James Kenny Martin
Perhaps the thickest of all of the suspect files at the West Memphis Police Department evidence archives is that of James Kenny Martin. Martin, 33 years old in 1993, was a convicted child molestor and petty criminal with a long record extending over the years. He volunteered his services to the West Memphis police to help them understand the mind of someone who would stalk children. He fancied himself in the role of Hannibal Lecter. "We are talking in a similar case of, well I'm not saying it was book written, or movie made, Silence of the Lamb. I mean if you take it, they had to go to this individual, who is a sick psyco individual to get information." [Martin interview, May 19, 1993]
As have several other figures in this case, Martin has visited web sites that discuss this crime and has posted extensively, giving more insight into his history and more declarations as to his whereabouts and actions at the time of the crime.
Beyond his Colorado rape convictions, he discussed the first time he molested a young child, a five year old child when he was fourteen or fifteen, how he himself was raped by his older brother and his brother's friend, and how he was raped at gunpoint at age 20. He has a long list of other crimes, bad checks, third degree battery, grand larceny (pled down to petty theft), etc.
His potential connections to the West Memphis murders are as follows. His mistress, Barbara McCafferty*, lived one long block from the Byers and the Moores, at the corner of Barton and Goodwin. Martin had trouble recalling her name during his interview, and later described her as being "just a ftf" (friend to fuck). According to Martin, Barbara McCafferty knew one of the victims. From his recent statements: "My friend Barbara, once told me later that I had met one of the boys, which one, I don't know, but her son was the same or close to the same age as them and went to Weaver with them... She called me that night around 6pm or so, to tell me about them missing, I was living in Marion at that time not far from Jesse's house, but I don't recall ever meeting any of them, execpt for Jesse's Dad after his arrest..." (McCafferty had a twelve year old.)
Door to door interview notes, Barbara McCafferty, "Kids screaming."
There are problems with James Martin's timeline for that evening. In his police statement and echoed above he said at five to six pm Barbara had called him to tell him about the missing children. This timing is impossible, even the parents did not know about the three being missing together until after 8 pm. He also claims to have seen a news story on television that night about the three missing children and he discussed it with his wife, Darlene, before going to work at the Flash Market on Broadway for a shift that began at 10 pm. (He had another job at W.B. Davis Electrical Supplies in Memphis, nearby Melissa Byers employment.)
Problems with Martin's timeline overlap with problems with his alibi. In his West Memphis police interview and notes he described his day's activities as this: He went to Shelby Farms (a park in Eastern Memphis) the afternoon of the fifth. He talked to Barbara McAfferty about the missing children as mentioned above around five to six pm. He was home with his wife and went to work at the Flash Market at 10 pm.
Recently, he has given an altered version of his timeline. He says he slept until 2:40 pm (he had worked the night shift the night before). "I didn't work at W.B. [Davis Electric] that week, and my two girls [daughters of Darlene Conner] went to a school in west memphis, and my wife and I picked them up, and that was around 3:30pm, as always we went to a restraunt (johnnie's or something, right off I-55/40 near the service road to wal-mart^ one of west memphis' main drags ^ Lots of contractors eat there) and I'd say by 5pm we were on our way home, now from 6 to 8 she called cause it was at least an hour maybe more when we were home.... and my wife made a comment that we were just out that way, and we don't recall seeing anyone walking the service road or anything, now that was 5pm or so......"
Remarkably, he now claims to have taken his ten year old stepdaughter to work with him for the overnight shift -- on a school night. And there is the matter of picking up his ten and twelve year old stepdaughters from Maddux Elementary in West Memphis, placing him just east of the missing children's homes that afternoon.
A more detailed and conflicting alibi came from Barbara McAfferty. Instead of saying she was on the phone with him talking about the missing children, she says she went to his house after six pm and stayed until about sunset. Recently, James Martin completely dismissed this alibi, calling it absurd. Not only did it not happen that night, he says the incident never happened.
Martin's alibi, as related above, is that he was with his wife. The West Memphis Police included only a brief note regarding this. "I talked to Darlene Kinard Martin in front of the the [sic] Detective Division. She stated that Kenny was with her on Wednesday evening the 5th of May until he went to work late that night. -- Det. B Ridge." There are no notes of any further interview with Darlene Martin.
Barbara McCafferty, 1993
Sudbury: What kind of person are we dealing with then?Martin failed two polygraph questions, specifically: Do you know what was used to tie up those three boys? and, Do you know who killed those three boys? Perhaps more telling than the fact that Martin failed these two questions is his rationale for failing them. According to notes on the polygraph sheet: "In the post test interview, the subject said he thinks shoe laces were used to tie the boys because logic tells him that the killer would use something already there. He also said he thinks the father of Steve Branch killed the boys."
The fact that shoe laces were used to tie up the children is one of the rare inside details that wasn't in the press. No other suspect came up with it. Furthermore, this "guilty supposition" was cited as the reason he failed the polygraph question. But in his interview before the polygraph, he stated the opposite:
Martin: The guy that had done this, who have done it out in the open, uh they would get the child to trust him. They have to make it a game.
Sudbury: Would they bring their own material to tie up with?
Martin: Naturally. [Martin interview, May 19, 1993]
The notion that he is supposed to believe that Branch's father is the murderer is the reason given as to why he flunked that question. His comments from his interview are fairly ambiguous.
Martin: . . . He's going to place himself where the child feels more comfortable, where the child maybe, let's say the child, hyperthetically, we're just going to pick one of the parents, we'll pick uh, Branch's father, here's a person whose not really the child's father. [He goes on to say again that he doesn't believe Branch's [step]father did it:] I use Branch for one reason, I use that child because it worries me, that he's more jumpy to go the press [snip] I am not saying that Mr. Branch did it, because that wouldn't be my way of doing it. [ibid]This doesn't seem to be something that would make a person believe they had inside information and have them miss a polygraph question -- any more that he might miss others.
Perhaps the most disturbing piece of evidence is a potential link to the crime scene. On his intake sheet, James Martin automobile in May 1993 is a blue 1975 Toyota Corolla. From a note from Scott Kelin, manager of the Blue Beacon. [Refering to 5/5] "10:00 pm Man two young white males stated looking for son, small car, toyota older model." Although Mark Byers described visiting the area around 11:30 pm with Ryan Clark, Kelin said there were three in the car, much earlier - and the Byers drove a 1985 Isuzu.
The police logs made exactly one mention of a blue Toyota. "[May 5th, 3-11 pm shift] Call Received 6:32 Call Dispatched 6:33 Call From 223 Information on Call or Broadcast N. 14th, Blu Toyota No LPN L B/M Reckless driver (superscript: checkmark 247) on scene 6:36 back in service 6:37." 223 is Lt. Joplin and 247 is Officer John Moore. No LPN means no license plate. L B/M is large black male. Of course large black male doesn't match, but the vehicle was on N. 14th St. at about 6:30 pm, virtually at the time and place of disappearance. As for the black male, it is possible that there was an accomplice. These matches are not just due to the popularity of Toyotas. In the 24 hours of police logs from May 5th to 6th, there was only one other mention of any Toyota, a beige one at midnight. The car at 6:36 pm had no license plate. James Martin had a 1992 arrest for driving with no license plate.
Martin presents himself as a reformed pedophile. There is a lot that speaks against this. He misrepresents the case against him in Colorado. He says that he turned himself in. Reality is that he did mention his problem to his therapist (after his common law wife demanded that he seek help) and the therapist turned him in. He then told the police he was conveying a dream to the therapist and pled innocent. There was both physical evidence and the words of his stepchildren to contradict him and he plea-bargained to guilty and served almost three years (May 1988 to January 1991). In prison counselling sessions he blamed the molestation/rape on the children saying they insisted on it. He threatened his counsellor. After prison there is a 1991 web log where he describes his molestations in a titillating manner. He has posted on websites with obscene material, sometimes pornographic cartoons. On another site he has posted recommending the playground across from where he worked as excellent for children. He is currently registered as a sex offender in Tennessee.
Although, he presents himself as primarily molesting his stepdaughter, the court documents say that he was molesting his stepson for a longer period. The only type of rape he didn't seem to engage in was vaginal intercourse. Recently posting on the boards, he has said that his stepson still loves him - if not for interference from his mother. From his recent postings on the board: "She [his stepdaughter] was born March 1976, the committed crime started in 1984 and ended on May 1988, I was convicted Feb 1989, and released in Jan 1991. However I don't speak about the step-son, cause that's when it got out of hand. He caught his sister and me, and it ended up all three, this was about 1986/87 and during that time, I did it so he wouldn't talk." He says his behavior wasn't out of hand when he was only molesting his eight year old stepdaughter for a couple of years. He blames his stepson for the molestation (he had to, so he wouldn't talk). Elsewhere he says that his stepdaughter insisted that he perform cunnilingus on her. His blaming the children is consistent. (In the above note, he says that molesting his stepdaughter was first, in the court documents it is vice versa, and the dates differ.)
One of his sons has recently committed suicide. Martin commented that his son had tried three times, and "third times the charm."
Another of his children has come forward to talk about James Martin. Speaking from his anguish, he said, "I believe in full that James murdered the boys --- but i have no proof he did."
*Barbara McCafferty's ex-husband, Officer Joe McCafferty, was a witness for the prosecution.
Copyright © 2008 Martin David Hill