits can be found at the link below:

Jessie’s Crying Fits.

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.”

(Vickie Hutcheson.)

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.









Audio of the conversation with Jesse Hurst can be found at this link:

Hurst Statement

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:


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?

A] No.

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.

Q] Uh-huh?

A] Kind of.

Q] Uh-huh?

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] No.

Q] Okay?

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?

A] Yeah.

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.


   (Photo of Jason Baldwin wearing the Axe Pendent Necklace.)

                                                                (Drawing by Jason Baldwin of the necklace.)

(Damien Echols wearing the Axe Necklace at Skate World.)

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.

Damien Echols and DNA

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.

(Statement by David Sims.)

Sims had also stated that Jessie was scared of Damien:

The facts surrounding the Tracy Laxton incident can be read at the link below:

Tracy Laxton Incident.

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.

Felicia Williams Statement.

More about Robert Burch can be read at the link below:

The Skating Rink Confessions.

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.

Link to Commercial Appeal story.

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:




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:

The post conviction statements.

(Jessie in the back of a cop car moments before confessing again.)

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.


Click here to read more about Jessie’s confession.