Missing person's report of Christopher Byers. 5/5/93
[Note: While most other pages on my site strive for a compelling narrative, the following represents a long and mostly comprehensive discussion of Officer Regenia Meek's actions on May 5, 1993.]
Officer Meek's Busy Evening
Officer Regenia Meek joined the West Memphis police in January 1985 and worked patrol for the northeast ward of West Memphis on the evening of May 5th, 1993. This district included the addresses of the families of all three victims, where the victims were last seen and the area where they were ultimately found.
Officer Meek testified that she took the Incident (missing persons) Reports for Christopher Byers and Michael Moore. For some reason her testimony left out her role in taking the report for Steve Branch.
She testified briefly at Misskelley's trial and this provides the thumbnail version of her actions that evening.
Fogleman: Patrolman Meek I want to direct your attention to May the 5th 1993. At sometime around 8:00 were you dispatched to 1400 E. Barton?
Meek: Yes sir, I was.
Fogleman: And what time did you arrive?
Meek: Around 8:10.
Fogleman: And whose residence was 1400 E. Barton?
Meek: The Byers' residence.
Fogleman: And when you were at that residence, what did you find when you got there?
Meek: Okay. When I got there I found a mother and father worried about their missing son. Their 8 year old son.
Fogleman: And while you were there did you have contact with any other parents?
Meek: Yes, sir, Mrs. Moore came and knocked on the door while I was taking a report from Mr. and Mrs. Byers and told me that her son was with the Byers boy and also Steve Branch was with them. She had saw them earlier.
Fogleman: Alright. And did you take a formal report from her at that time?
Meek: No, sir I did not. I just finished the Byers' report and when I left there I could not relocate her because she was still looking for her son. And I found her again around 9:24.
Fogleman: Okay. Alright, now after taking the report, what efforts if any did you make to try to locate these children?
Meek: Okay. I had been advised by Mrs. Moore that the last time anyone saw them they were going toward a wooded area. Of course it was nicknamed Robin Hood by the children. And it was pointed out to me. There was 2 entrances, and since they had told me that a couple of people had went into the entrance off of Goodwin I went down to McCauley.
Fogleman: Okay. Now if you could, could you take this pointer, and directing your attention to State's Exhibit 101. Would you point to the jury, point out to the jury this area that's known as Robin Hood and the 2 entrances?
Meek: Okay, let's see. This area here, is Robin Hood. This is McCauley St. here and this is a pipe that runs across the bayou, here. Okay, there's trails and paths all throughout here. They told me that some people had came in from this side, from over here. So I came in from here, and went down to the pipe. The pipe's where I stopped.
Fogleman: When you went into that area about what time was it?
Meek: It was turning dark. I didn't look, didn't look at my watch to see what time it was. But it was turning, it was well on it's way to dark.
Fogleman: Alright. And was there any particular thing about the, the conditions that you noted?
Meek: Yes, sir. When I went down the hill to the pipe, of course the weeds were extremely high, the mosquitos were tremendous. I was breathing in mosquitos it was so bad. And I decided at that time, that three 8 year old boys would not be staying in the woods with mosquitos that bad. And I turned around and went back to my vehicle and decided to start checking buildings and other areas.
Fogleman: Alright. And did you do that?
Meek: Yes sir.
Fogleman: And how long did you continue to search?
Meek: I went back to the police department around 11:15 or 11:20. [Meek testimony, Misskelley trial.]
In brief summary, she was dispatched to the Byers and got there around 8:10 pm. She took the Byers missing child report. Mrs. Moore popped in and told Meek that the three children were together. (In Byers missing person report (photo, above) Meek mentions Michael Moore as also missing but not Steve Branch.) Mrs. Moore left before filing an official report. Meek found Mrs. Moore again at 9:24 and got the report at that time. Meek briefly looked for the victims at the dead end of McAuley. Meek continued to search for the children until shortly after the end of her shift -- until approximately 11:15 pm. Adding in other documented times relevant to the events she noted, we have the barebones version of her evening.
Meek's Evening, Barebones Version.
Fogleman: And approximately 9:25 or so did you respond to Catfish Island?
Officer Moore: Yes sir.
Fogleman: Alright, and what did you find when you got there?
Officer Moore: I met there with Mrs. Hobbs and her husband and I believe she had a child with her. She stated that one of her, or that her son, Steve Branch was missing.
Fogleman: Okay, and did you make, start an incident report about that?
Officer Moore: Yes, an incident report. [Officer John Moore testimony, Misskelley trial]
Note, Fogelman asks whether he "started" an incident report. This phrasing suggests that Fogleman knows that Officer Moore did not finish the report. Which segues into the next piece of the puzzle. Officer Meek clearly filled out the complaint from the Hobbs.
Missing person report, Steve Branch. 5/5/93.
Branch's report narrative is written in the same writing as the Byers' report (top of page), and the same as the Moore report. To facilitate the comparison:
The first line of the narrative from all three reports.
And if this isn't enough, Meek's name is on the front of the Branch report.
The missing person report for Branch, first page. Meek is included as a reporting officer.
From the documents, Meek's participation in filling out the Branch report is clear. Why was this was missing from her narrative of the evening in her testimony? Another question: when did she take the report? The Branch report has a time of 9:25 pm and is about a mile aways from the Michael Moore report at 9:24 pm. This problem becomes even more complicated when factoring in testimony from the Echols/Baldwin trial. First, Officer Moore:
[Defense attorney] Val Price: Officer Moore, did you receive a call to go to Catfish Island to talk to Terry Hobbs?
Officer Moore: Yes sir.
Price: Ok. And do you recall approximately what time that you arrived at Catfish Island?
Officer Moore: I believe -
Price: - You can go ahead and refer to your notes if you need to.
Officer Moore: It was around 9:25, I believe.
Price: Ok. And were you the officer that took the missing persons report from Mrs. Hobbs?
Officer Moore: Yes sir, I was the one who started it. [Testimony, Officer John Moore, Echols/Baldwin trial]
Again, it is made clear Officer Moore started the report, leaving open who finished it. From the Misskelley trial, Officer Moore made clear who was there at the time. "I met there with Mrs. Hobbs and her husband and I believe she had a child with her." [Officer John Moore testimony, Misskelley trial]. In the Echols/Baldwin trial he refers to another officer.
Fogleman: Alright. After taking that report, what did you do?
Officer Moore: The other officer said that there were some people over on McCauley and I went over in that area. And did an initial search that night. [Officer John Moore testimony, Echols/Baldwin trial]
Officer Moore goes on to give an approximate time to his actions.
Price: Ok. And after you left this, do you know approximately what time it was that you left Catfish Island?
Officer Moore: Oh, I'd say probably about 9:35.
Officer Moore: - 9:40, somewhere in there.
Price: Ok. And at that time, do you recall where you went?
Officer Moore: Just as I drawed on that diagram, I went straight over to McCauley. [snip, he describes encountering Mark Byers.]
Price: Ok and then - according to the radio log, it indicates that you - it has - received call 9:42 and then it has that, I guess the information on call or broadcast and then it mentions that you went to the - this area on Goodwin, attempting to locate the juveniles. And then there's a - under the column - in service 10:10, would that be when you would have left -
Officer Moore: Yes sir.
Price: - That area, ok. So, approximately from the 9:42 to about 10:10, that's the time you spent looking in the woods in that area?
Officer Moore: Yes sir. [ibid]
Other than Mark Byers, he didn't see any others searching.
Fogleman: Ok, during the brief time that you assisted in the search, were there other people out searching? Or did you see other people?
Moore: They were there, but I didn't see anyone out searching, except me and Mr. Byers at that time. [ibid]
Meek's Testimony, Echols/Baldwin Trial.
Between the time of the two trials, the police dispatch logs for the evening of the fifth of May were made available. They were stamped as received by the prosecution on February 8, 1994. These logs allowed the defense at the second trial to more aggressively pursue Meek's version of events that evening and her role in the Bojangles incident. Meek's testimony in the Echols/Baldwin trial was approximately nine times the length of her testimony in the previous trial.
Reviewing her testimony, step by step, first she testifies to taking the reports from the Byers and Moore households repeating times on the missing persons' reports and her previous testimony.
Meek: That's the offense report that I filled out on Christopher Byers as being missing juvenile and I arrived at 8:10 p.m.Then she describes her initial search after taking the Byers report.
Fogleman: Ok. Alright, and--and after taking that information in regards to Chris Byers, what did you do?
Meek: Ok. While I was there, I was advised by Mrs. Moore--she came by the residence and told me that her son was missing too and that she had seen three boys going down 14th street.
Fogleman: Did you take an official report from Mrs. Moore at that time?
Meek: No sir, I did not. I was in the process of taking the Byers report. She left to go look for the children. And then I caught up with her later on to take a report from her.
Fogleman: Alright. Do you know about when that was?
Meek: It would be on the reports. 9--after 9:00, I believe.
Fogleman: And do you recognize this document?
Meek: Yes sir, that's the offense report for Michael Moore and it showed my arrival--9:24pm. [Meek testimony, Echols/Baldwin trial]
Fogleman: Now after you took the report at the Byers residence and after you left that residence, what did you do?
Meek: I rode the neighborhood and started looking for the boys myself. There were suppose to be two--three boys on two bicycles, is what I was told and I was given a description of the boys. So I was checking the area to see if I could locate 'em.
Fogleman: And what areas did you search?
Meek: Ok. I searched the neighborhood area around them and I asked several people that were standing out if they saw 'em. [snip]
Meek: The residence I was at is here, at 14th and Barton. I searched this area here, searched over here, came over to--that's W.E. Catt, starting again over to Barton, and I even been looking over in here, I was searching these neighborhoods here initially. After I took the report from the--Mrs. Moore--I was able to check a little further. I started checking empty houses in the neighborhoods, and I started going to this wooded area. I got over to the pipe and I went ahead and stopped. I didn't believe that three eight year old boys are gonna be out there that time of the night 'cause the mosquitos.
Fogleman: About what time was it when you went to the area where the pipe is at the dead end of McAuley?
Meek: Uh--it was probably--it was shortly--right after I took the report from Mrs. Moore, so it was right around 9:30. A little after maybe.
Meek: Or right before. [snip - she explains the mosquitos were so bad, that she didn't think the lost children would be in the woods.]
Meek: So, I just stopped searching the wooded area at that time and went to houses.
Fogleman: Approximately how long did you search?
Meek: Except for one call I believe I got called away from my search--until after quitting time. [ibid]
Although she spoke of one other call, the dispatch log presented four additional calls. Under cross-examination and presented with the dispatch sheets, she gave more details.
[Echols attorney] Scott Davidson: From there [the Byers household], you leave and you go out looking on your own.
Meek: Yes sir.
Davidson: How long did you go out and look on your own?
Meek: Several minutes, I received a call somewhere in there--I'm not sure of the exact time on that, but I was called away for a few minutes and then I went back. [ibid]
The call she was referring to took her to the Bojangles restaurant on Missouri Street. The following is cut from her testimony to give the basic narration.
Meek: I was between 14th and McAuley on Barton when I received the call and I was sent over to Missouri Street. [snip] I went Barton across 7th Street to Glen Bailey--Glen Bailey to Missouri Street and made a right. [snip] ...call came in at 8:40, I was dispatched at 8:42 and arrived on scene at 8:50. [snip] I went through the drive-thru and spoke to empolyee-ment--made contact with an employee. When a person's bleeding out, I make the quickest route to make contact--try to locate the person. [snip] The employee to me that he saw him walking toward Delta Express, which is just south of Bojangles and I went toward that direction and started looking for that man. I looked behind the businesses and a little field back there, checking for the subject. [snip, then in answer to how long she searched for the Bojangles man] I couldn't recall exact minutes. It might be on there--I broadcasted it over the radio, what further information I had obtained and--I'm not sure if it was put on the log sheet but another officer came to the area also helping me look. We weren't able to find anything--any evidence of the person. [ibid]
She was soon called away from her search.
Davidson: Does it show an entry for you--for 256, at 9:00?
Meek: Yes sir.
Davidson: And what entry is that and where did you go? Did you respond to another call?
Meek: Yes sir. 1004 Roy Pugh for egged house, it's a criminal mischief complaint. [ibid]
Baldwin's attorney, Robin Wadley, delved more in to her search efforts.
Wadley: You stayed there [Byers' house] and then you began to do a search, is that correct?
Meek: Yes sir. I started checking the area.
Wadley: Tell me what--tell me what you did, where did you first go?
Meek: I checked the immediate area, the residential--it's all residential area there. I started checking the different side streets and driving through seeing if I could see a couple bicycles laying in the yard or something. [snip]
Wadley: I would like to get this in some type of order if I can. You leave the [Byers'] house, and you do your search of the area. Where do you first go?
Meek: I went in the same direction as the boys did I believe. When I left there, I went north on 14th Street.
Wadley: Ok. And you were told that was the direction they went in?
Meek: Yes sir.
Wadley: Who told you that?
Meek: Mrs. Moore.
Wadley: Ok. And were you in your patrol car at that time?
Meek: Yes sir, I was.
Wadley: Ok. Then what did you do next?
Meek: Um--searched the area until I received another call I believe.
Wadley: What I'm asking you Patrolman, were you in your car during this time?
Meek: Most of the time, yes sir. Most of my search was from my patrol car.
Wadley: Ok. Tell me the time that you were out of your car, specifically where were you and what are you doing.
Meek: I could not name all the houses I stopped at. There was several in the neighborhoods that I stopped at. [ibid]
Meek also recalled the people she encountered. In contrast to Officer Moore's testimony, she saw "lots of people out" searching.
Meek: Later on, I spoke to a couple of boys. One of them was related to one of the victims.
Wadley: Who did you speak to?
Meek: I don't remember his name. It was his brother, Byers.
Wadley: About what time did you speak to that person?
Meek: Couldn't recall what time it was, they helped me search some of the empty houses.
Wadley: Where did you speak to him?
Meek: On Goodwin. I think it was around McAuley and Goodwin.
Wadley: Who else did you talk to?
Meek: Had a friend of his that was there and two young men--I'd say in their late teens-early twenties. [from later testimony she believed this took place after going to Bojangles. snip]
Wadley: And after you made this broadcast, until you quit searching did you talk to any other law enforcement officials concerning their search of the--
Meek: Ok. I spoke to Officer John Moore, which is on patrol with our department, and I spoke to--I believe it was Lieutenant Joplin, briefly to let him know what was going on --that I was looking for three boys. [snip]
Meek: I saw four adults--I believe it was four adults, uh--off of Goodwin just west of 14th Street. There's a little dead end there, it was originally gonna be a street--they didn't get to finish it. Which would be one end of Robin Hood Park. I saw two or three vehicles parked there and I saw some adults there. The neighborhood--you've got to understand when you have three boys missing, the neighborhood's buzzing--there's lots of people out. [ibid]
Adding in the police dispatch log times and her testimony at the second trial we have a more detailed picture of her evening.
Meek, testifying. Now a Lieutenant with the West Memphis Police.
Meek's Actions as Described in
the Testimony and Statements of Others
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