The Discovery of the Sticks

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

The Discovery of E-138 and E-139—


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

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

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

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


Fogleman: Ok.


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


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


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

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


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


(E-139 highlighted in the above image.)


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

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


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


(Shirt removed from E-139.)


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

same stick 2

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

same stick 3

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

same stick

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

Stick location

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

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

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

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






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


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


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


(All three sticks in evidence.)


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

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

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


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


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


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


Peretti: 61A.


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


Peretti: That’s correct.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Peretti: Yes.

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

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

WARNING! Autopsy photo! WARNING!

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

WARNING! Autopsy photo! WARNING!

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

WARNING! Autopsy photo! WARNING!


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

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

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

Haddix states what you can see with your own two eyes when it comes to the wounds on the right side of his head, that the weapon that created the large circular fractures must also be similar in shape; having a rounded shape. This in turn further demonstrates that E-139 is the likely weapon responsible for those injuries.

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

WARNING! Autopsy photo! WARNING!

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

WARNING! Autopsy photo! WARNING!

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

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

A: Some markings of their legs.

MR. STIDHAM: I’m going to object to that. He’s not the medical examiner.

MR. Fogleman: He can state what he observed.

THE COURT: Are you testifying from reports, records or from your own personal observation?

THE WITNESS: From my own observation.

THE COURT: Overruled.


BY MR. Fogleman:
Q: I want to show you State’s Exhibit 59B, the mark across the leg here. Did you observe that?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What did you observe?

A: Well, the – –

MR. STIDHAM: May I interpose another objection? Your Honor, I think that calls for pure unadulterated speculation on the part of this witness who is not qualified to render such an opinion.

MR. Fogleman: Your Honor, I asked him what he observed.

THE COURT: I’m going to allow him to testify to what he observed on the victims’ bodies. I’m not going to let him speculate as to the cause of the observation. Your objection will be sustained in that regard. He may testify to what he personally observed.


BY MR. Fogleman:
Q: What did you observe?

A: I observed this bruising. I believe it was on the left leg stretching approximately three and a half inches of the leg.

Q: Did you observe a pattern?

A: Yes, sir, it appears to be of a – –


MR. STIDHAM: Your Honor, again, that calls for pure speculation. Why didn’t they ask the Medical Examiner yesterday when he was here? He may be qualified to answer that question.

MR. Fogleman: Your Honor, I think – –

THE COURT: I cannot respond to why they didn’t ask somebody something, but I’m going to let this (p. 957) witness testify to what he personally observed, but he cannot draw conclusions on what he observed.


BY MR. Fogleman:
Q: Did you observe a pattern?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: On this piece of paper, could you draw the pattern that you observed?


Q: I’m going to mark this Exhibit 105A. Is that what you observed on his leg?

A: Yes, sir.


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



MR. STIDHAM: Your Honor, this witness is not qualified to render an opinion based
on – –


THE COURT: I’m not going to allow him to render an opinion as to causation, but I’m going to allow him to testify to what he saw.


MR. CROW: Can I view the photograph?


MR. Fogleman: (HANDING)


MR. CROW: I think the photograph is more adequate to show what he observed, your Honor.


MR. STIDHAM: They are trying to pass him off as (p. 958) an expert in pathology. That’s not proper.


MR. Fogleman: Your Honor, I asked him what he observed and I asked him to draw it.


THE COURT: I’m going to allow him – –


MR. STIDHAM: Your Honor, that could have been caused by a stick. That could have been caused by anything.


MR. CROW: Your Honor, the photograph shows it.


THE COURT: You are again arguing what caused these markings that he saw, which is something you can argue at the end of the case. Each of you can draw conclusions, and you can argue what you believe to be the cause of that. The officer is going to be permitted to testify to what he saw.


MR. STIDHAM: Will this exhibit be allowed to be introduced?




MR. CROW: I think the picture shows it better.


THE COURT: I’m going to allow it.

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




DAVIS: Who hit’m with a stick?


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


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


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


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


MISSKELLEY: it was longer than a baseball bat.

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

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

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


STIDHAM: How’d they do that?


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


(Mud and dirt on ditch bank, which appeared to be scraped up with an object.)

(Scraped and rubbed down area of the ditch bank near where Michael Moore’s body was recovered.)


Damien Echols and DNA


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

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


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

The ligatures used to bind Stevie Branch.

DNA testing conducted years after the murders while the West Memphis Three were incarcerated revealed three DNA mixtures recovered the bodies of Stevie Branch and Michael Moore. One of these samples was located on the ligatures used to bind Stevie Branch at the crime scene. This DNA revealed a mixture of DNA, meaning there was DNA present from two different individuals on these bindings.


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


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

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

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

This item of evidence is often disregarded, because there was evidence of contamination present, which has been used by supporters of the West Memphis Three to suggest that any subsequent DNA recovered had to be from the real killer, and therefore any physical evidence against Damien Echols was not to be believed.



(Autopsy photo shows someone,handling Stevie Branch’s genitals without any gloves on. The penile swab taken from Stevie’s genitals, subsequently didn’t match any known suspects.)

The DNA profile for Stevie’s penile swab, revealed a profile that did not match to either Stevie, nor to any of the suspects. As can be seen, the numbers listed for D168539 are 8 and 11.

Examining the DNA profiles for all, it shows above, that Stevie’s numbers were 9,12, so the recovered sample, 8,11 is not from him. And none of the DNA samples from either the victims nor the suspects, had an 8 for D168639, so that means someone else left this sample, and the above autopsy photo shows what appears to be Dr. Peretti not wearing gloves when he was doing the autopsy photos of Stevie’s genital region at the same exact location as the penile swab.


Lastly another penile swab, this time taken from Michael Moore, may have been the result of contamination. The numbers again showed a mixture, this time for D5s818, and of this mixture it showed likely Michael Moore’s DNA and an unknown second individual’s DNA. Looking at the suspect DNA samples, none of them are consistent with the mixture of 9,12,13, which is not surprising considering that no gloves were worn when Stevie’s genitals were handled for the purpose of documenting injuries at the location. It’s therefore likely that the same may be true in the case of the DNA pulled from Moore’s genitals.

A response from the prosecution in this matter was that the bodies had sat over night in a ditch, submerged in water, and thus, any usable DNA from the killer had likely washed away. And with this in mind, the three DNA mixtures recovered from the bodies of Stevie Branch and Michael Moore were in question as likely contamination, particularly in light of the photo of someone’s bare hand touching Stevie’s genitals.

The fact of the matter was that the DNA pulled from the genital swabs was compromised during autopsy, likely by Dr. Frank Peretti, who had performed the autopsy.



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


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

Damien Necklace

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

The Bloody Necklace



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

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

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

The Location of the Murders

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

1. The Clothing

From the crime scene notes:

Near #1 Body – 3 – pair of Jeans were located.
[the word “Boy” is crossed out] Cub Scout – Blue / Yellow
Cap Located.
also three pairs of tennis Shoes located by #1 Body.
Left Shoe – Tennis (CUGA – Shoe) – Black / Purple Shoe /
Black lace is still there.
Rest of the tennis Shoes located do not have shoe strings in
Cub Scouts of america Shirt Located in Creek Close to Body
– 1 Pair of Jeans found is a Rustler Brand – 7 – Slim Turned
inside Out.
Cub Scout Shirt – Size 8
1-Pair of Nientendo Super Mario Underwear – Located Size 6
Located Close to Body #1
1 – Under Shirt – Blk / White – White designs – turned
inside out
Located Close to #1 Body
1 – Size 8 – Coast Highway Brand – Stripped Shirt –
Surfboard design – turned inside out.
Located Close to Body #1

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

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


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


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


2. The Location of the Bodies

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

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


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


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

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

The notes citing the distance:

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

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

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

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




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


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

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

3. The Fact that Two of the Victims Drowned

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

4. The Location of the Luminol

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

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




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

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

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

(Photo of the “V” pattern.)


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

(Photo of this location.)


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


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

(Location of the three luminol reactions)


Notes on the luminol:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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