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The Discovery Site
Going Door to Door
Chasing Down Rumors
The "P" Word
Satan in this investigation
Search for the Cult
The Full Moon
Focussing on Damien Echols
The Enigmatic Mark Byers
Mark Byers alibi
Diorama from the West Memphis Police Station
It might be said that the investigation began with the missing person's reports. The police log records a call from the Byers at 8:08 pm, Wednesday the fifth. This call was assigned to Officer Regenia Meek. A notation is made that she responded on site, at the Byers residence, also at 8:08 pm. Although not recorded on the police logs, over the next hour and a half, Meek went on to fill out the reports on the other two missing children.
The immediate police response was anemic. Meek and officer John Moore spent a brief time looking for the children, and then there are no other notes of searching until 5:26 a.m. (Officer John Slater, interestingly searching at the discovery site). Officer Slater later explained that there was initially a miscommunication and the night shift (beginning at 11 pm) was not informed of the missing children.
The parents complained of the delay in receiving official help in the search. From John Mark Byers May 19th statement:
[approximately 11 pm, May 5th] Before I left the house, I picked up the phone, and I called the Sheriff's Department the second time. I said, look, I've had one police officer out here helping me look for these boys. I said, now, I called once and ya'll told me what to do, and I did that. I said, now I'm calling now, and I want to know why the search and rescue squad won't come out here and help me look for my boy.
When the morning police shift came on duty the search moved into full force. A helicopter flew overhead. The bayou channel was dragged. A list was obtained from the electric company of vacant houses and these were being searched.
The West Memphis Evening Times is published at one p.m. each day and its May 6th edition described the frantic effort. "West Memphis police and volunteers from across the city began searching at daylight for three boys missing since yesterday afternoon." Volunteers would testify to combing the area on foot, on bicycle, and with three wheel off-road vehicles.
The exact circumstances behind the discovery of the children is a bit vague. The initial police statements referred to Officer Mike Allen finding a floating tennis shoe in the ditch in the Blue Beacon Woods. Later this was amended to say that it was a juvenile probation officer found the floating shoe. On scene at the time of the discovery of the children were: Steve Jones, probation officer; Mike Allen, detective West Memphis Police; Diane Hester, West Memphis Police; George Phillips, West Memphis Police; and, Billy Sanders, West Memphis Police.
Key members of the West Memphis and Marion Police Departments:
Allen, Mike West Memphis Police. Present at time of discovery. Extensive involvement in investigation. Testified at Misskelley and Echols/Baldwin trials.
Bray, Donald. Assistant Chief of Police, Marion, Arkansas. Involved in many of the interviews of the Hutchinsons.
Durham, Bill. West Memphis Police Detective. Ran polygraph machine. Testified at Misskelley and Echols/Baldwin trials.
Gitchell, Gary W. West Memphis police detective in charge of investigation. Also served as public spokesman. Testified at Misskelley and Echols/Baldwin trials.
Hester, Diane West Memphis Police Officer. Present at time of discovery of victims.
Meek, Regenia. Patrol officer assigned to area of city where the children disappeared on the night of the fifth. Took missing children statements. Testified at Misskelley and Echols/Baldwin trials.
Moore, John. Patrolman, West Memphis Police Officer worked evening shift 5/5/93. Took missing child report for Steve Branch. Testified at Misskelley and Echols/Baldwin trials.
Phillips, George. Patrolman, West Memphis Police. Present at time of discovery.
Ridge, Bryn West Memphis Police. Key detective working on the case. Testified at Misskelley and Echols/Baldwin trials.
Slater, John. West Memphis police officer. Involved in the search for the missing children and later testified as to problems with that search.
Sudbury, James West Memphis Police Officer, Drug Task Force. Conducted many primary interrogations in this case. Testified at Misskelley and Echols/Baldwin trials.
Other Key Local Law Enforcement Officers
Anderson, Tony. West Memphis Police. Involved in Luminol tests, door to door and other aspects.
Ball, Captain. West Memphis Police. Headed late night shift May 5th to morning of 6th.
Blair, George. West Memphis Police.
Burch, Stan. West Memphis Police.
Busby, Richard. Crittenden County Sheriff.
Covington, Billy. West Memphis Police Officer. On-duty the evening of the fifth. Next day spoke to Marty King about the Bojangles incident.
Dabbs, Charlie. West Memphis Police.
Griffin, Shane. Detective, West Memphis Police. Testified at Misskelley and Echols/Baldwin trials.
Hendrix, Captain. West Memphis Police Captain. On-duty the evening of the fifth.
Joiner, B. West Memphis Police Officer. On-duty the evening of the fifth.
Joplin, Lieutenant. West Memphis Police. On duty evening of the fifth.
Laxton, Ed. Detective, Crittenden Co. Sheriff's Dept.
Masengale, G.C. Patrolman, West Memphis Police. Testified at Echols/Baldwin trial.
McCafferty, Joe. Corporal, Marion Police Department. Testified at Misskelley trial that he did not see Jessie Misskelley, Jr. at the Lakeshore Trailer Park on the evening of the fifth.
Murray, John L. Crittenden County Sheriff's Investigator. Stated he confiscated a dog's skull and certain posters from Damien Echols in 1992. Testified at Echols/Baldwin trial.
Oliver, Jason. Patrolman Marion Police Department. Stated he did not remember seeing Misskelley, Jr. while at Lakeshore Trailer Park on the evening of the sixth. Testified at Misskelley trial.
Reese, Officer. Helped in May 6th search for victims.
Sanders, Billy. West Memphis Police Officer. In area at the time of the discovery of the victims.
Sanders, Bobby. Chief of Police, West Memphis.
Schrader, P. West Memphis Police Officer. On-duty the evening of the fifth.
White, Clark. Drug Task Force, West Memphis Police Department. Murdered earlier in 1993.
The Hollingsworths James K. Martin The Bailey Family
White Van / Black Van The Tattooed Man Strangers on Bicycles
The Mysterious Mr. Bojangles
For all those researchers who have helped gather this information and all those interested in the case.