On the morning of June 4th, 1993, Gail Grinnell, the mother of Jason
Baldwin, spoke to Detective Ridge, demanding an explanation as to why her son was
arrested. She stated Jason was at home at the time of the
murders. Ridge said the police couldn't begin to investigate his alibi
until Jason spoke to them (Jason had refused to make a statement without a
lawyer). Grinnell was shown the confession of Jessie Misskelley.
Det. Ridge: Well it's like this. We've got a story that is very very believable. It is so close to perfect that we have to believe it. So until we can break that story apart and we can't even start to breaking it apart until Jason tells us something.
Gail Grinnell: There's so many different stories in that, in that story he [Misskelley] gave up I doubt anyone can believe it.
Det. Ridge: That's what I'm telling you. And it's believable.
Gail Grinnell: It's not believable to me because he's got too many different discrepancies in it.
Det. Ridge: You don't have the point of view we've got. We know what we looked at at the crime scene. It's very believable.
The entire conversation is transcribed here.
Exhibit B of the Search Warrant.
In order to obtain a search warrant, the police composed and attached a statement to Misskelley's confession detailing Misskelley's inside information regarding the crime. This was "Exhibit B." Exhibit B is illustrative of the biased tone of the investigation and the outright dishonesty of the West Memphis Police Department.
Exhibit B has three parts. The first describes the crime. The second describes the justification for the warrant. The third affirms that this information had been corroborated by the investigation. Exhibit B is transcribed and displayed at the bottom of this page.
The justification for the warrant is made explicit. "Misskelley gave the police information that only a person who had been involved in the homicides would have known." Thirteen examples are then provided (the numbering is mine). Then, at the end, the conclusion is made: "This information given has been corroborated through the investigation conducted at the scene of the homicides by the West Memphis Police Department Criminal Investigation Division and the examination of the victims and evidence by the Arkansas State Crime Lab."
These assertions establish three aspects by which the claims of the police can be assessed. First, that Misskelley gave the police the information. Second, Misskelley's statements can be corroborated by the evidence. And third, whether the details included in the warrant matched the facts of the case.
In some cases, the police told Misskelley the details. In others, the details provided in the warrant were sheer fabrications by the police; Misskelley made no such statement. And finally, in some instances there were details that were provided by Misskelley but for which there were no corroboration or else they simply contradicted the facts of the case. Sometimes a given statement had all of these problems.
The first third of Exhibit B is an odd rehashing of the crime. Some facts are correct and other facts are incorrect. Among the incorrect assertions, the document states Michael Moore was castrated and all the clothing was recovered near the victims.
The meat of the justification of the warrant begins with the subsequent section:
"On 06-03-93, Jessie Misskelley Jr. was asked to come to the West Memphis Police Department where he was advised of his rights according to the Miranda rule and gave a voluntary statement concerning his involvement in the above noted homicides. A copy of a transcribed statement will be attached hereto. Misskelley gave the police information that only a person who had been involved in the homicides would have known."
#1. "Misskelley stated that he witnessed the cutting of the penis of Chris Byers by Jason Baldwin."
Facts of the case. Chris Byers did have injuries to his penis and groin area, specifically, the removal of his testicles and the skinning of his penis.
Problems with this statement. Lots of them. First of all, Misskelley never connects this incident to Jason Baldwin. Second of all Misskelley never states who had his penis cut. He points at a picture, the police identify the picture, and Misskelley agrees. (Misskelley had already demonstrated that he could not correctly identify the victims from pictures.) Third, Misskelley only states that a child was cut "on the bottom." The police offer that Misskelley meant groin and then penis. Misskelley relates no specific knowledge in these exchanges until the police say it first. And, finally, Misskelley ends by saying he doesn't know if he saw them cut the penis. The excerpts below from Misskelley's confession are from a personal transcription after having found many errors with the police transcription. From Misskelley's confession:
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Cutting in the face. Alright, another boy was cut I understand, where was he cut at?Removing the police statements which filled in the information for Jessie, we have:
*A63 MISSKELLEY: At the bottom
DETECTIVE RIDGE: On his bottom? Was he face down when he was cutting on him, or
*A64 MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Now you're talking about bottom, do you mean right here?
*A65 MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: In his groin area?
*A66 MISSKELLEY: (Note: Misskelley's mm-hmm overlaps with police question)
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Okay
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Do you know what his penis is?
*A67 MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm, that's where he was cut at.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: That's where he was cut.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Which boy was that?
*A68 MISSKELLEY: That right there.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: You're talking about the Byers boy again?
*A69 MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Okay
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Are you sure that he was the one that was cut?
*A70 MISSKELLEY: That's the one that I seen them cutting on.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, you know what penis is?
*A71 MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, is that where he was cutting?
*A72 MISSKELLEY: That's where I seen them going down at, and he was on his back. I seen them going down right there real close to his penis and stuff and I saw some blood and that's when I took off.
(Note: the numbering of Misskelley's answers is mine and serves to reference both particular statements and to maintain an orientation as to the order in which statements were made.)
*A63 MISSKELLEY: At the bottomIn the only other mentioning of these injuries, Ridge says:
*A134 DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay, and the one that they were cutting the penis off of, did any of them, or cutting the penis or whatever was being done, did they have sex with him at all?In this instance, Ridge seems to catch himself as he is putting words into Misskelley's mouth. However, at the probable cause hearing, Ridge doesn't hesitate to state Jessie was even more specific.
Ridge: Okay, he give (sic) information, that the testicles, penis had been removed by a knife by Jason Baldwin of Christopher Byers. The medical examiner give us a report stating that, that the testicles had been removed my a knife.
Interestingly, Misskelley never of his own accord brings up the name of Chris (or Byers) in regards to any act of violence. Each time he is prompted by the police who tell him whose picture he pointed at. Misskelley never brings up Chris (or Byers) at all except in the statements regarding rape.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Which, which boys were raped?
*B44 MISSKELLEY: Uh, Byers and the Branch.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Did anyone have oral sex with the boys?
*B50 MISSKELLEY: Yes, Damien and Jason.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: How many of them did they do that to?
*B51 MISSKELLEY: Just two, Branch and Byers.
In between the above two, Misskelley mentions "Myers" in regards to rape:
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Do you know which one raped which boy, or how did that happen?
*B48 MISSKELLEY: Damien raped the Myers by hisself and and Jason and Damien raped uh the Branch.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Alright, give that to me again now.
*B49 MISSKELLEY: Damien raped uh the Myers by hisself and Jason and Damien raped uh the Branch.
#2. ". . .the forcible rape of Chris by Damien Echols. . ."
Facts of the case. None of the children had anal injuries, bruises or trauma, associated with forcible penetration. Upon microscopic analysis, none of the victims had broken capillaries around the anus. Ergo, none of them were forcibly sodomized (pretty much stated by the medical examiner at trial). Byers had an "injected anus" with "marked hyperemia." The other two did not have their rectal areas so described.
Problems with this statement. Lots of them. First, it doesn't match the facts of the case. Second of all, Misskelley gave all sorts of contradictory statements related to this. He said, at various times that only Echols raped Chris (B48, above), that only Baldwin did (A135), and that neither of them did (A134).
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay, and the one that they were cutting the penis off of, did any of them, or cutting the penis or whatever was being done, did they have sex with him at all?
*A134 MISSKELLEY: No
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Did any one of them?
*A135 MISSKELLEY: Jason did
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Jason did?
*A136 MISSKELLEY: Jason was screwing him while Damien stuck his in his mouth and got a blow job.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay, how did he have sex with that one?
*A137 MISSKELLEY: Damien, he was holding him down like, and Jason had his legs up in the air and that little boy was kicking, saying, 'don't, no' like that.
#3. ". . .the striking of the heads by Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin (sic). . ."
Facts of the case: all three children had injuries to their heads consistent with being struck in the head.
Problems with this statement: lots of them (remarkable for such a short statement). Misskelley does say that Damien hit a child (A30). Misskelley does go on to say that that child was Michael Moore but then points to the picture of Chris Byers (A31). The police correct his identification (A32) and then tell him "Okay, so you saw Damien strike Chris Byers in the head? (after A34)" It is the police not Misskelley who corrects the identity and tells Misskelley that he saw the child struck in the head. Blows to the head are never mentioned again by Misskelley. Misskelley never says Jason hit a child in the head.
*A30 MISSKELLEY: When I was there, I saw Damien hit this one, hit this one boy real bad, and then uh, and then he started screwing them and stuff and then uh,
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, you got in front of you a picture, that was taken out of the newspaper I believe, it's got three boys and these are the three boys that were killed on that date in Robin Hood Woods, okay. Which one of those three boys is it you say Damien hit? The third picture (Jessie seems to be affirming this in the background), which will be
*A31 MISSKELLEY: Michael Moore
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: This boy right here,
*A32 MISSKELLEY: Yeah,
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Alright, that's uh the Byers boy,
#4. ". . .including the severe beatings of all three boys. . ."
Facts of the case: all three boys had multiple bruises consistent with being beaten.
Problems with this statement: Misskelley gets this correct. He does say all three of the boys were severely beaten. A36 continues a discussion regarding Chris Byers and Damien Echols.
*A36 MISSKELLEY: He hit him with his fist and bruised him all up real bad.
*A56 MISSKELLEY: Right after I, they beat up all three of them, beat them up real bad
*A138 MISSKELLEY: They beat them up so bad so they can't hardly move.
#5. ". . . the act of the victims being placed in the water by Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols. . ."
Facts of the case: all three victims were found underwater, sunk in the mud at the bottom of a creek.
Problems with this statement: Again, this is not "insider knowledge" on the part of Misskelley. After telling the police twice that the children did not get into the water, the police tell Misskelley that they did. Only then does Misskelley agree with the premise and say they were pulled into the water. "Placed" is an odd choice of words, as it does not coincide with any of Misskelley's statements.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Besides just playing, the little boys, had they been in the water? Did they get into the water with you all?
*A175 MISSKELLEY: No, they didn't get into the water with us
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Did you ever see the boys in the water?
*B33 MISSKELLEY: Uh, yeah, down by the water.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Alright, how did the boys get into the water?
*B34 MISSKELLEY: They pulled them there into the water.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Alright, when you say they who is it that pulled them into the water?
*B35 MISSKELLEY: Jason and uh, Damien.
#6. "He stated that he did see one of the victims being drug into the water."
Facts of the case: There is no evidence of the manner in which the children were taken into the water.
Problems with this statement: A bizarre statement on the part of the police. Misskelley makes no comment regarding one of the children being "drug" into the water. The only statements regarding the children and water are mentioned above.
#7. "When the beatings of the three victims began that Michael Moore ran from the scene and that he, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., did chase Michael Moore, caught him and returned him to the other two suspects who began beating him. "
Facts of the case: no supporting evidence that this happened and some evidence to the contrary. Misskelley's comments, in their entirety, say that Moore headed off to the south. Moore's body was found to the north, separate from the other two.
Problems with this statement: There is the above problem of the contradicting evidence. Misskelley also says he held Moore until "they" got there, not that Misskelley brought Moore back. Of course, this makes no sense, because this was supposed to have happened at the beginning of the melee and Jason and Damien would have had to have abandoned Chris and Stevie. The police must have picked up on this inconsistency so they correct Misskelley in the following question, telling Misskelley that he brought the children back together (in agreement with what is in the warrant). The police also elaborate that when Michael Moore was returned "the other two suspects. . . began beating him." There is nothing in Misskelley's statement as to that, although Misskelley does state elsewhere that all three were beaten.
*A37 MISSKELLEY: And started doing the same thing, then the other one took off, Michael uh Moore took off running, so I chased him and grabbed him and held him, til they got there and then I left.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay. Alright, when you get the boys back together, where you at from the creek?
#8. "Misskelley stated that he did witness one one the victims to be beaten until unconsciousness." (sic)
Facts of the case: All three were severely beaten. No specific evidence that supports that they were beaten until unconscious, but neither does this assertion contradict the facts.
Problems with the statement: Misskelley made no such statement especially regarding the odd particular that it is one of the children being beaten until unconscious. The police are the first to bring up the subject of consciousness, and then it is after the cutting. Again, the police provide the "inside knowledge." Nothing is mentioned as to how they became unconscious.
*A128 MISSKELLEY: I saw them cutting on them, and then they, they
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: So, what else, what else left is there, after that?
*A129 MISSKELLEY: Then they laid the knife down beside them and I saw them tying them up and then that's when I left.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Were the boys conscience (sic) or were they
*A130 MISSKELLEY: They were unconscious then
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Unconscious
The only other discussion of a child losing consciousness is presented below in regards to the police suggesting Chris was choked to unconsciousness and not death.
#9. ". . .and that one of the victims was choked to what he thought was death with a piece of wood."
Facts of the case: no physical or bruising evidence that any child was choked. This lack of evidence basically says that no child was choked.
Problems with the statement: it contradicts the facts of the case. Furthermore, Misskelley told the police the child was choked to death with hands, then a stick. The police then correct him, telling him that he just thought the child was dead. This correction was necessary because the means of death did not match Jessie's statement.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: How was he actually killed?
*A208 MISSKELLEY: He did, he choked him real bad like.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Choked him? Okay, what was he choking him with?
*A209 MISSKELLEY: His hands, like a, like a stick, he had a big old stick, and he's kind of holding it over his neck.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay, so he was choking him to the point where he actually went unconscious, so at that point, you felt like he was dead?
*A210 MISSKELLEY: Yeah
#10. "Damien had grabbed one of the victims around the head with his hands on either side of the head forcing the boy to perform oral sex on him. "
#11. "The victims were being held by their ears while being forced to perform these acts. "
Facts of the case: All three children had bruises on their ears that can be argued with being consistent with a perpetrator using this as a means of forcing oral sex. They could also be caused by holding ears for other reasons. No semen was found in the oral cavities, and no bruising was found in the back of the mouth. Peretti indicated that the such bruising would be expected with forced oral sex. Although Jessie states forced oral sex happened to two of the children, all three children had bruising on the ears.
Problems with this statement. As in items #1, 2, 6 and 7 the warrant is particular, where Misskelley is not particular or else contradictory. Misskelley clearly says both Echols and Baldwin received oral sex (B50). Furthermore, when Misskelley goes into how the children were held during the oral sex, Misskelley refers to both Damien and Jason (the warrant statement only mentions Damien). There are other problems with this statement centering around the 12 exchanges before Jessie finally is led to say that they held the children by their ears. This was argued in court that the police extensively lead Jessie to get to the ultimate specific conclusion, but suffice it to say, Jessie did not spontaneously display insider knowledge in this matter. He was laboriously taken there by the police, saying held by the head (four times), by the arms (once), before finally saying by the ears (italicized below). This is only after four times in which Gitchell asks if they were held "up here" (B66, B68, B74, B75, emphasis mine). What Gitchell was demonstrating when he said "up here" is not mentioned.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Did anyone have oral sex with the boys?
*B50 MISSKELLEY: Yes, Damien and Jason.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: How did, how did, they force these boys to have oral sex on them? How did they have a hold of them?
*B66 MISSKELLEY: One of them had holding them by the arms while the other one got behind them and stuff.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Did he ever hold him up here or
*B67 MISSKELLEY: Uh, the one that was holding him up there at the front grabbing him by his headlock.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Had him in a headlock? Did he have him any other way?
*B68 MISSKELLEY: He was holding him like this by his head like this and stuff (A note in the police transcription said: was indicating the victims being held by their ears)
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Could he have been holding him up here like that?
*B69 MISSKELLEY: I was too far away he was holding him up here by his head like this (A note in the police transcription said: showed the same as above)
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: So, so
*B70 MISSKELLEY: And he was pulling him.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Ok, so who was one of them doing that or both of them was doing it? Was Jason?
*B71 MISSKELLEY: Jason was holding him while Damien did it and then they took turns.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: So, they both did it to all three of these boys?
*B72 MISSKELLEY: Just them two as far as I know.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Just the two of them?
*B73 MISSKELLEY: Yeah.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: But they, they both Jason and Damien did it to two of the boys and they took turns?
*B74 MISSKELLEY: Uh huh.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: And they would hold, tell me again about their hands on, I mean I know you're, you're holding it up here.
*B75 MISSKELLEY: It was up here by their heads and stuff and was just pulling and stuff.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Alright, so they are up here, had their hands
*B76 MISSKELLEY: By their ears and pulling them and stuff.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Alright, Ok, say, say that again for me now.
*B77 MISSKELLEY: Hold them by their head, by ears and pulling.
#12. "He saw the bicycles that the victims had ridden to the scenes on to be parked on the south bank of the bayou by the victims as they approached the scene where the murders occurred. " (sic)
Facts of the case: the children were last seen on the bicycles about a quarter mile east from the above described place. The bicycles were found on the north half of the bayou, under water, about thirty feet from the south bank, suggesting that the bikes were first taken across the pipe.
Problems with this statement. Jessie makes no such comment. Jessie's comments regarding the bicycles are:
*A88 MISSKELLEY: They skipped school
DETECTIVE RIDGE: They skipped school?
*A89 MISSKELLEY: They's going to catch their bus and stuff, and they's on their bikes and so, (interrupted)
The children didn't skip school, they didn't take their bikes to school, and they didn't take a bus to school.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, they were on their bikes, where were the bikes at?
*A90 MISSKELLEY: They, they laid their bikes down when they come out to the, I mean, when they hollered for them to come, come out there
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Where did they lay their bikes down at, that's what I'm asking?
*A91 MISSKELLEY: I don't know where they laid their bikes down at, cause I was, I was behind Damien and nem, way, way behind them.
Here Jessie clearly says he doesn't know. Furthermore, this statement doesn't match the geography when taken with his other statements, particularly that Damien and Jason were in the creek when they saw the kids and hollered to them to come over. The south bank of the bayou was not visible from the creek, nor for that matter was the north bank where the banks were found. The police asked Jessie again:
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Did they call them by name?
*A182 MISSKELLEY: Un-uh, they just hollered at them, and they, they slowed up.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Where did the boys put their bikes?
*A183 MISSKELLEY: Close to right where there before you come in and they laid them down right there, and I don't know, after I left I don't know what they done with the bikes.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: You didn't do anything to the bikes at all?
*A184 MISSKELLEY: No.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: Are you sure?
*A185 MISSKELLEY: Positive.
DETECTIVE GITCHELL: You didn't touch the bikes?
*A186 MISSKELLEY: I didn't touch them.
"Close to right where there before you come in" is Jessie's definitive statement on where the bicycles were left and sufficient to put in the search warrant Jessie's inside knowledge regarding the bicycles that the bicycles were left on the south side of the bayou (for which there was no evidence, anyhow).
#13. "Misskelly also described the area where the murders occurred very specifically as to the high bank on the west side of the ditch where the bodies were placed and the flat area on the east side of the ditch where the murders actually took place."
Facts of the case: the flat area on the east side of the ditch was alongside where Michael Moore's body was found and about 10 yards from where the other two bodies were found. Too long an argument to go into here as to whether this was the murder scene. According to the police's own case summary, the lack of blood at the site where the bodies were found indicates that it was not where the murders took place and the initial ACIC bulletins stated in this crime "their bodys (sic) had been dropped in a remote place."
Problems with this statement: There is no evidence that Misskelley knew anything about the interior of the woods in which the bodies were found. The police supplied him with these details on tape with Misskelley either agreeing to what the police said or parroting back single words or choices, telling him he stood on a tall bank, etc.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, and you know where the little creek is that goes out to the expressway, and it doesn't have a lot of water in it, but it's got some water in it, and it's flowing through there, which side of that creek were you on, were you on the Memphis side of the creek or were you on the Blue Beacon side of that creek?
*A76 MISSKELLEY: Blue Beacon.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: On the Blue Beacon
*A77 MISSKELLEY: Yes
DETECTIVE RIDGE: So, there is like a tall bank, were you, where were you at on that bank?
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, we're going to correct that even further, that's the east side, Memphis side is the east side and you were standing at the top of the bank on the west side, were you looking down at what was going on?
*A82 MISSKELLEY: I was looking down, and after I seen all of that, I took off
This is an incomplete list of the police's description of the inside of the woods. The only detail provided by Misskelley during the interview was that the path to the crime scene was "little."
Additional claims made in the probable cause hearing.
In the probable cause hearing, Ridge made one other claim as to the insider information.
Fogleman: What was, did he also give you information in regards to some stab or gouge wounds to the face of one of the victims?Misskelley had said one of the children was cut on the face.
Ridge: Yes sir
Fogleman: Which victim was that?
Ridge: Steve Branch
Fogleman: Alright, and did Jessie Misskelley uh, tell you which victim had these types of wounds?
Ridge: Yes sir, he did he told us that is was Steven Branch that received the cuts to the face.
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay, now when it's going on, when it's taking place, you under. . . you saw somebody with a knife. Who had a knife?
*A60 MISSKELLEY: Jason
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Jason had a knife. What did he cut with the knife? What did you see him cut or who did you see him cut?
*A61 MISSKELLEY: I saw him cut one of the little boys
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Alright, where did he cut him at?
*A62 MISSKELLEY: He was cutting him in the face.
Misskelley never identified which victim had cuts in the face. He never associated any wounds with Steve Branch. Before the taped interrogation, the police showed Misskelley an autopsy photo of Michael Moore, who had several minor cuts on his face. Furthermore, Misskelley did not describe the degree of cutting that took place on the child mentioned above nor did he describe it as stabbing or gouging. However, when the police asked him if he did say the wounds were severe, he agreed (although there was no record he had previously said it).
DETECTIVE RIDGE: Okay, one of them was cut on the face real bad, is that what you said?
*A141 MISSKELLEY: Mm-hmm.
(In original police transcription the above reads: Okay, none [note: this is not clear - it may be 'one'] of them were cut on the face real bad, is that what you said? JESSIE: Yes)
A final false claim was made in the probable hearing cause, although it did not relate to insider knowledge. Ridge claimed Jessie had said they had homosexual sex in cult orgies. Jessie never described homosexual sex in the orgies.
Ridge: Alright, he has confused to (sic) and stated that he has participated in cult activities in which animals have been killed, uh, homosexual acts have been performed. . .
In summary, of the 13 statements made regarding Jessie's inside knowledge of events that were also corroborated by evidence, only number 4 was correct. Jessie correctly stated that all three were beaten up badly. The other statements were provided by the police during the interrogation, were unsubstantiated, contradicted the evidence or were simply invented when composing the search warrant.
A final note from Ridge's conversation with Gail Grinnell:
Ridge: "We don't put words into people's mouths. And it's all on tape, exactly what he said."
EXHIBIT "B" - transcribed
The following is a summary regarding the investigation of the murders of Steve Edward Branch - age 8, Christopher Byers - age 8, Michael Moore - Age 8.
Branch, Byers, and Moore, were last seen riding two bicycles towards a wooded area known as Robin Hood Hill. This wooded area is located at the dead end of McAuley Street and North of Ten Mile Bayou in West Memphis, Arkansas. The last time of sighting was about 6:00 p.m. 05-05-93.
The victims were reported missing by their parents at approximately 8:10 pm 05-05-93 at which time a search was initiated.
At about 1:30 p.m. 05-06-93, the body of Christopher Byers was located by Sgt. Mike Allen after he sighted a black tennis shoe located in a creek approximately 60 yards south of Interstate 55.
Byers body was submerged in approximately 2-3 feet of water. Byers hands and feet were bound by shoe strings from tennis shoes and he had an obvious trauma wound to his left forehead and other locations on his body.
Branch and Moore's bodies were located submerged in water approximately 5 feet from Byers. Both Branch and Moore were bound in the same manner as Byers. Branch had obvious injuries and gouge wounds to his left cheek. Moore had been obviously castrated and had susstained other injuries. All three victims' were nude when located.
All clothing belonging to the victims including shirts, shoes, pants, and underwear were located in the creek in close proximity to the victims.
On 06-03-93, Jessie Misskelley Jr. was asked to come to the West Memphis Police Department where he was advised of his rights according to the Miranda rule and gave a voluntary statement concerning his involvement in the above noted homicides. A copy of a transcribed statement will be attached hereto. Misskelley gave the police information that only a person who had been involved in the homicides would have known. Misskelley stated that he witnessed the cutting of the penis of Chris Byers by Jason Baldwin, the forcible rape of Chris by Damien Echols, the striking of the heads by Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin including the severe beatings of all three boys, and the act of the victims being placed in
water by Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols. He stated that he did see one of the victims being drug into the water. Misskelley stated that when the beatings of the three victims began that Michael Moore ran from the scene and that he, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., did chase Michael Moore, caught him and returned him to the other two suspects who began beating him. Misskelley stated that he did witness one one the victims to be beaten until unconsciousness and that one of the victims was choked to what he thought was death with a piece of wood. He further stated that Damien had grabbed one of the victims around the head with his hands on either side of the head forcing the boy to perform oral sex on him. Misskelley stated that the victims were being held by their ears while being forced to perform these acts. Misskelley stated that he saw the bicycles that the victims had ridden to the scenes on to be parked on the south bank of the bayou by the victims as they approached the scene where the murders occurred. Misskelly also described the area where the murders occurred very specifically as to the high bank on the west side of the ditch where the bodies were placed and the flat area on the east side of the ditch where the murders actually took place.
This information given has been corroborated through the investigation conducted at the scene of the homicides by the West Memphis Police Department Criminal Investigation Division and the examination of the victims and evidence by the Arkansas State Crime Lab.
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