Cool video showing WM3 support through the years. Pretty amazing how people have rallied around these guys.
This poster was used during the original theatrical release of Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills. So much has changed since then...
John Mark Byers, step-father of victim, Christopher Byers, has announced his plans to write a book about the WM3 case interestingly titled, Untying the Knot. Byers says release will come shortly after 'spell check, credits, pics.'
The convictions of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley in the 1993 murders of three boys at Robin Hood Hills in West Memphis, Arkansas may have yet another chapter in the long history of one of the most controversial cases in America. It has been suggested that part of the reason that the ‘West Memphis Three’ were convicted in 1994 involved financial woes in which the defense teams for Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley could not afford experts to examine the evidence of the case.
In light of new evidence that includes possible bite marks found on at least one of the victims and the recent conclusion of DNA testing, donations from actors, musicians, and supporters around the world have made it possible for some of the country’s leading experts to examine the case nearly fifteen years later.
Dr. Michael Baden, internationally respected chief forensic pathologist for the New York State Police Department, has reviewed the case and autopsy photos and written a report regarding his findings. Dr. Baden also took part in a meeting to review new evidence in the case that included the Arkansas state medical examiner, the defense team, crime lab employees, prosecutor Brent Davis, and four expert forensic pathologists and odontologists.
In regards to the murders at Robin Hood Hills, Dr. Baden has stated in one of HBO's "Ask Dr. Baden" Q&A sessions that “I have been impressed with the many bulletin board comments on the Robin Hills murders. As a result of all of your interest, I am now gathering and reviewing information relative to that matter so that I can more intelligently evaluate and discuss the forensic issues soon at this site.”
John Douglas, legendary founder and chief of the FBI’s Investigative Support Unit has been extensively reviewing the case since the early part of this year. Over the last three decades, Mr. Douglas has viewed and taken part in literally thousands of cases, some of them among the most complex cases in the country. Mr. Douglas is expected to make a report concerning his findings in the case as well.
Dr. Baden and John Douglas are two of an increasing number of experts who are viewing the case and are expected to make decisions on whether they feel the original evidence is consistent with the convictions of the infamous ‘West Memphis Three’, the details of what new evidence has been found, and whether or not the results of their findings, like the recently released DNA Status report filed by the defense, seems to point away from the convicted. It has been speculated that the conclusions reached by Dr. Baden, John Douglas, and other experts involved in the case could be favorable for the defense and may come a long way in granting the ‘West Memphis Three’ a new trial.
Dr. Michael Baden is former Chief Medical Examiner of New York City and has performed over 20,000 medico-legal autopsies. Dr. Baden is also host of HBO’s “Autopsy” series, and served as Chairman of the Forensic Pathology Panel of the U.S. Congress Select Committee on Assassinations that re-investigated the deaths of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Baden has given expert testimony in cases involving Medgar Evers, John Belushi, Yankee Manager Billy Martin, O.J. Simpson, and Robert Blake, among others.
John Douglas is a former FBI Special Agent who pioneered the concept of Criminal Profiling. Mr. Douglas developed the original psychological profile of the Unabomber and has hunted, confronted, captured, interviewed, or studied some of the most prolific killers of our time including Charles Manson, Seattle’s Green River Killer, John Wayne Gacy, and San Francisco’s Trailside Killer, among others. More recently Mr. Douglas acted as consultant in the JonBenet Ramsey case, and was part of the team that investigated Dennis Rader, the notorious BTK Strangler.
August 15, 2007
Beginning in the 1880's, perhaps the only scientific means available to aid criminal investigators in determining who was responsible for a crime was fingerprinting. Fingerprints were used as a primary method of identification until the early 1900's. Flaws in fingerprint evidence such as becoming easily smudged or destroyed completely, rendering inconclusive results, and the fact that perpetrators were able to bypass fingerprinting by using acidic substances to alter their own prints led scientists to look for a better method.
Fingerprinting gave way to ABO blood typing, a forensic investigative tool that remained popular until human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing became the premier personal identification tool in the 1960's. HLA typing was rendered powerful but eventually useless to all but a small percentage of samples. In the 1980's, DNA testing came to fruition and permitted investigators to perform a level of personal identification far superior to anything else available. For example, the DNA of a single hair root can be used to differentiate a person from all other persons living or dead.
In addition to providing a solid scientific method of identification, DNA testing has been used to determine parentage in both animals and man. Unknown genes can be identified by DNA testing, as well as the possible inheritance of disease. DNA testing is used for positional cloning experiments. But for all of the wonderful things that DNA testing can provide, perhaps its original usage is one of the most important. Not only can DNA evidence identify the guilty, it can vindicate the innocent and wrongfully accused or imprisoned.
It is DNA evidence that four men are looking at, though not all of them in the same light. For Jason Baldwin, favorable results would mean that he will not spend the rest of his life in prison. For Jessie Misskelley, DNA testing could not only allow him to go free, but provide evidence that maybe the West Memphis Police Department really did coerce a mentally retarded teenager into a false confession of a crime he did not commit. And Damien Echols may never have to take the ride from Cell Block Four of Varner Supermax over to Cummins Unit for a date with death via lethal injection.
But for Terry Hobbs, the final results produced by DNA testing may point to something darker. If these final results mimick the findings of the preliminary evidence, a man who has spent fourteen years condemning three teenagers for the murder of his step-son and two other children may not only lead to perhaps his own wrongful imprisonment as many have proclaimed is the case with the 'West Memphis Three', but a decade and a half of secrets could come spilling out and bring this tragedy to an end.
According the preliminary results of over two years of DNA testing, no evidence has been found that links Echols, Baldwin, or Misskelley to the crime scene or the victims. This finding is all the more spectacular because not only have the results been acknowledged by the prosecution, it seemingly flies in the face of the myth that hair and fiber matches had been made linking the fabled 'West Memphis Three' to the murders, a theory that many feel largely helped Jason Baldwin into a life sentence and Damien Echols onto Death Row.
Secondary transfer occurs when a fiber or hair is physically transferred from one person to another. It should be noted that the hair and fibers that the prosecution suggests came about through secondary transfer in this case are inconclusive. There was one shirt fiber that “may be similar” to an article of clothing found in the home of a defendant. However, it has also been shown that this fiber is similar to materials found in the home of one of the victims as well. There has been a hair found that “could belong to” Damien Echols, but has not been matched. It has not been proven that either the hair or the fiber belongs to any of the WM3, and actual DNA testing refutes this suggestion, rather than solidifies it.
As far as facts are concerned, there is no physical evidence that Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, or Jessie Misskelley had ever been near Robin Hood Hills, had ever met or been near any of the victims, or committed any sort of crime. There was no murder weapon recovered, no witnesses who can place Echols, Baldwin, or Misskelley at the scene of the crime, and no DNA evidence. So if the DNA evidence doesn’t point to these three, then who does it point to?
Well that's another story entirely. According to the DNA status report filed by the defense and acknowledged by the prosecution, DNA evidence has arisen that can not be linked to either the defendants or the victims. As of this time, there is no identity match for the DNA, except for one surprising piece of evidence that managed to turn up. A strand of hair belonging to Stevie Branch's step-father Terry Hobbs was found intertwined with a knot in one of the shoelaces used to tie up one of the victims. This is no longer a case of similarity or possibility. Terry Hobbs has been genetically matched to the scene of the crime through DNA testing.
Terry Hobbs says that the children played at his home often and perhaps a hair ended up in the shoelace through secondary transfer. In all likelihood this is a possibility. But what isn't said is that a shoelace bouncing around in Robin Hood Hills, being removed from a shoe, being knotted and tied to bind an 8 year old boy, being immersed in water, and lying around for over a decade – The hair was still with the shoelace. Still intertwined in a knot in the shoelace after all this time. That's either enough to arouse suspicion, or a very durable and strong piece of hair.
This evidence does not make Terry Hobbs a killer anymore than it does the three who have been convicted of the murders. However, there is a chance that if Terry Hobbs were tried in court on this evidence and prosecuted in the same fashion as the West Memphis Three, it would most likely be Terry Hobbs holding a cell in Varner Supermax, not Damien Echols.
These are very significant results in the DNA testing. No match for Damien Echols, no match for Jason Baldwin, no match for Jessie Misskelley. There is a match for Terry Hobbs and persons unknown. While this single strand of hair may not be the stuff that solid cases are made of, the Arkansas Judicial System finds it more than enough to indict, convict, and sentence people to life in prison and the death penalty.
In addition to a scientific match between Terry Hobbs and the crime scene, there is also strange occurrences regarding his wife Pam. After 17 years of marriage, Pam and Terry divorced for one reason or another. While Pam was going through various belongings, she happened upon a knife that her son Stevie Branch always carried on his person. According to Pam, Stevie always, always had this knife with him, and it would seem strange that the knife was not with Stevie but in Terry Hobbs’ possession. It is possible that the knife could have been discovered at the scene and given to Terry Hobbs. Except that Pam knew nothing about it.
If that is the case, this would be the second instance in which Terry Hobbs failed to inform his wife about her son, the first being when Stevie Branch originally went missing and Hobbs delayed telling his wife for 5 hours. Pam has openly stated that she is somewhat suspicious of her ex-husband, and is praying that the three men convicted are either guilty, or given a new trial.
The West Memphis Police Department decided to investigate Terry Hobbs. They have conducted interviews with Hobbs and are now looking for any other evidence that may point him out as the killer. Between the DNA results and his ex-wife’s growing suspicion, trouble certainly seems to be brewing for Terry Hobbs. Many supporters see this as justice coming far too late. To quote one of them, "After all, didn’t the ‘West Memphis Three’ get convicted on less evidence that that?"
For those who believe the WM3 are indeed guilty, this is just a defense tactic to try and get these men a new trial. For supporters of the case, this is a cause for hope that Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley will be given a new trial, and that the real killer or killers will eventually be caught. Perhaps the final DNA results will yield the true answer to which persons decided to tie up three children, beat them to death, and leave them in a drainage ditch to die.
For Terry Hobbs, being linked to a crime scene where your step-son was found murdered, and being suspected of murder by your own ex-wife can't be a position he'd like to be in. Did a loving stepfather really plan and execute the murder of three 8 year old boys? Is the same man who shot his own brother in the abdomen, disabling him for life, guilty of capital murder?
Could it be that Terry Hobbs failed to tell his wife about her son's disappearance for five hours because he had a sinister reason to do so? For all parties involved, let's hope the final DNA test results will once and for all unmask the perpetrators of the murders and lay to rest the most famous case in Arkansas history.
By Mara Leveritt on Friday August 10, 2007
A reliable source close to the investigation has reported that Brent
Davis, the prosecuting attorney in the case of the West Memphis Three,
arranged this week for Arkansas officials to take possession of knives
that once belonged to Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of Stevie Branch, one
of three children murdered in 1993.
The source said the knives were to be transferred to state custody on
Wednesday. The knives had been given to an attorney representing one of
the teenagers convicted of the murders by Pamela Hobbs, Stevie's mother,
who was at the time married to Terry Hobbs.
The source also reported that Davis has cooperated with defense
attorneys in making arrangements to have the knives tested.
Time is running out, and we need your help. Please make checks
payable to the Damien Echols Defense Fund, PO Box 1216, Little Rock, AR
72203. You can also donate online, through PayPal to:
Just wanted to post this quote from Damien's wife's letter again and emphasize how important it is to raise the money needed. No amount is too small so please help us get this case to the Federal court. Thank you for all of the love and support. It's really making a difference.
Dear Friends & Supporters:
For more than a decade, thousands of you from all over the world have spoken out about the grave injustice in West Memphis, where three men – including my husband – were wrongfully convicted of murder. You have spoken out to raise money and awareness; you have brought widespread attention to this case and refused to let people forget that three men are in prison for a crime they did not commit; and you have made a difference, through creativity, passion and sheer force of will. The families of the West Memphis Three (Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin) can never thank you enough.
Today, I am writing to you because we urgently need your help. Whether you have supported and followed the case over the years, or you are just learning about this tragic injustice, we need you to step up today.
Over the last two years, compelling new evidence has been discovered by DNA tests, forensic pathologists and investigators. The lawyers are working to assemble what will be a dynamic appeal; one that will change forever the way this case has been perceived, and will prove – once and for all -- the innocence of the three convicted. The filing will include new evidence that is backed up with factual, hard science; a miraculous development in this error-ridden case.
Your support over the years has enabled us to achieve unbelievable progress. We’re now asking for your help to put all of this effort to work in the courts. We need the resources that will enable our experts, lawyers and investigators to work full time over the next couple of months, so the appeal can be filed as quickly as possible.
Time is running out, and we need your help. Please make checks payable to the Damien Echols Defense Fund, PO Box 1216, Little Rock, AR 72203. You can also donate online, through PayPal to: Ldavis11@hotmail.com.
If you have ever considered donating, the time is NOW. Cases like this take years and cost millions of dollars. We are in the final lap toward overturning these convictions and finally securing justice, but we simply cannot do it without the money it takes to bring all of the science and expertise and investigation into court so that the truth can finally come out.
I am not an expert on the law, science, the criminal justice system or the art of fundraising and organizing. What I know for sure is that these three men are innocent, and that we can prove it – if we have the money it will take in the next four weeks to file the appeal that’s been more than 10 years in the making. Please help us, and please know that your support has already gotten us farther than many people thought possible.
Thanks very much,
Lorri Davis and the Damien Echols Legal Team