Discrepancies in the Autopsy Reports
I am presenting this information in the hopes that by disseminating it, a clarification of the reasons behind discrepancies in the autopsy reports may be attained. I am not suggesting that the reasons behind these discordances are malevolent. They are merely unexplained curiosities in a case that already has too many.
After recovery, the three victims, James Michael Moore, Steven Edward Branch and Christopher Mark Byers were transported to the state capitol, Little Rock where their autopsies took place on Friday May 7, 1993 in the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory. Dr. Frank J. Peretti was the medical examiner.
The Autopsy worksheets were filled out in Peretti's difficult to decipher writing and dated May 7, 1993. Michael Moore's name is crossed out and Christopher Byers is written on case 331-93 (one page references this as case 329, another page has Moore's and Byers' names). Similarly, Christopher Byers name is crossed out and Michael Moore's name is written on case 329-93. Moore's name seems to be one person's writing and Byers another (for example, even in the middle of words, Peretti often uses a capital "R.") Steve Branch's autopsy is consistently referred to as ME 330-93.
The Cause of Death forms (1, 2, 3) were dated May 10, 1993 and signed by Peretti.
Victim Case numberHere appears another discrepancy. In contrast to the later reports, in the Cause of Death forms, Moore is assigned the number ME 332-93 and Christopher Byers is listed as ME 329-93.
Christopher Byers ME 329-93
Steve Branch ME 330-93
Michael Moore ME 332-93
The Rule 37 appeal brought out an additional document that is not found with the two others.
To the frustration of the West Memphis Police Department, the reports of the autopsies took another eighteen days. On May 26th, Inspector Gary Gitchell wrote to the Crime Lab expressing his frustration and asking basic questions.
I have a list of questions which is vital to our investigation. I understand Dr. Peretti will be out of the office for possibly another week and we still have many questions left unanswered.
[List of questions greatly shortened] Time of death? ... Cause of Death? Dr. Peretti stated he would send me his report over a week ago I still have yet to see it. ... Were the kids sodomized? ...
Anything you can think to give us would be greatly appreciated. We need information from the Crime Lab desperately. Today is the third week the boys were missed by parents. ... We feel like we have not gotten sufficient information from the Crime Lab. We realize you have other cases coming in and must go to court on other matters, however, this case has received national recognition and without the Crime Labs information our hands are tied. [Letter from Inspector Gary Gitchell to Kermit Channel, dated 5/26/1993]
The autopsy reports (1, 2, 3) were completed 5/28/1993.
Victim New number Dated.
Michael Moore ME 329-93 5/25/93
Steve Branch ME 330-93 5/24/93
Christopher Byers MEA 331-93 5/28/93
The numbers for the Byers and Moore reports have changed from Cause of Death forms and the Byers report is referred to as MEA, "A" signifying amended. The Byers report is three days after that of Moore's.
Peretti signed the forms for Moore and Branch and the Cause of Death form for Byers. A very different handwriting takes the place of his signature for the autopsy report of Christopher Byers.
Peretti's signatures contrast markedly between the documents for Moore and Branch
and the autopsy report for Byers (second column, second and third rows)
When the prosecutor receives documents, the large majority of these receive a date stamp. Byers autopsy notes did not.
All of this leads me to ask: Who signed Christopher Byers autopsy as Peretti? Why not Peretti? Why the change in numbers? What amendments were made in Byers autopsy?
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