Jessie’s June 3, 1993 Confession

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

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

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

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

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

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay.

MISSKELLEY: I went with them and then I

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

MISSKELLEY: We walked

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: You all walked?

MISSKELLEY: Right, we walked and then uh,

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Where did you go?

MISSKELLEY: We went up to the Robin Hood

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

MISSKELLEY: By uh, Blue Beacon Truck Wash.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Just a little patch of woods

MISSKELLEY: A little patch of woods

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Behind Blue Beacon?

MISSKELLEY: Behind it, right back there behind it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay

MISSKELLEY: When they hollered, when they seen them boys

DETECTIVE RIDGE: The little boys came on over? 

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.


(Where Jessie said the victims encountered their killers.)

(Where Jessie states the victims left their bikes.)

From the criminal profile of John Douglas:

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

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

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

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

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

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

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay

MISSKELLEY: When they hollered, when they seen them boys

DETECTIVE RIDGE: The little boys came on over? 

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Damien testifying at trial in regards to this matter:

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

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

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

A. Right.

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

A. I wouldn’t put it past him.

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

A. Right.

 

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

(From the bridge into Devil’s Den.)

(Path leading down into Devil’s Den.)

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

Jessie described it as follows:

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

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

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, where were they at?

MISSKELLEY: They was at the bottom.

(Path leading down to the ditch bank below.)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MISSKELLEY: Michael Moore

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: This boy right here,

MISSKELLEY: Yeah,

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

MISSKELLEY: Christopher

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

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm. 

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

MISSKELLEY: Right

DETECTIVE RIDGE: What did he hit him with?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Okay

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

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

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

MISSKELLEY: Right

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESSIE: I don’t – I – never seen one.

STIDHAM: – stripped off of it?

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

STIDHAM: What did it look like?

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

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

JESSIE: On the desk.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

MISSKELLEY: Stick.

DAVIS: Who hit’m with a stick?

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

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

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: This boy right here,

MISSKELLEY: Yeah,

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

MISSKELLEY: Christopher

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

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm. 

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

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

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

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

The Byers head injury.

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

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

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

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

Found on Christopher’s thigh were several bruises:

Bruises on Christopher’s thigh.

Another photo of Christopher’s bruises.

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

The fingernail marks.

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

Stevie’s thigh injury.

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

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

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

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

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

MISSKELLEY: Jason

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

MISSKELLEY: I saw him cut one of the little boys

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

MISSKELLEY: He was cutting him in the face.

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

MISSKELLEY: At the bottom

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

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm. 

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

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: In his groin area?

MISSKELLEY: (No audio register) 

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Okay

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Do you know what his penis is?

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

DETECTIVE RIDGE: That’s where he was cut.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Which boy was that?

MISSKELLEY: That right there.

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

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Okay

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

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

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, you know what penis is?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.

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

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

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

MISSKELLEY: Yes sir

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

MISSKELLEY: He was close by

 

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

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

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

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

Click here to read about Jason and the lake knife.

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

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

Here his lawyer, Dan Stidham asks him about the knife:

STIDHAM: About 4 or 5 inches, the whole knife

JESSIE: Oh, probably about that long. (Indicating)

STIDHAM: How long was the blade?

JESSIE: Not counting the ends of it, I would say the blade was about something like that. (Indicating)

STIDHAM: Six inches or so?

JESSIE: Without counting the whole thing.

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

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

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

JESSIE: I don’t know –

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

JESSIE: Yeah, there was a lot of blood.

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

JESSIE: I’d say a lot.

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

JESSIE: Uh-huh. (Affirmatively indicating)

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

JESSIE: Right.

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

JESSIE: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

JESSIE: Towards, like, the woods and stuff.

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

JESSIE: Huh-uh. (Negatively indicating)
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MISSKELLEY: Uh,

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

MISSKELLEY: Uh, down a little path

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

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

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay

MISSKELLEY: That’s where I was at.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright.

MISSKELLEY: I was close by the interstate.

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

(The second ditch bank.)

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

(The path out of the woods.)

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

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

MISSKELLEY: And the other takes. . .

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Where does he run to?

MISSKELLEY: That one, he runs out, going out the, out the park and I chased him and grabbed him and brought him back.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Which way does he go, I mean, does he go on back towards where the houses are

MISSKELLEY: He goes on back. . .

DETECTIVE RIDGE: He’s going to Blue Beacon, is he going out towards the fields,

MISSKELLEY: He’s going. . .

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Where’s he running to?

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

MISSKELLEY: Towards the houses.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Towards the houses?

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

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

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

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

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

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Were your clothes wet still?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm, they were damp.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Muddy?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.

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

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

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

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

MISSKELLEY: Just

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jessie Had traveled across the ditch shown below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The exact quote from the notes:

#2 Body 27’ South of #1 Body

Link to the crime scene notes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MISSKELLEY: They were unconscious then

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Unconscious

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

MISSKELLEY: Jason and uh, Damien.

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

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

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

(Route back toward Jessie’s home.)

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

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

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

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

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

Link to the news clip:

Jessie Misskelley Sr. stating that Jessie witnessed the murders.

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

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

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

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

JESSIE: Yeah.

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

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

STIDHAM: Well.

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

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

JESSIE: Uh-huh. (Affirmatively indicating)

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

JESSIE: Yeah, I understand.

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

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

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

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

JESSIE: Yes.

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

JESSIE: (inaudible)

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

JESSIE: Right.

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

JESSIE: All right. 

 

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

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

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

Advertisements

Facts about the June 3, 1993 Confession

 

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

(Mugshot of Jessie Misskelley.)

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

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

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

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

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

Statement of John Perschke

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

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

 

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

Video of interview with Damien Echols.

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

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

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

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

Notes of Sgt. Mike Allen.

Notes of Det. Bryn Ridge.

Handwritten statement of Jessie’s boss, Ricky Deese.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

FOGLEMAN: What time?

RIDGE: He said 5:00.

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

RIDGE: Yes sir, I did.

FOGLEMAN: You talked to him.

RIDGE: Yes sir.

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

RIDGE: Yes sir, I did find out.

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

RIDGE: 12:30 that afternoon.

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

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

Jessie Misskelley’s polygraph report.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hester’s notes:

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

Link to Diane Hester’s Notes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: He was under the carport playing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The police notes on this matter reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the trial of Jessie Misskelley:

 

Fogleman: And was there something about a circle?

Gitchell: Yes sir.

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

Gitchell: That was before we started tape recording.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fogleman: Um-hmm.

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

Fogleman: Okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gitchell: No sir.

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

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

Fogleman: (interrupting) Alright.

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

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

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

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

Gitchell: Yes sir.

Fogleman: And then what took place?

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

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

Gitchell: (interrupting) Yes sir —

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Post-Polygraph interview notes by Bryn Ridge.

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

From the trial of Jessie Misskelley:

Fogleman: Okay. And then what happened?

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

Fogleman: Alright. Your Honor —

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

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

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

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

(squeaky speeding up of tape noise)

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

Gitchell: Should I do that again, your Honor?

The Court: I think so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gitchell: Yes sir, he did.

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

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

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

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

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

Gitchell: Yes.

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

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

Fogleman: Okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fogleman: Alright.

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

Fogleman: Was there any kind of emotional response?

Gitchell: Uh, from Jessie?

Fogleman: Yes.

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

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

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

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

Gitchell: No sir.

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

Gitchell: None of those things happened whatsoever.

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

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

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

Confession by Jessie Misskelley to his lawyer, Dan Stidham.

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

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

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

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

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

Link to the news clip:

Jessie Misskelley Sr. stating that Jessie witnessed the murders.

Facts Predating Jessie Misskelley’s June 3, 1993 Confession

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

Through-out the course of the investigation and prior to his eventual confession to police on June 3, 1993, Jessie Misskelley would make numerous statements implicating both himself and his friends, Jason and Damien in the murders. Prior to making his original statement Jessie would even display odd behavior suggesting his guilt.

FACTS PREDATING MISSKELLEY’S CONFESSION-

Jessie’s documented confessions began in the few days following the murders. During Jessie’s confession to police on June 3, 1993, he informed investigators that he had given away the shoes he wore on the night of the murders to his friend Buddy Lucas.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Ok. So you had a white t-shirt with a basketball design on it? (22 second pause) Ok, uh, what about shoes. What kind of shoes did you have on?

MISSKELLEY: White and blue Adidas.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: White and blue?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: And who has those shoes now?

MISSKELLEY: Buddy Lucas.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: And how old is Buddy?

MISSKELLEY: He’s about 18 or 19.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Why, why does he have your shoes?

MISSKELLEY: We went, we was coming home one day and it was raining and he didn’t have nothing else to wear so he put on one of my shoes.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Ok, and where does he live at?

MISSKELLEY: In Lakeshore.

 

When investigators spoke to Lucas on June 10, 1993 he produced for them the shoes Jessie had given to him, initially telling them, that Jessie had just given him a pair of shoes to wear home one day after his own had gotten muddy. However, a few months later, Buddy’s uncle, Eddy Wilson told the police that Buddy knew more than he was telling them, stating that when he had confronted Lucas about the shoes, he said that when Jessie had given them to him there appeared to be blood on them. Shortly there after, Lucas was picked up by police again on October 14, 1993, and it was at this time, he informed them that on May 6, 1993, the day immediately after the murders, he had gone to visit with Jessie. During this visit, Jessie suddenly began to cry and confessed to him that himself, along with Jason Baldwin, and Damien Echols, had hurt some boys the night before during a fight, and he didn’t know what to do. According to Lucas, Jessie wanted to turn Jason and Damien in to the police, but didn’t know how to do so without going to prison himself, because he had also hit the victims and chased them to prevent them from escaping. He then after confessing gave Lucas the shoes he wore on the night of the murders and said he didn’t want to see them again.

                   (Buddy Lucas.)

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

The Buddy Lucas Confession.

Lee Rush, the live in girlfriend, of Jessie’s father, Jessie Misskelley Sr., had also noticed strange behavior from Jessie at the time after the murders. She told the police on the night of his confession, that he had had several instances where he woke up in the middle of the night screaming and had mysterious crying fits.

(Lee Rush.)

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

Jessie’s Crying Fits.

During the time following the murders, Jessie began to talk a lot to an older female friend who he babysat for, named Vickie Hutcheson, discussing with her in detail his friend, Damien Echols and even agreeing to help Vickie meet with Damien on one occasion, in which he brought Damien over to Vickie’s house, and then on a second occasion driving around with her to try and find him. Jessie at the time had been unaware that Vickie was reporting the information she was getting from him about Damien to the police and was trying to catch Damien on tape confessing to the murders. This never happened, but Hutcheson eventually lied to the police and claimed that Jessie and Damien had taken her to a meeting of witches out in a wooded area. This meeting was known as an Esbat and involved teenagers participating in an orgy.

Vickie had evidently made up the story to try and collect on the large reward money being offered to anyone with information that led to the arrest of the killer of the three boys.

Immediately following the trial though, Vickie began to give statements in which she suggested she made up the entire claim of the Esbat, stating that Jessie was innocent, and that she knew he was innocent because of a statement he made to her:

Vickie made the following statement to Defense Investigator, Ron Lax.

Taken from page 410 of the book, “The Blood of Innocents.”

In the interview with Lax and Stidham, Hutcheson said Misskelley had joked before his arrest that he would tell police he committed the murders if he was ever questioned. Hutcheson said she’s sure this happened because “I was in my right set of mind that day.”

“I about died” when Misskelley made his joke, Hutcheson said. “Because he goes, “I’ll just tell them I did it.” And I said, “No you wouldn’t. You stupid? what’s wrong with you, boy?” And he started busting out laughing and he was like, “It was a joke.”

(Vickie Hutcheson.)

On July 21, 1993, investigators interviewed a prisoner by the name of Jesse Hurst, who alleged that Damien Echols had made some statements about Jessie Misskelley. The statement itself is Hurst gives is confusing, as Hurst mixes up the names Jason and Jessie, often referring to Jessie as Jason. While he does confuse the names, it seems obvious from the context of the conversation that he’s referring to Jessie Misskelley. Hurst also seems to confuse when the conversation took place. He says he was told it was two weeks before the crime, but there was no murders yet, so that wouldn’t exactly make sense, so the context of the conversation would be that it occurred two weeks after the murders.

RIDGE: ONE THING WAS MENTION EARLIER THAT JASON AND DAMIEN HAD, A CONVERSATION

JESSE: YEAH (YES)

RIDGE: WHEN WAS THAT CONVERSATION SUPPOSE TO OF HAVE TAKEN PLACE

JESSE: HE SAID TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE MURDERS

RIDGE: OKAY, WHAT WAS SAID ABOUT THAT CONVERSATION?

JESSE: HE SAID THAT JASON TOLD HIM THAT IF THE POLICE COME BY HIS HOUSE ASKING WHO DID IT, HE WAS GOING TO ADMIT TO IT AND SAY YEAH I DID IT.

RIDGE: OKAY, NOW THIS IS TWO WEEKS PRIOR TO THE MURDERS, BEFORE THE MURDERS, SO JASON WAS TELLING DAMIEN HE WAS GOING TO DO IT?

JESSE: YEAH (YES) AND DAMIEN TOLD ME THAT HE THOUGHT HE WAS JUST JOKING, HE DIDN’T THINK HE WAS SERIOUS


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

Hurst Statement

The statements from Buddy Lucas, Jesse Hurst, and Vickie Hutcheson all state that Jessie Misskelley was wanting to confess to the murders, and had said that if the police had questioned him that he was going to tell them he did the murders.

It had also seemed very important for Damien to tell the police on May 10, 1993 during a police interview, that there was only one killer, and that if there was more than one killer, there would be a fear of someone talking.

From the transcribed report of Damien’s interview:

DAMIEN STATED THAT HE FELT THAT IT WAS PROBABLY ONE PERSON BECAUSE IF IT WERE MORE THAN ONE PERSON SOMEBODY WOULD PROBABLY TELL ABOUT IT SOONER OR LATER. HE SAID THAT THERE WOULD BE A FEAR OF SQUEALING BY ONE OF THE PERSON IN THE ACT IF IT WERE MORE THAN ONE PERSON.

The Full May 10, 1993 interview of Damien Echols.

During Jason Baldwin’s appeals, at his Rule 37 hearing, his mother, Gail Grinnell testified that Jason and Jessie had had a falling out right after the murders, involving some shirts that belonged to Jason which had gone missing. It was also stated that Jessie had tried to take a necklace that belonged to Jason as well:

Q] Uh, and describe, first, talk about Jessie. Were Jason and Jessie buddies?

A] No.

Q] Why not?

A] I don’t know, uh, something to do with some T-shirts and he went to the skatin’ ring one night and they tried to steal, Jason came home and told me that Jessie tried to steal a necklace of his. This was after the murders. At one time they had been friends.

Q] Uh-huh?

A] Kind of.

Q] Uh-huh?

A] And they moved from the trailer park and, uh, Jessie had stolen some shirts, uh, he got, uh, he had borrowed some shirts from Jason and Jason couldn’t, he gave ’em to somebody that Jason couldn’t get ’em back from.

Q] Uh-huh. So in May of 1993, were Jason and Jessie hanging out together as buddies?

A] No.

Q] Okay?

A] And you know, Jessie didn’t come to our house. He took off and went, he came over to our, he popped up before the murders of those children and came over to our house and said he had just got back from California.

Q] Are you talking about Jessie?

A] Yeah.

According Gail Grinnell, at some point after the murders, Jason told her that he and Jessie had had a falling out while at Skate World, skating rink. Jason had told his mother that Jessie had stolen a few shirts of his that had mysteriously gone missing after the murders, and mentioned that Jessie tried to take a necklace of his.

A necklace belonging to Jason and Damien Echols ended up becoming an important item of evidence in the case. Both teenagers, Jason and Damien apparently shared clothing, including an pendent necklace with an axe on the end of it.

 

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

                                                                (Drawing by Jason Baldwin of the necklace.)

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

It was later discovered that on this necklace was human blood from two different people. One of them, being Damien Echols, and the other possibly Stevie Branch, one of the victims.

Damien Echols and DNA

On May 15, 1993, Jessie Misskelley, and his older friend David Sims, who was 22-years-old at the time, and his younger friend, Dennis Carter, who was 15, had called the police from a bowling Alley stating they had seen three little boys, who were around 8 or 9 years old fleeing from a man near some train tracks. When the police arrived, they pointed the finger at a man named Tracy Laxton, saying that Laxton not only had tried to lure three little boys into the woods just moments prior, but had approached them as well, offering to let them drink in his camp in the near-by woods.

Ultimately Laxton was investigated and cleared of any involvement in the murders, but the people who implicated him in the murders was shocking.

According to Jessie’s friend, David Sims, on the night they went down to the police station to report Tracy Laxton as a suspect in the murders, Jessie told Sims that he thought Jason and Damien had done the murders.

(Statement by David Sims.)

Sims had also stated that Jessie was scared of Damien:

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

Tracy Laxton Incident.

In the days after Jessie reporting Tracy Laxton, there was still more statements made by Jessie. One girl, Felicia Williams reported a minor statement by Jessie from May 27th, in which he pointed the finger at another teen, named Robert Burch, who was rumored to have killed the victims with Damien Echols:

The last time we had a conversation was around May 27th & someone was having a party & me and my boyfriend & his nephew were outside & we talked to Jessie & then Robert Burch wanted to fight my boyfriend’s nephew & Jessie went to talk to Robert, & someone in the crowd said that they think Robert killed the 3 boys & Jessie just agreed. I can’t say I was surprised about him (Jessie) killing them, I am just shocked that it was someone that I know & live by.

Felicia Williams Statement.

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

The Skating Rink Confessions.

A girl named Kim Floresca stated in a news story for the newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, that appeared on June 7, 1993, that the day before the police questioned him, that he confessed to her and a few other kids during a car ride:

Local teens often travel to the Stonehenge site at night to socialize and marvel at its legend and chilling atmosphere.

“Sometimes people think it’s funny trying to scare other people,” said Kim Floresca, 15, who just completed 10th grade at Marion High School. “It’s supposed to be a place where cults go out, and they’re supposed to sacrifice virgins and animals and stuff.”

Floresca said she once went to the Stonehenge site about two years ago with a group of teens who included Misskelley. The night was just a typical night, she said, and Misskelley did nothing out of the ordinary.

Floresca said she never heard of the other two suspects visiting the site.

Floresca said Misskelley told her and other students the day before he was arrested that he participated in the killings.

A group of students were driving last Wednesday after school to a friend’s house to go swimming when Misskelley began telling his bizarre tale, she said.

“He was saying he hit the little boy and the little boy ran off and he was taking him back to where Damien and the other boy were,” she said. According to Misskelley’s story, Echols had already killed the two other boys, she said.

Floresca said she didn’t believe Misskelley at the time.

Link to Commercial Appeal story.

Floresca in her statement to The Commercial Appeal, gave a detail of the crime that had not even appeared in Jessie’s June 3, 1993 confession:

“He was saying he hit the little boy and the little boy ran off and he was taking him back to where Damien and the other boy were.”

Jessie had according to Buddy Lucas, also made a similar statement:

LUCAS – COUPLE, I SAID WAS YOU INVOLVED? HE SAID YEA, I SAID WHAT DID YOU DO? I FINALLY GOT IT TALKED OUT OF HIM WHAT DID HE DO, HE SAID I HIT UH, A COUPLE IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD 

RIDGE – OKAY, AND 

LUCAS – AND EVERYTHING TO KEEP THEM FROM RUNNING AND EVERYTHING 

Jessie had only told the police in his initial confession, that he had chased down one of the victim’s, Michael Moore, and brought him back to where his friends, Jason and Damien were. Jessie had made no mention of hitting Moore and had denied to the police at that time that he had hit any of the victims or even killed any of the victims.

Jessie’s June 3, 1993 confession:

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Where does he run to?

MISSKELLEY: That one, he runs out, going out the, out the park and I chased him and grabbed him and brought him back.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Which way does he go, I mean, does he go on back towards where the houses are

MISSKELLEY: He goes on back. . .

DETECTIVE RIDGE: He’s going to Blue Beacon, is he going out towards the fields,

MISSKELLEY: He’s going. . .

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Where’s he running to?

MISSKELLEY: Towards the houses.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Towards the houses?

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Where the pipe is that goes across the water?

MISSKELLEY: Yeah, he’s running out there and I caught him and brought him back, and then I took off.

Jessie later in his confession swears up and down that he only witnessed the murders and helped bring Michael Moore back, a statement which investigators were very skeptical on.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay, let me ask you something, now this is real serious and I want you to be real truthful, and I want you to think about it before you answer it, don’t just say yes or no, real quick. I want you to think about it. Did you actually hit any of these boys?

MISSKELLEY: No.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Now, tell us the truth.

MISSKELLEY: No.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Did you actually rape any of these boys?

MISSKELLEY: No.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Did you actually kill any of these boys?

MISSKELLEY: No.

DETECTIVE RIDGE: Did you see any of the boys actually killed?

MISSKELLEY: Yes.

Much like what Jessie had told Buddy Lucas, he had been trying to implicate his friends, Jason and Damien in the murders without admitting his own involvement, because he didn’t want to go to prison as well.

A real question to ask here though, is how could Lucas and Floresca know that Jessie had chased down the boys and hit them in the head, when Jessie had not even confessed that detail yet? The only way either witness could know that detail was if Jessie had confessed to them just as they claimed.

Jessie would only begin to mention that he hit the boys following his February 4, 1994 conviction, beginning that very same day. Jessie suddenly began to admit that he played a much larger role in the murders than he had ever confessed to previously, saying he had actually hit the victims as well and admitting that he had lied to the police about various elements of his confession to try and avoid going to prison:

More can be read on these post conviction confessions at the following link:

The post conviction statements.

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

And in an added bit of information, Heather Cliett, Jason Baldwin’s girlfriend, alleged in an undated statement that her best friend, Jennifer Bearden, who also was trying to date Damien Echols and spoke with him regularly, had informed her that Jessie Misskelley killed the victims with the help of Damien’s friend, Murray Farris and Damien’s girlfriend, Domini Teer.

 

It had been following Jessie’s reporting of Tracy Laxton on May 15, 1993 as a suspect in the murders, as well as Vickie Hutcheson’s statements to police, in which she lied and said he and Damien had taken her to an Esbat, that the police decided to finally speak with the 17-year-old, Jessie Misskelley, which ultimately resulted in the June 3, 1993 confession. And according to multiple people, Jessie had made several statements indicative of guilt prior to this confession, including statements that he had wanted to turn his friends in, but couldn’t because he had also participated in the murders.

 

Click here to read more about Jessie’s confession.

The Evan Williams Bottle

On, February 4, 1994, Jessie Lloyd Misskelley, Jr, was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of Christopher Byers, Michael Moore, and Stevie Branch. And it was at this time he was escorted out of the courthouse and to a police car to be transported. It was during this car ride, that Jessie began to talk with the officers driving him, saying that the jury was right to have convicted him, because he really did do it, and not only that, but he was more involved in the murders than he had confessed to, admitting that he had been lying trying to lessen his involvement when talking to police.

Excerpt from the police car confession:

Jessie was asked how the boys were kept under control while being raped and not tied yet and he stated “They were like puppies, when you whoop a puppy and tell it to stay, it will.”

Report on Jessie’s police car confession.

(Jessie Misskelley on February 4, 1994.)

It was after this confession, that Jessie’s Lawyer, Dan Stidham spoke with him in regards to what he had told the officers.

Prosecutor, Brent Davis, related what followed in a hearing prior to Damien and Jason’s trial:

We then rode down to the Department of Corrections on Tuesday.  Mr. Stidham rode with me.  Mr. Fogleman and Mr. Gitchell met us at Brinkley, and we went to Pine Bluff.  At that time, Mr. Stidham talked with him for approximately ten or fifteen minutes, at which point he came out of the room, grabbed a Bible. went back in and — this is my personal observation — but approximately 30 to 45 minutes later Mr. Stidham exited.  He was very upset, unnerved, just kept mumbling things — “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now.  I don’t know what to do now.”

From Jessie Misskelley’s February 8, 1994 confession with his lawyer, Dan Stidham:

STIDHAM: Okay. Jessie, a few minutes ago I asked you about making some statements to the Officers when they transported you from Piggott to Pine Bluff. You told me that you had told them some stuff. Is that Correct?

MISSKELLEY: Yes, sir.

STIDHAM: And at first you told me that you were just making it up, that you were lying to them, and then you placed your hand on the Bible and told me that you were there when these boys got killed.

MISSKELLEY: Yes, sir.

STIDHAM: Uh, what’s the truth, Jessie? I want to know the truth.

MISSKELLEY: The truth is, me and Jason and Damien done it.

STIDHAM: You were there when the boys were killed?

MISSKELLEY: Yes, sir.

STIDHAM: Now, what’s going to be very important is for you to tell me why it was that you have been maintaining that you weren’t there all this time?

MISSKELLEY: I was scared.

STIDHAM: what were you scared of?

MISSKELLEY: I always lied and I hadn’t ever put my hand on the Bible and swore. Nobody didn’t tell me to do that. If they would have told me that at first, I would have done it. Nobody told me to put my hand on the Bible.

STIDHAM: Okay. So basically, you’ve been lying to me and Mr. Crow for the past seven, or so months – about not being there when in fact you were there?

MISSKELLEY: Yes, sir.

During this confession, which he privately gave to Dan Stidham, Jessie admitted a greater involvement in the murders and even stated that he had fabricated previous claims from his first confession to police, because he didn’t want to go to prison for capital murder. It was also during this confession that Jessie provided a physical piece of corroborating evidence:

STIDHAM: Then what happened?

MISSKELLEY: Then Vickie went uh, went to the store and bought me some liquor.

STIDHAM: Vickie Hutcheson?

MISSKELLEY: Yes, sir.

STIDHAM: Okay, so about 6 o’clock. Is that, where did you run into her at?

MISSKELLEY: I went to her house.

STIDHAM: So you went by (inaudible) to Vickie’s house? This is on May 5th, the day the boys were killed?

MISSKELLEY: Yes, sir.

STIDHAM: And Vickie went to buy you some liquor?

MISSKELLEY: Yes, sir.

STIDHAM: Where’d she go, did you go with her?

MISSKELLEY: Huh-uh. (Negatively indicating)

STIDHAM: Did you stay at the house when she left, or tell me what happened?

MISSKELLEY: I was standing on the corner talking with Dennis, Dennis Carter.

STIDHAM: Standing on the corner where?

MISSKELLEY: By my house.

STIDHAM: So tell me how you went to Vickie and why she went to get you some liquor?

MISSKELLEY: I asked, no, Dennis asked uh, asked me, you know, did I know anybody to get us something to drink? I told him, Vickie will. So we gave Vickie some money and I went down her house and started talking just a little bit, and I asked her would she go to the store and buy me some liquor.

STIDHAM: And she said -?

MISSKELLEY: She said, yes. She said hand me the money, she said, I’ll go in a minute. I said, okay.

STIDHAM: You left her house, or what?

MISSKELLEY: I left her house, and me and Dennis went to my house and you know watched as she went around the corner and we sat there on the corner, sat there and talked about, you know, drinking. and stuff.

STIDHAM: So did Vickie bring you some liquor?

MISSKELLEY: Yes, she carried it to her house and me and Dennis went down there and got it.

STIDHAM: What did she buy you?

MISSKELLEY: Evan Williams.

STIDHAM: Evan Williams?

MISSKELLEY: Uh-huh.

STIDHAM: What is that, wine?

MISSKELLEY: Whiskey.

STIDHAM: Just one bottle?

MISSKELLEY: She bought two bottles.

STIDHAM: How big are the bottles?

MISSKELLEY: About – –

STIDHAM: Fifth?

MISSKELLEY: Yeah, about – –

STIDHAM: About this tall?

MISSKELLEY: Uh-huh. (Affirmatively indicating)

STIDHAM: Then what happened?

MISSKELLEY: Then I started drinking out, uh, Dennis’ bottle, and I told him I was going to Lakeshore.

STIDHAM: So, did you go to Lakeshore?

MISSKELLEY: Yeah.

STIDHAM: what happened when you went to Lakeshore?

MISSKELLEY: I met Damien and Jason Baldwin.

(Vickie Hutcheson.)

In his statement to Stidham, Jessie stated that he and his friend Dennis Carter had gone and asked Vickie Hutcheson, an adult friend that Jessie knew and babysat for, to buy them both some Evan Williams Whiskey.

One of Jessie’s best friends, Buddy Lucas stated that on May 5th, 1993 he had gone over to drop off some barbecue chicken for Jessie and his father, when he saw Jessie walking away from his house with another teen, matching Jessie’s story about him and Dennis Carter going to ask Vickie for some whisky:

LUCAS – AND EVERYTHING, SO ME AND MY COUSIN REX WENT OVER THERE, TOOK THEM SOME CHICKEN AND EVERYTHING. I ASK THEM WHERE’S LITTLE JESSIE AND EVERYTHING. HE, BIG JESSIE SAID THAT UM, HE WENT WALKING THAT WAY AND EVERYTHING, AND WE LOOKED OUT THE DOOR AND HE WAS WALKING OFF WITH SOMEBODY ELSE. 

RIDGE – OKAY, WHICH WAY ARE YOU DESCRIBING? 

LUCAS – TOWARD WEST MEMPHIS 

RIDGE – OKAY, AND JESSIE WAS WALKING AWAY 

LUCAS – THEY WERE HEADED OUT OF HIGHLAND TRAILER PARK 

RIDGE – OKAY, JESSIE AND SOMEBODY, BIG JESSIE DIDN’T KNOW? 

LUCAS – UH-HUH 

RIDGE – IS THAT RIGHT? 

LUCAS – YES SIR 

                          (Buddy Lucas.)

Several other witnesses provided information concerning Vickie Hutcheson to Ron Lax, a defense investigator working for Damien Echols’ lawyers. One of these witnesses, was 16-year-old, Jennifer Michelle Roberts, who stated that Vickie had purchased whiskey and cigarettes for her.

Lax: Okay. Now, you’re sixteen years old? Aren’t you?

Roberts: Yes, sir.

Lax: And Vickie was how old? Thirty-two? Thrity-three?

Roberts? Thirty–thirty?

Lax: Thirty? Okay. She was at least thirty, then?

Roberts: Yes, sir.

Lax: So, ya’ll shouldn’t have had too much in common?

Roberts: No, sir.

Lax: But yet you hung around a lot together?

Roberts: Yes, sir.

Lax: And she told you a lot of things?

Roberts: Yes, sir.

Lax: In fact, she even bought you whiskey to drink? Is that correct?

Roberts: Yes, sir.

Lax: And gave you cigarettes?

Roberts: Yes, sir.

It was according to Jessie, in that February 8, 1994 confession to his lawyer, that after obtaining the Evan Williams, he met up with Jason and Damien, who had a bag with them that had beer cans in it, and that they all then walked to Robin Hood Hills, and were drinking out in the woods when the victims showed up. Immediately after the murders, Jessie fled the crime scene and was walking home, and while walking home, passed under a bridge. While under this bridge, Jessie became angry over the murders and smashed the Evan Williams bottle.

STIDHAM: Okay. What did you do with the whiskey bottle?

MISSKELLEY: Well, after I’d done seen what Jason did to – I don’t know which boy it was – but he cut his penis and everything, and I was still mad and I still had whiskey in my bottle. I walked down the street drinking whiskey, and all of a sudden I just busted it.

STIDHAM: Where’d you bust it at?

MISSKELLEY: On the overpass.

STIDHAM: Which overpass?

MISSKELLEY: Going towards – came back that way.

STIDHAM: Did you walk over the top of the overpass?

MISSKELLEY: I went back the same way I came. Up – up under by Lakeshore – where I busted it was at Lakeshore, by the Lakeshore where – between Wal-Mart and Lakeshore, over that overpass. I busted it there.

STIDHAM: On top of the overpass?

MISSKELLEY: No. I was underneath walking. I didn’t walk over it, I just walked underneath on the grass and stuff all the way through. And that’s when I busted the bottle.

STIDHAM: Underneath it?

MISSKELLEY: Uh-huh. (Affirmatively indicating)

STIDHAM: Directly underneath it?

MISSKELLEY: I just threw it and hit the side.

STIDHAM: Which side? Do you remember?

MISSKELLEY: Which side? Like they was going – I mean the road was going towards –

STIDHAM: Did you throw up? You told the officers that you threw up.

MISSKELLEY: No, I got – I was dizzy.

STIDHAM: Okay, where did you go after you left the overpass where you busted the bottle?

MISSKELLEY: I walked straight home.

Prosecutor, Brent Davis discussing the Evan Williams bottle:

Mr. Stidham then went back into the room, at which time he did not allow us, nor did we request or insist on having contact with his client.  He went back inside and talked for another hour and came back and to paraphrase indicated that his client’s story matched with the facts much better and there were a few things we needed to do to be able to corroborate his statement.

At that point we got in our vehicles, and one of the things to corroborate his client’s statement was to determine if there was an Evan Williams whiskey bottle under an overpass in West Memphis.

To quote Mr. Stidham, I believe at that time, “If we can find a bottle like he says, then that will convince me that it happened.”  At 9:30 or 10:00 at night we drive — ten o’clock in the evening — we proceed, the four of us, to roam underneath the overpasses of West Memphis and lo and behold find a broken bottle in the location indicated by his client.

We then take the bottle to a local liquor store where we proceeded to spend the better part of an hour matching the bottle with certain items, and lo and behold it matches with the brand name bottle Mr. Stidham had indicated that we should be looking for in the first place.

At that point Mr. Stidham says that wasn’t good enough to convince him.

Full hearing discussing the Evan Williams Bottle.

(Bridge where Jessie smashed the Evan Williams bottle.)

Also possibly matching Jessie’s confession was the recovery of some beer cans found at the crime scene, along with a grocery bag from Road Runner Petro, a gas station in the area where Damien Echols’ father, Joe Hutcheson worked.

(Beer can recovered at the crime scene.)

(Road Runner Petro bag found at the crime scene.)

 

The Skating Rink Confessions

On May 7, 1993, the very day that police first spoke to Damien Echols concerning the murders, 12-year-old Brandy Wilson was sitting in the concessions area of a skating rink, known as Skate World, a local hang-out in West Memphis where Damien Echols and his friends liked to socialize.

(Photos of concession area at Skateworld.)

Wilson’s statement to police is as follows:

THIS IS DETECTIVE MIKE ALLEN OF THE WEST MEMPHIS POLICE DEPT TODAY’S DATE IS 06-16-93 PRESENTLY IN THE DETECTIVE DIVISION WITH BRANDY WILSON WHO 12 YEARS OLD AND MOTHER PENNY CUMMINGS THEY RESIDE AT 616 BAYLOR IN WEST MEMPHIS, AR. IT HAS BE BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION FROM ANOTHER OFFICER DON BRAY THAT YOU MAY HAVE KNOWLEDGE IN REFERNECE TO THIS HOMICIDE THAT WERE WORKING INVOLVING THE BYERS, BRANCH AND, MOORE. THE TIME IS NOW 3:00 P.M. BRANDY IF YOU WOULD EXPLAIN TO ME I UNDERSTAND YOU OVER HEARD OR HEARD A CONVERSATION AT THE SKATING RINK HERE WEST MEMPHIS CAN YOU EXACTLY WHO IT WAS YOU OVER HEARD AND WHAT YOU OVER HEARD? 

WILSON – DAMIEN ECHOLS WAS SITTING NEXT TO ME AND MY SISTER WAS SITTING NEST ME ALSO ON THE OTHER SIDE BUT SHE WAS NOT LISTENING, SHE WAS TALKING TO HER OTHER FRIEND AND I WAS LISTENING TO HIS CONVERSATION AND HIM AND JASON WERE SITTING AT THE TABLE TOGETHER WITH 

ALLEN – OKAY WHEN DO YOU 

WILSON – DOMINICK, DOMINICK, AND JASON’S GIRL FRIEND I THINK 

ALLEN – OKAY JASON WHO ARE YOU REFERRING TO WHEN YOU SAY JASON? 

WILSON – I DON’T KNOW, IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE BOYS WHO DID IT, BUT HE LOOKS JUST LIKE HIM, TERRY TOLD ME JASON MY SISTER DID. 

ALLEN – OKAY, AND THIS DAMIEN DID YOU KNOW OF HIS NAME ALSO? 

WILSON – YEAH, BECAUSE I HEARD IT FROM JENNIFER (INAUDIBLE) SHE TOLD ME AT SCHOOL AND STUFF. 

ALLEN – OKAY, UH, I’M SURE YOU HAVE SEEN THE TV AND NEWSPAPERS THIS PERSON YOUR REFERRING TO AS JASON AND THIS PERSON YOU ARE REFERRING TO A DAMIEN HAVE YOU SEEN THEM ON TV OR IN THE NEWSPAPERS? 

WILSON – (INAUDIBLE) 

ALLEN – OKAY IS THIS THE SAME 

WILSON – DAMIEN ECHOLS I KNEW WHO HE WAS BEFORE THEY EVEN SHOWED HIS NAME ON THE SCREEN IT SHOWED 3 PICTURES AND MY MOM ASK ME WHICH ONE WAS IT AND I POINTED IT OUT BEFORE IT EVEN SHOWED HIS NAME? 

ALLEN – WHAT COLOR HAIR DID THE ONE HAVE THAT YOUR CALLING DAMIEN? 

WILSON – BLACK 

ALLEN – AS FAR AS YOU KNOW WHAT KIND OF CLOTHING HE WAS WEARING THAT NIGHT? 

WILSON – I DON’T REMEMBER, HE WAS WEARING DARK CLOTHING AND HE HAD ON A DEVIL SIGN NECKLACE 

ALLEN – GO AHEAD WITH WHAT YOU HEARD? 

WILSON – WE WERE SITTING DOWN THERE AND DOMINICK WAS SITTING NEXT TO HIM, I WAS SITTING HERE IN THE CHAIRS ARE ARRANGED TO WHERE THERE’S LIKE FOUR HALF OF A CHAIR 

ALLEN – ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT A TABLE? 

WILSON – NO IT WAS A ROUND TABLE, ITS A ROUND TABLE 

ALLEN – OKAY ITS A ROUND TABLE 

WILSON – YEAH 

ALLEN – DOES IT HAVE CHAIRS LIKE THIS? 

WILSON – YEAH, AND MY SISTER WAS SITTING HERE, AND SOMEONE WAS STANDING HERE AND MY SISTER WAS TALKING TO THAT PERSON AND THEM I WAS SITTING HERE AND DAMIEN SITTING LIKE RIGHT HERE EXCEPT A LITTLE BIT CLOSER, DAMIEN SITTING HERE AND DOMINICK WAS SITTING HERE AND I GUESS JASON WAS SITTING HERE AND HIS GIRLFRIEND AND THEN SOME OTHER PEOPLE WERE TURN AROUND AT THE OTHER TABLES THAT ARE OVER HERE 

ALLEN – OKAY, NOW THIS, ARE THIS ISN’T OUT BY THE FLOOR THIS IS UP NEAR THE POOL TABLE AND REFRESHMENT STAND AREA 

WILSON – YEAH, THAT, OKAY, I WAS SITTING THERE AND JUST LISTENING AND HE SAID THAT HE HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH THESE THREE BOYS AND HIM AND JASON JUST STARTED GIGGLING AND LAUGHING 

ALLEN – WHAT EXACTLY, I MEAN WHO WAS HE TALKING TO? 

WILSON – HE WAS TALKING TO DOMINICK AND JASON HE WAS JUST LIKE SHOWING OFF THAT HE DID IT AND I WAS LISTENING THE THIS WHOLE TIME AND MY SISTER WAS HOLDING ME DOWN AND SHE WAS TALKING TO ANOTER PERSON AND I WAS LISTENING THIS WHOLE TIME AND SAID HE HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH THEM AND THAT THAT HE DID IT 

ALLEN – OKAY, DID HE EVER TALK DIRECTLY TO YOU? ARE IS THIS JUST SOMETHING YOU OVER HEARD? 

WILSON – I OVER HEARD HIM TALKING TO DOMINICK AND JASON AND 

ALLEN – OKAY, WAS, YOU SAID THERE WAS A GIRL THERE WITH JASON DO YOU KNOW WHO SHE WAS? 

WILSON – JASON I’M NOT SURE I DON’T HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT HER NAME WAS, BUT I KNOW, I THINK IT WAS DOMINICK WITH DAMIEN BECAUSE, BECAUSE I’VE HEARD THAT NAME AND STUFF, AND MR. BRAY ASK ME WHAT WAS HER NAME AND I WENT OVER TO MY FRIENDS HOUSE AND WE WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT IT YOU KNOW AND THEN SHE SAID DOMINICK IS HIS GIRLFRIEND SO I ASSUMED THAT MUST BE DOMINICK BECAUSE YOU KNOW UNLESS HE WAS 

ALLEN – OKAY, THIS NIGHT YOU WERE AT THE SKATING RINK AND HEARD THIS DO YOU KNOW IN RELATIONSHIP TO WHEN THEY FOUND THE 3 LITTLE BOYS, DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG AFTER THAT THIS, WHAT NIGHT IT WAS YOU WERE AT THE SKATING RINK? 

WILSON – IT WAS ON A FRIDAY NIGHT 

ALLEN – WAS IT ON A FRIDAY NIGHT 

WILSON – YES SIR. CAUSE EVERYBODY ALWAYS GOES UP THERE 

ALLEN – OKAY, DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG AFTER THEY DISCOVERED THE BOYS HAD BEEN KILLED IN RELATIONSHIP, WAS IT A WEEK, TWO WEEKS, THREE WEEKS, 

WILSON – I’M NOT SURE, I WASN’T THINKING ABOUT THE TIME THAT THEY WERE FOUND 

ALLEN – DID YOU TELL YOUR MOTHER ABOUT WHAT YOU HAD HEARD? 

WILSON – YES SIR 

ALLEN – WHEN DID YOU TELL YOUR MOTHER ABOUT THAT? 

WILSON – A WHILE LATER AFTER, I MEAN I JUST FORGOT ALL ABOUT IT UNTIL A WHILE LATER MR. BRAY CALLED ME, CALLED MY MAMA WENT UP TO MY SISTER’S SCHOOL AND TALKED TO HER BUT SHE DIDN’T HEAR IT 

ALLEN – YOUR SISTER DIDN’T HEAR IT 

Police interview with Brandy Wilson

 

Wilson’s statement is damning, as Damien and Jason Baldwin’s friend, Jason Crosby also reported to police that he had been at Skate World on May 7, 1993, and that Damien was with his girlfriend, Domini, and Jason was with his girlfriend, Heather Cliett.

And according to Crosby, he noticed something seemed wrong with Jason that night:

“States that Damien & Jason both had girls with them and Jason seemed to really be down in the dumps. States that he asked Jason what was wrong with him — he told him nothing — he just didn’t feel good.”

(Statement of Jason Crosby.)

Wilson was also able to describe Damien’s pentagram necklace, which Damien purchased around the same time that Wilson witnessed Damien’s confession. According to Damien’s friend, Chris Littrell, he picked up Damien in his step-father’s van, and they both went to the mall on May 7, 1993, at about 5:30 and came back home about a half-hour later.

(Statement by Chris Littrell during a police polygraph.)

Damien told a similar story to the police during his May 10th interview, that he purchased his pentagram necklace at the mall on Saturday, May 8, the day after Wilson saw him confess.

(Report on Damien’s May 10, 1993 police interview.)

Wilson knew what day Damien was at Skate World, she knew who he was with, and she knew about a necklace that he had just purchased earlier that day, making her a strong witness against Echols.

(Damien several weeks later with Domini Teer at Skate World.)

The next week, on May 14, 1993 Damien was once again at Skate World, when several other kids reported that they heard second-hand statements at the skating rink, in which kids were saying that Damien and a friend had killed the boys, and that he was going to kill two more before turning himself in.

A teenager, Joni Brown reported to police that on May 14, 1993, Whitney Nix and Jennifer Ashley told her a boy named Robert Burch had said that he and Damien Echols had murdered the three boys. The police statement reads:

“On Friday night, May 14th, about 8:30 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. Whitney Nix told me that Robert Burch had told her that him and Dameon Echols had murderd them three boys and that they were gonna murder 2 more kids before they turned themselves in to the police. And Jennifer Ashley told me before Whitney did. And then a guy came up to me and told me that he suggested that I stay away from them guys.”

Joni had also been told by her cousin, Toni Cissell, that she personally heard Damien confess to the murders, which is documented in a taped interview months later:

Taped interview with Joni Brown from Feb. 18, 1994

According to Joni, “They were going around bragging that they killed the three boys.” 

And according to Joni Brown and her mother Judy, in the recorded statement, someone approached Joni about her statement claiming to be an FBI agent, alleging that they were sent by Inspector Gary Gitchell. It was after this meeting with the man who claimed to be an FBI agent, that Joni Brown’s name turned up on the defense team’s potential witness list. The prosecution would allege that Ron Lax, a private investigator working for Damien Echols’ defense team was intimidating witnesses into recanting or getting them to refuse to testify, possibly by lying and saying he was with the FBI or Law Enforcement.

This became evident during a hearing at the Misskelley trial, over a witness named William Jones, who along with his mother and aunt, had said that Damien Echols had confessed to him.

The following exchange is between Prosecutors Brent Davis and John Fogleman:

MR. FOGLEMAN: We’ve got a problem that has developed that may or may not affect what the testimony is. We have now had the second witness that has told us one thing about incriminating information against one of the other defendants — the second one that has now after the investigator talks to them all of a sudden they see things in a whole new light and recant everything they have told the police. This particular witness that was to be called next has maintained since before the arrests that Damien Echols told him that he did it.

MR. DAVIS: Not only before the arrest before Jessie Misskelley’s statement or anything.

MR. FOGLEMAN: That’s right. And he has maintained it in a number of conversations with Detective Ridge. I have had one conversation with him personally on the telephone after he was subpoenaed for this trial, and he says now for the first time — yesterday Investigator Lax talked to him and all Investigator Lax asked him according to him is, is your statement true, and he says, no, it’s not. Now he’s saying it is all false. And, your Honor, there’s some information to indicate that this Lax may be intimidating witnesses and, frankly, I have never had this come up in a trial. In the other case we have a videotape statement of a guy who after giving his statement — I was present when he came out. I wasn’t there during his statement. After he came out the only concern he expressed to me was a fear of Jessie and his friends and then when I seek to talk to him further, all of a sudden the police department gets a telephone call from Ron Lax saying this guy will not be coming in at that time, that this witness decided he needs a lawyer and then recants his statement that he’s given the police. Your Honor, I’m tired of it and I don’t know what the Court can do, but we would like some kind of protective order to prevent this investigator from talking to witnesses unless one of us is present because I don’t know what he’s saying to these witnesses.

It was suggested heavily by the prosecution that Ron Lax and members of the defense team had approached witnesses suggesting he might be with the FBI or Law Enforcement and telling them that their statements were fabricated and accusing them of lying, and what the consequences would be for them if they went and testified, saying they’d commit perjury and be sent to prison. Lax had even been accused of keeping witnesses in his car for lengthy car rides where he talked back and fourth with the defense and coerced witnesses to recant.

Upon calling to the stand Cheryl Aycock, a lawyer working with Ron Lax during the same court hearing regarding William Jones, the following information was learned:

A. Ah, William got in the car and Ron said he wanted to talk to him about the statement he gave to the police. William said he wanted to talk to his mother before he talked to him.

Q. Is that all Ron said is, I want to talk to you about your statement?

A. He did say, I don’t think that it is true.

Q. So he did say that to William.

A. Um-hum.

Q. Did he point out any reason why he didn’t think it was true?

A. He said because the dates didn’t match.

Q. What else did he tell William Jones?

A. That is when William said, I want to talk to my mother before I talk to anybody. He said, do you want to call her now, and they called from the car phone. And we asked him if he wanted a ride to go up there. He said yes.

Q. What kind of car were y’all in?

A. ’88 BMW.

Q. So William gets in the car with you and Lax — in the BMW?

A. Um-hum.

Q. What discussion took place about this statement in the car?

A. Just what I said. He said, I want to talk to you about the statement you gave to the police. I think if I recall correctly William saying, what about it. And he said, I don’t think it is true. And he said, well, why do you think that and he said because the dates don’t match up and at that time —

MR. FOGLEMAN: What dates was he referring to?

THE WITNESS: Just some dates that were mentioned when he spoke with Damien and supposedly heard what Damien said and when he gave the statement.

BY MR. DAVIS:

Q. So then you get back at his house. How long did it take you to get from the grocery store to his house?

A. Um, twenty minutes.

Q. What else transpired during the twenty minutes? That’s maybe a two or three minute conversation. What happened during the other seventeen?

A. They talked about his car. I was in the backseat, and I really couldn’t hear.

Q. So you don’t know what they discussed?

A. The only discussion — there wasn’t much to it that I heard. What discussion I heard was about the car.

Q. Was any of that conversation taped?

MR. CROW: Excuse me. Let me interrupt. I believe at this point I made a phone call to Ron.

MR. FOGLEMAN: Let her testify.

THE WITNESS: I remember now. He was on the phone with several people during that time. I think he talked with Dan and Val. He carried on several conversations.

BY MR. DAVIS:

Q. Would the gist of his conversation be that he’s got William Jones with him in the vehicle to let them know he had the witness?

A. I don’t recall him saying that. He said he was on his way to — what’s the name of that town — Haford — Heafer.

Q. When you got to the house, what happened?

A. We went in and sat down, and Mrs. Dunham and William went to the back room and talked for a while and then she came back and got Ricky Dunham and he joined them.

Q. Anybody else back there during that conversation?

A. No. Ron and I stayed in the living room.

Q. Did Ron have any independent conversations with the boy’s mother?

A. Not out of everyone’s presence.

Q. What did he say in everyone’s presence?

A. She came back and asked first of all what kind of trouble William could get into if he were to say that he lied.

Q. Did Ron tell her that perjury was a felony?

A. He told her it was against the law to lie to the police.

Q. Did he tell her that the boy would go to prison if they showed that he was lying?

A. He told him he wasn’t a lawyer.

Q. But he told him it was a criminal offense, what he was getting ready to do?

A. He informed him it was against the law to lie to the police. That’s what he said. But he also said it’s against the law to get on the stand and lie.

Q. Was that conversation recorded?

A. No.

Q. At what point was the conversation recorded?

A. He asked William if he could take a statement and William agreed.

Q. Did William go over what he was going to say in that statement before he turned on the tape recorder?

A. He said, I’m going to talk to you about what we’ve discussed, and I want you to answer and tell me the truth.

Q. So if he used coercive tactics before the recorded statement, we wouldn’t know because he didn’t have the tape recorder turned on, correct?

MR. STIDHAM: That sounds familiar, Judge —

A. Correct.

MR. CROW: — sounds familiar —

THE COURT: All right. Let’s go.

BY MR. DAVIS:

Q. And when he took the statement, what did William Jones tell him?

A. He told him that he had lied to his mother and that he had told her that he knew something that he didn’t know. Then he didn’t think she would call the police but she did because she felt like it was the right thing to do. And he — well, she accompanied him to give the statement and he didn’t want to lie in front of her.

Q. Did he also mention that for the last seven months he had continued to give this story to the police?

A. No.

Q. Did he indicate that he had given this story to the police on four or five separate occasions?

A. No. I had no idea.

Q. Did he indicate that he had given the same story to Mr. Fogleman within a week of the time that y’all talked to him?

A. No. Like I said, he didn’t mention any other statements to the police or discussions with the police other than with Detective Ridge when he got the subpoena and he called and wanted to know when he was supposed to be there and what it was for.

(Ron Lax.)

Getting back to Joni Brown, an investigative report was made on the matter, stating that her cousin, Toni Cissell had heard Damien personally confess:

INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
TRIPLE HOMICIDE
BYERS/BRANCH/MOORE

ON 2/18/94, I CONTACTED JONI BROWN AT 803 N. 18TH AND INTERVIEWED HER IN REFERENCE TO HER BEING PLACED ON THE WITNESS LIST FOR THE DEFENSE. SHE INFORMED ME THAT SHE HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE MURDERS AND THAT SHE HAD ONLY BEEN INTERVIEWED ONE TIME AFTER THE MURDERS BY A WHITE MALE SHE AND HER MOTHER DESCRIBED AS BEING WITH THE FBI. JUDY, JONI’S MOTHER, STATED THAT THE INVESTIGATOR HAD BEEN SENT TO HER HOUSE BY INSPECTOR GITCHELL IN REFERENCE TO A CONVERSATION THAT JONI MAY HAVE HEARD IN WHICH DAMIEN MAY HAVE CONFESSED TO SOME CHILDREN AT THE SKATING RINK THAT HE HAD KILLED THE KIDS. JONI GAVE A TAPED STATEMENT TO ME CONCERNING HER RECOLLECTION OF THE EVENTS AT THE SKATING RINK. SHE STATED THAT SHE WAS AT THE SKATING RINK WITH HER FRIEND TONI CISSELL AND THAT SHE SAW DAMIEN ECHOLS, JASON BALDWIN AND JESSIE MISSKELLEY JR. COME INTO THE SKATING RINK AND STAY TOGETHER THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT. SHE STATED THAT TONI HAD TOLD HER THAT SHE OVERHEARD DAMIEN TELL SOME OTHER KIDS AT THE RINK THAT NIGHT THAT HE HAD KILLED THE THREE KIDS AT ROBIN HOOD WOODS.

A TAPED STATEMENT WAS TAKEN FROM JONI WITH HER MOTHER PRESENT DURING THE TAPED INTERVIEW. THE TAPED INTERVIEW WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR INSPECTION IN THE CASE FILE.

DETECTIVE B. RIDGE
WEST MEMPHIS POLICE DEPARTMENT

Whitney Nix, who had been mentioned by Joni Brown as one of her sources, reported to police that she often went to Skate World, where she frequently saw Jason, Damien, and Jessie hanging out. She also said she heard from her friend, Nicole Bumbaugh, that Damien Echols had killed the boys, but had no first hand information herself.

(11-year-old, Whitney Nix.)

When the police talked to Toni Cissell on May 22, 1993 she only informed them that she heard from some friends that  Damien confessed, which is documented in police notes from the interview:

“Crystal Hensley & Jennifer Ashley told Toni Cissell that Damien Echols told Toni Cissell that Damien & Robert Burch had killed the 3 boys & were going to kill 2 more before they turned themselves in.”

In a handwritten statement also taken on May 22, 1993, she stated that her friends Crystal Hensley and Jennifer Ashley told her about Damien’s confession, and that the two girls told her not to tell anyone:

“On Friday Night on May 14, 1993 about 8:30p.m. or 9:00p.m. Crystal Hensley and Jennifer Ashley told me that Robert Burch and Damien Echols killed those three little boys and they said that they were going to kill 2 more people before they turn their self in. Crystal told me not to say anything so did Jennifer ashley. They also said try to stay away from them.”

Handwritten statement of Toni Cissell

This information was slightly contradicted though by her cousin, Joni Brown in her February 18, 1994 police interview, in which Brown alleged that Toni Cissell had also told her that she had personally heard Damien brag about the murders. And Cissell’s statement to police was awfully similar to what other witnesses testified Damien had said at a softball game, such as Jodee Medford, who heard Damien state:

“I killed the three little boys and before I turn myself in, I’m gonna kill two more and I already have one of ’em picked out.”

Damien bragging about the murders at a softball game.

The only difference between those who heard Damien confess at the softball game and those who reported the confessions at the skating rink was the added bit about Robert Burch, who had told the police that he had a conversation with Jason Baldwin on May 14, 1993, the day Cissell and several other girls was alleged to have heard Damien confess:

“ROBERT STATED THAT HE WAS AT THE SKATING RINK LAST NIGHT AND THAT HE SAID JASON BALDWIN WAS THERE. JASON BALDWIN STATED THAT SOME PRIVATE DETECTIVES HAD STATED THAT HE AND JASON WERE THE ONES WHO DID THE MURDERS.”

Police interview with Robert Burch.

It’s possible that the information that Jason relayed was misconstrued, because Jason and Damien had just been questioned by police on May 9th, days before the May 14th confession was alleged to have taken place. Jason could have meant, himself and Damien, not himself and Robert Burch.

 

The Softball Game Confession

(Softball Field at J.W. Rich Girls Club.)

On the day of Thursday, May 27, 1993, at around 5:30 or 6:00 PM, Damien Echols, along with his friends, Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley, Heather Cliett, and several other friends, all showed up to a girl’s softball game at the J.W. Rich Girls Club, because several girls that Damien knew were playing softball that day, including Heather Cliett. That same day, Donna Medford brought her three daughters, Jessica Medford; Jackee Medford, and Jodee Medford, along with her daughter Jackie’s friend, Christy VanVickle to the softball field, because all three of her daughters had a game that day. Donna Medford’s niece Katie Hendrix also arrived at the field as well, traveling in a separate car.

As Donna entered the area of the three separate softball diamonds, she noticed a teenager walking behind her, traveling toward the bleachers, dressed all in black, wearing a black trench coat, and with long black hair, who seemed sorta odd. This teenager would turn out to be Damien Echols.

(Damien Echols at Skate World wearing his black trench coat.)

Both groups, the Medfords, and Damien and his friends both sat in two separate areas, with Damien sitting near to the concession stand, behind the bleachers. At some point after this, 14-year-old Jodee Medford, and 11-year-olds’, Jackee Medford, and her friend Christy VanVickle walked to the concession stand.

Jodee Medford had been walking ahead of her sister and her friend, and started to walk around the corner toward the concession stand, and as she did, she heard Damien state, “I killed the three little boys and before I turn myself in, I’m gonna kill two more and I already have one of ’em picked out.” Jodee had immediately turned around mid-sentence, because as she put it, “that didn’t sound right.” When she turned around she saw Echols sitting at a distance facing toward her, with the backs of his friends in her direction. She could see her sister and Christy VanVickle having run off immediately telling Jodee’s mother, Donna what they had all heard.

Jackee and Christy had only heard Damien say he killed the boys, but were terrified upon hearing it, and ran off and told Donna Medford right away.

According to Donna Medford, her niece, Katie Hendrix then confronted Damien from a distance, resulting in an altercation, where Echols then walked off. Her statement saying as follows:

“Katie Hendrix was also with me that night & repeated the same story. She also told me he had said he was going to bite her titties off. When he left she yelled ‘Did you really kill those 3 boys & he yelled ‘yes’.”

 

(Handwritten statement by Donna Medford.)

Heather Cliett, Jason Baldwin’s former girlfriend corroborated this account years later in a 2009 affidavit, writing that she had heard the commotion caused by Damien’s confession, stating that lots of people began shouting at him asking if he had killed the boys, matching the description about what Katie Hendrix had told Donna Medford. Cliett however claimed that people shouting questions at Damien about the murders was why Damien bragged about doing them in the first place, and that he was just trying to draw attention to himself:

“I was playing in a softball game on the day that Damien Echols showed up with Jason and some kids in the crowd at the game started shouting at Damien. They were saying things to him about having killed kids, and he was saying things back to people in the crowd. It was typical of Damien, and it was clear to me that he was calling attention to himself. Since I knew I had been on the phone with him on the night of the killings, I did not believe that he had anything to do with the situation.”

Cliett said she dismissed Damien’s confession, because she had been on the phone with him at around 9:30 or 10:30 on the night of the murders, and thus he couldn’t have attacked the victims around 6:45 PM,  then come home later that night and talked to her on the phone.

2009 Affidavit of Heather Cliett

Other eye witness accounts were also reported, including Katie LaFoy, who wrote in a police statement:

“I heard Damien Echols talking to a bunch of girls, one was a Jody Medford. I heard him say ‘Yea that I’m going to do it to some more people too.’

According to LaFoy she had also heard Damien threaten one of the people he was confessing to, saying, that if anyone he was speaking to told anyone, he’d “get them too to just see what was coming next.” 

Statement of Katie LaFoy

Another set of gossip confession statements also were reported, but a source was never verified. This all started with one set of witnesses, which included 8-year-old Juliann Deacon and her 13-year-old sister Jenni Deacon, who on June 1, 1993 were at a softball game at the J.W. Rich Girls Club, when a girl named Rachel Myers, told them, that she had heard Damien brag “about killing the three little boys and wanting to kill two more.” Jenni Deacon, the older of the two sisters came home following the game and told her mother about what Damien had allegedly said. A police report was taken of this incident seven days later.

Link to Deacon report.

Rachel Myers would then tell the police after that she had been told of Damien confessing at the softball game, by a boy named, Shannon Wolf, who Myers said claimed he heard it.

J’Nevelyn Blackmon would also state on June 10, 1993 that she heard from Shannon Wolf about roughly 2 weeks prior that Damien had confessed to the murders:

“Shannon Way came up and started telling us that Damien Echols had murdered those 3 little boys.”

J’Nevelyn also said:

“I heard that there was going to be a sacrifice of two virgins by a cult that Damien was alleged to be in. But I can’t remember where I heard it.”

Another boy, John Dudley Boals III, had also been told about Damien’s confession from Shannon Wolf. According to John Boals, he had been at his friend, David Smith’s house when Shannon Wolf came over. The three teens were watching a news story about the murders, when Wolf informed his friends that he had heard Damien brag about “killing these 3 boys.” Around 6:00 that day, the three teens went to the J.W. Rich Girls Club for a softball game and saw Damien and Jason Baldwin hanging out at the game.

When police eventually spoke with Shannon Wolf, he said he was told about Damien’s softball game confession by his friend, Shannon Boals. However, when police tracked down and spoke with Shannon Boals, she told them that Michele Carter had been the one who told her about the confession. And according to Boals, Carter told her “that Damien Echols came up to her and said that he killed those boys.”  Boals stated that later on, Michele Carter seemed concerned and asked her about if she was questioned or told the police anything about what she told her.

Statement of Shannon Boals

It was also when speaking with Shannon Boals, that the police met Katie LaFoy, who told them about her account of the event.

Shortly after receiving information on 14-year-old, Michele Carter, the investigators went and spoke with her as well, but upon speaking with Carter she denied that she was the one who told Shannon Boals about Damien’s confession, instead, asserting that Shannon was the one who told her about it.

Carter’s written statement reads as follows:

“I was told by Shannon Boals from Marion that there was a boy named Damien that said he killed the boys and he didn’t cut their thing off he bite it off. Shannon showed him to me and pointed him out to me. Shelley Wolf from Marion also told me that she cut herself one day and he ask her if he could suck her blood. Later on more of my friends Tara Cupples, Cory Catt, and Shannon Boals were standing with me in front on the consetion stand and we decided to go over and sit with her brother Trey Boals and a bunch of his other friends I am not sure what their names are. We all sat down and as we sat behind the blechers we saw Damien sitting beside us. We tried not to look at him so we moved over a little. He never talked to me except he asked who we were I told him Michele Carter he never said another word to me. Cory Catt and Tara Cupples left and it was me, Shannon Boals and Trey Boals sitting on the grass still and I just happened to hear Damien say something about him and the Devil so I decided to get up. Right before my game started Shannon Boals also told me that he wanted to kill two more people and he knew one of them was his ex-girlfriend. Shannon Boals said her brother Trey Boals knew more and that it was his friend Shawn something that told him. I think that was his name. I never saw him after that.”

From the story that Shannon Boals and Michele Carter told, one or both of the girls may have been witnesses to the confession, and perhaps may have even been some of the teens sitting with him who were threatened by Echols not to talk. Both girls pointed the finger at the other as the source of information however, but Carter despite saying that Boals was purely the source of her information describes herself as being part of the event, even saying she saw Damien sitting beside her, and how she tried not to look at him.

Another interesting detail in her statement was that Echols allegedly said he bit a victim on the penis. It was a fact of the crime, that Stevie Branch had an injury to the tip of his penis, testified to by Dr. Frank Peretti, like someone had pinched or bit it. And Jessie Misskelley would also confess to his lawyer, Dan Stidham, that he watched Echols, put his head between Stevie’s legs, and bite his penis.

STIDHAM: Did Damien ever suck on that boy’s penis?

MISSKELLEY: (long pause) That – the one that he was going to get, you know, screw him from behind. He went on him – he went down on him.

STIDHAM: Damien sucked that little boy’s penis?

MISSKELLEY: He didn’t suck on it, he bit it.

STIDHAM: What do you mean he bit it?

MISSKELLEY: Bit the top – the head of it.

STIDHAM: How do you know he did it?

MISSKELLEY: Not hard, but – I’m – I’m going to say he didn’t do it hard.

STIDHAM: How do you know that’s what he did?

MISSKELLEY: I seen him – I seen his head going down that way. I don’t know, you know, I don’t know if he – I don’t know if he did or not, but I seen his head go between that boy’s legs.

Another interesting tid-bit found in Carter’s statement was that his next victim was to be his ex-girlfriend. Echols had been arrested and in a mental hospital on three separate occasions, directly relating to an incident in which he ran away with his former girlfriend, Deanna Holcomb, because her parents didn’t want her seeing him.

Getting back to the day of the confession, shortly after the softball game, as Donna Medford, and her 3 daughters, along with Christy VanVickle were driving home that night, her daughters and VanVickle, kept talking about what they heard from the strange teenager in the black trench coat. The incident was so concerning that the Medfords continued to talk about it for days, until after the June 3, 1993 arrests, when Jodee Medford was babysitting and saw the news that Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley had been arrested. Jodee recognized Echols as the teenager she heard bragging about the murders that night, and had even seen him again at the softball game the night after.

Upon recognizing Damien, she phoned her mother at work, who said to her, “well, I’m gonna have to wait to, you know, to-until I see that for myself.” Donna after getting home also recognized Damien as the strange teen in black that she had seen at the softball game, entering the field behind her.

Shortly there after, Donna drove to the J.W. Rich Girls Club with her daughter Jackee, and spoke with the director, Peggy Simmons, and told her that Damien Echols had confessed to the murders in front of her daughters. Simmons then reported the incident to police.

(Christy VanVickle, walking to take the witness stand in the documentary, “Paradise Lost”.)

At trial, Christy VanVickle, Jodee Medford, and her mother Donna testified to the confession, implicating Echols directly with his own words.

While on the witness stand Echols insisted that the witnesses all made it up:

Q. Do you know why the VanVickle girl would get up here and have any reason to fabricate a story under oath about you?

A. There have been Damien sightings since I can remember. People were calling the police department saying they saw me marching around through Marion carrying black candles while I was all the way on the other side of the country.

Q. We aren’t talking about a fake sighting.

A. It is the same principle. It was a fake sighting.

Q. You were there, right?

A. The second night I was not.

Q. But the first night is when she said you made the statement. You were there that night, right?

A. Yes.

Q. And your group was standing around you?

A. Um-hum.

Q. You had on the big black coat and long black hair?

A. Um-hum.

Q. And Jason was there?

A. Um-hum.

Q. She’s right about all those things, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. You don’t know why in the world she would get up here and under oath testify that you said those things? 

A. Little kids say that kind of stuff all the time to get attention.

Q. Do you know any reason why the one who was a little older, the Medford girl, would say that?

A. Probably because she mentioned something like that to her mom or something, and her mom carried it too far so she had no other choice than to get up here and talk about it.

Q. I guess Ms. Medford — do you have any reason to know why she would get up here and give that testimony under oath?

A. Because her daughters probably did tell her that.

 

Jason’s girlfriend, Heather Cliett later destroyed Damien’s assertions that the girls were lying, insisting that he confessed, but that it was just Damien wanting attention, and that she knew Damien better than anyone else, despite by her own admission only knowing him for a manner of weeks:

“I was surprised when I later found that some girls who I knew who were at the game claimed that Damien had said something about having killed children or words to that effect. The girls who reported those things did not know either Jason or Damien the way I knew them.”

 

(Damien Echols being interviewed on Death Row by, CBS reporter Erin Moriarty for the documentary, “48 hours: A Cry for Innocence.”)

Damien Echols, despite for many years maintaining that the eye witnesses lied, changed his story in an interview with CBS reporter Erin Moriarty, admitting that he had confessed to the crime at the Softball Game, but stated that in his own words, it must have been a “joke” when he made the confession, and those eye witnesses all misunderstood him. Quotes of the interview are found in a CBS news article, and the interview itself is found in the CBS “48 Hours” episode, “A Cry for Innocence.” The article reads as follows:

But the two girls who were at that softball game that Damien attended testified that they overheard him admit to the murders. 

“I don’t remember saying that at the time because to me, it – I didn’t actually do it. It would have been like a joke,” he says. 

“Help me understand why you would think that’s a joke back then,” says Moriarty.

“It’s the person I was and it’s the way I thought at that time in my life, and I – I can’t make excuses for it.”

 

Link to article

A Rebuttal of the Predation Claims

“Seeing is believing,” as the saying goes, or as a defense attorney would say, “Who are ya gunna believe, me or your lying eyes?”

In effect, this is the situation as the case goes whenever the subject is raised on the cause of the injuries to Michael Moore, Stevie Branch, and Christopher Byers.

At trial, the prosecution was able to present a fairly compelling case that the knife pulled from the lake behind Jason Baldwin’s trailer had been the murder weapon, even going so far as to demonstrate on a piece of fruit the pattern the back of the knife was able to produce.

(The murder weapon being recovered from behind Jason Baldwin’s home.)

Attorney for Damien Ehcols, Dennis Riordan, in the documentary, “West of Memphis”:

“If you ask me the single greatest offense committed in this case, is what was done by John Fogleman with the knife in the lake.”

The issue in the case for the defense was to try their hardest to discredit the murder weapon, which had so strongly been demonstrated at trial to have inflicted the injuries on the victims. It was then with that in mind that after several years the defense invented a new claim, that there were no wounds inflicted by the “Lake Knife”, because the wounds had been the result of animals feeding on the bodies.

In this effort the defense attempted to elicit public support for this theory by arguing the case in the press through consensus and not by fact. The goal being that if they had enough highly regarded experts stating a similar opinion, that it would give the illusion that the defense claims were right and true, regardless of what each expert said, no matter how questionable.

Working with donations from Hollywood Director, Peter Jackson, the defense went about hiring experts such as Vincent DiMaio, who himself has been at the center of controversy over the years.

VincentDiMaio
(Vincent DiMaio in West of Memphis.)

Dimaio
(Vincent DiMaio testifying on behalf of the defense in the George Zimmerman Trial.)

Vincent DiMaio appeared in the documentary West of Memphis, and provided what appeared to be deliberately misleading information on the case, applying flawed logic and misrepresenting the prosecution’s claims on the knife injuries with blown up and out of context autopsy photos:

Vincent DiMaio:

 “The thing that’s most interesting in this case, is that while the autopsies are done in exquisite detail, to me the interpretation of the findings are completely wrong. There is nothing here that I would say is due to a knife. Either the cutting edge, the tip, or the back of the knife. If you think about how stupid it is, they’re saying that they’re killing these kids and you know, dragging the back of a knife across them. When I looked at the photographs, it’s obvious that by the appearance of the wounds they had occurred after death. If you’re gonna torture, mutilate someone, that’s to cause pain to them, but these wounds are post-mortem. So, why are you torturing and mutilating dead bodies? It doesn’t make sense. The irregular nature of the wounds, some scratches, there’s no bleeding, there’s no pattern. To me, it’s obvious animal activity.”

Through his wording he incorrectly gave an impression that all mutilations, particularly in this case, were for the purposes of torture, and that if the victims were dead this rules out that they were mutilated. He also seemed to suggest there was no such thing as a post-mortem mutilation, or dismisses that the injuries could have been for the purpose of killing the boys. A flawed kind of circular reasoning that he uses to reinforce the opinion that these are turtle bites and scratches.

He also says that the knife wounds only work if you’re dragging the knife across someone. An incorrect assertion. He’s using a suggestion by Peretti on the scrapes on Michael Moore’s chest and shoulder to discredit completely a knife. Peretti himself suggested that some of the matches to the knife were only possibilities, and those were just based on his limited time comparing the knife to the bodies, essentially saying that some of the weapon comparisons are done on the fly, but these injuries will be discussed more in depth later

Photo shown by Vincent DiMaio in West of Memphis

The implication that DiMaio was making, was that the Prosecution was claiming that Michael Moore’s injuries were supposedly torture inflicted by having a knife dragged over your body. This was not the Prosecution’s theory however, nor had it ever been.

According to Dr. Frank Peretti, Michael Moore had been punched in the chest and shoulder area by someone holding a serrated weapon in their clenched fist, likely a knife. He testified that the serrations on the chest were situated over bruises, and if there were bruises present, then that meant that the serrated pattern was inflicted while Moore was alive.

Peretti’s claims were bolstered by evidence at the crime scene, which included a ligature used to bind Michael Moore. The ligature used to tie up Michael Moore was made out of one of the victim shoe laces, which had been cut in half.

Notes from the crime scene describe, finding one of the shoes belonging to the victims with a single shoe lace still intact.

“None(sic) of the tennis shoes that – the left foot of the black and purple CUGA shoe has a black shoelace still intact. The – the rest of the shoes that were found do not contain shoelaces. It appears that possibly the material used to bind the victims’ hands and feet were the shoelaces from the shoes.”

http://callahan.mysite.com/wm3/crime_scene_notes_dictated.html

“Left Shoe – Tennis (CUGA – Shoe) – Black / Purple Shoe /
Black lace is still there.
Rest of the tennis Shoes located do not have shoe strings in
them.”

http://callahan.mysite.com/wm3/csn.html

The fact was that one shoe lace belonging to the victims remained intact, but how could that be, if there were only 6 shoes, and 6 shoe laces used to tie up the victims? Yet there was a 7th shoe lace intact in one of the shoes.

(Shoe belonging to one of the victims with a lace still intact.)

Lisa Sakevicius, a prosecution expert noted in her notes while looking at Michael Moore’s ligatures, that they appeared to be made from a single shoe lace that had been cut in half.

(They frayed end of the shoe lace used to bind Moore.)

Photos from the autopsy clearly supported Sakevicius’s notes, as there was no end cap on the shoe lace shown in the picture above, and the end of the binding, where the cap should be, is instead frayed, like it had been cut.

The defense themselves also admitted in a document during their appeals that the shoe lace binding Moore had been cut in half, just like Lisa Sakevicius did in her notes.

(Defense document, stating that a shoe lace from a Michael Moore had been cut in half.)

Link to the defense document in question.

The fact that Moore was tied up with a single shoe lace, which had been cut in half, meant that whoever was killing Michael Moore, had a knife. This is further backed up by defensive knife injuries found on Moore’s hand.

Between the injuries to Moore’s hand, and the fact that the ligatures used to bind him were cut in half, it can only lead to the conclusion that a knife was used in Moore’s murder, however he was not mutilated or stabbed with the weapon.

The prosecution during the Rule 37 appeals hearings for Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, submitted photos of other examples of serrated knife injuries; black and white images of those photos can be found in the links below.

https://thewm3revelations.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/serrations8.png

https://thewm3revelations.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/serrations6.png

https://thewm3revelations.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/serrations5.png

https://thewm3revelations.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/serrations4.png

Similar photos can also be found in such Criminal Justice books, such “Practical Homicide Investigation,” by Vernon J. Geberth. The below image is of a victim who was attacked with a serrated knife.

https://thewm3revelations.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/knifeinjury.png

This injury is remarkably similar to the one found on Michael Moore’s chest.

Comparison between injuries

Comparison between injuries

And when one looks at the knife next to this same injury it became fairly obvious that it’s the weapon that created the serrated pattern on Moore’s shoulder and chest.

Comparison between knife and injury

In that very same scene featuring DiMaio, the filmmakers show a cropped and blown up photo of an injury to the right lower jaw portion of Stevie Branch’s face. The image is deliberately out of context to suggest turtle bites may be present, and then the film, shows the serration pattern to Moore and some knife slashes on Christopher Byers to suggest that the injuries are claw marks from snapping turtles.

John Douglas in his book, “Law and Disorder,” suggested that the wife of celebrity, Peter Jackson had formulated the idea that the injuries were created by turtles with the help of an attorney, Steve Mark.

Found on pages 364-365 of “Law and Disorder, Douglas says the following about Jackson’s wife Fran Walsh:

“Experiments clearly demonstrated that the bite marks on all three bodies corresponded exactly with test bites inflicted by alligator snapping turtles. Interestingly, it was our personal attorney, Steve Mark, who first discussed this possibility with Fran Walsh, simply by speculating about other alternatives to the court testimony and researching the types of animal predators indigenous to the area. Steve and Fran developed the idea over a series of emails.”

Photo of the alleged bite mark displayed in West of Memphis

Below is an example of a turtle bite shown in the film.

Turtle

 

However, much like the injuries to Moore’s chest, the injury to Stevie Branch’s face was inflicted while he was alive. In greater context it’s clustered together with several injuries and appears to be the result of a severe beating. Testimony during appeals about this particular injury also state that it was inflicted while Stevie was still alive. And that Stevie had been hit with such force that the back of his skull fractured from his head slamming back against whatever surface he was laying on at the time of the impact.

The full injury to Stevie’s face

So, according to the testimony by Peretti, this was inflicted while Stevie was alive, and could not have been a turtle bite, there was even massive damage inside of Stevie’s mouth, which again reflected that he was struck in the mouth, and this was the cause for the so called “turtle bite” injury.

Injuries to inside Stevie’s mouth.

And the last injury shown out of context by DiMaio and the documentary West of Memphis, is that of the slashes found to the left buttock region of Christopher Byers.  To best understand this injury is to understand the surrounding injuries and how they relate to the alleged murder weapon, the knife pulled from the lake behind Jason Baldwin’s home.

Below is a diagram showing the knife and the injuries located on the right and left thigh as well as the lower abdomen of Christopher Byers.


On the right inner thigh, shown above was a series of cuts shaped like a row of dots, believed by the prosecution to be a serrated knife pattern. On the left inner thigh, situated on the left buttock was a series of slashes into the skin. These slashes are featured incorrectly in West of Memphis as “serration” injuries. And lastly on the right side of the lower abdomen is a red impression that forms two thick red lines near Christopher’s groin, suspected to be an impression from the handle of the knife.


The prosecution stated that the knife when jammed between Byers’ thighs, sliced up both thighs during the castration, because it has a saw on one side, hence the dots on the one thigh. Below is a link to a photo of this injury.

Photo of the serration injury

Pattern of the serration injury highlighted

In this document below, Peretti states to Jason Baldwin’s lawyer that the pattern was consistent with the saw on the back of the Lake Knife.

The prosecution contended that the the slashes to the left buttock were caused by the front of the knife. It was also possible that the red marks to the abdomen were caused by the hilt or handle region of the murder weapon, which were described by defense Criminal Profiler, Brent Turvey to Jessie Misskelley’s lawyer, Dan Stidham, in the documentary “Paradise Lost 2: Revelations”.

 

(Turvey and Stidham discussing the castration injuries in “Paradise Lost 2: Revelations.”)

Brent Turvey in the documentary, “Paradise Lost 2”:

“On really close examination, and that’s why I brought you the magnifying glass, because I want you to look, right here, you can see the impression of the handle of the knife as it is being plunged. See that little squareness right there. So whoever did this went like this, and grabbed this and went like that, (Turvey then indicates in a quick stabbing motion with his hand) and that’s how they cut it up. No precision, no accuracy, no skill required to do that. And it actually to me it is consistent to what is a fishing knife. That’s got the blade on one side, and the serrated top on the other.”

A link to a photo of the knife hilt/handle impression that Turvey describes in the above scene.

Hilt/Handle Injury Photo

Turvey further described in an online chat this injury along with a host of other injuries and theories on their cause that the defense were looking into:

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

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

Link to full chat.

An exact duplicate of the knife is shown here in a series of demonstration images, which will be discussed below.

In the photo, you can see the back of the knife presses into the right thigh, while the blade slides up underneath the left buttock region of the person in the photo.

The back of the knife can be seen to have a fairly sharp saw portion on it.

And as the prosecution stated, the saw on the knife dug into Christopher’s bare thigh, leaving the serrated pattern.

(Close-up of the saw digging into a thigh.)

Going back to Turvey’s statement in Paradise Lost 2, this defense expert cites the murder weapon as having two different cutting surfaces, a regular blade on one side and a serrated blade on the other:

“And it actually to me it is consistent to what is a fishing knife. That’s got the blade on one side, and the serrated top on the other.”

Demonstrations of the duplicate knife produced similar serration marks as those found on the inner right thigh of Chris Byers.

And infact pressing the back of the duplicate knife into your skin, the weapon could easily leave a visible pattern, consistent with that of the injury on Christopher’s thigh.

Comparison with Christopher’s injuries

It is this reason, that John Fogleman at trial, demonstrated the knife’s pattern on a grapefruit for the jury.

He then let the jury see the pattern and compared them to the thigh injury:

Further, looking at scrapes on someone’s arm made with the front blade portion of the duplicate knife, were similar in appearance to slashes on Christopher’s buttock.

Comparison with knife slashes

A comparison photo, shows that the slash marks are located on the left buttock, the exact location the knife is in the demonstration photo.

Comparison with Demonstration Photo

You can see with your own two eyes, that the Lake Knife is consistent with the injuries then on both Michael Moore and Christopher Byers. Further there were other injuries of interest such as the possible knife hilt injury mentioned before and some knife gouges located in the groin region.

Knife hilt injury?

Knife Gouges

Lastly the injuries to Stevie Branch were extensive. Much like Michael Moore, someone had punched him while they held a knife clenched in their fist. There was also numerous cuts with similar serration patterns as those found on Chris Byers’ inner thigh.

Located all over his face were numerous circle shaped injures, which were testified to by both William Sturner and Frank Peretti during the Rule 37 appeals. Sturner stated that it was as if a cylinder shaped object like a pipe had left the injuries. Two tool experts, Peter Loomis, and Homer Campbell stated that at least one of these injuries that Sturner described as being from an object shaped like a pipe, was infact consistent with the handle of the “Lake Knife”, and that the marks found below the injury were serration marks, likely caused by the saw on the same knife.

The Knife Handle Injury on Stevie Branch’s forehead.

Homer Campbell in an email regarding the injury:

“I believe the injurie to the left forehead and upper lid of the left eye were produced by the knife recovered or one similar. I also sent the photos of the injuries and the knife to another for evaluation and he agrees.

“Have fun with this and thank you for sending it to me.
Homer”

 

Peter Loomis in his communication with Homer Campbell, confirming for Campbell, that the injury was indeed inflicted most likely by the “Lake Knife”:

“Homer,

Bingo. The circular mark sure looks like the butt of the survival knife. The measurements fit. The diameter of the injury is 30mm, and the diameter of the prominent circular area of the butt of the knife is 29.8mm.

The 3 lacerations under the eyebrow look like they were made by the serrations on the back side of the knife. The measurements also fit here. The lacerations measure 11.2mm between them, and the serrated points on the knife vary between 11.1 and 11.4 mm. Of course the photo
with the wooden ruler is blurry depicting these serrations but I can still measure them.

Peter”

(Handle of a duplicate of the murder weapon. The bottom of the knife is circular.)

If one looks you can also see several examples of the serration pattern present on Stevie’s face. There are even locations in his cuts that appear fairly uniform; more like a slice from a tool or weapon of some kind rather than an animal.

A serration pattern on Stevie’s face.

More serration patterns on Stevie’s face.

When viewing Stevie’s injuries, it was like a knife plunged into the front of his face and out the side of his cheek, forming a large entrance and exit wound. Surrounding this were numerous examples of serration marks consistent with the “Lake Knife.”

Photo of the stab wound in Stevie’s face.

Another photo of the stab wound.

The stab wound going out the cheek.

It is with all this said, that there can be no injury pointed to on any of the murder victims that can be said to be caused by an animal of any kind. The very fact that Michael Moore was tied up with a single shoe lace that had been cut in half proves the presence of a knife in these murders. And the demonstration photos with the duplicate knife further explain the injuries on Chris Byers. And in addition you can visibly see circular patterns on Stevie’s face, and those patterns are again consistent with the knife.

Next, one must ask, if it is sinister in any way for a knife to be suspiciously disposed of at the bottom of a lake right behind the home of a murder suspect?

What are we left with? Theories from non-experts, such as the wife of celebrity, Peter Jackson and her lawyer? Cropped photos shown in a manipulative manner, like in the film “West of Memphis”? Injuries portrayed as predation, but were in reality antemortem as testified to during the appeals?

In arguing in favor of animal predation, defense criminal profiler, Michael Baden insisted that he knew the injuries were predation, just because… not for any other reason, just that he knew it just because he knew it and had no scientific basis for reaching such a conclusion.

Baden during testimony at Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley’s Rule 37 hearing:

Q] And, uh, was this conclusion something that you had to study the photos for a long time in order to make sure, or is this something that just sort of jumped out at you, or how
would you charaqcterize it?

A] No, it was looking at your grandmother. You know it’s your grandmother – – it’s either your grandmother or not. It’s looking at the photos, uh, these look very much like postmortem
animal activity. I had that opinion very quickly.

Baden however was countered by his good friend and fellow Forensic Pathologist, William Sturner, who said that Baden’s insistence that he knew it was predation just because he knew it, was unscientific.

The attempt in reality by the defense was to pile on as many famous experts in their favor to try and litigate their case in the media, by suggesting that the number of experts they hired some how out-weighed the facts of the case.

Experts hired by the defense included Vincent DiMaio, who worked for George Zimmerman’s defense team, Michael Baden, who worked for OJ Simpson as well as the Church of Scientology in the Lisa McPherson case, and Werner Spitz who worked for such defense teams as those of serial killer, Richard Ramirez, Casey Anthony, and Phil Spector.

(Werner Spitz at the trial of Casey Anthony.)

Werner Spitz’s credibility as a defense expert has frequently been challenged in recent years, particularly due to his defense of alleged child killer Casey Anthony.

Dr. Spitz from former prosecutor Jeff Ashton’s book “Imperfect Justice,” discussing his testimony in the Anthony case:

“Dr Werner Spitz was a forensic anthropologist who was over the age of eighty. Back in the eighties and early nineties, he was one of the leaders in his field. Over the last ten years or so, he had inserted himself into a number of high profile cases; O.J. was one, Phil Spector was another. Now he had involved himself in this case. I felt he was desperately searching for a way to maintain some relevance in his field.

“His testimony was twofold. First, Dr. Spitz attacked Dr. Garavaglia for having not opened Caylee’s skull at autopsy. She had left it intact. That was a violation of basic autopsy protocol, he continued. Second, he was the only witness trying to render the opinion the skull had been removed from the crime scene. He testified that someone could have removed it, taken it home, put duct tape on it, and returned it to the scene.

“When Dr. Spitz had performed his own autopsy, he had opened the skull and found some residue, which he claimed to be able to recognize from sight as the decomposition of the brain. To him, the residue indicated that the skull had been on its side when the brains decomposed. I called this the “brain dust” testimony.

“On cross, I started with his criticism of Dr. Garavaglia’s autopsy, about the violation of protocol claim, that Dr. G had not opened the skull. Dr. Spitz had been one of the authors of a basic text book on forensic anthropology. I took his book up to the stand, put it down in front of him, and said, “Show me where you say it is protocol to open the skull when it is skeletonized.”

“He leafed through the pages and did not find any reference to his claim. I next asked him if he was familiar with any other written protocol on the opening of the skull at autopsy. And he answered no. Next, I addressed the “removal and return of the skull” theory. I went through what I thought would be necessary to carry out what he was alleging. Someone would have to take the skull and the mandible home, put them in an anatomically correct position, tape the two pieces together, and put the skull back in the exact location where it had been. Dr. Spitz argued that though it would be difficult, it could be done.

“I showed him the photo taken at the medical examiner’s office, showing that strands of hair were draped over the skull. I asked him how the hair could fall so perfectly back to its original position in a re-created scene. I pointed out that the manner of the hair falling on the skull was not consistent with being on its side.

“Dr. Spitz got belligerent with me, to a point where he didn’t know how to answer. He said that maybe the medical examiner had staged the photo. So I showed him the photo taken at the scene with the strands of hair in exactly the same position. He then claimed that maybe the police had staged the skull. In my opinion, Dr. Spitz’s testimony ended up being completely discredited.”

Spitz’s discussing the Casey Anthony verdict.

It was Spitz, who along with Baden testified during Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley’s Rule 37 appeals, and it was Spitz who suggested that wild dogs feasted on the victims while they were still alive and submerged under water.  He even said that these dogs grabbed the victims by their heads and slammed and shook them around, bashing their heads on rocks and such, causing the head injuries.

Spitz on the head injuries:

“My interpretation of the injuries to the head was that first, there is no evidence of bleeding in the brain. My interpretation is that they may have been handled by large animals, shaken around.”

The injuries that I saw are entirely consistent and compatible with animal predation and the shaking of the bodies by an animal. Theinjuries to the face, to the head, the degloving of the penis, the tearing off of the scrotum, those injuries are not man-made.”

Prosecutor Brent Davis giving his closing arguments on the knife at trial:

“The other thing to keep in mind is– and John didn’t mention this, but remember this knife has two cutting surfaces. It’s got one here and it’s got this serrated portion back here. Now, the ripping type injuries you see on the children are on the inside of the thighs and the back of the thighs and the inside of the buttocks. Ok. When this surface is being used to remove the genitals and the knife is worked in and they’re trying to remove the genitals this back surface is what’s going to be coming in contact with the inside of the thigh and the back of the buttocks. The knife that you were shown over here, the Byers knife, it has but one cutting surface. If they’re using that knife to remove the genitals, then the back of that knife has no cutting surface at all and wouldn’t leave any marks on the inside of the leg or the back of the leg. And I ask you to go back there and look at this and think, when you look at those photographs and where those injuries are–think of how this knife is used, and I know it’s not pleasant. But think of it and then look at where those marks are and how they match up with this particular size of blade.” 

 

You can read further about the murder weapon at the link below:

The Lake Knife