A Waxy Substance
Exhibit C of the search warrants described the items sought. Jason Baldwin's attorney Robin Wadley asked Detective Bryn Ridge the rationale behind what was collected.
Wadley: Exhibit C, page two of two, it makes reference to blue green, red, black, purple fibers. Number two makes reference to blue, yellow, red, paint or plastic residue, red waxy type substance. In any of the Affidavits that you presented to Judge Rainey to seek the seizure of these items, what Affidavit did you use to support a request to the municipal judge to seek seizure of these fibers?
Ridge: Just that evidence was collected at the crime scene and we were looking for evidence that matched that evidence at the crime scene. [September 24, 1993, preliminary hearing]
A red waxy substance was being sought to match against evidence from the crime scene. The above exchange was mirrored when was queried by Echols' attorney, and in Misskelley's warrant this was extended to finding a "Blue, red waxing type substance." No red wax was found and the reason why it was sought were not further elucidated.
Page two of Exhibit C of the search warrant.
Three items with wax were seized: E84, from Damien Echols trailer, a book with some candle wax, the title later identified as "Never on a Broomstick;" E108, from Jason Baldwin's trailer, a bar of soap with paint or wax; and, E124, a blue candle from Domini Teer's trailer.
Out of the presence of the jury and before Lisa Sakevicius of the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory testified regarding the wax, the defense asked for a report about the findings. Prosecutor John Fogleman made clear the wax did not "match anything."
Scott Davidson: Your Honor, we'd also request a copy of the report of Lisa Sakevicius -- if there is one -- regarding any candle wax.
Sakevicius then proceeded to testify that a blue wax had been found on one of the shirts.
Fogleman: I don't know if there is one. She said that what she puts in her report is when there are matches. She claimed that didn't match anything. [Bench conference, Echols/Baldwin trial]
Fogleman: Yesterday after you left, some mention came up about whether or not there was any evidence of candles at the scene. Did you find any evidence of candle wax in your examinations?
Sakevicius: On the item, my E-2 item, which was a shirt, I did find a blue wax.
Fogleman: Item E-2, which is state's exhibit 44, the white polka dot shirt, correct?
Sakevicius: That's correct.
Fogleman: What did you find on this shirt?
Sakevicius: Blue wax.
Fogleman: Is that blue wax consistent with candle wax?
Sakevicius: Yes. [Lisa Sakevicius testimony, Echols/Baldwin trial, E-2 is the polka dot shirt now identified as belonging to Stevie Branch]
Detective Ridge testified that in his May 10, 1993 interview he asked Damien Echols what might be found in the area.
Prosecutor Brent Davis: Did he tell you about some uh, some things you might expect to find in the area?
Ridge: Yes, sir, he said we should be looking for stones in the area, candles, a knife, or crystals. [Detective Bryn Ridge testimony, Echols/Baldwin trial]
When Echols took the stand, elaborated regarding this statement. Davis pinned him in a corner.
Davis: Now, did he also ask you about what type of things you would expect to find at the scene where these three boys were murdered?
Echols: If it was a satanic killing.
Davis: If it was a satanic killing?
Davis: And was one of those things -- did you tell him what those things were you would expect to find?
Davis: And one of those things you told him, one of those things you told him were candles, right?
Davis: Did you hear the testimony from Lisa Sakevicius from the state crime lab that there was candle wax on the shirt of one of the victims? Did you hear that, Mr. Echols?
Echols: Yes, I did.
Davis: That's consistent with what you told the officer, isn't it?
Echols: Yes, it is.
Davis: You have just told us that that is consistent with a satanic murder, didn't you?
Echols: Yes. [Damien Echols testimony, Echols/Baldwin trial]
In his closing statement, Fogleman argued the wax's presence was a sign of Satanic ritual.
Well, if you go back to the, this--the motive issue, and you look at these defendants, it makes perfect sense. Somebody that would take the beliefs, that--the satanic beliefs, even if he does it just part time, is a perfect motivation. Not that it was some kind of a ritual and you have an alter and all that, although, remember them asking about the candles? And lo and behold there was candle wax on the black and white dotted shirt. Remember Lisa Sakevicius testifying about the candle wax? But it doesn't matter whether it was a ritual or simply those beliefs motivated these defendants to commit this crime. [John Fogleman, closing arguments, Echols/Baldwin trial]
Even though the prosecution had previously stated that Sakevicius had declared the waxes did not match and that was why the defense was not provided with a report, Brent Davis argued the waxes from the shirt and book could be matches.
Also, remember Damien saying--and I think this is a real, real coincidence, and y'all can play a little detective on your own when you go back here. Remember this book that just comes from the library? See all this stain on the back of it? You all go back there and look a that and kindly tilt it in the light and look and it, and see if that isn't blue wax to you. See if that doesn't look like some blue wax to you. Now you run your fingers on it and it reflects, it got kind of a shiny surface to it. You remember ol Damien telling us that one of those--I mean, whoever was doing this would--probably if it was satanic involved, would probably have some candles out there. Well, we got one of the boys' shirts that had that blue wax on his shirt. . . [Davis, closing arguments, Echols/Baldwin trial]
The jury listed the wax as one of the reasons for Echols conviction.
"Wax on book, shirt, mention." [Jury notes, Echols]
In defending the verdicts, John Mark Byers stated the matching wax was a key part of the physical evidence, although he stated the book was by Anton LaVey and the wax was on Michael Moore's shirt.
"Wax on [E4W?] shirt book." [Notes, juror #7, Echols. E4 was a tennis shoe.]
Mark Byers: Leeza, let’s talk about material evidence, that’s a very good subject. [snip] There was blue candle wax found on the Boy Scout shirt that Michael Moore wore, and they found a broken [unintelligible] in Damien Echols’ trailer. I think it was by Anton Levey and it had a blue candle sitting there and dripping on the book. Those two candle waxes matched exactly. [Leeza Gibbons Show, unaired episode]
Jury note, cons, Echols. Juror #7 note, cons, Echols.