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Episode 48

West Memphis Three

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On May 5th, 1993, Christopher Byers, Michael Moore and Stevie Branch left their houses on their bikes. In the community of West Memphis, Arkansas, the boys were last seen around 6 PM that evening on North 14th Street. 

Two hours later Christopher Byers father reported him missing. Shortly thereafter the parents of Michael and Stevie reported their sons missing as well. Only a cursory search of the area was done that night because of the time. During a more thorough search the next, the three boys bodies were discovered in a creek near the Robin Hood Hills.  


It didn't take long for the West Memphis Police to zone in on suspects for the crime. Their focus was quickly put on three teenagers from the area-Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley. The police thought the crimes had an occult overtone and accused the three teens. The community was swept with satanic panic. 
The West Memphis Three's Journey through the Justice System:

The case received an incredible amount of attention. In order to have a non-biased jury, the trials were held in Jonesboro, Arkansas. After presenting their case, the state of Arkansas secured three convictions. 

In February of 1994, Jessie Misskelley was convicted on one count first degree murder and two counts of second degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison plus forty years. The following month a jury convicted Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin of all three murders. Damien, thought to be the ring leader, was sentenced to death. Jason was sentenced to life in prison. 

The three teenagers were followed by a documentary crew during their first trials. The documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills talked with the victims' families as well. Upon viewing an early copy of the film, Kathy Bakken and her friend Burk Sauls felt the need to act to try and find justice not only for Christopher, Stevie and Michael-but also for Damien, Jason and Jessie.

The two started the website wm3.org. At the time the website was an early version of crowdsourcing. People in Arkansas would send in bits of the case file and trial. Ultimately the site was such a clearing house of information, attorneys used the documentation in appeals.   

The Release of the West Memphis Three:

Several of the Baldwin, Echols and Misskelley's appeals were denied. But finally DNA test and other forensics were conducted-including dental impressions. In November of 2010, the Arkansas Supreme Court ordered a new trial for the new evidence to be heard.

The defense teams began preparing for the new trials. But in August of 2011, the prosecution offered the three men an Alford plea. Jason Baldwin did not want to accept the plea because it accepts guilt while maintaining your innocence. But Damien Echols was still on death row at this point. All three men took the plea deal and were released from prison on August 19, 2011.
  

ASSIGNMENT:
While Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley have been released from prison, the murders of Christopher, Michael and Stevie remain unsolved. With the Alford pleas, the case is no longer open. But someone(s) is responsible for the deaths of these three little boys. 

We are looking for any information about the murders of Christopher Byers, Michael Moore and Stevie Branch. Please contact us with any information. 
 
CODE OF CONDUCT:  
1. Do not name names publicly. Send everything to the police or to this page and we will forward to the police.  
2. Do not post side by side photos.  
3. Do not contact any family members.  
4. Do not doxx each other and be civil. We all want the same thing.  

As tips come in, Jensen and Holes will work to verify them. If they look good, we will publish them here to try and get us closer to their names.


RELATED LINKS

If you would like to hear more about the case, you can watch "The West Memphis Three: An ID Murder Mystery" on InvestigationDiscovery.com or via the IDGo app.