The Blue Beacon (highlighted in blue) was
an all-night Interviews with Blue Beacon Employees
- the early shift.
establishment a short distance from where the children
were discovered (highlighted in pink).
Whodunnit, Part Three: The Hole in the Center of the Case.
The closer one looks at the core of this case, the
murkier the picture becomes. The most fundamental steps in a normal
investigation weren't performed by the police or else they were
performed and were not documented for the defense or prosecution.
The Discovery of the Victims.
The multilayered discovery of the victims is described in great
detail here. There are no
police statements regarding these events from those who made the
discovery, Steve Jones and Denver Reed, or from the first
officers on the scene, George Philips, Diane Hester and Mike Allen.
Among these, only Mike Allen described the discovery at trial. Brief
notes of the recovery of the victims were made, but no notes on how the
discovery took place.
The Blue Beacon
The children were last seen at approximately 6 pm on Wednesday,
May 5th, 1993. Their bodies were discovered the next day. The site
where the children were discovered was presented as the site of the
murders. The Blue Beacon was an all-night truck wash located
approximately 75 yards from the discovery site. Its light blue building
can be glimpsed
in parts of the crime scene video as the children are being recovered.
In spite of its proximity, there are almost no notes from the staff on
duty that night. None of the five workers from the evening shift were
interviewed individually. The brief notes available include the
statement "were real business," although bay two closed at 6:30 pm
leaving only one bay open. Bay one logged only nine trucks during
the evening shift from 4 pm to
7:18 pm when the records end.
One of the early scenarios considered the possibility that a
trucker killed the children. The logs of the trucks visiting the Blue
Beacon are dated 5-5-93. The logs available in the police files only
went to a last entry at 7:18 pm, leaving out the most critical time of
the evening. The truck receipts corresponding to these logs are all
dated 5-4-93. Furthermore, specific receipts are missing, even though
they were photocopied together on the same page.
Receipts from the Blue Beacon. The receipts are dated 5-4-93
Some numbers are missing (8903220, 22, blue underline) in spite
presented on the same page forwarded to the prosecutor (intake
Blue Beacon traffic summary (5/05/93, date above portion
These entries correspond to the above receipt numbers. The log
on this page ends
at 7:18 pm and the next page of the log is not among police
Even odder than the missing information from the critical shift,
workers who finished their shifts at 4 pm on May 5th were interviewed
as to what they saw - nothing. [Wide
Jackson and Andrew Harris, statement pictured above]
Years later, a reporter tried contacting a Blue Beacon
employee in regards to the case and was given the cryptic message that
he was not allowed to talk about the case.
"We tore that old place down,"
says a Blue Beacon worker. He refuses to discuss the murders and won't
give me his name. "It's over with and I'm not allowed to talk about it.
All these years later, I'm still trying to figure out if those three
kids that got killed were the same kids we told not to play here that
day because of the trucks."
When I ask him if he believes they got the guys who did it, he
hangs up. [Annette Stark, Los Angeles
City Beat, August 2006, Issue 169]
Sometime after 8 p.m., a bloodied black man, ensconced himself
in the women's restroom at the Bojangles about three-quarters mile
from the Blue Beacon. The identity of this individual was never
determined. Perhaps this incident was related:
Bill Heck - saw nothing but said we
need to talk to Mrs. Clark.
735-xxxx. She works for Schneider Truck Lines evening shift. She said a
driver saw a man with blood all over him Wed night. [Door to door
interviews, Wilson Street]
From the above log, a Schneider truck visited the Blue Beacon at
7:04 pm. The receipt for this #890322 is among those that are missing.
There are no notes suggesting the police followed up on this tip.
The Victims' Families.
Of the various parents and step-parents, only Mark
Byers and Christopher's biological father Ricky Lee Murray had
extended interviews available in the West Memphis police
archives. Brief interview notes are available for the Moores and a
modest interview was made of Melissa Byers. The parents could have
commented on potential suspects and
suspicious individuals in the area. The prosecution alleged that
the victims were stalked, even photographed before the crimes. They
alleged that Echols regularly passed through the area. Several of the
parents and step-parents were involved in the search and statements
from them as to what they had seen that night could have been critical
evidence. Recently, Terry Hobbs has stated that he had never been
interviewed as to his actions that night.
Beyond this, a sad truth is that murder victims are often killed
by someone they know. The family members and those known to the family
were potential suspects.
There are minimal notes from the immediate neighbors of the
victims. None of Steve Branch/Terry Hobb's neighbors were interviewed.
(The exception to this is Christopher Morgan who became a suspect after
allegedly confessing in California). These neighbors could have
described suspicious individuals in the neighborhood, the final
activities of the victims, or the criminal activities of families of
the victims. Several neighbors further away named Mark Byers as a
suspect as a result of his drug dealing or other criminal activities.
The Moores lived at 1398 E. Barton,
the Byerses at 1400 E. Barton.
Above diagram adapted from overhead
map and city directory listing addresses.
Police notes from interviews with
immediate neighbors, those within two doors of Byers or Moores.
No interviews were initiated for the neighbors of Steve Branch/Terry
604 N. 14th - not interviewed.
605 N. 14th - not interviewed.
702 N. 14th - "Nothing"
703 N. 14th - "Lakisa Freeman play with Chris on skateboard"
704 N. 14th - not interviewed.
705 N. 14th - "No info"
606 Wilson - not interviewed.
700 Wilson - not interviewed.
702 Wilson - "Nothing"
1209 E. Barton - not interviewed.
1211 E. Barton - "No info. Not talkable. Don't like police."
1399 E. Barton - not interviewed. (Rev. Tommy W. Stacy, seen in the
documentary Paradise Lost)
1401 E. Barton - "No info."
1501 E. Barton - "No info."
Total for the 14 nearest neighbors to the Byerses and Moores: 7
interviewed; 6 "nothing" or "no info;" 1 brief note. The neighbors of
the Hobbs were not interviewed. In the door to door interviews of
people much further away, sometimes full pages were filled out.
Missing and Altered Evidence.
The police logs for 7 am to 3 pm shift appear altered. The
documents available from the evidence room of the West Memphis Police
Department appear to have a heavy "photocopy effect," as though copies
of copies were made, obscuring what was on the originals. This lossy
reproduction is not the case for the other logs. One entry at 9:22 a.m.
was whited out. How can this be proven?
The upper portion of the police logs were filled out with the
name of the officers, their numbers, and the date and then photocopied,
presumably to save time when filling out the pages. The date on the
logs that cover the time period in which the victims were discovered
was incorrectly listed as 4/6/93 with the 6 drawn over. Because the
names were filled in before copying, the
lines that define the boxes with information should be equal (or vary
equally with slightly different exposures). When one line is sketchy,
it should be similarly sketchy in the next page. If a line that defines
the box disappears, it means that this area was whited out after the
upper portions were filled in but before the document was placed in the
evidence. (The copies available on the internet are those I obtained
when I went to the evidence room.)
Above, a small section of page four of the 7 am to 3 pm log of May 6th,
1993 as copied from the evidence room at the West Memphis Police
Department, with calls starting at 9:19 am. The 7 to 3 logs were
incorrectly dated 04-06-93 (and the 6 seems to be written over) but go
on to describe the search and discovery of the victims as took place on
May 6th. The upper portion, which I highlighted in brown is part of the
where the names and numbers of the individual officers were written in,
prior to photocopying. This allows the person filling in the forms to
not have to fill in the repeating information
with each page. (Compare to the highlighted section below which has the
writing.) After the initial photocopying, the dispatch calls were
Below is the next page of the station logs. The area highlighted is
identical to that above and the calls logged in begin at 10:23 am. The
other pages continue in this manner through page 7 which includes the
time of discovery. The images presented above and below demonstrate
that the background of the pages should be equal, the entries
Below, the same documents as were shown above, this time a larger
section. Officers Sanders and Reese (254 and 252, respectively, numbers
highlighted in green) received a call at 9:22 a.m. The "Information On
Call or Broadcast" entry for this call is blank. This isn't necessarily
damning, there could have been a failure to fill this in. What appears
damning is that the line below the information is missing. (As pointed
out by the arrows highlighted by blue). This is consistent with what
would have happened
if the area was whited out.
Since some lines are sketchy or nearly absent, that same line needs to
be compared to those on other pages. The next page the line is mostly
present (as pointed out by the arrows highlighted in blue).
Page five of the 7 am to 3 pm station logs. The corresponding line is
present in this page and the other pages.
Did the holes in collecting the most crucial information in this case
come from laziness, incompetence or was it wilful?
Laziness was not a problem. The police generated thousands of
pages of interviews and evidence in this case, travelling to other
cities to run down rumors from young children.
While incompetence could describe not interviewing someone
such as Terry Hobbs, it doesn't account for why the Blue Beacon
employees on the correct shift were not interviewed while employees on
other shifts were or why the log sheets stop before the critical time.
If it was wilful, why?