The Discovery of the Sticks

A controversial element to the crime, or at least controversial to supporters of the WM3 was that of the three sticks recovered by investigators at the crime scene, with many supporters refusing to believe that they may have been murder weapons as the prosecution contended, or that they had entirely no relevance to the crime alleging that because two of them were not recovered from the crime scene on the day the bodies were discovered, that they held no connection to the homicides.

The Discovery of E-138 and E-139—

E-139bat

(E-139, a large stick that was recovered near the body of Michael Moore.)

According to Det. Bryn Ridge, that as he was searching the ditch for evidence, approaching the location where Michael Moore’s body was discovered, a stick that was shoved down into the mud had come free and floated to the surface. The stick was shoved straight down into the bottom of the ditch with a shirt from one of the victims wrapped around it.

Testimony on the matter was elicited by Deputy Prosecutor John Fogleman at trial:

Ridge: This item is a stick that – when Sergeant Allen told me he had located the body and pointed out the area where the body had been located, I was up on the west bank which is a high bank. Ok. I proceeded to the north, come down into the creek, and began walking down into the creek and searching that creek. In searching the creek, I would start in the waterline on one side, rake all the way through and get back on the other side – see if anything was there before I would walk through that area, which could possibly destroy any evidence. Ok. I had walked approximately 10 feet and gotten almost to that body when this stick was uh – dislodged and when it came floating up out of the water uh – this shirt was discovered, and the shirt was wrapped around the end of the stick –

 

Fogleman: Ok.

 

Ridge: – and all that was jabbed down into the mud in the bottom of the ditch.

 

Fogleman: Alright. Now when you say it was dislodged when you were walking toward that area, what if anything could you see about that stick?

 

Ridge: Just the end of the stick sticking up out of the water.

This stick was documented in several crime scene photos due to the fact that it was near the body of Michael Moore and had a shirt wrapped around it. It was not originally taken in as evidence as it was unknown what the murder weapon was at that time and no autopsy had yet been done. Eventually weeks later, using photos of the crime scene, investigators recovered this stick, labeling it as E-139 and also recovered a second stick next to it as another possible weapon which they labeled as E-138.

MooreE-139

(Photo of investigators discovering E-139 as they pull the body of Michael Moore from the ditch.)

MooreE-139b

(E-139 highlighted in the above image.)

MooreE-139b3

(A visual comparison between the recovered stick known as E-139 and that of the stick shown in the ditch.)

As stated above, Bryn Ridge discovered the stick which he noticed particularly because a shirt had been wrapped around it, indicating that the killer or killers had more than likely had contact with it, an observation not made at the time.

E-139

(Victim T-shirt being removed from the end of E-139.)

clothing_243

(Shirt removed from E-139.)

Ridgesticks

(Testimony along with the corresponding photo depicting the discovery of E-138 and E-139.)

same stick 2

(Comparison image with a photo of E-139 again demonstrating that the stick pictured is the same one in the crime scene photos from the day the bodies were discovered.)

same stick 3

(Another comparison photo with E-139, again showing that it is the same stick that was recovered.) 

same stick

(Comparison photo showing that E-138 is indeed the stick seen floating next to E-139 in the above photo.)

Stick location

(Where the two sticks were located. This location is directly in front of what became known as the “slicked off” ditch bank which was the same location where Moore’s body was discovered.)

Neither of these two sticks were taken into evidence on the day the bodies were discovered. They were initially missed as evidence despite the significance of E-139 having the shirt wrapped around it, which again indicated that it had been handled by whoever killed the boys.

As for E-138, it was a similarly large stick found directly next to E-139, but was more dubious as there was nothing that directly demonstrated a connection between it and the murders in the same manner that E-139 did. It was recovered because it was directly next to E-139 under the premise that E-139 was a murder weapon and therefore E-138 might have been as well.

Following the confession of Jessie Misskelley, Ridge returned to the crime scene and recovered E-138 and E139, the sticks he had discovered and neglected to take into custody on the day the bodies were discovered.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
TRIPLE HOMICIDE
BYERS/MOORE/BRANCH

ON 070193, I WENT TO THE CRIME SCENE TO DETERMINE IF ANY EVIDENCE COULD BE FOUND THAT HAD BEEN OVERLOOKED DURING THE INITIAL SEARCHES OF THE AREA THAT THE ABOVE NOTED HOMICIDE. WHILE AT THE SCENE AND THINKING ABOUT THE CASE SO FAR AND THE STATEMENTS THAT HAD BEEN MADE BY THE DEFENDANT JESSIE MISSKELLEY JR. I DISCOVERED THAT THERE WERE TWO STICKS ON THE SCENE THAT HAD GONE PREVIOUSLY UNDETECTED. IN THE STATEMENT THAT JESSIE HAD GIVEN HE DESCRIBED A STICK THAT HAD BEEN USED BY ONE OF THE CO-DEFENDANTS TO BEAT THE VICTIMS ON THE HEAD WITH. I SEIZED THE STICKS AND BROUGHT THEM TO THE POLICE DEPARTMENT TO BE SENT TO THE CRIME LAB FOR ANALYSIS TO DETERMINE IF THEY COULD HAVE BEEN THE SAME AS JESSIE STATED HAD BEEN USED TO BEAT THE VICTIMS. THE STICKS WERE PLACED IN THE EVIDENCE FILES AND WILL BE SENT TO THE CRIME LAB UNDER NUMBERS E-138 AND E-139.

DETECTIVE B. RIDGE
WEST MEMPHIS POLICE DEPARTMENT

 

THE DISCOVERY OF E-17—

The third and final stick recovered was E-17, the only stick to be taken into evidence immediately at the crime scene, due to the fact that it appeared to have parts of it carved off or missing. It was found floating around the location of the bodies of Chris Byers and Stevie Branch.

Ridgestick

(Discovery of E-17 with testimony on it’s discovery.)

Ridgestick2

(E-17 highlighted in the discovery photo above.)

IMG_0038

(All three sticks in evidence.)

THE STICKS AS WEAPONS—

  Testimony was given both at trial and during appeals that it appeared as if two different weapons were used to strike Michael Moore in the head. On the left side of his head, were several injuries that appeared like thin lines, which were inflicted with a weapon that was consistent with a thin stick like E-17.

From the trial of Jessie Misskelley, Dr. Frank Peretti stated the following under questioning by Prosecutor Brent Davis:

Peretti: Ok. State’s exhibit 59A, 62A, 61A, 63A will demonstrate the head injuries and some of the chest injuries. State’s exhibit 59A shows a laceration over the left forehead region and also we can see an abrasion. When I talk about abrasions, I’m going to be using the terms–abrasion means a scrape or a scratch and a contusion means a bruise, in layman’s terms black and blue. Here we can see, on the left side, we can see the laceration and also we can see an abrasion on the right side of the forehead. State’s exhibit 62A is a view of the head showing the left side and here we can see…

Brent Davis: [interrupting] Doctor, excuse me just a second, was the hair shaved back so that could be photographed?

Peretti: Yes. I shaved the hair. Here we can see three impact points on the scalp. We have three separate scalp lacerations surrounded by an abrasion and contusions surrounding the wound. Above the eyebrow, we have an abrasion immediately adjacent to the eyebrow or scrape and also on this photograph, we can see a bruise or contusion noted below the left eye, this dark discoloration here. On State’s exhibit 61A, we have two abrasions or scrapes on the top of the head, that ovoid-we have two separate impact sites here.

Davis: Now Doctor, I notice that the injuries depicted in exhibit…what number is that?

Peretti: 61A.

Davis:…61A are different than those that appear in the previous exhibit 62A?

Peretti: That’s correct.

Davis: Can you explain to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury, based on your experience and expertise in this field, why we have different type injuries?

Peretti: Well, we have two different instruments–weapons are being used, inflicting these type of injuries.

Davis: And when you say–what type of instrument would you expect to be used or a general description of the type of instrument that would inflict the injury in 61A, I believe?

Peretti: On 61A, we’re looking for an object with a broad surface–wide surface area.

Davis: Doctor, would that be consistent with say a log aproximately 2 to 3 or 3 to 4 inches in diameter?

Peretti: An object of that nature is consistent with inflicting these type of injuries.

Davis: Okay. Now the injuries that you see in photograph number 62A, you said it would have been inflicted by a different type weapon. What could have caused that? Or what type of instrument would you expect to cause those injuries?

Peretti: Well, this wound has different characteristics than the previously shown wound. Here we have lacerations, or in laymen’s terms cuts, on the scalp that are somewhat irregular. Some are straight, some have a stellate appearance and these type of injuries here indicate an object of a smaller diameter such as, you know, a piece of wood, a 2 by 4, a stick or broom handle are capable of inflicting these type of injuries here.

Davis: So, something about the size of a broom handle?

Peretti: Yes.

Below are links to photos of these injuries, which are shown here due to their relevant case value.

Located on the left side of Michael Moore’s head were several thin impact injuries which broke the skin on his head.

WARNING! Autopsy photo! WARNING!

Located on the right side of Moore’s head were a couple of very different injuries that were large and semi-circular in appearance, which were consistent with a large stick or log having struck him, such as E-139; the stick located near his body with the shirt wrapped around it.

WARNING! Autopsy photo! WARNING!

In the next photo, it shows the same injuries underneath the skin. It can plainly be seen that there are circular injuries creating a more clear pattern onto the skull.

WARNING! Autopsy photo! WARNING!

stick

(E-139 presented in court. It was a likely murder weapon used in the death of Michael Moore.)

Dr. Terri Haddix, a Forensic Pathologist consulted with by the defense, stated in her own report from October 22, 2007 the following on the injuries to Moore’s head, particularly these circular fractures:

“The items potentially responsible for producing the scalp contusions, abrasions and lacerations are legion and the appearence of the cutaneous injuries doesn’t particularly help narrow the field. However, the curvilinear skull fractures identified during Moore’s autopsy are suggestive of an object with a similar curvilinear profile.”

Haddix states that you can see with your own two eyes, that the weapon that created the large circular fractures must also be large and have a rounded shape. This further demonstrates that E-139 is the likely weapon responsible for those injuries.

The next relevant injury  for this discussion is yet another thin line like injury found on the top of Chris Byers’ head, again consistent with being inflicted with a weapon such as E-17.

WARNING! Autopsy photo! WARNING!

And finally, Stevie Branch, who also had injuries from being beaten with an object also had a pattern on his thigh, from which it appeared he had been restrained with a long thin object consistent with E-17.

WARNING! Autopsy photo! WARNING!

During questioning by John Fogleman at trial it was heavily suggested by Det. Gary Gitchell that in his opinion from working at the crime scene, that a stick, likely E-17 had created the clear pattern on Stevie’s thigh.

Q: Do you know whether or not – – are you aware of any evidence that would indicate that there had been some sort of binding other than the shoestrings?
A: Some markings of their legs.

MR. STIDHAM: I’m going to object to that. He’s not the medical examiner.
MR. Fogleman: He can state what he observed.
THE COURT: Are you testifying from reports, records or from your own personal observation?
THE WITNESS: From my own observation.
THE COURT: Overruled.

BY MR. Fogleman:
Q: I want to show you State’s Exhibit 59B, the mark across the leg here. Did you observe that?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What did you observe?
A: Well, the – –
(p. 956)
MR. STIDHAM: May I interpose another objection? Your Honor, I think that calls for pure unadulterated speculation on the part of this witness who is not qualified to render such an opinion.
MR. Fogleman: Your Honor, I asked him what he observed.
THE COURT: I’m going to allow him to testify to what he observed on the victims’ bodies. I’m not going to let him speculate as to the cause of the observation. Your objection will be sustained in that regard. He may testify to what he personally observed.

BY MR. Fogleman:
Q: What did you observe?
A: I observed this bruising. I believe it was on the left leg stretching approximately three and a half inches of the leg.
Q: Did you observe a pattern?
A: Yes, sir, it appears to be of a – –

MR. STIDHAM: Your Honor, again, that calls for pure speculation. Why didn’t they ask the Medical Examiner yesterday when he was here? He may be qualified to answer that question.
MR. Fogleman: Your Honor, I think – –
THE COURT: I cannot respond to why they didn’t ask somebody something, but I’m going to let this (p. 957) witness testify to what he personally observed, but he cannot draw conclusions on what he observed.

BY MR. Fogleman:
Q: Did you observe a pattern?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: On this piece of paper, could you draw the pattern that you observed?
A: (DRAWING)
Q: I’m going to mark this Exhibit 105A. Is that what you observed on his leg?
A: Yes, sir.

MR. STIDHAM: Your Honor, may we approach the bench?
(THE FOLLOWING CONFERENCE WAS HELD AT THE BENCH OUT OF THE HEARING OF THE JURY)

MR. STIDHAM: Your Honor, this witness is not qualified to render an opinion based
on – –
THE COURT: I’m not going to allow him to render an opinion as to causation, but I’m going to allow him to testify to what he saw.
MR. CROW: Can I view the photograph?
MR. Fogleman: (HANDING)
MR. CROW: I think the photograph is more adequate to show what he observed, your Honor.
MR. STIDHAM: They are trying to pass him off as (p. 958) an expert in pathology. That’s not proper.
MR. Fogleman: Your Honor, I asked him what he observed and I asked him to draw it.
THE COURT: I’m going to allow him – –
MR. STIDHAM: Your Honor, that could have been caused by a stick. That could have been caused by anything.
MR. CROW: Your Honor, the photograph shows it.
THE COURT: You are again arguing what caused these markings that he saw, which is something you can argue at the end of the case. Each of you can draw conclusions, and you can argue what you believe to be the cause of that. The officer is going to be permitted to testify to what he saw.
MR. STIDHAM: Will this exhibit be allowed to be introduced?
THE COURT: Yes.
MR. CROW: I think the picture shows it better.
THE COURT: I’m going to allow it.

Ralph Turbyfill testified at trial to attempts made in regards to testing the sticks for fingerprints and evidence of DNA, either from the killer or the victims. The sticks had in the case of two of them sat in the elements for a number of days before they were tested, and all three had been submerged in water. Ultimately as shown in the testimony below, no prints were able to be recovered, but a reaction was made for amino acid, indicating that one of the sticks may have been handled, suggesting again that it could be a weapon.

Fogleman: I also want to hand you state’s exhibit 53 and ask if you can identify that item?

Turbyfill: This also has my initials on it, uh – case number. It’s a stick. Case number and initials are also out at the end of it. And uh – I did process this for latent fingerprints and again, there were no latent fingerprints on it at all.

Fogleman: Were there any other tests or examinations you did on that?

Turbyfill: I did – on all these items, more than one test was ran on each one in attempt to – to uh – detect latent impressions, everything from – from uh – visual examination to uh – superglue examination – exposing to superglue to develop any invisible latents. And chemical processing after which, laser was used to detect prints and no latent prints were detected.

Fogleman: Ok. Uh – now did you do some kind of test that relates to – to uh – amino acid?

Turbyfill: Right. That’s the chemical test on wood – unpainted wood and paper, cardboard items. That’s an amino acid indicator that which we exposed this – the stick to the uh -chemical and again, no prints were developed.

Fogleman: Alright. Did you have a reaction as far as the amino acids?

Turbyfill: Some – it’s the pinkish reaction that you see on the wood, is the reaction. And that also can be caused from amino acid from whatever source, which could be – you know, from the chemicals in the water – whatever. If there’s any amino acid there, it will show up pink.

Fogleman: Alright. So the – so you did have a reaction about the amino acids?

Turbyfill: It’s just strictly a chemical uh- color reaction, but no – no defined friction skin ridges or anything like that.

Fogleman: Alright. Alright. Ok. And what – I’m a little confused – what is the purpose of the thing about the amino acids?

Turbyfill: The body has amino acids in it and one of the chemicals that we use reacts or colors that particular amino acid. And this pink reaction is the result of the coloring of that amino acid. Which uh – fingerprints has that amino acid and on paper, unpainted wood, and cardboard we can detect fingerprints using that chemical. So – I mean that, just because there’s reaction, that doesn’t mean it was handled or that it was a fingerprint.

Fogleman: Ok. So it could mean that it was handled or it could be from something in the water?

Turbyfill: That’s correct. It’s possibly because it was handled.

Fogleman: Ok. I don’t have any further questions, your Honor.

CONCLUSION— 

It cannot be said that these sticks were not related to the crime. It can be argued that perhaps E-138 was not connected to the crime as far as being a murder weapon, but that it was merely taken into evidence because it was next to E-139, but there’s very strong evidence to believe that E-139 was a murder weapon and relative suspicion in the form of weapon patterns that either E-17 or something much like E-17 was also involved in the commission of the crime.

Statements from defense criminal profiler, John Douglas were critical of investigators for neglecting to take E-138 and E-139 into evidence on the day that the bodies were discovered, as Douglas felt they appeared to be used to weigh down evidence, and in turn meant they had been handled by the killer:

From “Law & Disorder- Inside the Dark Heart of Murder” by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

Page 287, discussing investigators discovering the bodies and clothing of the victims.

Soon they had an almost complete collection of what the three boys had been wearing, most of it secured with sticks beneath the bottom of the creek. What was that all about? I wondered.

Later on page 287, Douglas again notes the following concerning the sticks.

I noted in my reading that investigators had not retrieved and catalogued the sticks used to submerge the clothing in the mud.

Next on page 360 during his theories on an alternative criminal profile, he further makes clear a belief that the killer had handled the sticks recovered by investigators.

Postoffense behavior reflects that he felt the need to hide the victims’ clothing at the scene. He did so by sticking small branches he found at the scene into the clothing and pushing it under the muddy water and out of view.

By the very admission of a defense expert, John Douglas, these sticks were used in the commission of this crime. And that coupled with statements by Ridge, Peretti and Gitchell and Tubyfill and even what you can see with your own two eyes from the photos presented here in this post, that the victims were attacked with E-139 and more than likely also with E-17.

So, why is it important for supporters and even members of the defense team(Dr. Werner Spitz, a defense expert who claimed wild animals caused the head injuries to the victims.) to try and discredit the sticks as evidence? Well, to answer that, one must read the following exchange between Jessie Misskelley and the prosecution in this case:

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

MISSKELLEY: Stick.

DAVIS: Who hit’m with a stick?

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

DAVIS: Now. When you say that, do you remember what kind of stick Damien had, you saw those sticks we had in Court.

MISSKELLEY: No, I didn’t look at them. I know there’s a stick craved something into it or something. You know part of the bark off of it.

DAVIS: Do you know how long it was? Was it as long as a baseball bat or longer or?

MISSKELLEY: it was longer than a baseball bat.

Jessie had stated as can be seen in the above that HE and DAMIEN had used sticks to beat the victims, and that HE, Jessie had struck one victim with a stick. This statement would be consistent with Peretti’s statements that more than one weapon had been used to beat Michael Moore, who happened to be the victim that Jessie Misskelley had confessed to chasing down and beating.

Similarly Jessie also put a stick in his hands during the clean-up of the crime scene during a confession he gave to his lawyer:

MISSKELLEY: After they done tied them up. You know, I – I – I, you know, I wiped my footprints with a stick, you know, like a zigzag, covering up my footprints and everything. And the blood, they wiped them on, you know, like in the water, make sure all the blood was off the water – make sure the blood was off the leaves and stuff.

STIDHAM: How’d they do that?

MISSKELLEY: Rubbed together, or get their finger and just wipe if off real good. And just wipe that off.

 

Damien Echols and DNA

00damien_and_domini

(Damien Echols in the days following the murders wearing an axe necklace.)

Of the most significant allegations made by the defense and supporters of the West Memphis three was the claim that no DNA evidence was ever recovered that connected any of the convicted men to the crime. This allegation however is dubious and wholey inaccurate as one can easily see when they discover that DNA located at the crime scene and even on evidence recovered from a necklace belonging to Damien Echols had connected Mr. Echols to the murders.

THE LIGATURE DNA—

(WARNING! Link contains cropped image of autopsy photo depicting the ligatures of Stevie Branch.WARNING!)

The ligatures used to bind Stevie Branch.

DNA testing conducted years after the murders while the West Memphis Three were incarcerated revealed DNA located on the ligatures used to bind Stevie Branch at the crime scene. This DNA revealed a DNA mixture, meaning there was DNA present from two different individuals on the bindings.

exhibit_p_12

(The DNA findings from the ligatures, indicating three different numbers present on the D5s818 Locus.)

exhibit_v_12

(DNA profiles for the West Memphis Three and the victims in the case.)

As seen in the images above, the numbers listed under D5s818 on the ligatures for Stevie Branch are 10,11,12. Normally there would only be two two numbers present as seen in the second image showing the DNA profiles for the victims and the West Memphis Three. In addition under the Locus for D13s317, the numbers are 8,11.

Now, Stevie Branch’s profile for the D5s818 is only 10, 12. So that means the number 11 must be more than likely part of the profile from the second party who left their DNA on the ligature used to bind Stevie, and more than likely shared one of the same numbers as Stevie; either 10 or 12. And of the DNA profiles of the victims and the West Memphis Three, the only ones that could fit for D5s818 would be either Damien Echols or Jessie Misskelley, who both had 11,12 which would fit with the DNA mixture on the ligatures for Stevie Branch. However Misskelley’s profile for D13s317 does not correspond to the DNA, which is 8,11. This leaves Damien Echols as a very good candidate for being the individual who’s DNA is mixed with Stevie Branch’s on the ligatures in question. So, whoever deposited the DNA on the ligatures just so happened to share a similar DNA profile to Damien Echols.

THE AXE NECKLACE DNA—

ascl_03-11-94_submission

(Crime Lab document detailing an investigation into dark spots located on Damien’s necklace, which later was proven to be blood.)

ascl_03_14_94

(Another document discussing the discovery of blood on Damien’s necklace.)

Damien Necklace

According to documents and video from the early 90’s, specs of blood were discovered on a necklace that had been worn by Damien Echols. The blood was too small at that time for exact DNA testing to be performed, but once again found a DNA mixture composited from blood from two different people on this necklace. DNA results revealed that one of the individuals who bled onto the necklace was Damien Echols, the chief suspect in the murders of the three victims. But DNA on the second individual was less clear as there was less blood. Tests determined that it either belonged to Stevie Branch, the victim who’s ligatures had DNA that could have been from Damien Echols, or the other possibility being Damien’s alleged accomplice Jason Baldwin.

To go further into this matter, there existed evidence that the necklace at one time belonged to Jason Baldwin, having most likely been given to him by a girlfriend prior to the murders. It is also known that both Damien and Jason wore this necklace as indicated in the below photo, which depicts Jason Baldwin wearing it.

States_exhibit_99

In addition, Jason had several drawings in his room at the time of his arrest.

jb_journal_graded_paper

(Homework assignment belonging to Jason Baldwin with drawings in the corner.)

drawings3

(Drawing of the axe necklace located on the above home work assignment.)

The question becomes, if one were to believe the blood on the necklace was Jason Baldwin’s, why was he bleeding on it? And why was there blood of Damien also? Could it be because they were killing three little boys and had they themselves been injured in the commission of the crime?

But the real more shocking scenario in this matter is the more likely probability that this DNA is that of Stevie Branch, the victim who Jessie Misskelley alleged in his confessions that Damien was most responsible for attacking and murdering.

Both matters are discussed in a deleted scene from the documentary Paradise Lost, in which the film makers for reasons unknown felt the incriminating evidence should be left out of the film.

The Bloody Necklace

 

Conclusions—

These two DNA items act as physical corroborating evidence to the involvement of Damien Echols in the murder of Stevie Branch. The ligatures revealed a DNA mixture containing DNA from Stevie Branch and a second individual. This mixture as the documentation revealed was consistent with Damien Echols. Further, blood on a necklace worn by Damien and shown to be worn by him in the days and weeks after the murders, turned out to contain blood from two different people; Echols and a second individual. Testing demonstrated that it was very possible that the DNA of the second individual was that of Stevie Branch. Confessions by Jessie Misskelley also implicated Damien Echols as the killer of Stevie Branch.

The very fact that Echols could not be eliminated from the DNA mixture found on the ligatures would be corroborating evidence of the statements made by Jessie Misskelley, and per Jessie’s statements, Damien Echols had tied up Stevie Branch, therefore it would make sense that Damien’s DNA would be present there if he were guilty of the crime… of which DNA happened to be located on the ligatures which matched back to… Damien Echols just as Jessie Misskelley had stated in his confessions.

Going back to the necklace, if Damien was guilty the very fact that blood was located  on an item of clothing belonging to him (the necklace) would be yet another strong corroborating item of guilt. It’s difficult to explain away blood from both himself and a second individual in an innocent manner that does not point to guilt in the homicides. And if Damien was the one who killed Stevie Branch, as Jessie Misskelley had stated, then not only would Damien’s DNA be on the ligatures but  there would exist evidence, such as blood which would be upon his person, and it was. And if Damien was the person who killed Stevie Branch, then the blood would then be that of Stevie Branch… DNA testing showed that of the victims, the blood was consistent with that of Stevie Branch, further corroborating Jessie’s confession. IN BOTH INSTANCES of Damien Echols and DNA connecting him to the crime it always seemed to connect him to the murder of Stevie Branch. A coincidence? Very unlikely.

The Lake Knife

Part 1- Discovery of the Knife The circumstances surrounding the discovery of the Lake Knife.

Part 2- The Trail of the Lake Knife : The facts and evidence surrounding the knife and the spin put fourth by the defense and supporters over the years.

Part 3- The Lies of Gail Grinnell : Statements concerning Gail Grinnell relating back to the knife and her son’s involvement in the murders.

Part 4- The Other Weapons : An account of other weapons Jason Baldwin disposed of in the days following the murders.

Part 5- Jessie Misskelley : Jessie’s claims on the knife.

PART 1: Discovery of the Knife

After the arrests of the West Memphis Three, the police would begin the search of their homes for any evidence related to the crime.

At Jason Baldwin’s trailer they noticed that it backed up to the water, there was an enormous lake that sat right behind it.

baldwin_residence_05(Baldwin’s trailer)

It was very large, and appeared to be a good place if one were to try and get rid of evidence.

aerial_lakeshore_01

(The lake)

With that, the authorities decided to search the portion of the lake that was nearest to Baldwin’s trailer. After a few months a search of the lake was set up, and they sent down a dive team on November 17.

Several items were located according to a report.

lake_search_01

lake_search_02

After about an hour of searching a diver popped back up with a survival knife in hand, which had been found submerged in mud.

ardhitspaydirt

ardwalkup

(Recovery of the knife)

This knife was later determined to be consistent with the injuries on the bodies. It had serrations on the back of it, which were like a saw blade, and appeared to have made the series of lines on the inner thighs of Chris Byers, and left patterns on Stevie Branch as well.

knife9

The media had shown up to document the incident, due to the news that authorities were searching the water behind a suspect’s home.

ET111893b_01

ET111893b_02

This knife was determined from a map made by the police that it could have only been tossed in the water from the pier behind Jason Baldwin’s trailer. It had to have been thrown over 100 ft. just to arrive at the location from where it was recovered.

lake_knife_allen_drawing

PART 2: The Trail of the Lake Knife

Supporters of the WM3 would originally insist that this knife was planted by the police, and even the prosecution. Their own lawyers would try and insist this, claiming that the police knew there’d be some evidence there, because since after all “they” planted it.

Then years later the defense would acknowledge that the knife likely belonged to Jason Baldwin, instead claiming that the prosecution knew it’d be there, and on top of it all, that this knife was in the water a year before the murders.

APSPECTOR1000-500x333

(Dennis Riordan, Damien Echols’ defense attorney with former client Phil Spector)

A neighbor named Joseph Samuel Dwyer, who had been friends with Jason stated that he had seen this knife in his possession, describing it as a “Rambo” knife. He also said that he had seen Jason’s mother Gail toss it in the water.

” I remember [Jason Baldwin] had a big knife that I thought of as a “Rambo knife”. It was about a foot long.
A knife of Jason’s ended up in the lake that was in the Lakeshore Trailer Park. I assumed that this was the big “Rambo” knife, but I do not know if it was. […] I arrived at Jason’s trailer just after Jason’s mom had thrown a knife into the lake. At the time, Jason’s Mom was walking toward the trailer from the direction of the lake. Jason was at the trailer and was mad that she had just thrown his knife into the lake. I remember that Jason said something about going to get the knife.
The knife was thrown into the lake before the three boys turned up missing. I do not recall exactly how long before it was, but I remember that it definitely happened before the boys were found dead in Robin Hood Woods. […]
I know that after Jason’s mom had thrown his knife into the lake, Jason did not have the large “Rambo” knife anymore. I never saw him with that knife after I heard it was tossed into the lake.”

So, a witness stated that he saw Jason and his mother arguing over a knife that she tossed into the water behind their trailer.

http://callahan.8k.com/pdf/jb_habeas_rule37/exh46_affidavit_joseph_samuel_dwyer.pdf

Dwyer gave this statement in 2006, years later, and tried to suggest that the knife was placed there before the murders, according to his memory years later, of an event from when he was a kid, and not knowing the exact date, and with the defense’s help.

He’s some how able to remember that this was “before” the murders in 2006, yet didn’t come forward with this information during the original investigation, back in 1993.

Dwyer’s statement would seem to prove that the knife was not planted, and that it was indeed concealed in the water, by Jason and his mother.

Boys-Slain_Owne
(Riordan and his client)

Riordan, based on the statement of Dwyer insisted that the knife was already in the lake, and took things a bit further, insisting that the knife was in the water a year before the murders.

He would make this statement in the film West of Memphis:

“The reason [for the deception] is that Fogleman had been told how it got in the lake — it had been thrown in the lake by Jason’s mother…thrown into the lake a year before the crimes. He knew that knife in the lake had nothing to do with the crime, because he had been told when it was thrown in the lake.

So, Damien’s defense lawyer placed this knife with Jason.

Then you have this statement that describes the knife in detail, and places it in Jason’s trailer, further showing that that knife was the same one his mother tossed in the lake.

“DENNIS: I remember him talking about, oh, the boys were talking to him, Matthew had been talking about a, some kind of knife that his dad had given him or his dad, Larry, had given him a knife. Some kind of survival knife.

RIDGE: Okay, describe it

FOGLEMAN: What did you say about the handle? What did you tell us about the handle.

DENNIS: I was just saying it being a survival knife, I think I had seen one laying around the house at one time, that had a little old compass on it. A little old thing, where you stick your survival matches into.

FOGLEMAN: How did you get into the part where you put your matches?

DENNIS: You would screw it off, you screwed it.

RIDGE: How long would that knife had been? About how long was it?

FOGLEMAN: Just estimate

DENNIS: I don’t know. I ain’t gone say or not. I remember seeing a knife. I don’t ever remember ever seeing one there. I’m telling

FOGLEMAN: I thought you just said, you saw one around the house?

DENNIS: Naw, I’m saying that Gail said that it had been around the house and she had broken the blade or her husband had broken the blade or some body broke the blade on it, but

FOGLEMAN: I maybe confused, I thought you said earlier that Jason said that and not Gail, was it Gail that said that, or was it Jason?

DENNIS: It may have been all of them, to be honest with you, cause uh

FOGLEMAN: You don’t remember who said that?

DENNIS: Naw, all of the talking, you get two or three different conversations going about

FOGLEMAN: Where does his dad live? Larry?

DENNIS: Larry, somewhere around Little Rock. A pretty good ways from here, I don’t know exactly where it is. I’ve never been there.”

So Dennis here, says there was a knife just like the one in the lake, which had just been sitting around in the trailer. His statement is confusing, but he pretty accurately describes a knife that he supposedly never saw, even mentioning that the compass unscrews to store matches in.

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/ddent.html

A photo of the handle of the knife that shows where the compass unscrewed to put the matches in.

http://callahan.8k.com/images/lakeknife/knife3.jpg

So, the police found this knife that had been in Jason’s trailer, and his mother had concealed it in the water behind their home, after an argument. Then her boyfriend describes seeing the knife, then says he never saw it.

To cap it off Jason Baldwin claimed during his Rule 37 hearing that Dennis “Dink” Dent had only lived with his family for about 1 to 2 months.

Q] Was there anyone else living in the household with you at the time, besides your immediate family members?

A] Uh, my mom had a live-in boyfriend named Dennis and we all called him “Dink.” His full name was Dennis Dent.

Q] And, and just in terms of, uh, uh, your knowledge, if you know, uh, what age group was Mr. Dent in at that time; how old was Mr. Dent, and again in May, 1993?

A] I believe he may have been five years older than I am now, maybe 36, 37; maybe 40. I really couldn’t tell you, but somewhere around there.

Q] Uh, now was, uh, had he been as of, let’s say, uh, May 5, 1993, had, had Dink been living in that trailer for a long period of time?

A] At that point I’d say possibly a month, maybe a month and half. At the most, two.

http://callahan.8k.com/pdf/bm_rule37/bm_rule37_baldwin.pdf

So, if this knife was supposedly tossed in the water a year before as Riordan tried to claim, how could Dent have seen it, if he had only lived with Jason’s mother for 1-2 months at the time of the murders?

Damien’s ex-girlfriend also told authorities about how she had seen him with a similar knife and related the story in court.

Fogleman: Ok. I want to show you what has been introduced as exhibit 77 and ask if you’ve seen a knife like that before?

Holcomb: Yes sir.

Fogleman: Alright. Where did you see it and under what circumstances?

Holcomb: Uh – I saw it in his coat pocket. His lea – his trench coat pocket.

Fogleman: Alright, how did you see it in his coat pocket?

Holcomb: Um – I went to hu – put my arm around his waist and it was there.

Fogleman: Alright. Did – well, did you uh – how did you – what did you do after you found it there?

Holcomb: I took it out to look at it.

Fogleman: Ok. And it was – was it a knife like that?

Holcomb: Similar, yes sir.

Fogleman: Alright. What was – what if anything was different about the knife that you pulled out of Damien’s pocket?

Holcomb: It had a compass on the end.

Fogleman: On the end, ok. You’re talking about right here?

Holcomb: Yes sir.

Fogleman: I don’t know if the jury saw that – would you point to the area where the compass was?

Holcomb: Right there.

Fogleman: Now, could you identify the person that you’ve – that you said uh – had a knife like that?

Holcomb: Yes sir.

Fogleman: Is he in the courtroom?

Holcomb: Yes sir.

Fogleman: Would you point him out for the jury?

Holcomb: Right there.

Fogleman: Which one?

Holcomb: The one in the black sweater.”

“Fogleman: Call James Parker. Your Honor, may uh – Miss Holcomb go home?

The Court: She’s free to go.

She also mentioned a compass that was on the bottom of the handle, but the compass had been missing from the lake knife, because it had broken off.

A guy who sold that exact knife would testify, and say that it indeed had a compass.

The Court: – Do you swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth in the matter now pending before the court so help you God?

Parker: I do.

The Court: Come right up here.

Fogleman: Would you state your name and occupation for the jury?

Parker: Um – my name’s James Parker, um – I sell – I operate a knife company in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Fogleman: Alright. And uh – what is the name of your knife company now?

Parker: Uh – mine’s Parker’s Knife Collector Service.

Fogleman: And who was uh – Parker Eagle Brand Cutlery?

Parker: That was a business that my father owned that – they’re default now, they filed bankruptcy in 1990. They’re no longer in business.

Fogleman: Alright, and how long have you – did you work in that business as well?

Parker: Yes sir.

Fogleman: I want to show you what’s been introduced as state’s exhibit 77. If you would look that over, could you identify that?

Parker: I’ve seen knives like these before, um hum.

Fogleman: Alright. And in particular, uh – I believe that says on the handle, uh – ‘Special Forces Survival II’, is that right?

Parker: Yeah, it’s on the blade.

Fogleman: Alright, is that a type of knife that your company or uh – your father’s company distributed?

Parker: Yes, it’s a knife similar to it – like it, um hum.

Fogleman: Alright. And uh – at what time did your father’s company distribute a knife like this?

Parker: Around 1985 to 1987.

Fogleman: That was during the big ‘Rambo’ craze?

Parker: Yes sir, other companies – that knife, other companies had ’em made just like it. It’s a generic type knife.

Fogleman: Ok. And – but your company did distribute one like this?

Parker: Like that one.

Fogleman: Alright. And on the – there’s a hollow part on the end of this, uh – on the knife that ya’ll distributed, what went on the end there?

Parker: A compass accompanied – went on the end of it.

Fogleman: I want to show you what I have marked for identification as state’s exhibit 96 and see if you can identify that. Can you identify the – wh – what did I just hand you, first of all?

Parker: A catalog from 1987.

Fogleman: Alright. And who’s catalog was that?

Parker: That was Parker’s kni – Parker’s Cutleries, the default company’s catalog.

Fogleman: Alright. And referring to the page I’ve got marked, uh – the item J634 –

Parker: – Um hum.

Fogleman: – Uh – can you identify that item?

Parker: Uh – yes sir.

Fogleman: And is that a knife like this?

Parker: Yes sir, that’s one like that, um hum.

Fogleman: Alright. And it indicates that a compass accompanies it, is that right?

Parker: Yes sir.

Fogleman: Your Honor, we would offer state’s exhibit 96.

(mumbling)

(pause)

Davidson: No objection, your Honor.

The Court: Alright, it may be recieved without objection.

Fogleman: Referring specifically to this item, J634, can you – can you read what’s right there on the handle?

Parker: It says ‘Special Forces Survival II’.

Fogleman: Alright. And if you could read on – on the handle here, what that says.

Parker: ‘Special Forces Survival II’.

Fogleman: May I exhibit to the jury, your Honor?

The Court: Yes.

Fogleman: I don’t have any further questions, your Honor.

(mumbling)

Price: Mr. Parker, do your records indicate how many of this type of knife were sold between 1985 and 1987?

Parker: No, that – the company that manufact – had that knife manufactured, or ones like it, is out of business now.

Price: Where was that company?

Parker: What was it?

Price: Yeah, what –

Parker: Parker Cutlery.

Price: Alright, but did Parker Cutlery actually manufacture the knife or just distribute it?

Parker: No sir – no sir, they distributed a knife like that one. They might not have even distributed that same one.

Price: Ok.

Parker: It’s a generic style knife.

Price: Do you know who actually manufactured this particular knife?

Parker: It was a manufacturer in Japan.

Price: Ok. Alright, would they have manufactured this knife and also other knives similar to that?

Parker: Yes sir.

Price: Ok. Do you have any knowledge specifically as to how many of these particular knives were manufactured by the company in Japan?

Parker: No sir.

Price: Ok. And it was the – the former Parker company – were they the only distributors of this knife in United States or were other companies –

Parker: – Other companies also distributed the knife.

Price: Ok. Do you know approximately how many other companies distributed this particular type of knife?

Parker: Not an exact number.

Price: Ok. Do yu have an approximate number?

Parker: Around 5 or 6.

Price: Ok. And do your records indicate if you ever sold this particular knife or a knife very similar to this to Damien Echols?

Parker: No sir.

Price: Ok. Nothing further.

Ford: No questions.

Fogleman: When he asked you whether your records uh – reveal that you sold any knife like that to Damien Echols, uh – do you have records showing who each individual knife was sold to?

Parker: Oh, no.

Fogleman: Ok. I don’t have any further questions.

So, we know for a fact that the lake knife once had a compass on the end of it, just like everyone else said. This all seems to further shoot down the defense claim that the knife was planted. This is why they abandoned that claim, and tried to make it Jason’s knife from a year before the murders. However, it could be placed with Damien Echols.

Now, here’s the location where the compass had once been, as Deanna Holcomb, and even the person who sold the knife, had described.

knife5

The compass would unscrew, from the bottom, as shown in the picture.

Damien would also admit in court, to having owned similar knives like this in the past.

Q. There’s been a great deal of testimony about certain types of knives. Did you ever have a knife collection?

A. Yes.

Q. When and where did you have a knife collection?

A. I’ve been buying knives for a long time. I had one in Arkansas, but it wasn’t anything important, two or three knives. And then when I went to Oregon, I started buying them a lot when I was working up there. They had this knife shop, and I used to go up there all the time. Then when I moved back to Arkansas, they were still there with my parents. I didn’t bring them back with me.

Q. There’s been a great deal of testimony about State’s Exhibit 77. Have you ever seen this particular knife until it was introduced into evidence at this trial?

A. Not that knife, no.

Q. Have you seen a knife similar to this knife?

A. I had one sort of like that, but mine didn’t have a black handle. The handle on mine was camouflaged, and it had the camouflage case and everything. The blade on mine was black. It wasn’t silver like that.

Q. Do you know what happened to that knife that you had?

A. I had a bunch of those. I don’t know whatever happened to them. They were like real cheap. I used to buy them all the time.

Q. Were they — knives similar to these — were they called Rambo knives?

A. Um-hum.

Q. Was that a Rambo type knife, the one that you had?

A. Um-hum.

He makes sure to say how he had a different knife, but then says that he bought multiple, because they were cheap.

A. I had a bunch of those. I don’t know whatever happened to them. They were like real cheap. I used to buy them all the time.

Q. Were they — knives similar to these — were they called Rambo knives?

A. Um-hum.

A “bunch of those”, means he had more than one, but he tried to say he only had one knife like this.

So, his ex distinctly remembered him having a knife just like this, and he himself admitted to owning several just like it, only to try and suggest that they were all like the single camouflage one, which he described.

Jason Baldwin also had this knife in his trailer, and his mother tossed it in the water. When the knife was recovered it proved to be a very good match to wounds on the bodies.

To cap it off, a knife like this was suggested early on as the possible source of the castration injuries to Chris Byers. Early reports had misidentified Chris Byers as Michael Moore, but highlighted that a knife with a serrated edge had caused the injury.

FBIknife

In court, this would be said on the knife, by the prosecution.

“This is an item of evidence that applies to both defendants, remember Deanna Holcomb–Damien’s former girlfriend–she says that she saw this in his pocket. I said, “Well how did you see it in his pocket?” “Well I was hugging him and I felt it in there and I pulled it out.” And she identified, she didn’t say this was the knife. You remember her testimony. She said it was a knife similar to this.

But you know what–the thing that I submit shows her credibility about this knife is–she said there’s one thing different about it though, or maybe there wasn’t, there was one thing different–it had a compass. The one that I saw him with had a compass in the end. And do you remember Jim Parker, the man we brought from Chattanooga, whose family had the Parker Knife distributing company and they distributed knives just like this. When the knife was distributed what did it have? It had a compass. Now, this knife also applies to Jason Baldwin. Where was it found? Where was it found?

First of all, you got the drawing on here, Detective Allen drew that, remember that? And he said, ‘hey I’m no engineer, I’ll just–I’m kind of guestimate’, and I think he was just a little off on this spot but the chart by the engineer is more accurate. But you’ve got this dock right here. This dock right here, which is right behind Jason Baldwin’s trailer. And forty-seven feet–not from the dock, but from these trees over here you find this knife. This knife right here. And you say, well maybe it was thrown from this trailer over here–over here–well, this trailer right here you got–remember the testimony about that tree right there they measured from? And you see the picture how it spreads out and he testified was about as tall as this building and that’s in May. And then they find it in, what was it, November the seventeenth maybe. Something like that. The most likely spot for this knife to have come from is that dock behind Jason Baldwin’s house. Now you say, well–so–you know, Dr. Peretti said this knife or that other knife, either one of them could have caused all those injuries. I will come back later and I wanna show you, and you look at the wounds–remember Mr. Davis, when he was selecting you for the jury, he asked you–you know, would you be able to look at those pictures and look at them closely–look at them closely. I’ll come back later and show you, and ask you to look at the pictures, and you’ll see that a knife like this–not like that other knife, but a knife like this, with this serration pattern caused the injuries–some of the injuries to Chris Byers.”

Deputy Prosecutor John Fogleman then demonstrated the knives in court, showing the unique pattern the back of the blade made.

Untitled

“Now, I wanna talk a minute about these knives.

MR. FORD: Your Honor, may we approach the bench?

(THE FOLLOWING DISCUSSION WAS HELD AT THE BENCH OUT OF THE HEARING OF THE JURY.)

MR. FORD: Your Honor, this grapefruit demonstration is not evidence. That grapefruit is not in evidence. This demonstration is not in evidence. It’s not scientific. It’s not reliable.

THE COURT: I don’t know what he’s going to do.

MR. FOGLEMAN: Well, I’m going to show the jury, your Honor, the marks that this knife makes when it strikes something.

MR. DAVIDSON: That’s improper, your Honor.

MR. FORD: That’s improper, your Honor. That is improper.

MR. FOGLEMAN: This is for demonstrative purposes and —

MR. FORD: It is not either. He’s trying to make a demonstration—

MR. DAVIDSON: —expert—

MR. FORD: –That is improper, your Honor.

THE COURT: I’m not sure as. What is your reason for it being improper? I think you can use a demonstrative evidence.

MR. FORD: You can make demonstrations and experiments in front of the jury. Those have to be under Rule Seven Hundred series — experiments. That’s what he’s doing. He’s conducting an experiment.

MR. FOGLEMAN: It’s not an experiment. It’s not even evidence.

MR. FORD: Your Honor, this is improper. We ask that he be restricted from doing it.

MR. FOGLEMAN: It’s argument.

THE COURT: I’m going to take a ten minute recess at this time. Do you want to take it back there? Do you want to continue on?

MR. FOGLEMAN: I want to continue, Your Honor. I’m almost finished.

THE COURT: Alright. I’m going — tell me again what you’re going to do so I’ll know.

MR. FORD: Your Honor, don’t do it — just go ahead and make your point where the jury hears you before the Judge tells you it’s improper.

MR. FOGLEMAN: I’m just going to show the types of marks that this knife makes and that knife makes. That’s all, your Honor.

MR. FORD: That’s a demonstration and experiment.

THE COURT: Well, overruled. I’m going to allow it.

(RETURN TO OPEN COURT)

MR. FOGLEMAN: I told you we would be getting back to this knife. And this is one of those deals where y’all are gonna have to look at some of those pictures. And you may even have to study some of them back in the jury room.

THE COURT: Refer to it by exhibit number.

FOGLEMAN: Exhibit 77.

THE COURT: Alright.

FOGLEMAN: There are–if you’ll look at those photographs, there are marks on Christopher Byers where you’ve got like a dash–where it’s a cut–a cut and open space, a cut and an open space. And if you take this knife (INDICATING) and do that (INDICATING) then you look closely you can see it leaves a cut and an open space, a cut and an open space. Now if you take this knife (INDICATING)—

Untitled.png3

Untitled.png2

THE COURT: Exhibit number.

MR. FOGLEMAN: —Defense Exhibit 6, and even with the slightest pressure, it makes a straight line. If you just press enough to break the skin of the grapefruit it makes a straight line, a curvy straight line. If you take it and just barely move it, it makes something like that but the spaces in between are very short. You look–use your common sense. Look at these two knives. Are you gonna expect to find similar markings from those two knives. You don’t have to be an expert to see that–that this knife is gonna make markedly different marks than this knife. This is the picture, the area circled–dash, dash, dash, dash. Now keep in mind one thing, when you go back in the jury room, get your–this is not to scale right here. (INDICATING) Now I’m gonna be fair. If I lay this up here, boy you’ll think–boy, that’s sharp. And just matches, just practically perfectly.

But now listen, now. This is not one-to-one. Keep in mind this is a rounded leg. So there’s a little bit of distortion. But if you take this, and take a piece of paper–get your ruler back there and measure the spaces on here, you’re gonna find that in between each of these blade is a quarter inch and the blade itself is three-sixteenths. Take a little piece of paper, and on this scale right here–not on your ruler, but on this scale–go three-sixteenths and a quarter, and three-sixteenths and a quarter and where your three-sixteenths are, make a straight line–just like this would be. (INDICATING.) And then, on the flat part right here (INDICATING) these two that are larger, if you do it–think about, it’s rounded. This strikes a rounded surface. The ones on the end are only gonna have part of the blade. Take that, and you lay it on the two larger cuts and you’re gonna find that they match. They fit. That is one example of how this knife matches–not just a little bit, but so much more than that knife or any other serrated knife.

Now, I’m saying that that shows, that this exact knife caused it–now I submit the proof that shows this knife caused this–but true, it could be another knife like this, but I submit to you the proof–the circumstantial evidence shows that this knife–State’s Exhibit 77, caused those injuries right there. (INDICATING.) Now, if you look at those, there are similar injuries right here. (INDICATING.) And look at the gap between that cut and that cut. (INDICATING.) Now, you’re gonna have a harder time on this particular one because see in the picture how the ruler is bent. (INDICATING.) They’ve got it pushed down so you’re gonna have distortion in the measurements. But look at this one–and then there’s another one on here that is almost as telling as these and those on that picture. (INDICATING.) This is State’s Exhibit 71C. See this wound right here? (INDICATING.) See how wide and jagged and gouged that wound is? See that? (INDICATING.) Well, you take this knife and drag it across with a serrated edge and boy you’ve got a straight line. Take this knife and drag it and it rips and tears just like in the picture.

Ladies and gentlemen, you go back there and look at those pictures, and as Mr. Davis asked you in jury selection–look at those pictures closely. Now there’s another way that these knives can make markings and that’s scrapes. And you’ll see that–that this knife has a vastly different pattern if it’s scraped against the skin than this knife. (INDICATING.) And it’s obvious just by looking at it. You got a larger gap and then you’ve got two narrow gaps–two narrow gaps, a large gap, two narrow gaps, a large gap. For this one you’ve got–it’s pretty uniform, and you’ve got a quarter inch, three sixteenths, quarter inch–it’s uniform all the way down. Where this one you would have a large gap, then you’ve got the blade which is smaller, and then the larger gap. This one you’ve got a number of different blade patterns and it’s going to make a completely different scrape than this knife. (INDICATING.)”

The knife was demonstrated, that it could fully replicate the wound patterns found on the bodies. (More discussion on the injuries and the match to the knife can be found here.)

The evidence shows, that this knife was connected to the West Memphis Three, and that it matched to injuries on the victims.

PART 3: The Lies of Gail Grinnell

Jason Baldwin’s girlfriend would also suggest that he would have told his mother about the crimes, and that she’d lie for him.

“Does believe that Jason’s mother would lie to keep him out of trouble. Does believe that if Jason was involved that he would have told his mother.”

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/img/heatherc2.html

So, for some reason Gail Grinnell tossed a knife her son had in his possession in the lake behind their home, and Jason’s girlfriend, Heather Cliett felt that she’d lie to save him from prison. For some reason a witness saw Gail and Jason fighting over this knife, and he was mad about the incident. Why would she hide it and everyone lie about it if it wasn’t involved in the commission of this crime?

Gail had even made an incriminating statement when her son was arrested.

jb_search_report_03

FOGLEMAN: OKAY, ALRIGHT, NOW DO YOU REMEMBER THE NIGHT THAT…, THAT THEY ARRESTED JASON AND THEY WERE SEARCHING YOUR TRAILER?

ANGELA: YEA

FOGLEMAN: OKAY, NOW I UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN YOU CAME IN YOU WERE VERY UPSET, WHICH I UNDERSTAND AND YOU MADE A STATEMENT TO YOUR HUSBAND ACCUSING HIM OF TURNING JASON IN FOR THE REWARD MONEY, WHAT DID YOU THINK THAT YOUR HUSBAND COULD HAVE TOLD THE POLICE?

ANGELA: I DON’T KNOW, WHY I SAID THAT

FOGLEMAN: YOU JUST DON’T WHY YOU WOULD OF SAID THAT?

ANGELA: WELL I JUST UM,

FOGLEMAN: YOU JUST DON’T KNOW?

ANGELA: I (INAUDIBLE) I DON’T KNOW WHY I WOULD OF SAID THAT

FOGLEMAN: ALRIGHT, HAS UM, WHAT IS,

ANGELA: I JUST,

FOGLEMAN: GO AHEAD

ANGELA: NOTHING

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/gail.html

At her son’s Rule 37 hearing she would again try to lie. She’d try to suggest that Jason hadn’t even been friends with Jessie or Damien.

Q: Okay. And Jason knew Damien; right?

A: (Pause.) Yeah.

Q: Okay. Were they good buddies?

A: They weren’t best friends. They were friends, but Jason had other firends also.

Q: But they hung out?

A: But they, Damien had separate friends that weren’t friends with Jason.

Q: But I gather it’s a different sort of friendship then, with Jessie; am I right? In my sense that I’m hearing you say is Jason and Jessie were not buddies at the time, there had been some falling out? Jason and Damien were buddies and Jason and Jessie were buddies?

A: They weren’t real– no they weren’t close friends, they, uh, and Jessie and Jason weren’t real close. Jason wasn’t, uh, didn’t hang out with Damien a whole lot.

Q:Uh-huh?

A: He had kind of quit hanging out with Damien.

Q: Okay. Now, Gail, going back to when you got interviewed by the police on June 4th of 1993, did you tell them, you gave them the school records that proved where he was?

A: I mean, he had other friends besides Damien.

Q: I understand. Like Ken Watkins?

A: Yeah, he had a lot of friends. And Damien had friends.

Q: Sure.

A: That wasn’t friendly with, didn’t know Jason.

http://callahan.8k.com/pdf/bm_rule37/bm_rule37_grinnell.pdf

Jason however would state this in an interview, after his release.

“Somehow or another, they made the decision to set me & my two best friends up for the crime”

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jjmatters/2012/04/19/discussion-west-memphis-3s-jason-baldwin

So, Gail seemed to be willing to lie, and was even willing to help her son dispose of key evidence.
In recent statements Gail would also suggest two new stories for how the knife ended up in the lake.

Gail

In the first she denies throwing it in, and suggests that Jason did it, but then adds that none of her children(including Jason) ever owned any knives. Jason however we know for a fact owned knives.

Jason’s brother Matthew would link a knife and an ice axe to Jason, which he had traded away, because he was afraid the police would try and use them to link him to the murders.

http://callahan.8k.com/pdf/docs/baldwin_m_interview.pdf

Gail3

In Gail’s second version she insists Officer Murray framed her son for the murders by planting the knife, after she spurned him.

These three stories all contradict each other. Riordan says Gail threw it in the water. Gail then says Jason threw it in the water. Then Gail changes her story and says Officer Murray threw it in the water.

PART 4: The Other Weapons

Returning to Jason’s borther, some time before May 11, 1993, Jason’s brother Matt took a knife and an ice axe and traded them to two teens, Billy and Kenny Newell who were both brothers. Billy Newell had originally traded the weapons to Jason in exchange for a few t-shirts. Now Jason suddenly wanted to trade back the knife and axe.

James William Thomas Newell III(Billy)
W/F 1-13-76
11 May 93 Lakeshore Drive
6:16 P.M. West Memphis, Ar

7**-**** (Mae Manuec)

I worked at the Carnival from Wednesday until Friday and I had three T-shirts that I had traded a pic and a knife for, to Jason Baldwin, before I worked at the Carnival.
When I got home yesterday I found the pic and knife where Jason had brought it back. I mad the statement to some kids that “I wonder if these were the weapons that were used to kill the boys.” Then I said maybe I’d better call up to the police and tell them.
I know Damien and I think he’s one of his own along with his sidekick, Jason. I don’t belong to any gangs and just recently moved here from Forrest City.

6:25 P.M.

Sgt M.M. Kesterson
Bryn Ridge

003546

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/billnew.html

5-11-93

Statement of Kenny Newell
Lakeshore Drive

Jason was over at our house and Billy wanted to
trade something for some shirts. And the only thing
Billy has good enough to trade is the weapons. Billy
picked the shirts he wanted and they traded. And 3
or 4 days later Jason’s little brother brong the pick
and the nife back and got the shirts but we didn’t
find the testement shirt so he still has it.

Jason Baldwin and his brother Mathew Baldwin 
lives west from our house at the street right before
the last one by the fild 3 or 4 trailers down on the left.

Billy Newell is my brother. The first trade took place at the early part of last week. The second trade took place
at the last part of the same week. 

This statement was completed at 6:28PM on the 5-11-93

003550

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/kennew.html

These are the weapons:

weapon1frontweapon2front

Matthew Baldwin discussing the trade:

FOGLEMAN: ALRIGHT, DO YOU REMEMBER AROUND THIS TIME UM TAKING A KNIFE AND A MOUNTAIN CLIMBING UH PICK, TO SOMEBODY’S HOUSE?

MATTHEW: (INAUDIBLE) THAT WAS, THAT WAS ABOUT A WEEK AFTER THAT I TOOK THAT OVER TO UH, KEN’S AND BILLY NEWEL’S HOUSE BECAUSE UH, JASON TOLD ME TO, BECAUSE THERE WERE TRYING TO BLAME HIM FOR USING IT OR SOMETHING

FOGLEMAN: KENNY NEWEL?

MATTHEW: YEA

FOGLEMAN: ALRIGHT

MATTHEW: IT AIN’T KENNY NEWEL, IT WAS BILLY NEWEL

FOGLEMAN: BILLY NEWEL?

MATTHEW: YEA

FOGLEMAN: ALRIGHT, AND YOU SAY THAT THIS WAS ABOUT A WEEK AFTER?

MATTHEW: YEA

FOGLEMAN: THAT YOU TAKE THAT BACK?

MATTHEW: YEA

FOGLEMAN: WHY DIDN’T JASON TAKE IT BACK?

MATTHEW: I DON’T KNOW

FOGLEMAN: HE TOLD YOU

MATTHEW: HE SAID HE COULDN’T GO NO WHERE

FOGLEMAN: HE COULDN’T, WHY COULDN’T HE GO ANY WHERE?

MATTHEW: BECAUSE HE WAS BABYSITTING

FOGLEMAN: FOR WHO?

MATTHEW: FOR MY MOM, HE WAS BABYSITTING ME AND MY LITTLE BROTHER

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/mattb.html
In an online chat, Matt would also offer this account of how the knife ended up in the lake:

Matt Baldwin

What does this show? That after May 9th, when the police interviewed him, Jason was getting rid of weapons.

Bill Durham

On May 9, 1993, Shane Griffin and I talked with Damien Echols, Dominic Teer and Jason Baldwin at 5:00PM, in the front yard at Jason Baldwin’s house at 245 W. Lake Dr. S., Lake Shore.
They said that on Wednesday, 5-5-93, that they had gone to Jason’s uncle’s house and Jason had cut the lawn. Unsure of time they went or address. It is somewhere off Dover behind Blockbuster Video. Damien phoned his father to pick them up at the laundrymat at Missouri and N. Worthington. They said they were picked up at 6:00PM and Damien’s father took Jason and Dominic home and Damien went home.
Shane Griffin, at this time started asking the questions on the sheet (questionaire) and did complete the sheet on Damien. He was asking Jason the questions when Jason Baldwin’s mother arrived. We were standing in the front yard at Jason Baldwin’s house trailer. Mrs. Baldwin was very upset and accused us of picking on her son and said she did not want us talking to him. I attempted to reason with her but to no avail. We, then left.

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/bddjd.html

In all likelihood the knife ended up in the lake some time following the May 9th interview by police, when Jason’s mother came home to see the police questioning her son. Following this, in the days after, she and her son fought over a knife, which was tossed in the lake. And possibly on May 10th Jason had his brother Matt dispose of a knife and ice axe, by trading it back to the Newell brothers.

PART 5: Jessie Misskelley

The knife, from the voyaristic nature of the confessions given by Jessie Misskelley, particularly the original confession where he describes how he has to look down to see Jason and Damien on the other side of the ditch, it’s highly plausible that Jessie was only aware that Jason had a knife and not on what it exactly looked like, since Jessie wasn’t the one wielding the knife. He wasn’t the one in control of it. And in the pre-confession notes Jessie states that Jason has a knife, but that neither he nor Damien had one:

Jason has a folding knife
Damien doesn’t have one
Jason always carries knife
http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/jm_ridge2.html

The fact is that he was saying Jason had a knife before he even confessed to the murders.

Most people if they were going to falsely confess to the crime would have put that knife in Damien’s hand, the logical suspect.

Jessie would give multiple accounts of the knife, even saying in one of the accounts that he didn’t know what the knife looked like and that Jason had several knives, creating the possibility that he was aware that Jason had the murder knife, but was describing the wrong knife:

“DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay. How long was the knife that Jason was using?
*A147 MISSKELLEY: About that long (faint).
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, you’re describing a knife that would be about 6 inches long, is that right?
*A148 MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: And, what kind of blade did it have on it?
*A149 MISSKELLEY: Mm, like a regular, just a regular knife blade
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Was it a knife that you fold up, or was it a, like a hunting knife?
*A150 MISSKELLEY: It was
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Just one piece
*A151 MISSKELLEY: Just a fold up knife
DETECTIVE RIDGE: It was a folding knife?
*A152 MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay, uh. Does Damien have a knife?
*A153 MISSKELLEY: No”

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/jlm_june1.html

Jessie also states in another confession that he had seen the knife he was describing before, but then says he doesn’t know what the knife used in the crime looked like:

“DAVIS: Had you seen that knife before?
MISSKELLEY: Yes.
DAVIS: What, who, who’s knife was it?
MISSKELLEY: Jason’s.
DAVIS: What did it look like?
MISSKELLEY: I can’t remember. He keeps all kinds of knifes, I can’t remember. All I know is it’s a lock blade.
DAVIS: When you say a lock-blade, one that folds out and locks?
MISSKELLEY: Yea.”
Focus on that, “I can’t remember.”

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/jmfeb.html

Here he would also describe it as a buck knife:

“STIDHAM: What did the knife look like? You told me once before but I want to make sure I understand.
JESSIE: It’s like a – like a Buck – pocketknife – Buck knife.
STIDHAM: Folds?
JESSIE: Yeah.
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.
STIDHAM: And what color handle did it have?
JESSIE: Brown, darkish brown.
STIDHAM: Darkish brown? You think you’d recognize that knife if you seen it again?
JESSIE: Yeah.
STIDHAM: You ever seen it before that day?
JESSIE: Not that day, I’d seen it before it though.
STIDHAM: Where at?
JESSIE: At his house. Jason’s house.
STIDHAM: Where did he keep it?
JESSIE: Sometime he carries it around in his pocket and sometime he leaves it in his drawers and stuff. Cause he’s always coming up with all kinds of stuff, knives and all that.”

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/jm_stidham_8_19_93.html

It wasn’t the knife he was describing…

“STIDHAM: You ever seen it before that day?
JESSIE: Not that day, I’d seen it before it though.
STIDHAM: Where at?
JESSIE: At his house. Jason’s house.
STIDHAM: Where did he keep it?
JESSIE: Sometime he carries it around in his pocket and sometime he leaves it in his drawers and stuff. Cause he’s always coming up with all kinds of stuff, knives and all that.”

And he says knives in the plural.

What really matters and gets lost in this is that he knew Jason had the murder knife and that a knife compatible with the injuries was found behind his trailer, concealed in the water. And that this knife was a serrated knife and early theories on the injuries to Chris Byers suggested that the weapon used was a serrated knife.

FBIknife

Think of it like an equation: Jessie says Jason did the mutilations. Theory is that a serrated knife caused the mutilations. Witness sees Jason and his mom argue over a knife and throw it in the lake. Knife is recovered. The knife recovered is serrated just like what would have been used on the boys. This knife was hidden as if whoever put it there were disposing of evidence. Jessie knew Jason had the murder weapon and the murder weapon was found hidden behind Jason’s home. Jessie’s description is wrong on the knife because he didn’t use it; he didn’t stab or mutilate anyone and only Jason was using it according to him, he was however aware that one was being used, who used it, and who had it. He knew the who, what, when, and where.

The brunt of it is, that the description of what the knife looked like is insignificant in light of other details and circumstances in the case.

In the end the lake knife comes back to the WM3, and has never been successfully explained away by the defense. This knife was also consistent with the injuries to Chris and Stevie and a serrated knife was even thought to be one of the murder weapons in early theories by investigators.

The Evidence of Sexual Assault

In this section we shall address all apparent evidence of a sexual assault as it pertains to this case.

The article is broken into 4 parts for the ease of reading.

Part 1: The Semen Stain- A look into biological evidence found at the scene.
Part 2: The Dilation- A look into the evidence of sodomy.
Part 3: The Sexual Injuries- Autopsy evidence, suggestive of a sex crime.
Part 4: The Bindings- Detailing the sexual aspect of the bindings.

Part 1: The Semen Stain

Kermit Channell would state the following in court, concerning the pants of one of the boys.

Fogleman: Alright. And what uh – now I believe you indicated that you ran tests for blood on these items and I’m sure you’ve said it, but what were the results of those tests as far as blood?

Channell: Uh – they were negative.

Fogleman: Alright. And then did you uh – and what was the other type of test or what other item were you looking for?

Channell: I examined these items for the presence of semen.

Fogleman: Alright. And what type of test did you run for that?

Channell: The first test that I used is basically a screening tool. I laid the clothing out and because of the nature of the clothing, uh – being very dirty and soiled, I used a laser, which emits an ultraviolet light, which helps to pick up any possible stains that you might not be able to see uh – with the unaided eye. I did find some areas. I made cuttings of those areas and then further tested them for the presence of acid phosphatase. Acid phosphatase is an enzyme which is found in semen. Uh – it is also found in other items, for instance blood. But however, it is not in the same quantities. We can not quantitate the amount of acid phosphatase present, therefore we use it again as a screening tool to tell you whether or not there could be semen present. I then took those cuttings and took an extract from those cuttings and looked microscopically to see if I could identify any sperm cells present, which I could not on either pair. I further examined those cuttings for the presence of what is termed P30, which is a prostatic antigen which is specific to the male prostate. In this examination, uh – I did have some positive controls along with my cutting samples, which indicated to me that there could be some interaction with the material that was hindering me with getting a proper answer, uh – therefore, I had to conclude that I could not determine based on my testing that semen was present and because of that reason, I then took those cuttings and submitted them also to Genetic Design where they could employ DNA testing, which is far more sensitive then my testing.

Fogleman: Alright. Let me ask you this, how many screening tests did you run on the pants or the cuttings, either one? For semen I mean.

Channell: Actually, I ran the laser as a screening test and also the acid phosphatase as a screening.

Fogleman: And on those two screening tests, uh – what was the reaction?

Channell: Uh – these reactions were positive.

Fogleman: Positive for what?

Channell: Uh – for those specific screening tests. What we employed those screening tests for – for instance, if one screening test is positive that lets us continue with our testing. If it however was negative, then we would stop with the analysis at that point.

Fogleman: And so, both tests were positive as a screening test for the presence of semen?

Channell: That’s correct.

According to this, there was possible evidence of semen present on the clothing of one of the victims.

Michael DeGuglielmo would also testify about the semen.

17 Q. From all of that, what can we conclude about the source of
18 the DNA or possible source of the DNA in the two cuttings from
19 these pants?
20 A. What I know from those two particular items, is that we did
21 obtain a small amount of DNA, basically a threshold amount for
22 our testing. The testing that we use is specific for human or
23 higher primate. By that I mean there is some cross reactivity
24 between higher primates as far as the DNA sequences. Human
25 beings, gorillas, chimpanzees and great apes will have some
1549

1 similarity in the actual DNA sequence. Because of that, they
2 are not just human specific, but we know that the DNA that we
3 detected is from the source of a higher primate.
4 The other thing is that the small amount of DNA we
5 detected were present in the male or sperm portions of the
6 extraction which would be indicative of the DNA having come from
7 a sperm origin.

So, the strong implication seemed to be that there was semen on a pair of pants.

Channell would also testify that the water from the ditch had destroyed much of the DNA evidence such as any trace of semen that there might have been.

Fogleman: Alright. And um – in regard to these pants and all the other items that you examined, what effect if any does uh – an item of evidence being in water have on your ability to find items?

Channell: Uh – being uh – wet, especially being say, submerged in the water, or even being dirty or soiled has a very detrimental effect on any type of biological materials that you might find. Being in the water can make it virtually impossible at times to identify any type of material.

Fogleman: Okay. And uh – does cold water as opposed to hot water have any particular effect on blood in particular?

Channell: I believe with uh – there are some studies with one versus the other, but uh – regardless of water temperature, still it will deteriorate the sample.

So there was some possible semen present at the scene. This would would be a key indicator that there was sexual activity between the killer(s) and the victims. It would be difficult to prove however as Channell would also state.

Fogleman: What uh – is the effect of a body being submerged in water on your ability to find semen in the oral cavity?

Channell: Uh – being submitted – uh – being in the water would have a very detrimental effect. Uh – with uh – with the water, it will have a tendency to flush out anything that could be there and very much hinder any identification that we can make.

If it was there, which it seemed to be, it was completely destroyed by water.

Part 2: Dilation

During the autopsies it was noted that the anuses of the boys had been dilated, a sign of possible sodomy.

This being from Stevie Branch’s autopsy.

Genital/Anal Area Injuries:
The anus was dilated. No injuries were noted. The anal and rectal mucosa showed mild hyperemia, but no evidence of injury.

Stevie showed signs of dilation, but no obvious sign of injury. The evidence of dilation could mean that Stevie was sodomized, however it’s difficult to say for sure, because there was no visible injury present. An argument put on by defense experts has been that the dilation was caused solely by the bodies being in the water, and not sexual assault.

This next one is from Chris Byers’ autopsy.

Genital and Anal Injuries:
The anal orifice was markedly dilated. Examination of the rectal and anal mucosa showed them to be diffusely hyperemic and injected. There were no injuries present.

Again there was dilation, but no obvious injuries.

This would be Michael Moore’s findings.

Anal/Genital Region:
The penis was circumcised and showed no injuries. The anus was dilated and showed no external evidence of injury. Mud and debris was present in the anal orifice. Subsequent autopsy demonstrated no internal injuries noted to the scrotum or testes. The mucosal surfaces of the rectum were slightly hyperemic and showed no evidence of injury.

Just like the others he had dilation, and all three victims had evidence of dilation present.

Peretti would say this on the dilation in a phone call.

DR: I .. no. I did not say that. I did not say that. I told him that he asked me about anuses. I told him that anuses on two of the kids were dilated and it could happen one of three ways; probably due to the bodies being in the water, it could be done by certain foreign objects into the rectum or a small penis. He asked me if there were any injuries. I said there were no injuries surrounding the anus. That’s what I told him.

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/wadley_peretti.html

He would suggest that based on the dilation alone he couldn’t say if the victims had been sodomized or not, but he suggested three ways that could leave them this way, including an object, or a small penis as a possibility. The men convicted for the crime were teenagers, so the possibility of a small penis could be valid.

He would also make this statement.

There was no unusual injury to the anal area. But because of the the
combination of the bodies being found nude and being hogtied together with some of the other injuries suggested ‘at least in some part’ a sexual assault.

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/bm_rule37/bm_rule37_peretti1.html

Part 3: The Sexual Injuries

From the autopsy it noted numerous injuries and mutilations to Christopher Byers’ genital region.

The skin of the penis, scrotal sac and testes were missing. There was a large gaping defect measuring 2 3/4 inch by 1 1/2 inch. The shaft of the penis was present and measured 2 inches in length. The gaping defect was surrounded by multiple and extensive irregular punctate gouging type injuries measuring from 1/8 inch to 3/4 inch and had a depth of penetration of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch. Some of these wounds showed hemorrhage in the underlying soft tissue, others did not. In between the thighs there were multiple areas of yellow abrasions with skin slippage. The medial aspect of the left thigh showed a yellow abrasion.

If this act was committed by the killer, which seems to be more than likely, then that in itself would be considered a sexual act. By specifically focusing on the genitals, and trying to remove them entirely it shows a sexual nature in this crime. From these injuries it was like someone laid on top of the boy and stabbed and cut him repeatedly in the groin region as if there was a struggle between the victim and killer. It appeared as if they had tried to remove the entire genitals by cutting around them, and then tried to pull them off. This removed the testicles, but the penis was degloved, removing only the external portions of it and leaving behind the internal muscle structure.

 

Moving on to Stevie Branch, he also had a strange injury to his genitals.

The mid shaft of the penis to include the glans was diffusely red-purple with overlying very fine superficial scratches. There was a clear band of demarcation at the mid shaft which showed that the proximal portion was uninvolved.

Something had obviously been done to the boy’s genitals based on this injury.

This a diagram of a penis from a medical website:

penis

 

http://www.flinturology.com/vasecsurg.shtml

Using this diagram we can see a rough example of the injury to Stevie’s genitals.

stevie

 

Testimony from the medical examiner would also suggest that maybe the victims had been forced to perform oral sex.

Davis: Doctor, in your experience as a medical examiner when you see injuries to the ears and injuries to the inside surface of the mouth, what does that indicate to you in a person that’s eight years old and has died this type of death?

Peretti: Well, there’s a number of possibilities but commonly when we see the ears contused on both sides or bruised with all lying fine linear scratches…

Stidham: Your Honor, I’m going to object. May I approach the bench?

The Court: [unintelligible] Well, rephrase your question. I think that is probably overbroad.

Davis: Doctor, let me ask you, have you seen–in your past experenience as a medical examiner, have you seen similar injuries to the ears of children?

Peretti: Yes, I have.

Davis: Okay. And in those cases were they frequently also accompanied by injuries to the child’s mouth?

Peretti: Yes, they were.

Davis: Okay. And based on your past experience and expertise and training, do those type injuries indicate to you, based on your expertise and training, a particular type trauma that has occurred to cause those injuries?

Peretti: Well, my practice these type injuries I have seen in children that are held by the ears who are forced to perform oral sex. They can also be due to putting a hand over the mouth to cause the injuries to the mucosal surface of the lips or they could be by grabbing someone by the ear.and just pulling.

Davis: And there were injuries consistent with that found in your autopsy on Michael Moore, is that correct?

Peretti: Yes, that’s correct.

These injuries also possibly could have been caused by someone trying to cover the mouth of the victim in some way.

Part 4: The Bindings

In a memo from defense investigator, Ron Lax, it stated that Lax had contacted a forensics expert named Chris Sperry as to the motivation of this case.

Sperry would tell Lax, that based on the way the victims were found tied, he believed the motive was sexual.

sperry

http://callahan.8k.com/pdf/bm_rule37_state/bm_rule37_state_exh2.pdf

It made no sense for the defense to insist that the boys weren’t the victim’s of some kind of sexual assault, as the way they were found was completely unnecessary to the commission of the crime–it was completely unnecessary act, to strip the victims naked and bind them in the manner that they were.

In fact the manner used in the bindings are typical of rapes and is often used in BDSM. The victims were technically hogtied, but not in a typical fashion. Instead they were bent over with their hands bound to their corresponding ankle, rather than tying the hands and feet together, causing their legs to be forcibly spread.

Here’s a youtube video demonstrating this same position as a sexual pose common in the bondage community.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPjrX5O2ByA

Now the defense would have us believe that there was no assault, but let’s frame a picture here. The victims are found naked in a hogtied fashion. They had been stripped by their killer. If this wasn’t sexual why strip the boys naked? Not only that, but if this wasn’t sexual, why tie the boys up in a sexual manner? That in and of itself seems odd. Why strip the victims naked, and tie them in this way? They were bound not with their feet tied together, but in a way that would force their legs to remain spread, and in a bent over position, hands to ankles.

If one couples this with the possible semen, and the fact that the anuses of the victims all appear dilated. It seems more suggestive of sodomy, and sexual assault.

We also know that one of the boys, Christopher Byers was missing his genitals. If this act was done by his killer(s), this would mean he was sexually mutilated. To further add to this, there was also apparent genital injuries found on Stevie’s body. These items all seem to accumulate and increase the likelihood that the victims had something sexual done to them.

From all of this we can say that it was more than likely that the victims were sexually assaulted.

Understanding the Crime

To reach a conclusion as to who committed these murders, we must first understand both the evidence and the location of the offense in order to arrive at an opinion as to what sort of individual(s) may be responsible.

THE LOCATION

Establishing the general layout of the area, should help with forming an opinion.

We’ll start with this drawing produced by the police of the location known as Robin Hood Hills.

crime_scene_drawing

 

Robin Hood Hills, was a wooded area, often frequented by children in the area and stretched along a busy service road, found on the other side of the location. It had a separate, small wooded area known as Devil’s Den, in which the bodies were located. This area had heavy tree coverage and dropped down over 40ft in height, making it out of sight from anyone in the area, as well as had a small, shallow, man made drainage ditch which ran through it, and emptied out into the much deeper 10 Mile Bayou, another body of water that stretched through the region. The ditch had been made for run off from the field near-by, which at one time was a wheat field according to the drawing.

This drawing also show’s the entrances to the crime scene, as well as all of the trails leading through it. Of these trails, at least one was made by police in order to removed the bodies of the victims from the woods. There were really only two location that one enter into Devil’s Den. One located towards the dead end near the neighborhood on the other side of Robin Hood Hills, which requires you to walk over a bridge made out of a large pipe.

This is the dead end.

aaron_h_photos_07

(Photo of the dead end, years later.)
deadend

(Walking past the dead end and on to the location of the bridge.)

aaron_h_photos_02

This is what it looked like, walking to the bridge.

aerial_27

 

This is the pipe bridge.

aerial_34
Once across the pipe, you could then enter the crime scene through a near-by trail.

aerial_27

Victim path4

This path led down a steep hill into the Devil’s Den area.

1174420_10201179770727902_477197288_n

This path curved down into the location, as shown by this diagram, showing the top portion as “turtle hill” and a slope leading down from it.

lum07

This path led down into the location where the two officers are shown on the right side of the below photo.

crossover

Below this were three trees which were growing together near the ditch that ran through the woods.

You could walk down from the trail, to a ditch bank where these three trees grew.

crime_scene_45

crime_scene_81

The ditch bank:

crime_scene_42

The shallow ditch could easily be crossed near to the three trees, shown in these photos.

crossover3

crossover4

You could then easily cross to a second ditch bank located on the other side of the ditch.

crime_scene_41

The ditch bank.

ditchbankreference1

Photo showing both ditch banks.

crime_scene_53

 

Situated near this second ditch bank was a path that led out of the woods and to a field near the service road. This was the second way to enter the crime scene.

E_WallofWoods

 

BLUE BEACON

discovery_woods_and_blue_beacon_looking_south

 

You could walk up from the service road, to up behind the Blue Beacon and walk along a path to the pipe bridge.

 

States_Exhibit_14

 

This path was often used as a short-cut by locals to cut to and from the service road through to the neighborhood on the other side.

This is a photo of Andrew Harris, one of the Blue Beacon witnesses.

555379_523911080975219_1274297407_n

Harris had been working the night of the crime, and stated that in the year prior to the murders, Blue Beacon had been robbed twice, and the robbers had arrived and escaped by going through Robin Hood. For this reason, they began locking their back door, and keeping an eye on traffic. Employees also sometimes walked through the woods to get to and from work. Nobody from Blue Beacon saw any cars parked there the night of May 5th, and they would have noticed it, because of their vigilance over the previous robberies.

 

THE BIKES

The victims would have had trouble walking their bikes over this pipe without dropping them, or falling in themselves, making it unlikely that they took the bikes into Robin Hood with them.

Here’s a photo of a friend of the victims, Aaron Hutchinson, who was the same age as them, crossing this bridge. Notice how he’s walking across. Then imagine what it would have been like for the victims to try and cross that with their bikes.

pipebridge93

Based upon this, it seems more than likely the victims left their bikes out near the entrance to the pipe somewhere.

aerial_53

These bikes were later found dumped off of the bridge into a section known as 10 Mile Bayou. They had been floating beneath the bridge.

crime_scene_66

l

It’s likely that their killer(s) walked across the bridge and grabbed the bikes, walked them in a little, and tossed them off. Had the boys brought the bikes in with them, it seems most likely that the killer(s) would have tried to conceal them in the drainage ditch where the bodies of the victims were located, or they would have been tossed into the Bayou from a different section, or even concealed in brush. Instead they were tossed off of the bridge, having been found right underneath it, indicating that the bikes likely did not travel far from the bridge.

 

ANIMALS AND ROBIN HOOD

Ryan Clark, the brother of one victim would claim to have seen snapping turtles in the area. He claimed to have carried snapping turtles from the 10 Mile Bayou in a deposition years later. Clark, and his friend/ex, Heather Hollis(previously Heather Cliett), would claim to have seen turtles and wild dogs out there, after the defense pursued that theory, having already previously made the suggestion. Both Clark and Hollis, seemed to be attempting to implicate Ryan’s step-father John Mark Byers in the crime at the time of their statements. Hollis was even sure to point out that Byers used to beat his son.

The children shown in these photos when asked if they had ever seen a turtle in the area, replied that they had never seen a turtle out there.

 

207667_523912800975047_2049507653_n

299625_523912307641763_743913020_n

72828_523912290975098_695488689_n

There was possibly some turtles in the 10 Mile Bayou area however, the body of water which ran under the bridge, but not necessarily the ditch that ran through the Devil’s Den area. A video shot years later in 2009, after the location had changed drastically did show a turtle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf26tCNGifM

Photos of the area just from 2013.

577487_10201138682253217_1080902984_n

943037_10201138682093213_215424002_n

The scene had long since changed, since 1993 when the crimes had occurred.

To date of witnesses in the case, only Ryan and Heather ever claimed to have seen or encountered the giant snapping turtles out there back in the early 90’s. And both only mentioned the dogs or turtles until the defense brought it up years later.

The point on the animals is important in this case, as the nature of the wounds on the victims is disputed between the prosecution and the defense in this case.

 

TEENS AND ROBIN HOOD

Dawn Moore would also describe seeing teens exit the woods on the day of the crime, prior to the victims being spotted entering the area. The location had been a popular hangout for teens as well as kids in the area. Teenagers often used the Devil’s Den area to drink and do drugs.

“Saw 3 boys coming out of Robin Hood

1 W/M 17 Yellow Black Shorts & Top Striped Shoes
1 B/M 17
1 B/M 17

They asked if I wanted a shot
I though of Drugs / Felt it would be needles
coming out

5:30-6:00 Sun still out and light outside

45 minutes later saw W/M and at least 1 BM
go into a house North of Kim’s house
close to Goodwin
about the fourth house off of Goodwin on
West side.

003397

INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
Date: 5-8-93

On this date, I interviewed Dawn Moore who stated that she was out looking for her brother. She stated that she saw three boys (1 W/M and 2 B/M) coming out of Robin Hood near the ditch that goes to Devil’s Den. She stated that they were near the Hydrant accross the street and as she drove by one of them asked if she wanted a shot. She felt that they were talking about drugs. She stated that she didn’t see the little Boys that evening.

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/dawnm.html

Many teens would also claim to have spent time out there. Heather Cliett( Later know as Heather Hollis), said that she had been out there before, and had seen the victims playing at the location on numerous occasions.

Lastly this is the area, known as Devil’s Den, where the bodies were found, and where teens came to hangout.

First we have a path leading into it, up a 50 ft hill, known as Turtle Hill, which is on the West bank.

1174420_10201179770727902_477197288_n

This would lead someone back up towards the pipe bridge.

Now this is a photo looking towards where the murders occurred.

crime_scene_53

 

This next photo is looking up from inside the area.

crime_scene_area_07

Looking down at the location from a camera position in a tree.

crime_scene_area_08

Another shot of a path.

crime_scene_area_09

This is the area where the murders appear to have occurred.

crime_scene_17 crime_scene_18

Near this location there was also a path that lead over to a wheat field, which was next to the crime scene.

At the time this spot was a wheat field.

E_WallofWoods

They also found several beer cans, and various other items in the area.

crime_scene_22

crime_scene_25

Garbage and drink cups were strewn about, and floating in the ditch.

crime_scene_51

This is another shot of Devil’s Den.

crime_scene_46

This is the ditch the victims were found in.

crime_scene_42

crime_scene_45

crime_scene_38

A few locations were spotted on the edges of the ditch near where Michael Moore was found. This area appeared to be slicked off, like someone had done something to it, possibly, having scrubbed it with their hands and leaves.

crime_scene_54

There was also lines in the mud, which showed that this couldn’t have been caused by someone just walking over the area.

crime_scene_55

Whoever did this was clearly trying to get rid of something that was at the location.

When the location was eventually sprayed down with luminol the whole area lit up, as if there had been a massive amount of blood there.

This is a photo of the area taken when they sprayed it.

IMG_2821

Then they took this photo of the location, in the total darkness.

IMG_2825

It appeared that someone had been trying to wash away, and cover up the blood.

This location also had almost like a “V” shape made in the luminol.

IMG_28252

The portions that light up seem to jut out at two different points, almost like a letter “V”.

This is another image of the luminol from the slicked of area.

IMG_2838

Luminol photos also detected blood leading up this trail.

1174420_10201179770727902_477197288_n

This meant that whoever killed the boys had crossed through the ditch and onto the other side.

This sketch shows the blood near the trail.

lum12

 

From the luminol, it appears the victims were killed on both sides of the ditch. Moore was probably killed on the West side, near the trail with the blood near it, while Stevie and Chris were murdered on the East bank, where the luminol lit up.

THE BODIES

We should address next the bodies and how they were found to determine what happened.

The bodies  were of:

Michael Moore

cover_story1-8

Stevie Branch

30136c9d582e0435d96a95d37d0846519e901e6a.pjpg

Christopher Byers

2ee365425b1a0de6d42d998f7dd5492c953ec886.pjpg

All three had gone missing the day before, at roughly 6:30 P.M.

The victims, had possibly been dragged to the ditch, as evidenced by apparent scrapes in the autopsy photos(defense experts would at one point try to claim these drag marks were made by turtle claws, for their animal predation theory), and placed in the water. Evidence suggests that two of the victims died as a result of drowning on top of the injuries they received.
This was noted in Michael Moore’s autopsy.

Evidence of Drowning:
The hands and feet showed washer woman wrinkling. The sphenoid sinus contained 2 ml. of bloody fluid. Petechial hemorrhages were present on the epicardium, pleura, and thymus. The lungs were edematous and extruded abundant amounts of frothy material.

The autopsy showed that he died from multiple injuries including drowning, meaning he was still technically alive when he was put in the ditch. In Stevie Branch’s autopsy it was also noted that he had drown as well.

OPINION:
This 8 year old, white male, Steve Branch, died of multiple injuries with drowning.

This also means that Stevie was still technically alive when he was placed in the ditch. The only one of the victims who didn’t show evidence of drowning was Christopher Byers who appeared to have died from his injuries.

From these findings it means that the killer(s), dragged the victims into the water and drowned them, then they pressed them down into the mud. They used sticks and their shoes to do this. And tried to weigh down the bodies.

Noticeably Michael Moore’s body was located 27 feet away from the bodies of his friends, which is noted in crime scene notes.

dictated by Lieutenant Diane Hester:
Body #2 was found 27 feet south of body #1
Body #3 was found approximately 32 feet south of body #1
The width of the stream where body #1 was found is 4 feet 3 inches – 2 inches, 3 inches? 4 feet – correction, 4 feet 2 inches – and what? The width is consistant to where the other – body #2 and body #3 were found also.

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/crime_scene_notes_dictated.html

27ftaway

His body had also been near multiple trails leading out of the woods. This raises a few questions. Why had Michael been left at a separate section? Had someone else subdued and killed Michael while another was dealing with the other boys? Possible. Maybe Michael had run from his killer(s), only to be caught? Also possible.

It also appeared that Christopher at the very least had been moved as well, from the luminol photos. He had been likely killed on the slicked off ditch bank, and moved, to the location where Stevie was.

When taken out of the water it was discovered that the victims were tied up with their hands bound to their ankles in a hog tied fashion. The victims were also still bleeding when they emerged from the ditch. Michael Moore had blood running out of his nose from his injuries, and Stevie was bleeding from large gaping lacerations to his face. Christopher Byers also had most of his genitals missing. All that remained was the internal muscle structure of the shaft of his penis. His testicles and the skin of his penis were gone. He also appeared to have numerous lacerations, and gouges into his groin region.

It turned out, the bindings used on the victims were the shoe laces from their own shoes. The killer(s) had improvised the bindings on the scene, having acquired this tool while committing the crime, rather than bringing any means of binding the victims with them. The killer(s) also noticeably left the bindings on the victims rather than take them away from the scene in case of any evidence being left behind. This shows that either the killer didn’t care, or didn’t think that the bindings could be potential evidence against them. This information on the lack of planning, and removal of the bindings could suggest a disorganized offender, as criminal profilers often refer to it.

Another observation of the bindings, was that the three victims had been bound with 5 of the shoe laces, and the 6th lace remained still in it’s shoe.

clothing_244_size_13_shoe_lace_

The reason for this was that one of the laces had been cut in half, meaning that a knife, or some other cutting tool, was involved in this crime. The victims also had several injuries to them, which could have been inflicted with a knife, such as the injuries to Chris Byers.

An expert named Lisa Sakevicius would testify at trial the following on the knots.

7 A. Michael Moore.
8 Q. What were your findings as to the knots on Michael Moore?
9 A. Two pieces of black shoestring, one each tied between the
10 wrist and leg on the right and left side. The knots on the
11 wrist and leg on the left side were both square knots. The knot
12 on the wrist on the right side was a series of three half
13 hitches. The knot on the left side of the right side was a
14 series of four half hitches.
15 Q. On the left side what kind of knots did you have?
16 A. Square knots.
17 Q. And on the right side what kind of knots?
18 A. You had a series of three half hitches and then a series of
19 four half hitches.

So Michael Moore had been tied up with two distinctly different types of knots on each side of his body. Why wouldn’t the murderer have used the same knots while tying the victim?  It was as if one person was tying one side, and someone else was tying the other. So we had square knots used on his left side, and half hitches on his right.

This expert would also testify to possibly two different types of knots used for binding Stevie Branch.

20 Q. On Exhibit 81 — if you would refer to that exhibit.
21 A. That is from Steve Branch.
22 Q. What were your findings as to the knots on Exhibit 81?
23 A. Examination of the ligatures revealed a black shoestring on
24 the right side tied in three half hitches with an extra loop
25 around the leg to a single half hitch with a figure eight around
1509

1 the right wrist. The left side consisted of a white shoestring
2 tied in three half hitches around the wrist to three half
3 hitches around the leg.
4 Q. So on the left side on the wrist you had three half
5 hitches?
6 A. Correct.
7 Q. And on the ankle you had three half hitches?
8 A. Correct.
9 Q. On the right side on the leg you had three half hitches
10 with what?
11 A. An extra loop around the right leg.
12 Q. On the wrist you had?
13 A. A figure eight.
14 Q. With one half hitch. Is that right?
15 A. Yes, sir.

So, Stevie was tied on one side, with half hitches, and on the other, more half hitches, but they were with an extra loop, like a figure eight. So, Stevie was also tied with possibly two different types of knots. Why would the killer have used two different knots on him, and a third type of knot on Michael? He was also tied up with two different laces.

16 Q. Refer to Exhibit 82.
17 A. That would be from Chris Byers. Examination of ligatures
18 revealed one black shoestring tied in a double half hitch around
19 the right wrist to a double half hitch around the right leg.
20 The ligature on the left side consisted of a double half
21 hitch around the wrist and leg but was tied with a white
22 shoestring.
23 Q. When you say, “a double half hitch,” is that the same as
24 two half hitches?
25 A. Yes.
1510

1 Q. So on Exhibit 82 all of the knots on both wrists and both
2 legs are the same?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And on Exhibit 80, which was Michael Moore, on the left
5 side you had the same kind of knots both on the leg and wrist
6 which were square knots?
7 A. Yes, sir.
8 Q. Tell me one more time what those were on the right side,
9 please.
10 A. On the right side a series of three half hitches on — I
11 called it the wrist — and then on the left side four half
12 hitches.
13 Q. You lost me there.
14 A. I think what I mean is the wrist and the leg.
15 Q. You had three half hitches and four half hitches?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And then on Exhibit 81 on the left side you had both the
18 wrist and ankle with three half hitches?
19 A. Three half hitches around the wrist and leg.
20 Q. You had some half hitches with some differences on the
21 right side, some extra —
22 A. Correct.
23 Q. You said there is a loop and then a figure eight. What do
24 you mean?
25 A. Instead of just being once around, it had been wrapped
1511

1 around twice and then the knot was tied.

Now, unlike the other two victims, Chris Byers appears to be tied in the same manner on both sides. His bindings also appear to be the same as those on the one side of Michael Moore. He is however bound with two different laces, just like Stevie. From all this evidence pertaining to the ligatures it appears that it was possible that more than one person was involved in tying the victims up.  From this, we’re presented with possibly two, or three different types of knots, being used on the victims. Meaning there may have been as many as two, possibly even three people binding them.

A document from the crime lab would document the different knots.

lisasak51293b

Here’s some examples of what these knots look like.

square knot

half hitch

And, the possible third knot was like a half hitch with a figure 8 knot, so here’s a figure 8 knot just for reference.

figure 8

THE EVIDENCE

The killer(s) had also scattered the clothes of the victims, tossing it into the ditch. Some of the clothing even caught on tree branches. There was also countless items at the scene, that it was uncertain on if they were related to the crime, or not. There were liquor bottles, cans, cigarette butts, a bag of clothes, fast food drink cups, and numerous other trash items discarded in the area.

The clothing of the victims would also reveal, a few possible pieces of evidence.

Lisa Sakevicius stated the following.

“having been first duly sworn to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then testified further as follows:
 
REDIRECT EXAMINATION
 
By Mr. Fogleman:
 
Q: You are the same witness who testified yesterday, I believe?
 
A: That’s correct.
 
Q: Yesterday after you left, some mention came up about whether or not there was any evidence of candles at the scene. Did you find any evidence of candle wax in your examinations?
 
A: On the item, my E-2 item, which was a shirt, I did find a blue wax.
 
Q: Item E-2, which is state’s exhibit 44, the white polka dot shirt, correct?
 
A: That’s correct.
 
Q: What did you find on this shirt?
 
A: Blue wax.
 
Q: Is that blue wax consistant with candle wax?
 
2514
 
A: Yes.”

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/ebtrial/lisasak2.html

What appeared to be some blue candle wax had been discovered on the shirt of one of the victims, at the crime scene.

In another post it’s also been pointed out that several pieces of additional evidence seemed to show that the boys were sexually assaulted.

https://thewm3revelations.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/the-evidence-of-sexual-assault/

THE INJURIES

Next we should take a look at the injures inflicted upon the victims to determine how the boys were murdered.

The Autopsy on Michael Moore reveals this.

Neck, Chest, and Abdominal Injuries:
In an area measuring 3 inches by 3/4 inch, situated over the right side of the neck and scapula region, was an area of contusion with an overlying 1 1/4 by 1/2 inch abrasion. Situated medial to this contusion, extending onto the left side of the neck, was a 1 by 3/4 inch contusion.

Situated on the right shoulder were three scattered contusions measuring about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Adjacent to this was an area of focal red-purple contusion. Below this contusion an area measuring 2 1/4 by 1/4 inch were multiple linear, diagonally oriented abrasions surrounded by contusions. These abrasions were interspaced by a distance of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Situated on the lower right side of the chest were two 3/4 inch contusions. Below this contusion were two parallel oriented abrasions which measured about 3/4 inch each and were interspaced by a distance of 1/8 inch.

Situated over the lower left side of the abdomen were a group of linear abrasions which were interspaced by a distance of 1/16 by 1/8 inch.

Lower Extremities:
A 1/4 inch ovoid contusion is present over the left knee. Binding abrasions were present on the ankles bilaterally. Situated above and below these binding abrasions were faint red-purple contusions.

Back Injuries:
A 1 inch contusion was present on the back of the forearm. Situated over the right upper back were two diagonally oriented interrupted abrasions, each measuring about 4 1/2 inches. They were interspaced by a distance of 1/2 inch. Situated below this abrasion and on the left side was a 4 by 2 inch area of contusion. Below this contusion, extending to the right mid back were two linear diagonally oriented abrasions which were interspaced by a distance of 2/16 inch.

Situated over the right buttocks were multiple linear scratches measuring from 1/2 inch to 3/8 inch. Punctate linear scratches were present on the inferior aspect of the left buttocks region.

Upper Extremity Injuries:
The wrists showed binding abrasions. Situated around these abrasions were contusions.
Situated on the left antecubital fossa was 1/8 inch abrasion. Below this were linear abrasions measuring from 1/16 inch to 1/2 inch.

Situated in the right thenar eminence was a 1 inch cut. Situated on the left thenar eminence was a 1/8 inch superficial laceration. Situated on the back of the left hand was a 3/4 inch scratch and a 1/16 inch abrasion which was present on the anterior surface of the left thumb. The hands showed bilaterally washer woman wrinkling.

Internal Evidence of Injury of the Neck, Chest, and Abdomen:
There were multiple bite marks present on the lateral margins and tip of the tongue. There was no hemorrhage noted in the muscles of the neck. The hyoid bone and larynx were intact. No petechial hemorrhages were present on the larynx or epiglottis. There were no penetrating or perforating injuries noted to the chest, abdomen, or pelvis.

HEAD: (CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM) Injuries of the head were previously described. Sections through the cerebral hemispheres, brain stem and cerebellum, revealed no nontraumatic lesions.

PATHOLOGIC DIAGNOSES:
I. Multiple injuries with drowning.
a. Head injuries—multiple facial abrasions and contusions.
b. Multiple abrasions and contusions of lips.
c. Multiple scalp lacerations and contusions.
d. Multifocal subgaleal contusions and edema.
e. Multiple fractures of calvarium and base of skull.
e. Subarachnoid hemorrhage and contusions involving the cerebrum and cerebellar hemispheres.
II. Binding of wrists and ankles in “hog-tied” fashion.
III. Multiple contusions, abrasions and lacerations of torso and extremities.
IV. Defense type injuries of hands.
V. Anal dilatation with hyperemia of anal/rectal mucosa.
VI. Evidence of drowning—washerwoman wrinkling on hands and feet.
a. Washer woman wrinkling on hands and feet.
b. Petechial hemorrhages of heart, lungs and thymus.
c. Pulmonary edema and congestion.
d. Aspiration of water into sphenoid sinus.
VII. No evidence of disease.
VIII. Terminal aspiration.

Autopsy showed that the decadent’s hands were bound to his feet in a “hog-tied” fashion. There were multiple traumatic injuries consisting of contusions, abrasions, and lacerations involving the head, torso, and extremities. The skull showed multiple fractures with associated brain injury. Defense type injuries consisting of cuts were present on the hands. The anus was dilated and contained mud. Spermatoza were not detected in the oral and anal smears. In addition, there was evidence of drowning, which included “washerwoman” wrinkling of the hands, pulmonary edema and congestion, aspiration of water into the sphenoid sinus and petechial hemorrhages involving the heart, lung and thymus. The alcohol detected is probably the result of decomposition. No drugs were identified in the body fluids.

This autopsy showed numerous injuries from a beating. Autopsy photos would show that he was hit with a blunt object of some kind with sharp corners. Whatever it was, had likely caused much of the injuries to him. He also appeared to have been savagely beaten about the face and head. His nose was even bleeding when his body was pulled from the water. The beating had been so savage that had he not been drowned, he surely would have died as a result.

Stevie Branch’s autopsy would state the following.

Head Injuries:
The right ear showed multiple confluent contusions and abrasions. Scattered abrasions were present over the right eye. A 1/2 inch contusion was present in the right medial periorbital region. A 2 inch scratch was present below the right eye. Multiple scratches were present over the right mandible. Situated on the right mandible was a bell-shaped type abrasion which showed a central area of pallor and abrasion. The lips were abraded, with multiple superficial lacerations. The mucosal surfaces showed multiple contusions, lacerations and hemorrhage. The gums were hemorrhagic. Extending above and below the left eyebrow was a bell-shaped patterned abrasion. The base measured 3/4 inch. The distance between the base and the dome was 1 1/4 inch. A 1/4 inch laceration was present immediately adjacent to the superior medial margin.
The left parietal scalp showed multiple superficial cuts and abrasions. The entire left ear was contused with overlying finely linear abrasions.

The entire left side of the face to include the left ear and an area measuring 5 1/2 by 5 inches, showed multiple confluent red abrasions with multiple gouging type irregular cutting wounds and overlying abrasions. The cutting wounds measure from 1/8 to 1 3/4 inches. Many of these wounds terminated into the oral cavity.

The left occipital scalp was edematous and showed a contusion with overlying abrasions measuring about 4 inches in greatest dimension.

Subsequent examination of posterior neck muscles showed extravasated hemorrhage in the posterior neck muscles. Reflection of the scalp showed multifocal subgaleal contusions. There were no fractures noted to the calvarium. The base of the skull showed a 3 1/2 inch fracture with multiple extension fractures which terminate in the foramen magnum which measured 3 1/2 inches. The left posterior cerebral hemisphere showed multifocal subarachnoid hemorrhage. There were fracture contusions involving the posterior surface of the left cerebellar hemisphere. The right frontal lobe showed focal subarachnoid hemorrhage.

So, Stevie also was beaten like Michael about the head, only his face was mutilated, having received numerous cuts to it.

Chest Injuries:
Multiple scattered abrasions were present on the front of the chest.

Lower Extremity Injuries:
Multiple scratches and contusions were present on the lower extremities. On the left thigh there was a 1 inch yellow scratch. Also, there was a patterned grid-like impression. The margins were diagonally oriented and measured respectively 3 inches laterally and 3 1/2 inches medially. There was evidence of binding abrasions and contusions involving the ankles. The binding abrasions were yellow tan with abraded margins.

Upper Extremity Injuries:
On the back of the hands were multiple scattered contusions. Scattered contusions were also present on the thenar eminence bilaterally.
Binding abrasions with surrounding red contusion were present on the wrists.

Back Injuries:
Present over the left upper back were two contusions measuring approximately 2 inches and 1 by 1 1/2 inches.

PATHOLOGIC DAIGNOSES:
I. Multiple Injuries:
a. Multiple facial abrasions, contusions and laceration
b. Subgaleal contusions.
c. Fractures of base of skull.
d. Subarachnoid hemorrhage of cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres.
II. Bindings of hands and feet.
III. Contusion of penis with superficial scratches.
IV. Dilation of anus.
V. Multiple contusions, abrasions, and lacerations of torso and extremities.
VI. Terminal submerging.
a. Wrinkling of hands and feet.
b. Water in sphenoid sinus.
c. Pulmonary edema and congestion with bloody, frothy fluid in airways.
VII. Terminal aspiration.
VIII. No evidence of disease.

Autopsy demonstrated multiple cutting and gouging wounds and abrasions involving the facies. There were fractures of the base of the skull and hemorrhage involving the brain. There were multiple contusions, abrasions, and lacerations involving the torso and extremities. The penis showed injuries consisting of segmental intense hyperemia involving the mid shaft, glans and head of the penis with overlying very fine scratches. There was evidence also of terminal submersion consistent with “washerwoman” wrinkling of the hands and feet. There was pulmonary edema and congestion, along with the bloody, frothy fluid, in the air passages and water in the sphenoid sinus. Petechial hemorrhages were present on the epicardium and pleura. The anus was dilated, with no external evidence of injury. The anal and rectal mucosae were slightly hyperemic and showed no injuries. Spermatoza were not identified on the oral and anal smears. No drugs or alcohol were detected in the body fluids.

So, like Moore he was savagely beaten, even fracturing his skull. He also appeared to have been horrifically mutilated on top of being drowned.

Next is Christopher Byers.

Head Injuries:
The right ear was abraded and contused. The inferior aspect of the right ear showed multiple linear abrasions measuring 1/2 inch to 1 1/4 inch. On the bridge of the nose were multiple abrasions. Situated between the nose and the upper lip was a semi-lunar abrasion measuring about 1/8 inch. A 1/4 inch abrasion was present at the lateral aspect of the lower lips. A 1/8 abrasion was present on the midline of the lips. The mucosal surfaces of the lower lip showed a 5/16 inch laceration. The frenulum was contused and was surrounded by a 1/2 inch contusion. Multiple superficial bite marks were present on the mucosal surfaces of the right and left cheeks.

A 3/16 inch laceration was present above the left upper lip.
Situated on the superior aspect of the bridge of the nose was a 3/16 inch abrasion.
Situated above the left eyebrow were two abrasions measuring respectively 1 inch and 3/4 inch. Situated on the right eyelid was a 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch contusion. Adjacent to the medial aspect of the left eye was a 1/8 inch abrasion.

A 1/8 inch abrasion was present adjacent to the lateral aspect of the left eyebrow.
Situated on the left zygomatic region were two circular abrasions, each measuring 3/16 inch. Below these was a 1/4 by 1/8 abrasion.

The left ear was contused and situated behind it were five linear abrasions measuring respectively 1/2 inch, 7/16 inch, 1/2 inch, 7/16 inch, and 3/4 inch. A 1/8 inch abrasion was present on the helix of the left ear. In front of the left ear were five haphazardly oriented abrasions, measuring 5/16 inch to 1 3/4 inch.

Situated on the left parietal scalp was a 1 1/4 inch laceration.

Reflection of the scalp showed hemorrhage in the soft tissues underlying the laceration. There were multifocal, subgaleal contusions with associated edema.

There were no fractures noted to the calvarium, however, the base of the skull shows multiple fractures. In the left posterior cranial fossa was a fracture measuring 3 1/2 inches in length. Extending from this fracture were multiple radiating fractures which involved the entire posterior left cranial fossae. Situated on the left posterior medial cranial fossa was a 1/4 inch ovoid punched out fracture. A 1 inch fracture also involved the left middle cranial fossa.

The brain showed multifocal subarachnoid hemorrhage involving the left posterior cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres. Associated fracture contusions were present.

So far we’re seeing a pattern that the killer hit all three boys in the head, incapacitating them.

Neck Injuries:
Situated on the left side of the neck were a few scattered abrasions.
Subsequent autopsy of the neck showed no hemorrhage in the strap muscles of the neck. The hyoid bone and larynx were intact. No petechial hemorrhages were noted. No fractures were noted.

Genital and Anal Injuries:
The anal orifice was markedly dilated. Examination of the rectal and anal mucosa showed them to be diffusely hyperemic and injected. There were no injuries present.

The skin of the penis, scrotal sac and testes were missing. There was a large gaping defect measuring 2 3/4 inch by 1 1/2 inch. The shaft of the penis was present and measured 2 inches in length. The gaping defect was surrounded by multiple and extensive irregular punctate gouging type injuries measuring from 1/8 inch to 3/4 inch and had a depth of penetration of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch. Some of these wounds showed hemorrhage in the underlying soft tissue, others did not. In between the thighs there were multiple areas of yellow abrasions with skin slippage. The medial aspect of the left thigh showed a yellow abrasion.

Situated on the posterior surface of the left buttocks was a 1/2 by 1/4 inch contusion and a 1 3/4 inch linear abrasion.

Situated on the posterior surface of the right buttocks were two faint contusions, each measuring about 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch.

The left buttocks showed five superficial cutting wounds measuring from 1/2 inch to 2 1/8 inch.

Situated on the right buttock region were multiple linear superficial interrupted cuts measuring from 3/16 to 1/2 inch and were interspaced by a distance of 1/8 inch. Scattered linear abrasions were present about the anal orifice.

Injuries of Right Leg:
Situated on the right anterior thigh was a 1 by 1 3/8 inch reddish contusion. Below this contusion was a patterned contusion consisting of two ovoid red-purple contusions, the superior one measuring 3/4 by 7/16 inch, and the inferior one measuring 3/4 by 1 1/8 inch. Extending from both of these contusions, the superior one measuring 5 3/16 inches and the inferior contusion measuring 4 1/2 inches. The interspace between these two linear contusions was about 3/4 inch.

A 1/4 inch abrasion was present on the anterior surface of the right leg.

The ankles showed evidence of yellow-red binding abrasions. On the left ankle below the binding abrasion was a 3/4 inch by 1/2 abrasion.

Situated over the posterior right thigh and leg were multiple scattered abrasions and contusions. A 2 1/2 by 2 3/4 inch contusion was present above the ligature binding site of the right ankle.

Injuries of the Left Leg:
A 1/4 inch abrasion was present on the right knee. Situated below the right knee were three red contusions measuring 3/4 inch, 1/4 inch, and 1/2 inch each. A 3/4 by 1 inch abrasion was present on the left ankle. The posterior surface of the left lower leg and ankle show confluent contusions.

From these injuries it seems like someone laid on top of the boy and stabbed and cut him repeatedly in the groin region, as if there was a struggle between the victim and killer. These wounds were more than likely inflicted by the killer. It appeared as if they had tried to remove the entire genitals by cutting around them, and then tried to pull them off. This removed the testicles, but the penis was degloved, removing only the external portions of it and leaving behind the internal muscle structure.

Back Injuries:
Multiple scattered abrasions were situated over the upper back region.

Injuries of Right Arm:
Scattered abrasions were present over the right arm and forearm. A yellow binding abrasion which was not surrounded by contusion was present on the right wrist.

Injuries of Left Arm:
Multiple scattered abrasions are present on the anteroposterior surfaces of the left arm. A binding abrasion was present on the left wrist and at the superior margin of this abrasion was a faint red-purple contusion.

PATHOLOGIC DIAGNOSES:
I. Multiple Injuries:
a. Multiple facial contusions, abrasions, and lacerations.
b. Contusions and abrasions of ears.
c. Left parietal scalp laceration.
d. Fractures of base of skull.
e. Subarachnoid hemorrhage of cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres with fracture contusions.
g. Abrasions of front of neck with no evidence of neck muscle injuries.
II. Genital mutilation with absence of scrotal sac, testes, skin and head of penis, with multiple surrounding gouging and cutting wounds.
III. Dilated anus.
IV. Bindings of wrists to ankles behind back in “hog-tied” fashion.
V. Multiple contusions, abrasions, and lacerations of torso and extremities.
VI. Terminal aspiration.
VII. No evidence of disease.

Autopsy demonstrated bindings of the hands and feet behind the back in a “hog-tied” fashion with shoe laces. There were multiple abrasions, contusions and lacerations of the facies which resulted in hemorrhage and fracturing of the skull. The skin of the penis, scrotal sac and testes, were missing. Surrounding the perineum were multiple cutting wounds. The anus was dilated with a hyperemic mucosa. There were no injuries present. Spermatoza were not detected in the oral and anal smears. In addition, there were multiple and extensive contusions, abrasions, and lacerations involving the torso and extremities.

Christopher Byers appeared to have been just as badly beaten as the others, only he was sexually mutilated as well. Why were Stevie and Chris mutilated, but not Michael? This could again suggest more than one killer. At the least, there was one person who mutilated Stevie and Chris, but whoever killed Michael did not mutilate him. There could even be one killer per victim, with one killer mutilating Stevie, another mutilating Chris, and a third savagely beating Michael.

In another post it was demonstrated that it’s very likely that these mutilations were made by the killer, and not the result of animal predation.

https://thewm3revelations.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/the-bite-mark-claims/

Now, what could have also caused the injuries from the beating?

Whatever it was it had sharp edges, but was blunt, causing skull fractures. The most likely source then would be three large sticks that were found in the drainage ditch with the bodies and clothing.

crime_scene_01a

Three sticks were found on top of some of the clothing belonging to the boys.

From their position it would seem likely that someone had placed them on top of the items, and even wrapped the clothes around one of the sticks, meaning that they likely were placed there by whoever dumped the clothing into that ditch.

This is some court testimony regarding the sticks.

RIDGE: (RIDGE exhibiting photos to the jury) Okay this is me, removing one of the shoes from the water. In the background here you can see that there’s trash floating in the stream here. Particularly there’s a stick right here that would it be carved or whatever. I don’t know it’s just a stick that we found floating in the water near the crime scene. Okay and this picture basically is taken in this area here from the north looking to the south. And that is Exhibit 19. Exhibit number 18 is some of the items floating in the water that were found. There are a couple of sticks here. We’ve got a white tennis shoe, a black tennis shoe, a boy scout cap. I believe this is a pair of child’s underwear. And there’s another shoe here and this is the way these items were found in the water. And again that is the portion of the bayou just below, there’s some limbs that came out into the ditch just below Michael Moore’s body. Okay, this is a picture of the, we have 2 sticks here, and on the end of one of those sticks is a uh, turned out to be a white shirt. As I was approaching the body of Michael Moore this stick actually came dislodged from the bottom of the stream and up came with it the shirt that looked like it had been jobbed down in the mud in the bottom of the stream.

FOGLEMAN: What to do you mean when you say it became dislodged? What happened? What did you see when you first walked?

RIDGE: Okay, when I first walked the stick was sticking up in the mud.

FOGLEMAN: You could see it?

RIDGE: Yes.

FOGLEMAN: Alright.

RIDGE: And as I’m going to the body it became dislodged, and when it came floating up the shirt was wrapped around the end of the stick.

FOGLEMAN: Okay.

RIDGE: Okay and this is me—

FOGLEMAN: Refer to the Exhibit number

RIDGE: Excuse me, that is Exhibit 42 and Exhibit number 38 is me removing that shirt from that stick that came floating up. Uh,the stream in this area, there’s little or no trash as far as leaves and limbs or anything. It’s just those items that were disturbed when I went into this creek and that stick was one of those items that was disturbed.

FOGLEMAN: Alright, how about further down the stream?

RIDGE: There, as in this picture, this stick with the carvings on it, which is Exhibit 32, you can see there’s trash all in the stream at this particular area. This is upstream, which is near the body of Michael Moore, that is Exhibit 38. Exhibit 32 is downstream from that area, about in this area.

FOGLEMAN: What movement, if any, of the water was there?

RIDGE: Very little movement. It was just a very slow water.

FOGLEMAN: Alright you can retake the stand. I want to show you what I’ve got marked for identification purposes as State’s Exhibit 53 and ask if you can identify that?

RIDGE: (RIDGE opening bag) Yes sir, I can identify this.

FOGLEMAN: Alright, and how can you identify it?

RIDGE: It was packaged and labeled by me as Evidence number E-17, and it was the stick that was found floating in the water below Michael Moore.

FOGLEMAN: Alright is that the stick that’s in your hand and State’s Exhibit 32?

RIDGE: Yes sir, it is.

FOGLEMAN: Alright your Honor we would offer State’s Exhibit 53.

STIDHAM: No objection Your Honor.

THE COURT: Alright, it may be received without objection.

FOGLEMAN: I want to show you what has been marked for identification purposes as State’s Exhibits 54 and 55 and ask if you can identify each.

RIDGE: (RIDGE opening bag) To 55 yes sir, I can.

FOGLEMAN: And how can you identify it?

RIDGE: This is packaged in a package and labeled by me and dated by me.

FOGLEMAN: And where did you recover these?

RIDGE: It was originally in the ditch near Michael Moore.

(RIDGE putting 55 back in the bag)

(RIDGE taking 54 out of the bag)

RIDGE: Yes sir, I can identify this one also.

FOGLEMAN: Alright, and how can you identify it?

RIDGE: It’s one of those sticks that was floating in the water near Michael Moore.

FOGLEMAN: Alright. Now were one of these sticks the one that had the clothes?

RIDGE: Yes sir, I believe it was this one but, I can’t say for sure which one.

FOGLEMAN: When you say this one, which exhibit number are you referring to?

RIDGE: This would have been Exhibit 54.

Fugleman: Your honor, we would offer State’s Exhibits 54 and 55.

STIDHAM: No objection Your Honor.

THE COURT: Alright, they may be received without objection.

Further testimony about the sticks would be mentioned here.

Ridge: This item is a stick that – when Sergeant Allen told me he had located the body and pointed out the area where the body had been located, I was up on the west bank which is a high bank. Ok. I proceeded to the north, come down into the creek, and began walking down into the creek and searching that creek. In searching the creek, I would start in the waterline on one side, rake all the way through and get back on the other side – see if anything was there before I would walk through that area, which could possibly destroy any evidence. Ok. I had walked approximately 10 feet and gotten almost to that body when this stick was uh – dislodged and when it came floating up out of the water uh – this shirt was discovered, and the shirt was wrapped around the end of the stick –

Fogleman: Ok.

Ridge: – and all that was jabbed down into the mud in the bottom of the ditch.

Fogleman: Alright. Now when you say it was dislodged when you were walking toward that area, what if anything could you see about that stick?

Ridge: Just the end of the stick sticking up out of the water.

Fogleman: Ok. And uh – when you say you were walking that way, were you doing this – or what were you doing?

Ridge: I was searching the ditch as I was going.

Fogleman: Alright. You talking about inch by inch?

Ridge: Yes sir.

Additional testimony further suggested that the sticks were involved in the crime. It was felt that someone had possibly handled the sticks, meaning they weren’t just simple debris floating in the water.

Fogleman: I also want to hand you state’s exhibit 53 and ask if you can identify that item?

Turbyfill: This also has my initials on it, uh – case number. It’s a stick. Case number and initials are also out at the end of it. And uh – I did process this for latent fingerprints and again, there were no latent fingerprints on it at all.

Fogleman: Were there any other tests or examinations you did on that?

Turbyfill: I did – on all these items, more than one test was ran on each one in attempt to – to uh – detect latent impressions, everything from – from uh – visual examination to uh – superglue examination – exposing to superglue to develop any invisible latents. And chemical processing after which, laser was used to detect prints and no latent prints were detected.

Fogleman: Ok. Uh – now did you do some kind of test that relates to – to uh – amino acid?

Turbyfill: Right. That’s the chemical test on wood – unpainted wood and paper, cardboard items. That’s an amino acid indicator that which we exposed this – the stick to the uh -chemical and again, no prints were developed.

Fogleman: Alright. Did you have a reaction as far as the amino acids?

Turbyfill: Some – it’s the pinkish reaction that you see on the wood, is the reaction. And that also can be caused from amino acid from whatever source, which could be – you know, from the chemicals in the water – whatever. If there’s any amino acid there, it will show up pink.

Fogleman: Alright. So the – so you did have a reaction about the amino acids?

Turbyfill: It’s just strictly a chemical uh- color reaction, but no – no defined friction skin ridges or anything like that.

Fogleman: Alright. Alright. Ok. And what – I’m a little confused – what is the purpose of the thing about the amino acids?

Turbyfill: The body has amino acids in it and one of the chemicals that we use reacts or colors that particular amino acid. And this pink reaction is the result of the coloring of that amino acid. Which uh – fingerprints has that amino acid and on paper, unpainted wood, and cardboard we can detect fingerprints using that chemical. So – I mean that, just because there’s reaction, that doesn’t mean it was handled or that it was a fingerprint.

Fogleman: Ok. So it could mean that it was handled or it could be from something in the water?

Turbyfill: That’s correct. It’s possibly because it was handled.

Fogleman: Ok. I don’t have any further questions, your Honor.
It was thought from the clothing wrapped around the one stick that the killer used them to weigh down the bodies, forcing them down into the muddy water, and shoving in the clothes in an attempt to hastily conceal the evidence at the scene. The sticks could have also been used, to cram the bodies down into the mud.

Initially only one of the sticks was retrieved by investigators, but a few weeks later they’d return, and using the photos take the other two sticks as potential murder weapons.

0sticks2b

The above photo shows that they did indeed have pointy edges.

logs02

Other photos such as the one above show them as being about the size of baseball bats.

Stick

These could have easily inflicted those wounds upon the victims. And if the sticks were indeed murder weapons, this would further give credence to this being the work of a disorganized offender, as again, like the bindings, the killer acquired them at the scene of the crime. The injuries to the heads would also suggest a blitz style attack, which is a common feature amongst disorganized offenders.

Another thing about these sticks is that there’s three of them, further adding to the notion that there may have been more than one killer.

CONCLUSION

We know that this was the crime scene and not a dump site as supported by a previous post on the subject.

https://thewm3revelations.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/crime-scene-or-dump-site/

From all of the information cited we can also determine that the victims were likely sexually assaulted.

We also know that a knife was certainly used in this crime from the evidence of one of the shoe laces being cut. With that along with numerous other reasons mentioned in the “Bite Mark” post, it seems more probable that the mutilations were inflicted by the killer, and not the result of animal predation.

We know that sticks were likely used to beat the victims in a blitz style attack.

We know the victims were bound with their own shoe laces, since the killer(s) did not bring any means to tie them.

The victims died from multiple injuries, including drowning, and one of the victims appeared to have tried to flee.

There was also a strange piece of evidence on the shirts of one of the victims. Some blue candle wax. This may or may not mean anything as a piece of evidence.

According to a statement by John Douglas who had written a profile on the crime while working for the West Memphis Three defense team, the killer traveled to and from the scene by foot.

It is in 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. 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. This is an important aspect of the crime to consider, because the offender in all probability threw the bikes into the bayou after crossing back over the pipe bridge walking in the same general direction where both he and the victims lived.

The witness from Blue Beacon also did not see any strange cars in the area. So we know the killer didn’t use a car in this crime either. He also could have entered and left from either side of the woods.

We also know that there’s a strong chance that there may have been more than one killer involved in this crime.

We know that this is a popular location for children and teens as evidenced by the photos, the statement of Dawn Moore, and debris at the scene(drink cups, beer cans, liquor bottles, garbage, and cigarettes found at the location).

And lastly some of the evidence seems to suggest a disorganized crime.

Crime Scene or Dump Site?

Part 1- A Theory Emerges: The defense claims.

Part 2- Let There Be Light!: Examining the claim that it would have been too dark to carry out the murders in the woods.

Part 3-Not a Single Drop of Blood?: Breaking down the claim of a lack of blood at the crime scene.

Part 4- Time Of Death: Determining when the victims were murdered.

Part 5- Bug Bites: Examining the defense claims of a lack of bug bites as proof of the dump site theory.

Part 6- The Defense’s Own Experts: The words of a current expert on the matter.

PART 1: A Theory Emerges

The scene of the crime as most are aware was and always has been Robin Hood Hills, a patch of woods located next to the Blue Beacon Truck Wash.

discovery_woods_and_blue_beacon_looking_south

Now many have erroneously reported, or argued over the years that this was not the scene of the crime, but merely a dumping site used to dispose of the victims after their murder. This however isn’t the case as the facts seem to demonstrate.

A long time claim associated with the case, has been the insistence that there was no blood at the scene and no mosquito bites on the victims, and thus the murders must have taken place elsewhere and the bodies of the victims disposed of at the scene. Now these claims are false and misleading, and will be addressed later on.

But, why would someone suggest that this was a dump site in the first place?

Well, it was suggested by defense lawyers for the West Memphis Three, in an attempt to exclude the three teengers from the crime, as well as explain away Jessie Misskelley’s multiple confessions in the case.

The notion was put fourth at trial and became a major claim by Jason Baldwin’s lawyer, Paul Ford:

“Dr. Peretti. Prosecutor asked Dr. Peretti, “Would you expect to find mosquito bites on those boys before they died?” “Yes, I would.” “Did you find any?” “No, I didn’t.” We know that they are tied up, they are naked, and they’re uninjured. And how can we conclude that? Well number one, if they’re tying them up hand and foot the way they did, they can’t take their clothes off. Can’t get their clothes off tied up that way. So you know they have to be naked before they get tied up.

And are they injured at the time they’re tied up. Makes no sense there either. Because there’s no blood on them. There’s not a drop of blood on those clothes. So these boys are tied up, naked, and uninjured. And so all of this stuff that happens to them, happens when they’re naked. And there’s not a mosquito bite, not a one. And they were down there in that mosquito infested woods, in that ditch, without a mosquito bite? That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/ebtrial/closeford.html

The reasoning behind this was two fold. They could argue that the prosecution had the facts all wrong, and therefore the evidence might all be wrong. Then the other aspect that the defense was pushing with this would be that the teens did not own a vehicle, and thus could not have driven the bodies to the scene. On the Misskelley side of things, Jessie obviously would have had to have been lying if the victims weren’t even killed at the location. Unfortunately numerous problems arise with this scenario.

First off, it makes no sense that the boys were killed somewhere else since they had last been seen entering Robin Hood Hills area on the day that they disappeared. Not only that, but their clothes and bikes were found at the scene as well. That would mean that the killer would have snatched the boys up from the woods, killed them elsewhere, and then returned them back to the woods, bikes and all. That there sounds improbable.

The defense even stated this accusation during the appeals, with a criminal profile manufactured by expert, Brent Turvey. This profile was tailored by the defense to try and match up to the defense’s alternative suspect at the time, John Mark Byers, Christopher’s step-dad, who the defense was alleging to be the “real” killer.

Excerpts from Turvey’s profile read:

“The three victims in this case were last seen together on two bicycles riding towards the Robin Hood Hills area. It is most likely that the assailant approached them while still together. This high likelihood and the sudden violent nature of the wounds, coupled with limited resistance on the part of the victims, is very suggestive. 

These elements together suggest that someone that the victims knew and trusted approached them. They further suggest that once the confidence of the three victims was won, the assailant was able to take them to another location and gain control of them in some manner.

It is clear that the assailant was much larger and stronger than the victims, so physical intimidation and fear were factors. This would have been a factor in the initial approach. It is also clear that the assailant had a knife, but this would not have been displayed during the initial approach. The method of approach in this case was most likely a con of some kind to acquire trust, followed up at another location by a sudden, violent attack to gain control.”

“…he removed them to a location that he was familiar with, where he could feel dominant and establishes his authority by his presence alone.”

“Removal of the victims to a location that he controlled: This act put the offender and the victims in an environment that the offender controlled. It facilitated an unseen, uninterrupted attack upon the victims, providing the assailant with the time to engage in those activities that he desired.”

“Disposal of the bodies in the water: This act very effectively washes all of the physical transfer evidence from the bodies of the victims. It also places the victims at a location separate from the assailant.”

“Transportation If he does own a vehicle, it would be masculine, like a truck. This would also be consistent with the type of vehicle he would need to transport the victims to the disposal site. It would further be in strict keeping with his macho self-image of strength and control. The offender’s own vehicle was likely used in this offense.”

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/b_turvey_profile.html

They were actually suggesting this ludicrous allegation for years.

In this scenario they were all three killed elsewhere, then the killer took their naked, tied up bodies, drove them out to the scene while a full on search of the woods was in the works, and dumped the bodies, clothes, and bikes at the site and some how avoided detection without being seen by a single witness.

This however contradicts the sighting of the victims entering the woods, making it even less plausible.

Now if those dump site scenarios didn’t happen, then what did?

For starters they were last seen entering the woods and then their bodies were later on discovered there. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. On top of this their clothing was recovered from the location as well as the bikes they used to get there. From that It just seems the most logical that they would have been murdered there.

Prosecutor Brent Davis even addressed the accusations in his closing statements during the Echols/Baldwin trial:

“The logical scenario was, if–to catch and corral three eight-year-olds, and–I think it would have been nearly like catching a cubby of quail, there had to be more than one person doing it. To inflict injuries from multiple weapons, there had to be more than one person doing it. I mean you could, one person could use three different weapons but logic tells you if you got different type knots tied on the children and extremely different from one side to the next. If you got three different weapons causing the injuries, if you got situations where the injuries are dissimilar–three weapons, three types of knots–those type differences, you realize that it had to be more than one person. If there’s one person how do they corral the kids, how do they tie the kids up. The head injuries had to be first. The head injuries – Mr. Ford says they can’t be because there’s no blood. But the type head injuries that you see here, a lot of the blunt trauma and I think each if the kids sustained some blunt trauma to their head, now there are some injuries that are in the nature of cuts and open wounds. But the blunt trauma type injuries would debilitate the children, yet not cause this massive bleeding. But whether–if they’re alive they aren’t debilitated first then how in the world could you get them out of the woods. I mean even if they’re gagged, it’s daylight because they’re in the woods around six-thirty–it’s still daylight and you’re having to take them out with one side an interstate highway and the other side a three-hundred to five-hundred unit apartment complex or a truck wash. I mean how do you get the kids out? And if you do why in the world do you come back and dump them there? I mean, if you want them to be found you could put them in a lot better places and if you didn’t want them be found, why in the world would you want to bring them back to where they were abducted in the first place? I mean, it literally doesn’t make sense.”

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/ebtrial/closedavis.html

A witness by the name of Bryan Woody would state the following in an undated note.

Subject stated that around 6:30 – 6:45 he observed 4 w/m with two bycycles going into the Robinhood area off of Goodwin. He stated his mother lives on Goodwin and he works at Radio World and that he remembers 1 of the boys to have blond hair in a spike because his little boy has the same hair style. He stated he grew up in the area + as a kid played in the Robin Hood area.

Woody also made this statement.

On 5-5-93 at approx. 6:30 P.M. Bryan got off work from Don’s Super Shine and was on his way to his mothers at 1823 Goodwin – went to Barton to Goodwin – turned on Goodwin by East Jr. High. At the dead end of Goodwin by N. 14th he observed 4 W/Ms – 1 was carrying a skate board and 2 bikes going into the dead end toward Robin Hood Hills. Just saw the backs of the boys but from the back one looked like Steven Branch because of the blond spiked hair. [After lunch with mom on 5/6,] he left and went to 14th + Barton and told John Mark Byers what he had seen. They asked if he would help them look – he went and got a 3 wheeler + helped search.

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/img/bwoody.html

So, according to Bryan Woody, he sees a bunch of kids, possibly as many as four while he was busy driving. He saw them enter the woods at about 6:30 P.M., which jives with the time the boys had seen by Dana Moore and by witness, Debra O’Tinger, and one of these boys appeared to be Stevie Branch. This was also near the Goodwin side of Robin Hood Hills which would have been the way the boys had entered the woods, since there’s only two ways to enter it. On the side near Blue Beacon you would have to travel on the busy service road which would be well out of the way for the boys, but the Goodwin side would have been well within bike riding distance for them.

John Mark Byers, the step-dad of Christopher Byers would also elaborate on the Woody sighting in this statement.

MARK- NO SIR. NOW WHERE I DID HEAR SOMETHING THAT SOUNDED ODD. THAT THURSDAY EVENING WAS PROBABLY LIKE 6…NO IT WASN’T EVEN THAT LATE. THEY WERE STILL SEARCHING. THEY HADN’T FOUND THE BOYS YET. IT WAS A LITTLE AFTER LUNCH TIME. AND I, THIS FELLOW TALKED TO GITCHELL. BUT IT WAS A WHITE GUY, KIND OF CHUNKY, HEAVY-SET, HAD KIND OF SHOULDER LENGTH WAVY HAIR AND SAID WHEN HE HAD COME HOME THE NIGHT BEFORE 6:30, QUARTER ‘TIL 7, SOMETHING LIKE THAT, THAT WHEN HE DROVE BY THERE, HE HAD SEEN 4 PEOPLE AND 2 BICYCLES. AND I THOUGHT, YOU KNOW, ARE YOU SURE IT WAS 4. HE SAID YEAH, IT WAS 4. AND THAT’S WHEN WE WERE RIGHT THERE AT MY HOUSE AND I THINK GITCHELL PULLED UP AND I WENT OVER AND SAID, GARY THERE’S A GUY THAT SAW ‘EM. AND I THINK HE WENT AND TALKED TO THE GUY RIGHT THERE. BUT DURING THE DAY, THE GUY WAS ON A LIKE A 180 OR A 250 RED 3-WHEELER HELPING US LOOK THROUGH THE DAY. KIND OF HEAVY-SET…

RIDGE- YOUNG GUY.

MARK- LOOKED MAYBE TO BE, I’M GOING TO SAY 22, 23. BUT HE SAID HE SAW 4 PEOPLE.

RIDGE- OKAY, UH, WHO WOULD BE CHRIS’S CLOSEST FRIEND?

MARK- THAT HE PLAYED WITH?

RIDGE- YEAH.

MARK- HIS CLOSEST FRIEND. I’D SAY THE CLOSEST FRIEND THAT HE PLAYED WITH WOULD BE STEVE AND THEN THIS LITTLE BOY NAMED AARRON BEFORE THEY MOVED TO MARION. THAT WAS THE ABANDONED HOUSE I CHECKED. WHERE…

RIDGE- DO YOU KNOW AARRON’S LAST NAME?

MARK- NO SIR. BUT, I CAN TELL YOU THE HOUSE. WHERE I LIVE, YOU GOT WILSON RIGHT HERE…

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/jmb1.html

Now according to Dana Moore, the boys left home close to 6:00, so this all seems to fit about right.

Q: Later did you see him with somebody else besides Steve Branch?
A: Yes, sir. Chris Byers.
Q: Where did you see them at that time?
A: Going north on 14th Street.
Q: Were they walking or – –
A: They were riding their bikes.
Q: How many bikes were there?
A: There was two bikes.
Q: Who was on what bike?
A: Michael was on his. Chris was on Steve’s, and Steve was on his.
Q: So Chris and Steve were on the same bicycle?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: How far down were they from where you were?
A: Approximately six houses.
Q: What time of the day was it?
A: Six o’clock.
Q: Did you see him any after that?
A: No, sir.

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/danam.html

And Debra O’Tinger states that she the boys close 6.

Q: Will you please state your name and address?
A: Debra O’Tinger. 1309 (???) Goodwin Avenue, West Memphis.
Q: I want to direct your attention to May 5th, 1993, the day that the three boys disappeared.
A: Um-hum.
Q: Were you at home that day?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Did you see the boys?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: About what time was it when you first saw them?
A: Around six, close to six.
Q: What were they doing?
A: They were in my yard.
Q: Were they walking?
A: One was walking and one was on a bike.
Q: How many boys were there?
A: Two at the time.
Q: When they were doing whatever they were doing, did you see them later?
A: No, sir.
Q: Do you know the boys? Did you know them?
A: No, sir.
(p. 706)
Q: What exactly did you see the boys doing?
A: One (???) rode the bike through my yard, and I had just planted a (??? vine? tree?), and he had rode right by it and that was it. They were just going through my yard. That was it.
Q: How many boys did you say you saw?
A: Two at the time. We were leaving to go to my mother’s.
Q: I may just be confused. Let me show you this and ask is that yours?
A: (EXAMINING) Yes.
Q: Would you mind reading over that for a minute?
A: Yes, sir. (EXAMINING)
Q: Was that your statement?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: I’m a little confused. In the statement you mentioned three boys.
A: Right. One had come around the side of the street where Goodwin Avenue and Goodwin Circle – –
Q: Okay, so there were – – 
A: Three.

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/doting.html

 

Part 2: Let There Be Light!

A claim by proponents of the dump site theory is that it’d be too dark to kill the boys in those woods at that time, which is untrue. This link here shows that the sun didn’t even go down until 7:49 in the town’s neighbor, Memphis, on the date of the crime.

http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html?n=409&month=5&year=1993&obj=sun&afl=-11&day=1

This link here also shows there was still some light out til about 8:16.

http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html?n=409&month=5&year=1993&obj=sun&afl=-1&day=1

So, if the boys entered those woods around 6:30 or so there would have been more than an hour’s worth of light. With that said, it’s safe to say that the claim about it being too dark is simply untrue. The boys could have been dead, or unconscious any time after 7 or 8, and there still would have been enough light for the killer(s) to see and dispose of evidence.

Part 3: Not A Single Drop of Blood?

Paul Ford, as mentioned earlier was Jason Baldwin’s lawyer and had harped on the claim that no blood was found at the crime scene. He even brought it up in his opening statements at trial:

“The prosecution told you that around six o’clock to six thirty in the evening of May the 5th, these three young boys were out playing, riding their bicycles. And their parents missed them, they began to wonder where they are, and they immediately became concerned they way I would with my children. And they began to look, and they began to holler, where are they? The way we all would. When it became an apparent that they weren’t at the neighbors next door, they became more concerned. They began to search even harder, the way everyone would if their children were missing. But unfortunately, they didn’t find them that night. And the search was called off and they’ll wait till morning. When morning comes, the police get involved again. The police and the parents and everyone is concerned and they are looking for these boys, as they should. And they were up approximately 2 o’clock on the afternoon of May the 6th, they found them. They secured the scene, which was described to you. They taped it off with the yellow tape that you see on crime scenes or where fires occur so people are to stay out, don’t disturb the area. There may be facts, there may be clues, there may be evidence left out here, don’t disturb it. They do that. And as they searched that area, you’ll see, from their own testimony, they found nothing. Not even a drop of blood.”

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/ebtrial/fordope.html

Now let’s get to the luminol photos. Below is a link to all of them.

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/img2/luminol_photos.html

Numerous locations would light up around the crime scene for the likely presence of blood.

Some spots even lit up for a large amount of blood.

luminol044

luminol034

So there appeared to be a bit of blood out there according to the photos. Now this would suggest that the claim of there being no blood is false.

Some have even said that if this is blood, then it wouldn’t be enough to say that they were murdered there, that it could have gotten there from the bodies being dumped. This would be very unlikely, in light of the information and the fact that the human body doesn’t bleed as much as one would expect. So, to further make a point on how much blood a child’s body would hold, here’s a site on how to calculate how much blood the body has.

http://easycalculation.com/medical/blood-volume.php

According to the calculator Christopher Byers only had 2.3185562048 liters of blood. So he had roughly 2 liters of blood, which isn’t a really a whole lot.

His height and weight were obtained from the autopsy report.

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/autcb.html

To dumb that down a bit that’s about enough blood to fill a bottle of pop, so just for reference here’s an image of a bottle of Pepsi.

114427b

That’s not a lot of blood.

The spot that lit up the most from the luminol reaction, was the location suspected to be where Christopher was castrated.

IMG_2821

IMG_2825

The killer(s) had even allegedly tried to wash down, scrub, and scrape off this location, possibly with water, sticks, and leaves.

From the luminol, that looks like roughly the amount of blood you’d see from 2 liters of pop, especially after being washed away by the perpetrator(s).

According to the soil tests they were not able to say for a fact that there was blood on the scene.

RESULTS OF ANALYSES:
The soil samples E1, E2, and E3, recovered from the crime scene were sprayed with
luminol, heated and then resprayed. A positive luminol reaction was not detected for the
presence of blood. Results were inconclusive.

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/luminol.html

But… just because it was inconclusive doesn’t mean it wasn’t blood.

Well then “is it blood” you must be asking?

Well, because of how long it took them to do the luminol tests, and then get around to testing the soil it was most likely, but it couldn’t be definitively said. It had even rained on the crime scene at one point while waiting to do luminol testing. Here’s a look at what the case files say about it.

(1) At a trail along a stream bed an approximately 11 foot high bluff overlooking the
stream positive reactions were noted on either side of a tree with more reaction noted to
the right side of the tree, facing the stream bed.

(2) An Area with used plastic sheeting west of the trail and the bluff gave more positive
reactions were noted.

(3) At the west bank of the stream bed, to the right of some trees, an area gave positive
reaction. It was explained by the Police Department that this was where two of the
victims were placed when they were recovered form the stream bed.

(4) In the stream bed, below the described (at one time) water line, positive luminol tests
indicated where one of the victims was found in the water as related by the West
Memphis Police Department.

(5) On the east bank of the stream bed were a pile of sticks and a depression in the soil
where luminol tests showed a concentrated area of positive reaction.

[PAGE 2]

(6) North of this point luminol tests gave positive reaction to a large area of
concentration (described by West Memphis Police Department where the third victims
was placed upon recovery from the water).

(7) North of the point #6 near some tree roots, another large area of concentration of the
luminol reaction was noted.

(8) Trace amounts of positive luminol reaction was noted on the slope west of the area
where two of the victims were recovered and placed. (reference area #3). The areas north
and south of where the third victims had been placed (5) and (6) were unaccountable
known activity by the Memphis Police Department or rescue / recovery operations.

From these areas of noted luminol reactions for the presumptive presence of trace
amounts of blood the following opinion is rendered:

The traces of presumed blood detected along the trail (2), and at the bluff (1), and one the
slope (8) appear to be transfer of blood by the rescue and recovery teams.
Reaction in the areas where the recovered victims were placed is the apparent result of
trace blood transfer from the victims (3) and (6).

The area below the water level on the west side of the stream was accounted as where
trace amounts of the victimís blood diffused into the mud in the stream bed.

The areas (5) and (7) indicate activity prior to recovery of the victims and relate to
activity to the victims when perhaps they were being attacked.

It should be noted that the luminol testing was performed some days after the discovery
of the victims and at least one rainfall had occurred. There were no visible signs or
indication of blood at any of the locations that we investigated.”

According to this statement on the tests it rained, destroying valuable blood evidence. They were lucky enough just to get the luminol photos.

This is a drawing of some of the spots that lit up from luminol reactions:

lum12

Bryan Ridge would also testify that someone cleaned off one of the ditch banks, possibly trying to wash evidence away such as blood.

RIDGE: Yes sir, Exhibit 27 is the bank on the east side from where the body of Michael Moore was located, this area right here between this slanted line and this tree is like a shelf, an area that is not as extremely sloped as the rest of it. You can see where it appears to be slicked off where something has scooted across the bank or cleaned of debris or whatever. That is Exhibit 27.

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/bridge.html

Well, why would someone be trying to wash away evidence if there wasn’t any blood on those ditch banks? This seems to further demonstrate that there was likely blood at the scene.

Part 4: Time Of Death

Criminal profiler, Pat Brown would eventually do a profile on the case, having taken a look at the work of Brent Turvey. Through her dissecting of Truvey’s profile she would have this to say about the time of death:

I was asked about the time of death. This is a good question and very important in establishing when the crime occurred. Below is a discussion from my analysis of the Turvey profile on the issue.

James M. Moore – The lividity question. Turvey writes that the report state that “the lividity was present. It also states that the lividity WAS blanched with pressure.” Turvey goes on to explain that “lividity begins about thirty minutes after death has occurred. After 4 or 5 hours, dependent on environmental conditions, lividity fixes and will not blanche. It takes about 8 to 10 hours for lividity to become fixed. (This is a contradiction. Is Turvey saying lividity fixes in 5 hours or 10 hours?)

Let’s use a description of lividity (livor mortis) from Adelson’s The Pathology of Homicide. He states “In the early postmortem period, livor is usually not “fixed”, and its distribution can be altered by changing the decedent’s position. Thus, if a corpse which was supine for a brief interval after death is turned over so that it is prone, lividity which had been developing in the dorsal areas disappears slowly, and anterior lividity appears. Ordinarily, livor becomes fixed eight to ten hours postmortem and remains in its areas of development even thought the bodily position is changed and formerly lower sites are now no longer dependent. However, here as elsewhere in the area of postmortem chronology, there is no rigid time-table. Fixation of livor has been reported as early as one hour after death, and absence of fixation has been noted twelve hours postmortem.

Okay, got that? What all that means is the only thing lividity with fixation can tell you is that the person has been dead at least an hour and possibly more than twelve hours. This means if the boy’s were killed at the last time they were seen, 6:30 PM and lividity rushed in within the hour, then fixation could have occurred by 7:30 PM. If lividity took four hours Turvey mentions on his first round, then they could have been killed at 6:30 PM and the lividity set in at 10:30pm. If we go with Turvey’s longest guess of ten hours, then a 6:30 murder would have lividity set in at 4:30 in the morning. But, once the lividity is set, it is set! So whether, lividity fixed at 7:30pm, 10:30pm, or 4:30am, it doesn’t tell you when the murder itself took place. The most important use of lividity is to note if the body has been moved and interesting marks show on the body depending on what the body was touching.

So Turvey goes on to state, “This COULD (emphasis mine) place the time of death (which can only be given as a range (WHAT RANGE?) of James Moore at sometime after daybreak (again time not given) on May 6th, 1993.” Since lividity can’t tell us any accurate time of death, why is Turvey trying to create a time of death at dawn? (Remember Byers only possible times available to commit the crimes).
Turvey then discuss rigor mortis. He does a fairly decent job with this. Interestingly enough, though, he avoids discussing the time of death on this. Why? I believe he is avoiding the issue because he can’t place the time at daybreak. The report states in the autopsy of James M. Moore, according to Turvey, that “Rigor was present and fixed to an equal degree in al extremities. “ Turvey does admit that “Rigor reaches full even distribution within 12 to 24 hours after death.” Yes, indeed. Spitz and Fisher’s Medicolegal Investigation of Death states “In temperate climates, under average conditions, rigor becomes apparent within half an hour to an hour, increases progressively to a maximum within twelve hours, REMAINS for about twelve hours and then progressively disappears within the following twelve hours.” Also, “Hypothermia and cold environmental conditions (cold streams) slow the chemical reactions and the rigor process.

So, where does this leave the time of death? Well, since the body of Moore was in full rigor, he was likely dead AT LEAST twelve hours. Hmm…this means since the body was found at 1:45pm, this would mean Moore had to have been murdered at least by 1:45 am. Considering that rigor mortis doesn’t disappear for at least twelve more hours, he could conceivably been killed at 1:45 PM the day before! Add the cold water and the process could be retarded further. This would completely destroy any possibility of Moore being murdered at dawn. Could this be why Turvey won’t make a guesstimate here?

So, how DO we decide when the boys died? If as Turvey states, “by itself, the use of Rigor Mortis to determine a time of death, or a time range of death, is not advised. (Was it advised with lividity which is even more inaccurate?) Several biological indicators should be used.” I tend to agree with that, so let’s look at a realistic view of the time of murders. One of the most important points to focus on is the lack of deep furrows and abrasions left by the shoelace ligatures on the body of Moore. As Turvey states and I agree with him here, “This indicates the victim was not struggling when the ligatures were in place.” Yes, Moore had been quickly incapacitated by blows to the head and then tied up. He died however from drowning. So, let’s go back to our two time possibilities with Byers; right after the boys were last seen at 6:30pm and in those early hours before dawn. IF Byers did not kill the boys until dawn, where were they for those approximately twelve hours in between? Tied up I guess in some unknown location! For twelve hours! Are we to assume that the Moore child was so incapacitated during that time that he at no time regained enough consciousness to at any point struggle against his ligatures BUT he was not so badly injured that he didn’t die until he was dumped in the stream? Were the other two boys left tied up for some twelve hours alone except for when Byers had a moment to check up on them? Where were these three boys being kept? Let’s assume now that the three teenagers grab them and didn’t kill them until morning. This is equally unlikely. So we can pretty much put together the evidence of the time the boys were last seen, the lividity and rigor information, and a bit of logic and come up with the murders occurring in the immediate hours after the boys were last seen.

So according to her the boys could not have been held captive for hours. It simply would make the most sense that they were killed once they entered those woods and ran into their killers at about 6:30 or 7 that day.

An expert consulted by defense investigator Ron Lax would suggest that the boys might of died closer to 8:30.

sperry

http://callahan.8k.com/pdf/bm_rule37_state/bm_rule37_state_exh2.pdf

As they say, often times the simplest solution is the right one. It’s simple Occam’s Razor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor

We’re left then with a time of death that’s most likely in the window of 6:30-8:30.

Part 5: Bug Bites

Now here’s another aspect of the dump site claim, the mosquitoes. It’s been claimed by the defense that there were no mosquito bites on the bodies, which meant that the boys could not have been murdered in the woods… however that’s a misleading claim, and completely unproven.

Prosecutor Brent Davis had this to say on the matter during closing arguments, in reference to the claims of Paul Ford:

“He talks about no mosquito bites, and I think it is important. Because I think the kids were hit in the head and I think the evidence reflects they were hit in the head, they were tied up, and they were submerged in water before it got dark. In that timeframe between, the time they disappeared and the searchers started getting out there and it would have probably scared people of at that point because they’re getting close enough to the area where the bodies were ditched. That, between that time period, the reason you don’t have mosquito bites on the bodies is because soon after those children went into the woods around six-thirty, not too long after that time period–they’re playing in there and they’re abducted, they’re tied, they’re beaten in the head, the terrible cutting injuries are done to them, and they’re dumped in the water. And that’s why you don’t find the mosquito bites, and that’s why I’m not concerned about whether you can do this after dark, because I don’t think the evidence is consistent with it having been done after dark. I don’t think it’s consistent with them having been removed out of there. And I think that’s a reasonable conclusion you can draw from the evidence.”

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/ebtrial/closedavis.html

The defense would not only argue over mosquito bites but the presence of maggots on the bodies.

A link to defense expert Neal Haskell’s claims during the appeals:

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/rule37/march18.html#haskell

This letter to Brent Davis additionally says it all on the matter of both the mosquito bites and on the maggots.

Forensic Entomology Enterprises

c/o M. Lee Goff, Ph.D.

45-187 Namoku St.

Kaneohe, HI 96744

21 Sept. 1998

Mr. Brent Davis

Prosecuting Attorney

Second Judicial District of Arkansas

P.O. Box 491

Jonesboro, AR 72403

Dear Mr. Davis:

I have reviewed the materials you sent to me regarding the Affidavit of Dr. Neal H. Haskell relating to the petition for a new trial by Defendant Echols. In your letter, you posed a number of questions and I will respond to each here:

1. With respect to the question of Dr. Haskell’s qualifications as a “forensic scientist” to comment on correlation between lividity, blanching and time of death, I do not believe he is qualified to offer an opinion as to time of death based on this phenomenon. In his affidavit, Dr. Haskell has cited references to the phenomenon and implied an opinion while not actually stating an opinion. As he does state, a forensic pathologist would be the appropriate individual for comment, not a forensic entomologist. By training, Dr. Haskell is a forensic entomologist.

2. With respect to possible injuries caused by fish or aquatic anthropods such as crayfish, I question that these could be determined from examination of photographs alone and without specific knowledge of the antropod and fish populations for the particular site. I do not find any suggestion that these data were available for this case. Even if these data were available, I doubt these would be of use in providing an estimate of the postmortem interval or the period of immersion in water. The second part of your question again goes to Dr. Haskell providing an opinion outside of his area of expertise, entomology. Unless he can demonstrate that he has conducted studies specifically designed to investigate these types of injuries or significant practical experience, I believe he is providing an opinion outside of his area of expertise.

3. The forensic entomologist determines the minimum postmortem interval or period of time since death by analyzing the species and developmental states of the insects present on a decomposing body. In many instances, this period will account for the entire postmortem interval but this may not always be the case. There are factors which may delay access of insects to the body for oviposition or larviposition. These factors can include, but are not limited to, periods of darkness, temperatures below the threshold for adult fly activity, submersion of the body, wrapping of the body and burial.

The key point here is that the period determined is the minimum period.

3a. & b. In determining the minimum period of time through analyses of fly larva or maggot development, it is essential that the maggots be correctly identified to the species level. Different species have different patterns of reproduction and different rates of development. For example, flies in the family Calliphoridae typically lay eggs, while those in the family Sarcophagidae deposit first instar or first stage larvae directly onto the body. Recovery of first instar larvae of species of Calliphoridae indicates that a period of time required for hatching of the egg into the first instar larva has passed. By contrast, a first instar larva of a Sarcophagidae species may have been deposited on the body immediately prior to collection or observation. In this case, there were observations of maggots but no mention of eggs. Photographs you submitted show the bodies lying exposed on the bank of the ditch following removal from the water. During the period of time the bodies were exposed prior to transport to the funeral home, it is possible for Sarcophagidae species to have deposited the maggots in the natural body openings of the head, as noted by the Coroner in the Supplemental Reports. In the photographs submitted (#007156; 007168; 007174; 007176; 007177; 007236; 007303) there appeared to be blood present on the head. This would have been an attractant to flies for oviposition or larviposition once the bodies were removed from the water. As the maggots were not collected, no measurements made, or photographs taken specifically to demonstrate the maggots, no firm conclusions can be reached on this aspect, but there is a strong possiblity that the maggots were deposited following recovery of the bodies on 6 May 1993.

3c. The question of nocturnal oviposition or laying of eggs during periods of darkness is not completely resolved. While there is a general agreement among forensic entomologists that nocturnal oviposion is not the normal pattern, there has been some evidence of occasional nocturnal oviposition. In tempearate areas during periods of high temperatures, when a body or food source is placed in close proximity to resting adult female flies, egg laying does sometimes occur. Greenberg (1990, J. Med. Entomol. 27: 807-10) documented nocturnal oviposition by Calliphoridae species in Illinois. In tropical habitats, Calliphoridae may oviposit at night if the body is placed near their resting places (personal observations).

3d. If eggs or larvae were deposited in natural body openings prior to the body being submerged, there is the strong possibility that the eggs or maggots would have been washed off. In studies conducted here in Hawaii in intertidal areas and anchialine pools, permanent colonization of carcasses below the water line was prevented as the water washed off fly eggs and larvae (Davis & Goff, manuscript in preparation).

3e. Under these circumstances, the forensic pathologist would have been well advised to have preserved the maggots and consulted a forensic entomologist, simply to avoid later confusion of issues. As the evidence was not collected and preserved and there do not appear to be any photographic records available showing the maggots, involvement of a forensic entomologist by a defense counsel appears to have no real value to determining the postmortem interval. Typically, entomological evidence requires determination of the period of development of the maggots to estimate the minimum postmortem interval and is used after 24 hours of decomposition. In this case there is no basis for this activity. The total elapsed time between the last sighting of the victims and recovery of their bodies was 19.5 hours for Moore and they were pronounced dead and notes taken at a time approximately 22 hours after this last sighting. This time frame would have allowed for development of Calliphoridae from egg to first instar larvae or for first instar larvae to have been deposited by Sarcophagidae on the bodies while they lay on the bank following removal from the drainage ditch. One point which would tend to favor the latter scenario is that maggots were not noted in the area of the groin of Christopher Beyers but were seen in his eyes and nose. In invasion of a corpse by flies, the favored areas are the natural body openings associated with the head, followed by the genitals and anus. Wounds which occur before death (antemortem) or at the time of death (perimortem) while the heart is still beating are very attractive to flies due to the amount of blood present. Wounds produced after death (postmortem) when the heart is no longer pumping blood are not as attractive. In this case, it appears from the photogrtaphs that some blood was associated with the heads of the victims, but, from the photographs provided, I could not detect any blood associated with other parts of the bodies. This blood, although probably diluted, would have been attractive to adult flies once the bodies were removed from the water. The adults would then have first exploited the natural body openings of the head for depositing eggs or larvae. It should be noted that, the head would also have been closer to the edge of the plastic covering the body than the wounds associated with the groin, thus making the head more accessible to the files.

3f. The invasion of living tissues by fly larvae is termed myiasis. This condition does occur, but, given the cirumstances of this case, I would not anticipate this as an explanation of the presence of maggots on the bodies of the victims. Again, without specimens to examine to make species identifications, it is impossible to offer a definitive opinion but I believe this scenario is unlikely.

3g. The question of mosquito bites is interesting. I base my comments on my work (10+ years) with mosquitos as vectors of avian malaria here in Hawaii and personal experience with mosquitoes in California. Any bites inflicted on the victims by mosquitoes would have had to occur prior to their deaths. Adult female mosquitoes are obligate blood-feeding ectoparasites. They require blood from a living host and will not feed on a dead host. Male mosquitoes are nectar-feeders and can not take a blood meal. The tissue reaction to the mosquito bite varies in severity among individuals and is not an immediate reaction. A period of time is required for the inflammatory reaction to develop at the site of the bite. If the individual was killed prior to the reaction developing, there would be no area of inflammation visible. The bites of mosquitoes are relatively small puncture wounds and, lacking visible inflamation, these would not be readily apparent on a dead body. I have attempted to locate bites on bodies of dead birds, where the approximate site was known, with very limited success. A pathologist should be consulted with respect to the duration of inflammatory reaction following death. I do not feel that Dr. Haskell’s conclusions that “they were not nude nor murdered in that brushy, wooded swamp like area” is supported by the lack of apparent mosquito bites.

My overall impression of the circumstancs of this case, based on the materials you have provided to me, is that a forensic entomologist would have been able to contribute little if anything to the resolution of the question of the postmortem interval for the victims or any other apsects of the case. Evidence was not collected and preserved which could be analyzed by the entomologist. The photographs I have examined do not provide any details which can be analyzed by an entomolgist. Speculations regarding potential significance of mosquito bites are not supported by the evidence presented. While there was an awareness of the significance of entomological evidence within the forensic pathology community in 1993, collections were not made and analysis, therefore, is not possible. Given the lack of entomological evidence, I do not feel the defense counsel would reasonably be expected to contact a forensic entomologist in the defense effort.

I hope this will be of use to you in your investigation. I am enclosing a copy of my current curriculum vitae for your information. Should additional information or clarification be needed, please feel free to contact me. As I mentioned earlier, I will be in Spain and Italy during the period 25 Oct. through 17 Nov. 1998, presenting workshops.

Sincerely yours,

M. Lee Goff

Professor of Entomology

Diplomate and Chair of Executive Board,

American Board of Forensic Entomology
This segment of the above letter is very important on this issue:

“The tissue reaction to the mosquito bite varies in severity among individuals and is not an immediate reaction. A period of time is required for the inflammatory reaction to develop at the site of the bite. If the individual was killed prior to the reaction developing, there would be no area of inflammation visible. The bites of mosquitoes are relatively small puncture wounds and, lacking visible inflamation, these would not be readily apparent on a dead body. I have attempted to locate bites on bodies of dead birds, where the approximate site was known, with very limited success. A pathologist should be consulted with respect to the duration of inflammatory reaction following death. I do not feel that Dr. Haskell’s conclusions that “they were not nude nor murdered in that brushy, wooded swamp like area” is supported by the lack of apparent mosquito bites.”

Mosquito bites need time for the inflammatory reaction to form for them to become visible.

Pat Brown also covered this issue.

First, let’s look at behavior and reality. The boys were seen going on their bikes into the wooded area. Their bikes were found there. We can conclude the boys were in that area in the evening. If there were lots of mosquitoes, the boys would have gotten bitten up regardless of whether a crime then occurred or did not. We also do not know exactly how bad any mosquitoes were at that location and at the time the boys went into the location. Now, to the discussion in Turvey’s profile.

Turvey points out a lack of mosquito bites as proof that the injuries the victims sustained occurred in a location other than on the ditch bank or in the water. First of all, Turvey does not mention what the autopsy report states. Next, one must wonder if the photos would be of sufficient quality to glean this sort of information. ( Later on in this profile, Turvey complains that the autopsy photos are of such poor quality he cannot see the ”HUMAN bite marks” clearly enough to identify them as such). Let’s assume that there were indeed no mosquito bites on any of the victim. In order to make any absolute point about this issue, we must first ascertain what kind of mosquito activity is in the area. It is not enough to ‘assume’ that mosquitoes would be biting because there is a stream running through the woods. IF indeed there was a reasonable amount of mosquito activity, the next question would be “at what hour” do the mosquitoes tend to become a problem. If the boys were murdered before dusk, WOULD we see any evidence of mosquito bite marks on the bodies? Unfortunately, when Turvey makes his claims that the assaults could not have occurred outside., he offers us no substantial proof to back his argument.

So, all the evidence, including witnesses, the blood at the scene, and time of death would seem to show that the victims were murdered in the woods.

Part 6: The Defense’s Own Expert

Famous criminal profiler, John Douglas would also agree with this being the crime scene. Douglas had been paid by the high priced defense team to make up a second criminal profile that pointed away from the WM3, similar to Turvey’s attempt. This time trying to point at a different step father, Terry Hobbs as the “real” killer. Unfortunately for supporters of the dump site claim, Douglas said that this was the crime scene and not a dump site.

It is in 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. 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. This is an important aspect of the crime to consider, because the offender in all probability threw the bikes into the bayou after crossing back over the pipe bridge walking in the same general direction where both he and the victims lived.

So even there, a defense expert was saying that this wasn’t a dump site.

With all of this said, this information can bring us to only one conclusion, that the victims were most likely murdered in the woods some time after 6:30 and not murdered elsewhere and dumped there .