A Killer’s Confession?

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

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

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

Who was this mysterious caller? Was it the killer?

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

Audio of the killer’s confession?

 

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An Overlooked Witness?

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

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

(Carrie Morris’s statements on Facebook.)

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

Her 1993 police statement reads as follows:

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

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

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

An excerpt from Bearden’s interview with Detective Ridge:

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

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

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

Ridge: Who answered the phone at Jason’s?

Jennifer: Jason.

Ridge: And did you talk to Damien?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

(Exact location of the Morris sighting.)

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

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

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

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


(Excerpt from Heather Cliett’s 2008 Affidavit.)

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

Jessie’s June 3, 1993 Confession

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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 which Hurst gives is confusing, as Hurst mixes up the names Jason and Jessie, often referring to Jessie as Jason. While he does confuse the names, it seems obvious from the context of the conversation that he’s referring to Jessie Misskelley. Hurst also seems to confuse when the conversation took place. He says he was told it was two weeks before the crime, but there was no murders yet, so that wouldn’t exactly make sense, so the context of the conversation would be that it occurred two weeks after the murders.

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 a pendent necklace with an axe on the end of it.

 

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

                                                                (Drawing by Jason Baldwin of the necklace.)

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

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

Damien Echols and DNA

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

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

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

(Statement by David Sims.)

Sims had also stated that Jessie was scared of Damien:

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

Tracy Laxton Incident.

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

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

Felicia Williams Statement.

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

The Skating Rink Confessions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Link to Commercial Appeal story.

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

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

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

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 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 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 were driving along the busy service road that passed along Robin Hood Hills, when they spotted two people. Walking just past Robin Hood and in the direction of Lakeshore Trailer Park, was Damien Echols, and a second person, 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.”

http://callahan.mysite.com/images/report_06-07-93.jpg

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.”

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

 

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.