William Heirens: The Victims Who Lived Part 1

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

William Heirens


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

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

Evelyn Peterson photo

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

Evelyn Peterson and sister

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

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

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

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

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

  “Where,” inquired Vosberg.

  “In the Penthouse,” said Heirens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. I didn’t do anything like that.

Q. Do you know who did do that?

A. No.

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

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

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

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

Q. The landlady identified you as being there.

A. Well, I was not there.

heirens police line-up

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

img (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


An Overlooked Witness?

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

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

(Carrie Morris’s statements on Facebook.)

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

Her 1993 police statement reads as follows:

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

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

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

An excerpt from Bearden’s interview with Detective Ridge:

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

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

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

Ridge: Who answered the phone at Jason’s?

Jennifer: Jason.

Ridge: And did you talk to Damien?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(Exact location of the Morris sighting.)

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

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

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

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

(Excerpt from Heather Cliett’s 2008 Affidavit.)

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

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 in regards to 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 Di Maio, who himself has been at the center of controversy over the years.

(Vincent Di Maio in West of Memphis.)

(Vincent Di Maio testifying on behalf of the defense in the George Zimmerman Trial.)

Vincent Di Maio 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 and emphasizing his point with blown up and out of context autopsy photos.

Vincent Di Maio in “West of Memphis“:

 “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 Di Maio 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.”


“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


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 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.

So, Di Maio’s assertion that there are no knife injuries on the basis of the scrapes on Moore’s chest is ridiculous when factored in with the shoe lace evidence and the defensive knife wound evidence to Moore’s hand, which seem to corroborate Peretti’s findings that Moore was either beaten by someone who was holding a knife or struggled with someone who was holding a knife, resulting in his bruises with scrapes over them and the injuries to his hand.

The prosecution in addition during the Rule 34 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.





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.


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 becomes 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 Di Maio, 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.


Another interesting tid-bit about this turtle video montage shown in “West of Memphis,” can be found in Vincent Di Maio’s book, “Morgue: A Life in Death,” in which Di Maio says the following on Page 225:

” The makers of the 2012 documentary, West of Memphis, tested the theory. They released several snapping turtles, like those found in the West Memphis area, near a pig carcass. The wounds they inflicted in a very short time looked nearly identical to the wounds I saw in the autopsy photos, wounds that investigators and prosecutors attributed to a serrated-blade knife and occult rituals.”

Does a staged and edited video montage, created by a Hollywood director’s wife and her lawyer, showing a few turtles eating a pig carcass constitute compelling evidence in support of animal predation? Well, Di Maio seemed to think so according to his book and his “West of Memphis” appearance, or at least seemed to be using this montage in his defense of his claims that made it into the documentary.

In regards to the case, Di Maio states the following on page 229 of “Morgue: A Life in Death,” seeming to show that at some point he looked up the case on-line to read more about the crime:

” Trying to slog through the rest of the West Memphis Three case is like wading in the filthy ditch of the Robin Hood woods. It’s murky and impossible to gain a secure foothold. Collecting facts is made especially treacherous by misinformation and disinformation, recantations, conjecture, bad journalism, Internet trolling, ‘new evidence’ submitted by partisans, armchair sleuthing from a thousand mothers’ basements, and the usual internet noise. Every account is sliced and diced, parsed into oblivion by zealous fans and foes seeking only the pieces that fit a puzzle they’ve already solved. This case stands now as both an example of everything that’s right and wrong with our system of crime and punishment. Confusion reigns.”

Was Di Maio not as familiar with the case at the time time that he rendered his opinion in “West of Memphis”? He didn’t mention the cut shoe laces on Michael Moore for example, and it’s clear from what he’s said that he’s aware of on-line “trolls” in the case and the amount of discussion the case has garnered on-line.

But on page 230, he ends the chapter on the West Memphis Three case, in a some what shocking manner, saying:

” All I know is that in those grim photos, I saw reasonable doubt. It isn’t that I believe, as some do passionately, that Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley didn’t kill those children. They are good suspects. But when I look closely at the evidence with almost forty years of forensic experience, I believe the police and prosecutors didn’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.”

He goes back to the photos, seeming to use the “West of Memphis” turtle montage as his defense, saying he just saw reasonable doubt in regards to the injuries, but then all of a sudden says that he’s not as passionate about the innocence claims of the accused and that they’re “GOOD” suspects in the murders. So if they’re good suspects, doesn’t that further put his opinions from “West of Memphis” in question?

Getting back to the injuries, 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

According to the testimony by Dr. 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.

You can read more about the “turtle bite” and it’s possible cause at this link.

And the last injury shown out of context by Di Maio 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, appear 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 Dr. William Sturner and Dr. Frank Peretti during the Rule 34 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.


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


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.


(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 handle.

With all that said, 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 expert, Dr. 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’s testimony at Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley’s Rule 34 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 very clear reality is that the defense attempted 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 Di Maio, 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 34 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. The injuries 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

Damien and The Great Dane

   (A dead dog mutilated by serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer when he was a teenager.)

According to Jason Baldwin’s cousin, Joe Bartoush, about less than 8 months prior to the murders, on October 27, 1992, he and Damien Echols had found a dog, described as a Great Dane, which appeared to be sick. Echols, according to Bartoush killed the dog and was apparently going to keep it’s skull, because he was keeping a collection of animal skulls in his room.


“On 10-27-92 I was at Lakeshore Trailer Park with Damien Echols when he killed a Black Great Dane. The dog was already sick and he hit the dog in the back of the head. He pulled the intestines out of the dog and started stomping the dog until blood came out of his mouth. He was going to come back later with battery acid so that he could burn the hair and skin off of the dog’s head. He had two cat skulls, a dog skull and a rat skull that I already knew about. He kept these skulls in his bedroom at Jack Echols house in Lakeshore. He was trying to make the eyeballs of the dog he killed pop out when he was stomping. Damien had a camoflouge survival knife to cut the guts out of the dog with. This statement was written by Det. Ridge at my request.”


Damien Echols at trial, testifying about knives he had. In the context of his statement he was denying that he ever owned or had possession of the alleged murder weapon, a large black handled survival knife, known as the “Lake Knife”.

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

Just like in Joe Bartoush’s statement, Echols said he owned a camouflage survival knife, seeming to provide some substantiation to Bartoush’s story.

This story is also corroborated by another teenager by the name of Timothy Blaine Hodge.

“there was a big black Great Dane Dog at lakeshore that I saw on the trail over the Bridge to the right as you go over the bridge it was Dead It’s intestines was strung out of his butt A boy named Adam told me he heard Damien did it. Adam’s last name is Phillips he lives in lakeshore” 


(Timothy Blaine Hodge’s written statement to police from June 22, 1993.)

An account from Jason Baldwin’s girlfriend, Heather Cliett also described a conversation with Damien, in which he told her about how he mutilated a dog before. A police report describes what he told her:

“At the skating rink Damien told her he stuck a stick in a dogs eye and then jumped on it and then burned it.” 

(Heather Cliett police report from June 7, 1993.)


Damien Echols in his own words from the book, “Almost Home,” an autobiography of sorts, which Echols wrote while in Prison, states in detail how he used to roam Lakeshore Trailer Park, and play with dead animals, both cats and dogs, just like Joe Bartoush had stated.

“Almost Home”, page 81:

“It sounds kind of odd to have a skull collection, but it’s easily explainable. There’s a hard-packed dirt path behind Lakeshore that the local youth wandered on. It doesn’t go anywhere specific, just sort of meanders around a small lake and a few fields. For some reason I always found odd pieces of skeletons that had died out there–possums, raccoons, squirrels, birds, and even the occasional dog or cat. I began collecting them because my teenage mind thought they ‘looked cool.’ I’ve never denied having questionable taste when it comes to interior decorating. The oddest thing we ever found was a beer bottle with two tiny skulls inside. The problem was that they were slightly too large to get out of the bottle. We spent hours trying to figure out how they got in the bottle in the first place.”

A document from a report on Damien’s 1992 arrest describes items removed by police from his room…

(Police report detailing items in Damien’s room from his initial 1992 arrest.)

The underlined portions describe a dog skull, which the police recovered from Damien’s room. As to how he obtained this skull, there were two different accounts.

His mother Pamela Hutchison stated in an interview on May 12, 1993, that Damien had one day brought home a dog skull that he found on the side of the road in Lakeshore.







In an interview on September 10, 1993 with Deputy Prosecutor, John Fogleman, she described the events surrounding the skull in more detail:

















During Damien’s trial testimony, he himself changed the story on how he obtained the skull, instead of saying he found it, it was now his step-dad, Jack Echols who found the skull.

Q: In addition, there was a skull of some kind – it looks like an animal skull – State’s Exhibit 116. Are you familiar with this?

A: Yes, I am.

Q: What is that?

A: It was a skull me and my step-dad, Jack Echols, had found and I just thought it was kind of cool. And before he gave it to me, he bleached it out and everything to make sure there wasn’t any germs or anything on it. It was a decoration for my room.


Damien, in his own words and actions described himself partaking in actions most common of serial killers, such as Jeffrey Dahmer, who had a fascination with death. Bartoush’s statement was corroborated by Timothy Blaine Hodge, and Damien himself admitted having a camouflage survival knife like the one Bartoush stated he saw. And he himself stated in Almost Home to playing with dead animals and their skulls, which he found in Lakeshore Trailer Park, much like Bartoush said he did. And in 1992, when he and Deanna Holcomb were arrested, the police found a dog skull in his possession, again verifying Bartoush’s claims that Echols collected skulls from dead animals.

The Muddy Boots






        (Photo of Damien’s boots from June 3, 1993 search of his family’s trailer. The photo is incorrectly labeled 9-3-93.)

  On May 7th, 1993, Lt. James Sudbury and Juvenile Officer Steve Jones interviewed Damien Echols the day after the victims’ bodies were discovered. It was during this visit that Steve Jones would later allege he saw something suspicious. This account is documented in the book, “The Blood of Innocents,” by Guy Reel, Marc Perrusquia, and Bartholomew Sullivan.

(Cover of “The Blood of Innocents.”)

   “The Blood of Innocents,” page 95:

  By the door sat Damien’s black combat boots beside a pair of tennis shoes. Both were caked in mud, the juvenile officer later would recall.


  Later in the book, Damien Echols himself is asked about Steve Jones allegation in a death row interview.

  Pages 416-417:

  Inside the trailer, Jones said he saw a pair of tennis shoes and Echols’ black boots, all caked in mud–again, information that never came out at the trials.

  “What am I, a dang fool?” Echols said, when told of Jones’ contention. “The tennis shoes did have mud on them, the boots did not. I kept the boots in perfect condition because they were always what I wore when I went out. The tennis shoes I didn’t care anything about, when it was raining or something like that I would wear them out to keep from messing my boots up.”


  Echols acknowledged in the interview that Steve Jones did in-fact see a pair of tennis shoes with mud caked on them, but disputed Jones’ assertion that his boots had mud on them as well, arguing that Jones was only half right.

  John Douglas, a famous FBI Criminal Profiler hired by Lord of the Rings Director, Peter Jackson, stated as follows 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.”

(The ditch where the bodies were found.)

  On a final note, on the night of the murders two other items of information stick out. The first is a sighting of muddy footprints all over the bridge entering the crime scene. The killer had tossed the victim’s bikes off the bridge and into the water shortly after the murders.

(The Pipe Bridge leading into Robin Hood Hills.)

  David Jacoby and Terry Hobbs searched around the Pipe Bridge on May 5th, shortly before it got dark out that night. According to Jacoby in his interview with police, he noticed muddy footprints all over the pipe and assumed they must have been from the missing victims.

Jacoby: At one point we got to ah ditch I remember seeing some foot prints going down I know it was bicycle tire prints going down in the ditch, and then we got up to ah there was a pipe that crossed the ditch got up to walk across that pipe and there was some muddy footprints on the pipe. And uh that I can remember that I just don’t remember I thank we went on across the pipe and walked on threw you know down along the ditch bank and threw more woods.

  Jacoby later in his statement again described the prints that he saw on the bridge…

Jacoby: I thank uh we all kinda of walked down toward the edge of the water it was a little grassy then all of a sudden it was just muddy uh I don’t thank none of us really got in the mud. I remember myself when I seen it I walked down towards it I didn’t step in the mud and I seen I thank it was tire tracks I’m pretty sure it was and I told the rest of em it look like they took their bikes threw the ditch right here but you could look to the other side and didn’t see nothing coming out and I thought maybe they backed up so we Walked to where we could git to that I was wanting to say it was a black pipe going across there and there was you know foot prints from the mud on there so you know I assumed they had crossed it there and it really never dawn on me how they got their bikes across unless they carried it and they were all little kids so, I mean there was a West Memphis Police Officer there when we got in the woods and you know I told him this. I mean I don’t where it went to but it was kind of frantic that night but…

David Jacoby’s account to police of May 5, 1993.


(Narlene Hollingsworth, the aunt of Damien’s girlfriend, Domini Teer.)

  Late in the night on May 5, 1993, Narlene Hollingsworth and her family were driving along the busy service road that passed along the side of Robin Hood Hills, when they spotted two individuals walking just past Robin Hood and in the direction of Lakeshore Trailer Park. According to Narlene Hollingsworth, one of them was Damien Echols, and in addition there was a second person with him, who had long hair and a black t-shirt and jeans on, which Narlene had thought was her niece Domini Teer. And according to her, these two people looked wet and muddy.

(Narlene’s written statement to police.)


(The area Narlene saw Damien walking with muddy clothes.)


  Re-capping, Criminal Profiler, John Douglas stated that the killer should be wet and muddy, because he would have had to have gotten into the ditch with the victims. David Jacoby in turn saw muddy shoe prints all over the bridge leading into the crime scene, and the killer would have had to have walked on that bridge at some point on May 5th in order to dispose of the victims’ bikes. And later on May 5th, Narlene Hollingsworth spotted Damien Echols in muddy clothing walking around near Robin Hood Hills. Steve Jones also stated that on May 7th, when the police interviewed Damien, that he had a pair of caked muddy shoes and muddy boots sitting in his trailer.

Lee Rush and Jessie’s Crying Fits

(Lee Rush during an interview in the documentary Paradise Lost.)

On the early hours of June 4th, shortly after police arrested Jessie Misskelley Jr., three officers enforcing a search warrant of Jessie’s trailer, sat down and talked with Jessie Misskelley Sr., and his live in girlfriend, Lee Rush while they waited for crime scene investigators to arrive.

During the course of talking with the officers, Rush stated, “I knew that something was wrong, a few nights ago little Jessie was in his room crying so loud and sobbing so hard that it woke me up, I went in and asked him what was wrong? His reply was that his girl friend was moving to Florida.”


A few moments later, Rush again repeated her statements, saying Jessie had recently over the course of several nights had mysterious crying fits and waking nightmares. And every time she walked into Jessie Jr.’s room and asked him what was wrong, he repeated that he was upset over how his girlfriend Susie Brewer might move away to Florida.

“She told us it happened a number of times, and that she could not believe his girlfriends’ moving would cause that kind of hysterical behavior, but that little Jessie had been acting strange.”



Immediately during an interview for the documentary Paradise Lost, while being filmed sitting in the living room of their trailer, Jessie Misskelley Sr. and his girlfriend, Lee Rush openly argued about Jessie’s guilt, as Rush repeatedly seems to question Jessie’s innocence.

Lee Rush: “We don’t know what the truth is, but when it really gets down to brass tax. His daddy and I are gonna look him square in the eyes and say ‘son did you do this? D-were you even there?’ That’s when we will believe.”

Jessie Sr.: “Well, if he told me he did it, which I don’t believe he did, but if he told me he did it, he’d have to do his time. Suffer the consequences.”

Lee Rush: “If he admits to this he would be strictly on his own, we wouldn’t even send him a dollar for a pack of cigarettes.”

Jessie Sr.: “No, no, you’re wrong there.

Lee Rush: “Yes we would.”

Jessie Sr.: “No I would. He’s my son! I’ll send him money, but he will have to do his time.”

Lee Rush: “I wouldn’t give him a nickle.”

Jessie Sr.: “He’s my son.”

Lee Rush: “Now We could be talking about-“

Jessie Sr.: “He’s my flesh and blood!”

Lee Rush: “We could be talking about my son.”

Jessie Sr.: “Well…

Lee Rush: “If my son did something that horrible that, I wouldn’t give him a nickle, let him suffer.”

Jessie Sr.: “You can’t turn your blood away.”

Lee Rush: “I don’t know how you say you could and we’re gonna have a problem over this.”

Jessie Sr.: “But I know how it is being up in jail without having anything.”

Lee Rush: “Well that’s beside the point, if he, if he’s guilty, if he’s guilty of doing this to these little boys, no!

Jessie Sr.: “But he’s not.”

Lee Rush: “Well, I’m saying he’s not too, but if he happens to be, if it’s proven, no! forget it, no, no.”

Jessie Sr.: “But I don’t believe he did it. I’ll never believe he did it.”

Shortly after this filmed incident, the relationship with Jessie Misskelley Sr. and Lee Rush came to an end.

The Location of the Murders

Facts suggesting that the boys were killed on both ditch banks:

1. The Clothing

From the crime scene notes:

Near #1 Body – 3 – pair of Jeans were located.
[the word “Boy” is crossed out] Cub Scout – Blue / Yellow
Cap Located.
also three pairs of tennis Shoes located by #1 Body.
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
Cub Scouts of america Shirt Located in Creek Close to Body
– 1 Pair of Jeans found is a Rustler Brand – 7 – Slim Turned
inside Out.
Cub Scout Shirt – Size 8
1-Pair of Nientendo Super Mario Underwear – Located Size 6
Located Close to Body #1
1 – Under Shirt – Blk / White – White designs – turned
inside out
Located Close to #1 Body
1 – Size 8 – Coast Highway Brand – Stripped Shirt –
Surfboard design – turned inside out.
Located Close to Body #1


The clothing was all mainly found near Michael Moore’s body which was right in front of a ditch bank located on the other side of the water.

(The ditch bank near where Moore’s body was located.)


(The general location of where Moore’s body was recovered from the ditch.)


This could suggest that Moore had been on the near-by ditch bank with his killer prior to death.


2. The Location of the Bodies

Moore’s body was found near a ditch bank, referred to often as the “slicked off” ditch bank.

(Another photo of the “slicked off” ditch bank.)


(A diagram of the crime scene made by police.)


Moore died from drowning. If he died of drowning, his body had to have been located near-by the ditch prior to it’s being placed into the water, because he was beaten and tied up prior to being placed into the water. This fact would suggest, much like the location of the clothing being by his body, that the slicked off ditch bank was where his body was prior to being placed into the water.

Moore’s body was found 27ft away from the bodies of his friends.

The notes citing the distance:

#2 Body 27’ South of #1 Body
#3 Body 32’ South of Body #1
4’2” – is the Width of the [the word “Stream” is crossed
out] Creek Where body #1 Was found.


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


The bodies of Chris and Stevie were located next to a different ditch bank, which was nearer to the path you would take to enter and exit the crime scene.

(Location of the bodies of Chris Byers and Stevie Branch.)




(The near-by trail located near the bodies of Byers and Branch.)


If Moore was being attacked and murdered near Chris and Stevie, then he likely should have been found near the same ditch bank then as Chris and Stevie. However Moore was found near the slicked off ditch bank.

The bodies of Chris and Stevie were found 27ft away from Moore and were in front of a different ditch bank. Stevie, much like Moore had died of drowning. If he drowned, he had to have been subdued near-by to where his body was found, and the likely location then for that would be the ditch bank which was near to the bodies.

3. The Fact that Two of the Victims Drowned

This can’t be emphasized enough, that if two of the victims drowned their bodies had to have sat tied up near-by to wherever their bodies were found. It seems unlikely that the killer was going to just arbitrarily carry Moore’s body 27ft away from his friends for no apparent reason what so ever, when it would have been simpler for them to place the body near to where Chris and Stevie were found.



4. The Location of the Luminol

Luminol reactions were located on both sides of the ditch, located on both ditch banks.

(Locations of luminol reactions as shown in police diagrams.)




However photos were only taken from one ditch bank, likely because the bodies had been placed on the ditch banks by police near to where the bodies were located in the water and could have resulted from this and not from the crime. Lighting conditions were also cited for not photographing those locations.

Only two spots were ever really looked at as possibly being crime related from the murder itself. And these two spots were located on the slicked off ditch bank.

In total there were three spots that registered for luminol reactions on the slicked off ditch bank. The first spot, described as a “V” shaped pattern was looked at at one point as a possible spot that Chris Byers could have initially been castrated.

(Photo of the “V” pattern.)


The second spot was where Michael Moore’s body had been set by police.

(Photo of this location.)


And the third spot was a large spot, said to be 3ft in diameter by police.


They were concerned from the apparent heavy blood loss that this was where one of the bodies sat during the commission of the crime and was not from the police setting Moore’s body on the ditch bank.

(Location of the three luminol reactions)


Notes on the luminol:

Photo #1 was shot at a point 7’0” from the mark on the large oak tree, where the paint
spot had been sprayed as a reference point to measure from, this was in a straight line
between the huge oak and the other tree that had another paint spot on it for a second
reference point. This area had a spot that illuminated
to the naked eye that appeared to be about three feet in diameter indicating a heavy blood

Photo #2 is an area of illumination that is directly over the spot where victim number 1
was lain upon the bank when he was pulled from the water. This spot is 3’8” from the
spot on the large oak tree in a direct line between that spot and location the body was
found in the water.

Photo #3 was taken on a root of the oak tree with the reference spot, the root is 6’0”
from the reference point in a straight line from that point heading straight into the water.
The fluoresced area in front of this large root indicated an area that was down sloping
toward the water, the illuminate spot formed a ‘V’ like shape!


As to the “V” pattern, it could have been caused by clothing from the victims being set on the ditch bank.

(Photo of victim clothing sitting in spot where luminol reaction was made.)


But the third spot, the one that is 3ft in diameter can’t really be explained away. The spot could possibly either be blood from Chris Byers or Michael Moore. And given that Byers’ body was found near a different ditch bank and Moore’s body found near the slicked off ditch bank, it would seem more likely that this spot was related to Moore’s murder, and thus more likely his blood and not Chris Byers’.

This luminol reaction would again suggest that Moore’s body sat near-by on the ditch bank prior to being placed into the water.


(Photo showing both ditch banks. The slicked off ditch bank is on the left side and the Branch and Byers one located on the right, behind the three trees in the middle of the photo.)


It would seem to be the simplest solution to the situation that Moore was beaten and tied up on the slicked off ditch bank, and that most likely the blood present there was from his murder.

Second the next most logical solution is that Chris Byers and Stevie Branch were murdered on the ditch bank where their bodies were set by the investigators who recovered the bodies.

A third conclusion is that this does not discredit any argument of blood on the slicked off ditch bank or even blood on any of the ditch banks. The reason being, is that the blood on the slicked off ditch bank would have more likely been as a result of the head injuries to Moore and not of a possible castration of Chris Byers. While Chirs Byers certainly can’t be eliminated as a source for the blood on the slicked off ditch bank, it would seem less likely. And as to the other ditch bank, while luminol reactions were detected on it, no photos were ever taken of the location. Additionally the spot was trampled on by investigators and was muddy and the bodies were soon set on it by investigaters and visible blood could have been left by the still bleeding bodies after they were recovered. The whole argument then on the blood then becomes moot, at least as to the castration of Byers and visible blood, since it was something that was not really documented as to the second ditch bank and because the bank had been compromised by investigators walking on it and laying the bodies on it.