On May 5th, 1993 three eight year old boys were murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas. Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were arrested, tried and convicted of killing Michael Moore, Stevie Branch, and Chris Byers. In 2011, they pled guilty to the crimes using an Alford Plea, yet were released from prison with time served. There are many important facts left out of the documentaries, books, and most media coverage about the West Memphis Three (WM3) case.
The three boys who were murdered.
The majority of evidence was circumstantial, dating back to Echols’ troubled childhood that consisted of violence and psychiatric treatment. When juvenile officer Jim Jones heard about the murders, he went directly to Echols for questioning. Jones had no evidence to prove Echols was involved, but he had heard his name frequently from fellow juvenile officer Jerry Driver, who had run-ins in the past with the teen.
“My heart, soul, body, and mind all have scars that will never properly heal. Still I survived.” - Damien Echols
Police officers James Sudbury and Steve Jones felt that the crime had "cult" overtones, and that Damien Echols might be a suspect because he had an interest in occultism, and Jones felt Echols was capable of murdering children. The police interviewed Echols on May 7, two days after the bodies were discovered. During a polygraph examination, he denied any involvement. The polygraph examiner claimed that Echols' chart indicated deception. On May 9, during a formal interview by Detective Bryn Ridge, Echols mentioned that one of the victims had wounds to the genitals; law enforcement viewed this knowledge as incriminating
Echols and Baldwin entered what is known as an Alford plea on three counts of first degree murder. Misskelley entered similar pleas to one count of first degree murder and two counts of second degree murder. Allowing all of them to be let free.