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?

 

Advertisements

Facts about the June 3, 1993 Confession

 

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

(Mugshot of Jessie Misskelley.)

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

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

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

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

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

Statement of John Perschke

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

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

 

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

Video of interview with Damien Echols.

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

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

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

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

Notes of Sgt. Mike Allen.

Notes of Det. Bryn Ridge.

Handwritten statement of Jessie’s boss, Ricky Deese.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

FOGLEMAN: What time?

RIDGE: He said 5:00.

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

RIDGE: Yes sir, I did.

FOGLEMAN: You talked to him.

RIDGE: Yes sir.

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

RIDGE: Yes sir, I did find out.

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

RIDGE: 12:30 that afternoon.

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

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

Jessie Misskelley’s polygraph report.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hester’s notes:

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

Link to Diane Hester’s Notes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: He was under the carport playing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The police notes on this matter reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the trial of Jessie Misskelley:

 

Fogleman: And was there something about a circle?

Gitchell: Yes sir.

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

Gitchell: That was before we started tape recording.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fogleman: Um-hmm.

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

Fogleman: Okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gitchell: No sir.

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

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

Fogleman: (interrupting) Alright.

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

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

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

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

Gitchell: Yes sir.

Fogleman: And then what took place?

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

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

Gitchell: (interrupting) Yes sir —

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Post-Polygraph interview notes by Bryn Ridge.

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

From the trial of Jessie Misskelley:

Fogleman: Okay. And then what happened?

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

Fogleman: Alright. Your Honor —

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

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

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

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

(squeaky speeding up of tape noise)

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

Gitchell: Should I do that again, your Honor?

The Court: I think so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gitchell: Yes sir, he did.

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

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

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

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

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

Gitchell: Yes.

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

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

Fogleman: Okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fogleman: Alright.

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

Fogleman: Was there any kind of emotional response?

Gitchell: Uh, from Jessie?

Fogleman: Yes.

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

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

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

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

Gitchell: No sir.

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

Gitchell: None of those things happened whatsoever.

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

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

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

Confession by Jessie Misskelley to his lawyer, Dan Stidham.

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

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

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

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

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

Link to the news clip:

Jessie Misskelley Sr. stating that Jessie witnessed the murders.

Facts Predating Jessie Misskelley’s June 3, 1993 Confession

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

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

FACTS PREDATING MISSKELLEY’S CONFESSION-

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

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

MISSKELLEY: White and blue Adidas.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: White and blue?

MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: And who has those shoes now?

MISSKELLEY: Buddy Lucas.

DETECTIVE GITCHELL: And how old is Buddy?

MISSKELLEY: He’s about 18 or 19.

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

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

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

MISSKELLEY: In Lakeshore.

 

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

                   (Buddy Lucas.)

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

The Buddy Lucas Confession.

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

(Lee Rush.)

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

Jessie’s Crying Fits.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Vickie Hutcheson.)

On July 21, 1993, investigators interviewed a prisoner by the name of Jesse Hurst, who alleged that Damien Echols had made some statements about Jessie Misskelley. The statement itself 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 Softball Game Confession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

(Handwritten statement by Donna Medford.)

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

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

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

2009 Affidavit of Heather Cliett

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

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

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

Statement of Katie LaFoy

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

Link to Deacon report.

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

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

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

J’Nevelyn also said:

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

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

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

Statement of Shannon Boals

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

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

Carter’s written statement reads as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

STIDHAM: Damien sucked that little boy’s penis?

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

STIDHAM: What do you mean he bit it?

MISSKELLEY: Bit the top – the head of it.

STIDHAM: How do you know he did it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q. You were there, right?

A. The second night I was not.

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

A. Yes.

Q. And your group was standing around you?

A. Um-hum.

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

A. Um-hum.

Q. And Jason was there?

A. Um-hum.

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

A. Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

A. Because her daughters probably did tell her that.

 

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

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

In addition to Cliett, Damien’s own defense lawyers and their private investigator, Ron Lax had grilled Damien repeatedly prior to trial about the numerous confessions he had made in the weeks following the murders, to which Damien was highly evasive on their questions and at times refused to answer their questions.

Details on these questions are located in the book “Devil’s Knot” by Mara Leveritt, found on page 139:

“[Ron Lax’s assistant Gloria] Shettles wrote Damien ‘admitted that prior to arrest he made remarks to various persons when asked about the murders that might be misconstrued.’ However she added, ‘He did not make any remarks in a serious nature although his comments could have been misinterpreted.’ Now that Lax was visiting, he pressed Damien to be more specific. But Damien seemed unwilling or unable to acknowledge to the investigator that he may have hurt his own case. Lax wrote, ‘When I asked him about the numerous references in the police files regarding individuals who say Damien either told them he was responsible, or they overheard Damien say this, he does not answer, but merely sits there and stares.'” 

Shortly after Ron Lax and his defense lawyers questioned him about his confessions, Damien wrote a letter to his family, stating, “I don’t think Ron believes I’m telling the truth. Jason’s lawyers said they they believe he is innocent but they think I’m guilty.”

letter_to_family

(Letter Damien wrote to his family from jail.)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Link to article

Jessie Misskelley: THE TRACY LAXTON INCIDENT

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, but the people who implicated him in the murders was shocking.

From the report:

Upon seeing officers, they came up & stated that they were walking on railroad tracks & had just bought something to drink at (indecipherable) and three white males who were (indecipherable) walking on tracks. Saw them & started running (indecipherable). Above described #1, #2 & #3 stated that as they got up on the tracks behind Goodyear they observed a W/M with reddish/blond hair come out of the woods and started trying to talk to them he said his name was Tracy & that he was from Mississippi & that his car had broken down at a church in Mississippi, Subject #1, #2 & #3 stated that the guy asked if they wanted to come over to his camp & drink some beer, #1, #2 & 3 stated they got scared because of the recent murders of the white males & that they ran to the phone in front of Howards Donuts & called the Police, then walked to the bowling alley. See Attached Subject Descriptions on #1, #2, #3

(The police report filed on May 15, 1993.)

(The police report filed on May 15, 1993.)

Following his confession to police, Dennis Carter, who had taken part in accusing Laxton, expressed that he wasn’t surprised that Jessie was arrested for the murders.

“Dennis states that he was not really surprised when he heard that Jesse was arrested for the homicide. States that he was always nice to him but it didn’t really surprise him that he was involved. States that Jesse never mentioned the murders to him.”

Link to transcribed notes of interview with Dennis Carter

David Sims, the other participant in the Laxton accusations also said the following about the events on May 15th:

“Jessie Misskelley never said anything about knowing about the murders, except the night we were at the police dept & he said (Jessie) that he thought Damien & Jason did the murders.”

(July 16, 1993 statement by David Sims discussing the Laxton incident.)

Sims further told the police that Jessie was “scared of Damien.”

(Excerpt from David Sims’ July 16, 1993 statement to police.)

The three 8-year-old boys that Jessie Misskelley and his two friends, David Sims and Dennis Carter had claimed they saw fleeing from Laxton were never found.

It was this incident that directed police to Jessie Misskelley on June 3, 1993 and the eventual confession to the murders of Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers.