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He says he has moon madness

Note regarding Danny Holbrook

Full Moon Rising


    The emergence of the full moon, bone white as it breaks through wispy clouds can infuse the psyche with a sense of dread. Sociologists refer to the possible association between the lunar cycle and crime as The Transylvanian Effect. Although scholarly studies of this phenomenon have relegated it to the status of popular myth, the events that took place in Arkansas were both defined and driven by the phases of the moon.

    In 1993, a touch of madness gripped the city of West Memphis during a pair of full moons.  First, on May 5th, when the three children disappeared, then 29 days later on June 3rd when Misskelley confessed and the police arrested him and two other teenagers for the murders identifying witchcraft and Satanism as their motives. 

    This cycle of lunar madness began much earlier.  In 1992, Jerry Blackwood Driver, then fifty three years old, had taken on the job as chief juvenile intake and probation officer for Crittenden County.  Driver had consulted a cult expert regarding the increased incidence of what he perceived as Satanic graffiti.  According to the Memphis paper, The Commercial Appeal, Driver also fancied himself an expert on such matters having seen voodoo rituals when he worked as a pilot making transport flights out of Haiti.  Driver would go on to conduct his own seminars in cult connections to crime (Devil's Knot, p. 45).  

    Driver would cite Damien Echols as the source of some of his information on local cult activities and how local Satanists would soon be performing human sacrifice.  


Um, during this same interview uh, Mr. Echols was asked um, what was the extent of the cult activities was in Crittenden County and the West Memphis area was and he told us that it was fairly extensive, that there was 3 or 4 groups in West Memphis it's self. They were further uh, along in their activities then he may or may not of been and by that uh, he said that he meant, uh that they had reached the end of their animal sacrifice uh portion uh to received power and that the next logical step would be the sacrifice of a human.  [Jerry Driver police interview, December 3, 1993]

    Together with his assistant, Steve Jones, Driver patrolled Crittenden County on nights of the full moon intent on preventing human sacrifice.  From Blood of Innocents:

"In his office in Marion, Driver kept a calendar where he took note of lunar cycles and dates said to be of importance in occult circles. Throughout the summer of 1992, Driver and Jones kept watch of those dates; then, when the sun went down, they'd hit the roads into the countryside, to local woods, spots under viaducts, and other locations where they believed groups of youths gathered for rituals.

"We went everywhere in the world that summer, every time there was a witches' Sabbath, we were out in force," he told detectives. "And whether that did any good or not, I don't know, but to my knowledge, nothing happened that summer."  [BOI, page 97]


    Driver and Jones were the probation officers for Echols and Baldwin, respectively.  
Jones would go on to discover the bodies.  

    According to the Blood of Innocents, some were concerned the next full moon after the murders might bring another round of ritual sacrifice [page 159].  T
his concern was specifically connected to obtaining a confession from Misskelley:

    "He's [Misskelley's] lying his ass off!" [Detective] Durham told them.
    The detectives huddled. This was it. They'd go for the kill.  They couldn't afford to miss another opportunity, not on the afternoon of a night that promised a full moon. [Blood of Innocents, page 168]


Moon Madness


    A tip dated May 12 declared:  "Need to check out Donny [sic] Holbrook as a suspect.  40-45 yoa - W/M [snip] he can't pay his bills but claims he just got back from London, England.  He is supposed to be crazy."  [West Memphis Police tip notes]  

    Danny Holbrook, lived at 509 Johnson, near where it intersected with McAuley, in the neighborhood of the victims.  His sister, Becky Hinkle, lived on Barton near the Poseys, whose son told the police Chris Byers passed by his house on the evening of the disappearance after being whipped by his stepfather.  The Hinkle children, peers of the victims, were among those who stated they saw a mysterious and threatening white van.  

   Detective Ridge met with Holbrook on Thursday, May 13th and jotted down a series of sketchy notes.  "Says he has moon madness w/ full moon.  I saw jar of glue on sink - Saturday - He was there on Saturday working on House 901 Goodwin.  Empty.  Must have gotten glue with other personality."  [Notes, Bryn Ridge, 6:20 pm, 5-13-1993] 

   Detective Ridge went on to make these startling summary notes regarding Holbrook:  "
Received information that Danny Holbrook was in town almost immediately after incident and is unsure of whether or not he was out of town during the period of the murders.  Danny has told of how he has killed people in the past and seems to have a dual personality.  Danny was raped by males in the past and is a very crazy person."  [Notes, Bryn Ridge, 5-14-1993]

 
   The above note places Holbrook spending Saturday working on a vacant house at "901 Goodwin."  There is no 901 Goodwin, the first residence is numbered 1202.  There was, however, a vacant house at 1901 Goodwin which, according to police logs was visited twice during the morning of the sixth during the search for the missing children, first at 8:19 a.m. by Patrolman Reese then again at 11:03 a.m. by Reese and officer #251 Stan Burch.  Such notes are unusual in themselves - only two other vacant area houses were identified as being visited that morning in the police logs.(2)

 8:19 entry
 
May 6th police log.  Officer #252 (Reese) 8:19 a.m., "1901 Goodwin on Foot." 

Next door 1905 Goodwin on foot
  May 6th police log, 11:03 a.m. Officers Reese and Burch.  "Next door to 1905 Goodwin, empty house."  
  1901 Goodwin is next door to 1905. (3)  


    The house at 1901 Goodwin was also next door to the family home of Bryan Woody, whose testimony placed him as the last one seeing the victims alive. Woody said he was visiting his mother on Goodwin when, at noon, he learned of the children's disappearance. 

Holbrook's timeline and alibi

 
   Although the sketchiness of the notes make it difficult to determine a full accounting of Holbrook's whereabouts, an unambiguous alibi was put forward.  

    From the May 13 interview notes:  "Danny Holbrook saw Sunday night when teenager was raped 3:58 AM London, England time."  (These are the same notes that mention he was at "901" Goodwin on Saturday.)  Validation of his alibi is presented second-handedly.  "Danny Holbrook was named as a suspect in the homicide.  However it was proven to Inspector Gitchell that Danny Holbrook was out of the country at the time of the incident."   [Det. Ridge, undated report]  And, in another note:  "Received information was in town immediately following this incident.  Additional Comments:  Was here afterwards.  However had been in Europe.  No way this person was involved."  [Undated notes, Ridge/Gitchell]

    Which dates do these refer to?  If the above information is correct, the only sensible order would be:

    Other than his alibi, Holbrook would appear to be an excellent suspect.  He lived in the area, he claimed to have murdered before (possibly a delusional claim), he claimed to have been sexually assaulted in the past, and he professed to being affected by the moon.  The alibi is troubling.  Most of us pass our lives without witnessing a major crime. In the instance of Danny Holbrook, he cemented his alibi by saying he was present at a rape during his brief trip to England. (4)  

    In the late 90s Holbrook initiated a protracted and unsuccessful lawsuit regarding the conditions in the Crittenden County jail.  He passed away on July 14, 2007 at age 55.  According to his funeral notice, he was an army veteran.  


    Footnotes:

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