Night and Day
Broadway, West Memphis, Arkansas
With just under 30,000 in population, the city of West Memphis has a modest number of major crimes. In recent times, homicides have totaled less than ten per year while assaults averaged about three per week. This makes May 5th and 6th of 1993 all the more unusual. From the evening of the fifth through the evening of the sixth:
- Michael Moore, Chris Byers and Stevie Branch would be found, murdered.
- The police received 11 calls regarding gunfire, 2 more regarding gunfights, and 2 more regarding suspicious individuals carrying guns. Each call appears to refer to separate incidents.
- At least three individuals were shot, including one fatally.
- A mysterious bloodied stranger appearing at a local restaurant not far from where the children were recovered.
- A car hit a pedestrian in the middle of the night not far from where the children were recovered.
- The largest bust in the Crittenden County Drug Task Force history was initiated.
An Annotated Chronology of Notable Incidents Presented in the Police Logs
- 5:58 pm. A gunshot victim was taken to Crittenden County Memorial Hospital. The victim's name and the circumstances are not mentioned. (#1 - numbers refer to placements on the maps provided below.)
- 6:00 - 6:30 pm. Chris Byers, Michael Moore and Stevie Branch were last seen near the southeast entrance of Robin Hood Woods. (#2) Not mentioned in police logs, solely presented for context.
- 8:08 and 9:19 pm, missing person reports were filled out for the children. (#3)
- 8:40 pm. "Bojangles - B/M - towards Delta - bleeding" A bloody and disoriented black male, never identified, was seen in the ladies room of the Bojangles restaurant, three-quarters of a mile west from where the victims were later found. Officer Regenia Meek responded to the call. The man was never identified. (#4)
- 8:52 pm. Criminal mischief complaint called in, in reference to Dewayne Chatt, 2950 Autumn. Years later, Chatt would die after being taken in to custody by the West Memphis police. "West Memphis Police Inspector Billy Sanders said Chatt did not appear to need and did not request medical treatment after he was tasered by the officers." [Sarah Buduson, Eyewitness News, 4/24/2008] Video of the arrest of Dewayne Chatt is available on YouTube. (#5)
- 9:00 pm. Officer Meek would be called away from her search for the "Bojangles Man" to respond to a criminal mischief complaint, a house being egged at 1004 Roy Pugh. (#6)
- 9:09 pm. Weapon discharged, 2990 Autumn area. (#7)
- 10:37 pm. Kreme Kup 2105 E. Broadway fight outside - gun. (Additional note says: no fight 10:55 pm) (#8)
- 11:04 pm. 2950 Jackson shots fired. (#9)
Spotlight: Gunplay. The gunfire mentioned in the overnight police logs in the areas of Autumn Street, Jackson, and 20th were across town and far from the missing children. However, in the door to door interviews, residents in units #3, #5, #89 along with the manager of the Mayfair Apartments all noted gunshots that night. (The Mayfair Apartments were just south of where the children were found.) Other neighbors who reported gunfire included the Blue Beacon manager and the residents of 1204 Proctor. Ryan Clark, Ritchie Masters and Robbie Young, who together searched the Robin Hood Woods early in the evening, described hearing gunfire. Mark Byers was questioned regarding what he heard:
Ridge- Well let me ask you a question. While ya'll were out searching during this period of time after it had gotten dark, we had several reports of gunshots being fired. Was somebody down there with a gun maybe shooting up in the air hollering at the kids?
Mark- I never heard a gunshot fired.
Ridge- we got some reports of that. It may have been back behind the expressway.
Mark- I never heard a gunshot. Uh, there by the house, when we were standing around the house, my wife said something about, did you hear that gunshot? This was like, 12 or 1 o'clock. I said, nuh uh. And that was just a car right down there on Wilson that backfired. [John Mark Byers police interview, May 19, 1993]
The yellow circles designate incidents involving guns, gunfire or gunshot victims mentioned in the police logs for 3 to 11 pm, May 5th through 3 to 11 pm, May 6th. The numbers refer to those appended to the items in the chronology presented here. Not included are witness statements or door to door reports of gunfire.
- 11:06 pm. 2209 Autumn. In the first of two calls regarding Ricky Lewis, a "large caliber revolver" is noted. The entry goes on to say "Bad call." (#10)
- 11:37 pm. Mayfair Apts - by maintenance bldg. acted like going to #61[?] across Roy Pugh. Two suspicious black males. (#11)
- 11:44 pm. 410 S 31st shots fired. (#12)
- 11:53 pm. 911 call from Delta Express clerk. Clerk at Vickers - Black male outside on foot, red shirt gun black pants. The Delta Express was next door to the Bojangles restaurant. (#13)
- 12:13 am. 911 call from Talonwood #347 fight gun/knives. (Near 24th and Goodwin) (#14)
- 12:45 am. Subject hit on Service Rd. Waffle House, Charles Morton (2309 South Service Road, approximately three-quarter miles east from where victims were found). (#15)
Spotlight: Charles Morton. While hitchhiking his way across country and passing through West Memphis, Charles Morton witnessed a man hit by a vehicle along the South Service Road. When he gave his statement to the police, they ran a background check and discovered he had an outstanding out-of-state warrant. Morton was taken into custody. Later, while in jail, he was questioned about the children murdered and passed a polygraph. According to Morton, "I was walking along the highway when a black guy came running out from behine a pawn shop thier on the service road that ran along side the highway right in front of this gray colored car. The car jerk to the right to keep from hitting the guy. The car stoped and the driver spoke with the guy I had already walked past them when the driver of the car ran up to me and ask if I had seen what went down I said yes he asked me if I would be willing to make a statement to the cops because the guy (black) said he was going to sue the guy for hitting his foot but he ran over to the 24 hour Waffle house." [Charles Morton, personal communication] Morton went on to say the black man was "running like a bat out of hell..." [ibid]
- 12:53 am. 911 call. Mayfair Apt black male no shirt criminal attempt steal car. (#16)
- 12:55 am. 1805 E Barton - shots fired from McAuley area. (#17)
- 12:55 am. Shots fired - back in area - S 20 - This is a half mile from the other 12:55 am call. At 12:59 am the police noted speaking to Mark and Kenneth Givens and Michael Scott at the 100 block of South 20th. Michael Scott would later be interviewed as possibly being the Bojangles man. (#18)
- 2:04 am. Nigel McCombs. Riggs parking lot, N 7th. This is behind the Mayfair Apartments where McCombs lived. During the door to door interviews, a neighbor described McCombs as being a suspicious character, although the reasons were fairly benign. "Stands around by himself & stays to himself" [Door to door interviews, Marvin and Kathy Griggs] (#19)
- 4:06 am. An alarm went off at Don's Supershine, Bryan Woody's place of work. (#20)
- 6:12 am. Officer Slater and Boskey would call in that they were searching the "area behind Blue Beacon (for missing juveniles)." "Lt. Boskey and I specifically searched the area of the large ditch running into the bayou. I am aware that this is the location where the bodies of the three victims were found later in the day on May 6, the same day we thoroughly searched the area. At the time Lt. Boskey and I searched that area, the bodies of the victims were not present in the ditch. If the bodies had been present at the time we searched the area, I am confident we would have located them." [Affidavit, John P. Slater, February 20, 2001] (#21)
- 8:11 a.m. "Abelardo Campos [dob] MI-TX." Campos was noted in an earlier FBI bust as being part of the Detroit mob who trafficked drugs between Texas and Michigan. He later served time in Federal Prison. (Highway patrol, no location specified)
- 8:28 am. David Montemayor [dob]. Montemayor also served time in Federal Prison. (Highway patrol, no location specified)
- 1:08 pm. Accident at Blue Beacon exit ramp. Just minutes before the call to the police regarding the missing children, Officer Billy Sanders is called to an accident at the Blue Beacon. (#22)
- 1:14 pm. W E Catt + McAuley West N. End. Ref. to missing children. Officers Phillips and Allen are called to the discovery site. (#23)
- 2:15 pm. 502 S. 25th Search Warrant DTF (#24)
Spotlight: Drug busts. On the day the three victims were recovered, the Crittenden County Drug Task Force netted $135,000 in cash and property from a drug raid, in what was described as their most successful sting operation to date. "An undercover drug operation last week culminated in the largest cocaine sting operation in Crittenden County history and left three men in three different counties in jail. Arkansas State Police investigator Ed Fitzpatrick said the sting arrests began Thursday [May 6th, 1993] in Brinkley, where two men attempted to purchase five kilos of cocaine. Tom Sutton of Brinkley was arrested after attempting to purchase the drugs from an undercover investigator. Information from that operation led to search warrants being issued in the Blytheville area. James Earl Moore of Blytheville was arrested during the execution of one of those warrants. From Blytheville, the operation moved to Marion on Friday morning, where 30-year-old Reginald Stewart of Memphis was arrested when he attempted to sell three kilos of cocaine to an undercover agent in a Marion motel room. [West Memphis Evening Times, May 10, 1993]
- 3:33 pm. Ricky Lewis fleeing. Need additional units - disregard - all ok. The second appearance of Ricky Lewis resulting in a second request to disregard the information. (no location noted)
- 4:56 pm. Family Health Center behind First Baptist Church. Aggravated assault complaint. (#24)
- 6:15 pm. 2690 Church Juv. Battery (Not Juv) - (Subject) OK (#25)
- 9:14 pm. 1003 Ferguson Ref. Juv. Battery (#26)
- 9:30 pm. 32nd and Church shots fired. (#27)
- 9:39 pm. 2991 SL Henry shots fired. (identified as part of same call:) Marvin Leflore. (#28)
- 9:46 pm. 2950 E Jackson #59 Gunshot Victim F.D. Enroute. Unknown. (#29)
- 10:05 pm. Shots fired Tyler + Peachtree (#30)
- 10:17 pm. 25th SL Henry Ck Cars on lot for Marvin Leflore (#31)
- 10:19 pm. Foxwood + Jackson Shots fired area (#32)
- 10:28 pm. Shots fired Project area 3001 SL Henry #217 (#33)
- 10:38 pm. 600 N 28th Shots fired area. (#34)
Spotlight: More gunshot victims. Between 9:30 and 10:38 pm of the sixth of May, six calls were made to the police about gunfire, each spaced by at least nine minutes, suggesting separating incidents. At 9:46, a gunshot victim was picked up by the fire department rescue. With multiple incidents of gunfire, this may or may not have been the same victim described in the May 10th, 1993 edition of the West Memphis Evening Times. "Kenny Lewis, a 17-year old black male, was shot in the head with an unknown caliber bullet as he and two companions were walking along the 3000 block of Autumn at 10:49 p.m. Thursday [May 6th]. [snip] He died of the wound 8 a.m. Sunday [May 9th]. [snip] Also injured Karisky Davis, 18, of 600 N. 14th St. He was shot in the left shoulder." The latter address is three houses down from where the Byers' and Moores lived.
Marvin Leflore is mentioned in the 9:39 and 10:17 pm May 6th calls. He had been convicted in 1991 of possession of a controlled substance. In 1996 he was sentenced to twenty years for cocaine charges, his sentence suspended and then his probation later revoked. His father, Marvin Leflore, Sr. is listed on a genealogy website as having died May 6th, 1993. Other family members include Andrew Leflore, currently in Arkansas prison for first degree murder.
The Leflores were mentioned during a couple of interviews regarding the murders of the children. From the interview with Jeffrey Looney.
Q. Do you ever walk home?
A. No. If I get off early I get a ride with Gergia (sic) LeFlore.
Q. Asked if he knew anyone crazy enough to do something like this.
A. Steven Skaggs. [Jeffrey Looney police interview, May 27, 1993]
Steven Skaggs also referred to the Leflores:
He stated that he was having a conflict with the Leflores and that they had threatened to kill him over the disappearance of some guns. [Summary of Skaggs interview, Bryn Ridge, May 15, 1993]
Daniel Hatchett, perennial candidate for sheriff
Charles Morton described a black man running like "a bat out of hell" from behind a pawn shop on the interstate Service Road. Police documents place the Southland Pawnshop at Ingram and the interstate. In the 1993 City Directory there is no other pawn shop listed as being along the interstate or Service Road. The Southland Pawnshop was once co-owned by Mark Byers and Daniel Hatchett and in 1993 it was owned and run by Daniel Hatchett and Dustin Boyle. Byers had a falling out with his ex-business partner and both Melissa and Mark Byers described Hatchett and Boyle as possible suspects in the murders.
Dusty & Dan Hatchett - believes they are que gay - own Southland Pawn Shop - Dusty collects knifes. Dan says that Dusty is his nephew.
Dan & Dusty both knew Chris. Has seen Dan & Dusty drive by the house and has seen Chris talking to them. Dan had a fake badge - was known to show it and tell people that he was a police officer - said that he was arrested twice for Impersonating a Police Officer. [Melissa Byers police interview notes, May 25, 1993]
Mark Byers spoke at length regarding his ex-business partner.
Mark: I had wondered a little bit about Daniel Hatchet.
Sudbury: Who's Daniel?
Mark: He was a fellow that I was partners with for a while over here at this pawn shop. And I found out through [Sheriff] Dick Busby that he was just bogus and not a good business partner to be in business with. So I had [West Memphis Private Investigator] Mike Morgan investigate him, and Mike Morgan found out that he didn't live where he said he was. That he never was a lawyer like he said he was. He's riding around right now, with house or represen....Tennessee. House of Representatives tags on his car. They say RWS. He ain't no damn House of Representatives. But I had my jewelry store here, and had done jewelry work for him, and known him for years, and he had presented himself to me that he was a lawyer and that he lived on Walnut Grove, and that he had millions of dollars. And when I came down with this brain tumor, he knew I was closing my store, and he said, well why don't we open us up this pawn shop since you know the jewelry business and I got the money. We'll run this thing. Well. Things just started getting kinky, and things would come in to where I knew we should buy. But he wouldn't buy it. So I started thinking, well, if he's got all the money he says he's got, why wouldn't he, you know, get that. So a friend of mine from Houston names Matt Elbonn who's a gold buyer. He travels around the country, you know and buys scrap gold. Came in that day, and the first day he met him, he told me, your partner's bogus. And the next day, he come home, he came, he worked in Memphis, and he spent the night with us, and he came in, he said, here's Mike Morgan's car, I've hired him to find out where that guy lives. And come to find out he lived on Avon, off of Summer Street in Memphis just in a little old dump. And then uh, probably 5 or 6 months later, my wife and I drive by there and there's all this garbage out on the street where he'd been evicted from his house. And then when I questioned him about it, he told me, he said oh, he said, I'm in the witness, federal witness protection program and all this other big line of bullshit. And that's why I've got those tags on my car. That's why I had to tell you I was a lawyer. I'm really protected by the federal government, and they pay me a salary. Just, you know, the biggest pathological liar I've ever met in my life. And he conned the crap out of me. you know, cause I moved all my stuff in from the store down there, then I had Jan Thomas draw up a partnership disclosure agreement where he bought me out. Now, for quite a while after that, he can go, you know from where the pawn shop is over there. There's many different ways to get to the post office. He would make a habit to come down Barton and stop at the stop sign or come up 14th stop sign, and if you'd see any of us out in the yard, he'd cuss us or flip us off or cuss, you know, - you little son of a bitches, you know, cussing at my kids and stuff. And I despised him. You know, I mean to tell you the truth, you know, I really can't stand the guy, to be honest with you. He conned me, took me for a ride and a half. And then ended up with my safe, my alarm system, my showcases. He bought 'em from me for a lot less than I had in 'em. But, I haven't seen him drive around the neighborhood lately at all. [John Mark Byers police interview, May 19, 1993]
Hatchett had a criminal record in Memphis.
- A 1988 conviction along with Michael Shelby for assault and battery.
- 1984 and 1986 charges for illegally carrying a weapon. The 1984 charge was purged in 1991 and the 1986 charge was not pursued, "nolle prosequi."
- In 1984 and 1989 he was charged with impersonating a police officer. The 1984 charge was dismissed. The 1989 led to a conviction which he sought for years to overturn, but failed.
On May 26th, 1993, Daniel Hatchett and Dustin Boyle were brought in for questioning. The intake sheet describes Hatchett as 6 feet tall and 340 pounds. Hatchett and Boyle said they had been working at their pawn shop until about 8:30 pm on the night of the fifth and then went to eat in a restaurant in Memphis. No notes indicated whether their alibi was checked. Hatchett mentioned knowing the Moores and said he went to the funeral of Michael Moore. He can be seen in the police surveillance tape of the Moore funeral beginning at the five minute mark. Boyle passed a polygraph with the relevant questions asking whether he committed the murders or knew who did. Boyle's polygraph did not include questions about his or Hatchett's alibi. Hatchett was not polygraphed, the reason presented on his file jacket was "Polygraph of Dustin Boyle covered Hatchett's alibi."
Note on Hatchett's file.
Hatchett went on to open "Southland Police Supply," a store specializing in public safety and police equipment.
In spite of his criminal record, Daniel Hatchett has been a regular candidate for the office of Crittenden County Sheriff. From the Commercial Appeal describing his 2000 candidacy:
Pawnshop owner Daniel Hatchett, 41, is taking on six-term incumbent Dick Busby, 63, in a race pitting different kinds of experience. Hatchett, who also owns a police equipment business, was nearly killed in an unsolved pawnshop robbery in January 1996 and says the experience "soured" him on local law enforcement. A former Tipton County, Tenn., and Crittenden County sheriff's deputy, he says he's running as a victims advocate. [Commercial Appeal, 2000, exact date not noted]
He lost the 2000 election and his subsequent efforts have been unsuccessful. After his 2002 loss he joined with other losing candidates in an unsuccessful court case claiming voter fraud.
As part of Hatchett's 2008 run for Crittenden County Sheriff he put out a press release stating "...Hatchett has 15 years in law enforcement experience and has been a local business owner in West Memphis for 18 years. He's a former deputy sheriff, a Mason, a member of the Shrine Club, the Jaycees, the Chamber of Commer, the Tennessee Sheriff's Association and the Arkansas Sheriff's Association." [West Memphis Evening Times, March 20, 2008] He lost the election yet again, this time garnering 4581 votes to Busby's 12,479.
The incidents as recounted in above chronology. Not included are incidents for which a location was not given. The log entries chosen for this chronology were those involving violence and guns (including gunfire and gunfights), key events in the search and discovery of Byers, Moore and Branch, and incidents taking place in the neighborhood where the victims lived or were discovered.