Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

Just when I thought Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh couldn't get any more badass... :3 Still... #Prays the real murderers will be caught soon.

I ended up removing "UNEXPECTED PETER JACKSON IS UNEXPECTED!" as not being in tone with the rest of the entry. But I enjoy the image of him dropping into the prison with a briefcase full of money LIKE JUSTICE FROM ABOVE. Maybe Fran is fluttering beside him.

Thank you for your summary because it pieced together a lot of the things that I had been seeing in thew news. And who knows how many other people have been hurt by the true killers in the mean time?

I know, right? I just kept reading articles, trying to find out what the latest was, and I kept stumbling over details I'd either forgotten or never known at all. And I couldn't find any single article that would just TELL ME, GODDAMMIT. And it turns out that I'd never even heard the most compelling evidence--and none of it involved Mark Byers, who I was certain had done it.

Edited at 2011-08-20 11:27 pm (UTC)

You know, having read crimelibrary's description of the WM3 case earlier today (I've been following the case ever since I saw the documentary in 2000 in conjunction with Paradise Lost 2) and then reading that bit about Terry Hobbs, he fits the profile of the killer they came up with here, down the near the bottom almost disturbingly.

I'm so happy they're finally free (even with this complete bullshit plea agreement) and that they have enough good people around them to help them transition back into the real world.

I just realized that Crime Library would have a section on it--not terribly updated, though--so I'd just started reading it shortly after I hit post, yeah. My question at this point is--why did Christopher Byers get the worst injuries, if Terry Hobbs did it? What kind of interaction had they had before? I'm still trying to read up on what the hell any of it was supposed to be about, from the killer's point of view--why the boys were killed the way they were. I don't know that anyone can know, at this point.

Thank you for this summary, Cleo. I have followed the WM3 case, well, since it started, and never stopped hoping (and donating, when I could) that they would be released.

I'm not thrilled about the Alford plea, but they're finally free. That's huge.

I genuinely never thought this would happen--partly because the crime scene was so mishandled; I thought they'd never be able to pull out anything conclusive after all this time, so nothing would ever move forward.

I am DYING to know how this just suddenly all happened this week.

This is the best summary of this entire ordeal that I've read. Thanks for putting it together.

I teared up at work as the twitter developments kept pouring in. It's just astonishing.

On the witness stand, he testifies that he beat his stepson with a belt at 5:30 p.m. on the day of his death. The welts from the belt buckle previously had been linked to the ritual killing.

And he wasn't ever prosecuted for that? Not even the abuse? I mean, I know fundie communities have a "spare the rod" approach that's led to child deaths before (who knows, maybe that's what happened here) but- nobody thought to charge him for beating a child with a belt buckle?

Seriously! If you read deeper into the background material, prior sexual abuse of two of the boys was suspected before they were even killed. HEY LET'S GO ARREST THE KIDS WHO LIKE THE HEAVY METAL.

Thanks so much for the links...I'm just so appalled it took so long to see some kind of justice, no matter how half-assed.

Thanks for this. I kept hearing about this but had no idea what it was about. I had no idea it was about Satanism! I assumed it was about racism.

I knew nothing about this case until the other day when mentions of the men being freed started appearing on Twitter. It's like the Guilford Four and Maguire Seven all over again with the authorities insisting on someone's guilt despite the evidence.

This kind of thing makes me seriously sick to my stomach. And how does someone get used to being around people again after solitary confinement and the threat of execution for so long? I hope they have a good solid support system that stays when all the media interest dies down.

Thanks for the links and info.

Yeah. Think of it this way: these guys haven't slept in real beds in 18 years. How do you adjust from that?

Thank you for explaining some of the news I'd seen around. And for helping me with a bit of context for myself.

When I was in high school in the late nineties, I liked wearing black, listening to rock music, and reading Steven King. Now I know why my mother was so concerned that I was going to go join a cult or something. I thought she was crazy, but I didn't realize that her fear was part of the zeitgeist.

Speaking as one of the Resident Gothy Types, it's amazing how overwhelming the Satanic Panic was then. And sadly, it's still around. There are still swarms of babygoths and wee metalheads who have talked about being viewed with fear and suspicion, just because of what music and clothes they like.

Thank you for this! I had heard of the WM3 tangentially through references in music and so forth, but had otherwise no context whatsoever for the news stories.

*goes looking for books*

Great roundup of all of the pertinent info. I didn't know anything about this case until Thursday, and I immediately went looking for info. I also hunted down the two HBO films and watched those. John Mark Byers is WAY too interested in being around the media for him to have had nothing to do with it, IMO. And the thing with the teeth was incredibly suspect. He's SO creepy in the 2nd movie. I don't know, man. I hope Damien and the other boys keep working to find out what really happened, because they deserve to AT LEAST have their names cleared.

One more note...Damien said he was raped repeatedly in prison for over a year, and nobody ever did anything about it. So yet another tragedy out of all of this. Oh - and you might want to add that Byers' wife died suspiciously and unexpectedly as well.

Edited at 2011-08-21 01:16 am (UTC)

Oh, Jesus Christ. I was wondering if the guys were mistreated in prison... and then realized there was probably no way they weren't. Jesus.

Oh - and you might want to add that Byers' wife died suspiciously and unexpectedly as well.


I'm to a point where I feel like something is seriously shady with Byers, but I don't feel like anyone has compelling, actionable evidence to that effect. Not regarding this specific crime, anyway.

I HATE the whole Satanic Panic thing.

Thanks so much for this writeup.

The whole story is kind of mindboggling. I have the feeling I'm going to disappear down the related-link corridor on this one.....

Now you see why it took me 3-4 hours to write. I kept having to climb out of the linkspam rabbit hole.

Really, though, a lot of the links are just citations to show that I'm not making shit up, rather than fifty unique articles. If you go read the Wikipedia page straight through, that'll take care of a lot of it.

First of all, Jason Baldwin is a Big Damn Hero.

This means so much to me because I've followed this case since I saw the first PL when it originally aired and was floored and heartbroken by the way everything was handled, like the hog's ear the police made of the investigation, including but not limited to:

*refusing help from the vastly more experienced Violent Crimes Unit of the Arkansas State Police, likely because the staties were investigating the locals for thefts within the Crittenden Co Drug Task Force
*not securing the crime scene or evidence properly
*like, say, putting evidence in FUCKING GROCERY STORE PAPER BAGS
*wearing the same fucking shoes they wore to the crime scene to the Bojangles where "Mr. Bojangles" was reported
*not keeping a clamp on information about the case and then acting like it was a surprise that Damien had some ideas about what had happened because EVERYONE was talking about it, no duh
*interrogating Jessie for 12 hours and recording a total of 46 minutes of it

and I could go on and on and the fact that I could just hurts me.

I watched PL today and I noticed something today (in my 20/20 hindsight) during the part where they're showing the photos of the boys as they were found*, which I'd totally forgotten they did and was incredibly startled by: They show the Byers and the Hobbses during this part. Mrs. Hobbs and the Byers are stricken. All of them look like they're trying to retreat within themselves. Terry Hobbs, on the other hand, is looking around. Again, this is my hindsight bias, but it struck me as odd.

I was at school on Friday and don't bring my laptop because I don't want to haul it around, so I was obsessively checking Twitter and Google News on my phone all day. When it started happening for real, I was sitting at the library desperately fighting the urge to weep (oh noes, my winged eyeliner!).

I drove through West Memphis a few years back on my return from Little Rock. Creepy place, even in daylight. You can see it in this picture, just across the bridge from Memphis and behind that FREE MAN.

Finally, I believe this deal was orchestrated by the Echols attorneys but even they never believed it would happen like that. I've been following wm3.org on Twitter for a while and was very befuddled when I saw their tweet on Thursday about the hearing because like the PL filmmakers, I was thinking the next big news would come in December.

Finally finally, I keep giggling to myself at how weird the world must be to them now. "It was as if you could see two little 5-year-old kids at their first Christmas. They were trying food they had never seen before, they were fascinated by a cell phone, more fascinated by an iPhone and then the idea you could take pictures with an iPhone totally blew them away, so they were taking a lot of pictures." :D :D :D

*Well, sort of. They did remove the bodies from the creek before the coroner could get there...you know, when they called him a few HOURS after the bodies were discovered.

Yeah, I'm over at Crime Library and that jivepuppi.com site reading more details about the investigation ("investigation") and it's just... what? Do you even go here? Did you just walk off the street and pick up a badge? That's why I stopped with the forced confession and the "witness" who was threatened, because otherwise we would have been here all day.


And I had not heard about Mr. Bojangles AT ALL. I would dismiss it as something strange but unrelated, except for the third hair the DNA investigation found. Does anyone even have a solid idea of who that guy could have been?

You probably know the most about all of this, of the people I've talked to--what's your theory, about what happened/who did it/why/wtf?

A childhood friend of mine was murdered a few years ago. Shot in his condo during a robbery, then it was set on fire. The kid they charged with his killing entered an Alford plea to avoid a second trial; his first ended in a hung jury. At the time, I didn't understand why an Alford plea even existed.

Now I can see a very good reason for the option. Thank you for the summary.

I'm so sorry about your friend. But yes, the Alford plea (from what I understand) can be like saying, "I didn't do it, but the evidence you have makes me look guilty, and there is no way a jury will believe otherwise." I wonder if they agreed to it after the hung jury because neither side was sure they would win a retrial.

Really does something for one's confidence in law enforcement, don't it?

I really hate to add this on such a serious post, but there's this interesting article that I thought you might like, if you haven't already seen it:


Galveston police say the man forced his way into the apartment of a woman he did not know and made growling and hissing noises while biting and hitting the victim in her bed.

Found in a parking lot and wearing only boxer shorts, the pierced and tattooed Bensley claimed he was a 500-year-old vampire who needed to "feed," Galveston Police Capt. Jeff Heyse said.

As you do.

Dude, I don't know why everyone always has to bring Twilight into this, because that is some True Blood shit right there. Edward Cullen ain't never gonna be creepin' around parking lots in his boxers and tattoos. Though I'll admit that an overall media obsession with vampires in general is going to lead to an increase in vampirism as the delusion of choice. But these are people who are going to be having delusions anyway--it's not caused by [insert cultural zeitgeist here]. I remember a few months back I posted two different stories from Seattle--one guy claimed he was a vampire, and one guy claimed he was a werewolf. Also, one of them claimed he had a bomb. I think it was the werewolf.

Glad as hell for justice. And regarding Satanic panic, and all that bullshit--I'll just leave this here:

Yes, that song! I thought of it earlier myself as I reflected on the Satanic Panic and the attitudes it created. Thanks for posting!

Damn. All this after I spend the whole day on the CreepyPasta wiki.

Thanks for going to all the trouble of putting this in plain English.

I've been spending way too much time at the SCP Foundation wiki, if it makes you feel any better.

Holy shit.

As someone who's known nothing about this (I was a toddler when this first went down), thank you for writing this up.

This whole case just screams 'Witch Hunt'. And the fact that everything about the "investigation" is shady as hell...ugh.

But thank goodness those men our free. The damage has been done and is still there but at least THEY can have a bit of closure.

Oh my dear lord, that case description was like an Innocence Project checklist. (I volunteered for an Innocence Project in law school; I'm not just throwing that out there.)

Anyway...once you got to the sources of private funding that helped get these men justice, that's when I really wanted to start retching. Because there is just no way they would be free now without all that money, is there? And there are so many railroaded defendants out there who never had that kind of support, or - like Cameron Todd Willingham - didn't get it until it was too late. In a way, that financial generosity and media attention are just as arbitrary as the prosecutorial discretion that got these three men imprisoned in the first place. And what does that say about our justice system?

Yeah. It took seven years of Lord of the Rings money to set these guys free, basically. It says a lot that they had so many committed supporters raising money for them, and it still wasn't enough.

This is one of the things I get angry about, yeah. To make a comparison--I get angry about the healthcare situation in this country because I have seen so many people who need help and can't get it, and I just want to go to Congress and scream that Livejournal is not an acceptable healthcare plan. I'm glad to help people who are taking up collections, but they shouldn't have to.

In the same vein, I don't think documentaries and celebrity fundraising should have to be necessary legal defenses.

like Cameron Todd Willingham

Oh God, I hadn't read about that. Of course Rick Perry was involved.

I had to do some link-following myself yesterday, to refresh my memory about the details of this case--I saw Paradise Lost at a film festival shortly before it aired on HBO--and the sense of pure dumbfounded incredulity mixed with flaming outrage that I had at the time came roaring straight back as strong as the moment I first had it. How utterly frightening it is that this could not only happen, but go on for so long, and that even in the end the people who perpetrated the injustice weren't even willing to admit they were wrong.

And yeah, I too find myself thinking about how all of this has pretty much cost any reasonable chance of identifying the real killer(s) and how utterly tragic that is.

Thank you so much for all the info. There's a lot to follow up on here.

As glad as I am to hear these men have been released now, it's heartbreaking to think the real murderers have walked free. And how the hell do you recuperate from 18 years in prison, 10 of which Echols spent in solitary confinement? I mean Jesus Christ, that shit is fucked up.

The state had better pay out the frigging nose for their rehab.


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