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Detective Ridge and the Grinnells

    Below is a transcript of the complete recorded conversation between Angela Grinnell (Jason Baldwin's mother), Terry Grinnell (Jason's stepfather), and Detective Bryn Ridge on the morning of June 4th, 1993.  Their son had been arrested near midnight, the previous evening.   At the time of the arrest they were presented with a transcription of Jessie Misskelley's confession as part of the warrant.   She and her husband read through it and early in the morning had gone to her son's principal and gathered evidence that Jason Baldwin was in school during one of the times when Misskelley said the children were murdered.  (Jessie gave a variety of times including the morning, noon, early evening and night.)  This transcript was made by me and has not previously been available online.  At the end of the transcript is a link to an mp3 file of the conversation.  


Det. Ridge: This is Detective Bryn Ridge of the West Memphis Police Department in the West Memphis Police Department. Time is 6/4 of 93, date is 6/4 of 93 at 9:54 a.m. Currently in the office with. . . what is your name, ma'am?

Angela Grinnell: Angela

Det. Ridge: Angela

Angela Grinnell: Grinnell

Det. Ridge: Grunnell?

Angela Grinnell: Grinnell

Det. Ridge: And your name, sir?

Terry Grinnell: Terry Grinnell

Det. Ridge: Jerry Grinnell

Terry Grinnell: Terry

Det. Ridge: Terry? Grinnell, okay. You're the parents of Jason Baldwin. Okay. What is it you're telling me about Jason?

Angela Grinnell: Well, I am (unclear:) prepared to give evidence.  I have evidence to prove my son was in school at the time that Jessie Misskelley said that this happened.

Det. Ridge: Okay. And where does he go to school?

Angela Grinnell: He goes to school at Marion Senior High School.

Det. Ridge: Marion Senior High School.

Angela: Yes sir.

Det. Ridge: Okay. And what time did he get into school that day?

Angela Grinnell: I have. . . He was at school for all classes.

Det. Ridge: Okay. And what time does school let out?

Angela Grinnell: Ends at 3:30. From 3 to 3:30, I'm not sure but he was there for all the classes. I've been there to talk to the principal all morning.

Terry Grinnell: After he left school he went her uncle's house to cut his grass.

Det. Ridge: Okay.

Terry Grinnell: I have a statement from him

Det. Ridge: What. . .

Terry Grinnell: To that effect.

Det. Ridge: Who is his uncle?

Angela Grinnell: Hubert Bartoush.

Det. Ridge:  Hubert Bartoush? How do you spell Bartoush? B-A-R-T-O-S-H?

Angela Grinnell: T-O-U-S-H

Det. Ridge: T-O-U-S-H.

Angela Grinnell: Yes sir.

Det. Ridge: And where does he live?

Angela Grinnell: 1037 Park Drive, West Memphis, Arkansas.

Det. Ridge: 1037 Park Drive, here in West Memphis. Okay, what time was it he was there mowing the yard?

Terry Grinnell: About 4:30, about 4:30 after he got out of school. From 4:30 to 6:30 or 6 or 6, 6:30 (continues but overlapping and difficult to hear).

Angela Grinnell: And my uncle paid'm and he said I'm going down to WalMart and played video games with his money.

Det. Ridge: Who was, you said them, he paid them, who was them? Who was there with?

Angela Grinnell: I said he paid'm, he paid him.

Det. Ridge: Him.

Angela Grinnell: He paid him, He paid him his money,

Det. Ridge: Okay paid Jason.

Angela Grinnell: I said he paid him.

Det. Ridge: Okay. You knew who was with him?

Angela Grinnell: Um

Terry Grinnell: (softer, overlapping, difficult to understand) That morning??

Angela Grinnell: Ken, Ken was with him. And uh I think Damien was there and his mom came and picked him up. (overlapping again, difficult to understand)

Terry Grinnell: Picked him up where Jason lives. And his mom come by and picked him up. And then he went with Little Ken down to play video games at WalMart.

Det. Ridge: Little Ken. Do you know his full name?

Angela Grinnell: Uh, Ken Walker, I think.

Det. Ridge: Ken Walker. Do you know where he lives?

Angela Grinnell: You see he lives, you see his mom lives in Memphis, but he was living over here with his uncle. He stayed over at my house a lot because you know cause he was living with his uncle and I guess he missed his mom and stuff you know. Anyway, I guess when the murders happened she probably, you know, got worried cause I would have if it had been me and my, you know. . .

Det. Ridge: How old was Ken?

Angela Grinnell: He's about um 16.

Det. Ridge: And he was staying with his uncle, what's his name?

Angela Grinnell: I don't know.

Det. Ridge: Do you know where he stays?

Angela Grinnell: I know where he lives. He lives not far from where I live.

Det. Ridge: In the trailer park

Angela Grinnell: That's right.

Det. Ridge: Okay.

Angela Grinnell: Jessie like, the times Jessie Misskelley said it happened that morning and everything. .. Jason was in school. And then Jason mowed his uncle's yard, he got some money went to play video games.

Det. Ridge: Okay. What time did he get home that night?

Angela Grinnell: I think he got home about 7:30.

Det. Ridge: 7:30. Were you there?

Angela Grinnell: No sir, I have to, unfortunately I work at night. I wish I didn't have to but I have had to support my children.

Terry Grinnell: She had talked, she had called to talk with him on the phone

Angela Grinnell: Yeah.

Terry Grinnell: At 8, 8:30 she knew he was there because

Det. Ridge: Where do you work?

Angela Grinnell: I work at a trucking company, well I will I probably won't be working any more because I uh don't think I can face everybody at work after all this. It's so embarrassing. It's so. . .

Det. Ridge: Yes, it's very hard, I understand.

Angela Grinnell: I'm I'm so stressed out from it and so worried. I'll probably, I know I'll have to take a leave of absence and I. . . and then all of the scandal.

Det. Ridge: What is the trucking company name that you work for?

Angela Grinnell: I work at Trucks (unintelligible) Transportation in Memphis.

Det. Ridge: In Memphis, okay.

Angela Grinnell: But, you know, Jason he's a good boy he um. . . there's been so many times he has babysit his brothers, he washes the dishes for me and everything and he uh takes care of you know his little brothers for me and he has, he has, they get into fights sometimes but he ain't never killed one of them.

Det. Ridge: I don't think (overlapping)

Terry Grinnell:  He wouldn't hurt nobody.

Angela Grinnell: And he has a good heart,

Det. Ridge: Were you. . .

Angela Grinnell: He loves animals, he never would hurt an animal.

Det. Ridge: Were you home that night?

Terry Grinnell: No. I was over at my mother's. My mother had an ear operation. I was over at my mother's house.

Det. Ridge: What time. . . (overlapping)

Angela Grinnell: There was a friend of ours whose name. . .

Det. Ridge: What time did you come in actually?

Terry Grinnell: Me?

Det. Ridge: Yeah.

Terry Grinnell: I was over at my mothers. I didn't. . .

Det. Ridge: (overlapping) Oh. All night?

Terry Grinnell: Yeah. (continues to speak, overlapping difficult to understand)

Det. Ridge: Okay. Who was, who was the friend? The (unintelligible) friend?

Angela Grinnell: (unintelligible)

Det. Ridge: Who was the friend that was there?

Angela Grinnell: It was a friend of ours

Det. Ridge: Okay. But you don't remember the name?

Angela Grinnell: Uh, Dennis

Det. Ridge: Dennis. Last name?

Angela Grinnell: Dent.

Det. Ridge: Dent. Okay. Where does he live?

Angela Grinnell: He lives in Memphis.

Det. Ridge: Do you know the address or a phone number where we can reach him?

Angela Grinnell: No, cause I don't have no address for him, you um, you know

Det. Ridge: Okay. He was staying there temporarily with you all? Cause you were helping him out or he needed a place to stay?

Terry Grinnell: He needed a place to stay. We was just helping him out until he found a place.

Angela Grinnell: He helped, he helped watch the kids, cause Jason works so hard, you know, watching them all the time, you know.

Det. Ridge: I, I noticed he's quite an artist. He's real good at drawing.

Terry Grinnell: He's got, he's got a whole wall full of ribbons and stuff that he's won.

Det. Ridge: I saw a plaque last night I believe it was for 93 that it looked like he just gotten.

Terry Grinnell: Yeah. He's got all kind of ribbons from school where he's won for art and everything.

Det. Ridge: He makes good grades in school?

Terry Grinnell: Oh, yeah.

Angela Grinnell: He's doing better. He's got, he got an improvement card about a month ago and he's been improving. Some say he got upset because of some of his subjects in school he didn't get what he. . .

Terry Grinnell: (overlapping) He got an achievement award

Angela Grinnell: He didn't get all the subjects that he had wanted, that he put down that he had wanted when he went in school. And he was kind of bad about starting out and he didn't really like some of the courses that they blocked him into but, you know, he was trying to go ahead and make the best out of a bad situation.

Det. Ridge: Okay, well, the situation we're in basically, alright, you understand and seen the statement that Jessie Misskelley has made.

Angela Grinnell: Yeah and I've got proof that Jessie Misskelley is lying.

Terry Grinnell: That can't be, that can't be true. If he went to school, it can not possibly be true.

Det. Ridge: This is where we're at, though. Jason is saying that he's refusing to speak with us (overlapping)

Angela Grinnell: Cause I told him

Det. Ridge: Cause you told him not to speak with us.

Angela Grinnell: Cause I told him to, um, um cause I'm scared cause y'all put words in his mouth and make things, make a mountain out of a molehill. And uh. . .

Det. Ridge: Well, that's the reason we got tape recorders.

Angela Grinnell: And that's why I. . .

Det. Ridge: And I'm not putting any words into your mouth.

Angela Grinnell: Murder is a serious event.

Det. Ridge: Yes, ma'am, I agree.

Angela Grinnell: This is a serious case.

Det. Ridge: Mm-hmm. Okay.

Angela Grinnell: This is not, nothing to laugh about.

Det. Ridge: Well, when we're, when we're given evidence. .

Terry Grinnell: (unintelligible, overlapping)

Angela Grinnell: Whoever did this. . .

Terry Grinnell: (overlapping, difficult to hear) they arraign him.

Unknown: I couldn't answer that, I honest to God couldn't answer it.

Det. Ridge: It's like. . .

Angela Grinnell: Whoever did this murder of them children had a sick mind and uh they need to be caught and hanged but I would assure and promise you it wasn't my son. . .

Det. Ridge: It's, it's like this. Okay. If you'll listen to me for one second I'll try to clear something up for you. We've got one person that told us a story that is very believable. It is very believable. But if Jason doesn't tell us a story

Angela Grinnell: Well. . .

Det. Ridge: A story. If Jason doesn't tell us what his side of things are

Angela Grinnell: Well, if he had

Det. Ridge: We'll never know what he has to say.

Angela Grinnell: Fine. I'm going to get him a lawyer so he can tell the lawyer, tell, have the lawyer with him cause I never been involved in anything like this before and I don't want to see my son go away for my mistake. I know he's innocent. He is innocent. But I don't want him. . .

Det. Ridge: Okay.

Angela Grinnell: being made out to not be innocent because he don't have a lawyer or. . . They say that wait, wait (overlapping with below) a fool's worse lawyer. . .

Det. Ridge: You understand that that we tape our conversations.

Angela Grinnell: a fool's worst, worst. . .

Det. Ridge: We don't put words into people's mouths.

Angela Grinnell: Only fool's use themselves as lawyers (overlapping with below).

Det. Ridge: And it's all on tape exactly what he said. And we would, we would welcome the opportunity to talk to Jason and he will not talk because his mother has told him not to talk. Uh, if, we would enjoy the opportunity, we would like the opportunity (overlapping with below)

Angela Grinnell: I would. . .

Det. Ridge: To speak with him.

Angela Grinnell: I would tell. . . one of the reasons why I told Jason not to talk to the police is because I was told that the police was going around and telling lies about about Jason before they came to arrest him. As for Damien, after the police questioned Damien, there was rumors started, collected, kids were saying the police had said told him this, told him that and I didn't, I thought in my mind then that the police were trying to make him out to be the guilty one. And I told him, and I talked to him of anybody and I said, if you hear of anybody else saying something that a policeman said, get his name cause I am going to go to the police station with it.  Cause there has been policeman going out there in patrol cars telling kids lies. 

Det. Ridge:  Okay, I understand. 

Angela Grinnell:  I've had several kids telling us that and I don't think they made it up, either.  I think they were telling the truth. 

Det. Ridge:  Do you know what those kids names were?  We'll go talk to them and find out what's being said.

Angela Grinnell:  Well, Jason said he got on the bus one morning and uh Ronnie Brady came up and said, hey Jason, I hear you and Damien killed them kids.  And he said, he said, I know I know you buddy, he says, you wouldn't do nothing like that. 

Det. Ridge:  What is his name, ma'am.  Ronnie Brady?  Okay.  Anybody else?  Did he say where he heard it from? 

Angela Grinnell:  He says the police had told him. 

Det. Ridge:  Okay.  Had he heard anybody else say that they heard that from the police?

Angela Grinnell:  I heard um several, I heard these girls, these these girls were selling candy and went to my next door neighbor's house and I had, I was at work, Jason was babysitting, this was after the murders, and Jason was babysitting and I was at work, I had just, I called home every hour when he was babysitting to check on 'em.  And um, Damien's mom had brought him over there to stay for a couple of hours. And, uh, anyway some girls come by my house selling candy and they went next door to my neighbor's house and she said some girls told her that the police had been by telling them to stay away from um that boy that's over at our house named Damien that he's a member of a gang. 

Unknown:  (A police broadcast? difficult to understand, approximation:)  Breaker blind-one, breaker blind-one.

Det. Ridge:   Well it's

Angela Grinnell:  And she said they were selling candy and said the police had told them that.  

Det. Ridge:  It's really, it's, it's not complicated the position we're in and the position Jason's in.  Jason is, if he'll tell us a story if he'll tell us where he was that day, what time he got places and we'll check with those people that say he got to those places, if we can prove his story is true and correct then Jason is a free person.  But we can't even start until Jason tells us that that's what happened and that's where he was.

Angela Grinnell:  Well, uh, one proof, right here. (the following overlap with one another, sorted out for the transcription)  In Jessie Misskelley's statement. . .

Det. Ridge:  But. . .

Angela Grinnell:  he was. . .

Det. Ridge:  Jason is not telling us that.  You understand that?

Angela Grinnell:  at school.  I have the written proof right here. 

Det. Ridge:  But that's what I'm saying Jason has to tell us that. 

Angela Grinnell:  Well I have to, to get a lawyer

Det. Ridge:  Well, I mean, that, that's where we're at.  Until Jason tells us where he was and we can check out that that's where he was, we don't have a place to start.   And if we can prove that that's where he was I'm more than willing to see him be a free man.  I mean that's, that's the truth, but I can't even start until Jason tells me something. 

Terry Grinnell:  (unintelligible) 

Angela Grinnell:  I have to.  I don't have much money, I have to find him a lawyer.  And uh. . .

Det. Ridge:  I mean, it's, it's

Angela Grinnell:  I'm so tired, my whole family has been up all night. 

Det. Ridge:  I'm, I'm sure (overlapping)

Angela Grinnell:  His brother was so upset.

Det. Ridge:  I know it was hard.  It was a situation that that couldn't be avoided we had to look for evidence and if it's there then it's going to look bad for Jason and if it's not then Jason is, is cleared because of what we did find.  See.  If it's not there then Jason is cleared because of it.  You know, I mean, you know, (overlapping)

Angela Grinnell:  Jason is innocent. 

Det. Ridge:  It's the only way to get the answers is to do what we did and, and I, we didn't want to make things hard on you.  We don't want to make things hard on Jason, but these are the only tools we have to get to the truth sometimes.  

Terry Grinnell:  She's already had one nervous breakdown and this. . . (overlapping, unclear)

Det. Ridge:  I understand.  I understand it.  And that's the reason we're talking to you because we knew how upset you were last night and all of us tried to calm the situation down and we couldn't, we still had the job we had to do and we couldn't calm things down so the ultimate position we had to take was when we got what we got we just had to go because we uh

Terry Grinnell:  We got to reading this thing last night

Det. Ridge:  Well, uh

Terry Grinnell:  and he's going to tell us all that cock and bull about Jason calling at nine o'clock in the morning and them doing this that and the other, there's no possible way.  Cause we got a statement from the principal of the school, he was at school. 

Det. Ridge:  Well, that's, that's what I'm saying, Jason has got to tell me that before I can even start.

Angela Grinnell:  Jason he loves animals and he, he loves kids

Terry Grinnell:  (unintelligible) interested ever since he was six years old.  He's always had some kind of animal or snake or frog or turtle or some kind. 

Det. Ridge:  Yeah, I saw his lizard.  I talked to him about the lizard a little bit.  (overlapping with several voices at once, difficult to sort.)

Angela Grinnell:  He's got a cat. 

Det. Ridge:  He's had it for about a year. 

Angela Grinnell:  He got a cat, he brought in.

Terry Grinnell:  he was six or seven he had a big old, a big old grass snake

Angela Grinnell:  Yeah.

Terry Grinnell:  He was the king of the block.  Kids come from three, four, five blocks away just to see his grass snake. 

Angela Grinnell:  We got a cat, we got a dog. 

Det. Ridge:  Yeah.

Angela Grinnell:  We got a guinea pig. 

Det. Ridge:  Yeah.

Angela Grinnell:  We did have some rabbits til some dogs broke into our place and Jason. . .

Det. Ridge:  I don't know if you recognize me from last night but I was there and I know how upset you were and I wish we could have calmed the thing down better than what we did and we could have talked to you last night about what we're talking about but it was just impossible, but you know, we'll make every effort to satisfy you, we'll answer all the questions we can but uh, you know, (overlapping)

Angela Grinnell:  I know my son

Det. Ridge:  We can't start until Jason talks to us. 

Angela Grinnell:  I know, I know my son is innocent. 

Det. Ridge:  Okay.

Angela Grinnell:  I've got proof that he's innocent. 

Det. Ridge:  I understand what you're saying. 

Angela Grinnell:  I'm, I'm, I'm worried about him because I know he's scared. 

Det. Ridge:  Yeah.

Angela Grinnell:  I know he's really scared. 

Terry Grinnell:  When can see him? 

Det. Ridge:  I don't know when.  I really don't know when.  He'll uh. . . When the court's over with then you can talk to the uh, the uh, jail personnel and they'll tell you where he can be seen and when he can be seen, but I don't have those answers

Terry Grinnell:  You know, I think you all need to be investigating some of these people who have been arrested for child molestation and stuff. . .

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.  

Angela Grinnell:  There's so many different stories in that, in that story he gave up I doubt anyone can believe it. 

Det. Ridge:  That's what I'm telling you. And it's believable.

Angela Grinnell:  It's not believeable 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.  Okay.  It's very believable.  And

Terry Grinnell:  He might have been there. 

Det. Ridge:  There's a. . .

Angela Grinnell:  Jessie Misskelley might have been there but Jason was not there.

Det. Ridge:  I understand.

Angela Grinnell:   He might be trying to protect somebody.

Det. Ridge:  All Jason has to do is tell me that and give me a story and I'm willing to start looking into it.  And. . .

Angela Grinnell:  I need to talk to a lawyer.  (overlapping:) 

Terry Grinnell:  a lawyer.

Det. Ridge:  I understand.  Okay

Angela Grinnell:  And I want to see my son.

Det. Ridge:  Alright, well, our interview is complete, time is 10:11.

mp3file, 18MB

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