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.