Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the Grounds of Innocence

Hello fellow bloggers, readers, and passers-by,

For sometime, I've been addicted to the idea of crime scene investigation. So much so that I ventured to college to achieve my associates in Criminal Justice. Having graduated a year ago tomorrow, I returned this fall semester to continue my learning in hopes of reaching a bachelors and then a masters in Criminology -- long story short, I'm fascinated by the process and while the majority of crimes scenes are of a grotesque nature, I feel the passion to help solve the crime. With that being said, I must maintain an open mind, looking at all angles and even profiling the case to the best of my slightly-better-than-novice ability.

Monday, September 12, 2011

SHAWN MORGAN UPDATE

Hello all,

     In the middle of World Lit I homework and while watching our local news station, KAIT 8 News, reports that Prosecutor Sokoloff of Dunklin County has amended the charges in which Shawn Morgan is facing. Originally, it was first-degree murder, armed criminal action and tampering with evidence. However, in late August, kidnapping charges were added. BOMBSHELL *Nancy Grace style* TONIGHT -- Shawn Morgan is being charged with possession of CHILD PORNOGRAPHY!

     Haven't had time to upload or include the link, but you can find it at http://www.kait8.com and see for yourself!

     Happy Reading!

Until Tomorrow,
LaVonda
PS... Sorry I've not updated in a while, classes are Major HARD! Back to you as soon as possible!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Act of Freedom

Hello fellow bloggers, readers and passers-by,
It was a cloudy day outside the Craighead County Courtroom as news channels arrived with their eager reporters ready to catch the breaking news of the short notice hearing of the West Memphis Three. But for many, it would be a waiting game, relying on tweets, texts and iphone radio apps to hear what was being said inside the courtroom. Though it was a public hearing, seating was especially limited and only a few citizens were able to make it in time to get a seat. While I was not one of the lucky few, a chance meeting with a lady from Paragould would see to it I stayed informed.

     Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing her and getting the details that many were not privvy to. The following is the interview between myself and April Pillow, a resident of Greene County.

LE: Hello.
AP: Hello, How are you today?
LE: I'm doing ok. I'm, I'm trying to, trying to just still get a grip on the whole thing. It's, it's been very, very surreal almost.
AP: I know (inaudible). You know last night they was [sic] in Memphis, did you see that?

Freed West Memphis Three, Damien Echols, high atop
Madison Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee 8/19/2011

LE: Yes I did, and I saw some pictures on line from it. Did, did you see the picture of, of Damien on  top of the roof at the hotel?
AP: No, I wish you'd send it to me.
LE: It's, I think, I think I posted it on my wall, if you will go to my Facebook page and look on my wall, I think I posted it on there.
AP: ok. Does he look happy?
LE: Oh he does. He, well, you remember, I can't remember if it was in an interview that he'd done outside of the documentary or if it was on the documentary, but he had said the only thing he wanted, the thing that he missed the most was seeing the stars at night. And, the sun was setting it was such a beautiful, just a beautiful sunset, and you could see the bridge in the background and, oh it was just, it was, it was a very beautiful picture - it was breath-taking.
LE: ok. Well, uh, let's go ahead and get started.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Come Together, Right Now, Over Me

Hello fellow bloggers, readers and passers-by,

     It was my intention to devote numerous posts to this blog about the infamous West Memphis Three. To share the story of the victims and the persons found guilty for those crimes. And it was also my understanding that I would have until sometime in December to get us all up-to-date on the hearing scheduled to review new evidence after the State Supreme Court ruled they should get a new hearing. Alas, the fates would not be so thoughtful.

     Just a mere 33 hours ago, news reports started filtering in that a short notice hearing would be held in Jonesboro on August 19, 2011. Not December 2011. Not October 2011... Just one day away. Reading these reports, I felt a rush of adrenalin, an urge of satisfaction and a whim of worry. adrenalin because I knew the West Memphis 3 would be at the forefront of every media network and they would drudge up the 'blind' stories of Wicaa, Satanism and Black Magic that for months, filled the headlines and caused bias in the rural towns where the hearings would take place. These same biases would taint the opinion of the masses, because sometimes, old dogs can't learn new tricks, or in this case, open their eyes and see that the aforementioned beliefs are entirely seperate beliefs, one having nothing to do with the other. Read this post for details.

     In an effort to better understand what this immediate hearing was to entail, I turned to local news sources. But they were reporting something I couldn't fathom! 2 of the 3 may be released? What? How? When? How? Why? HOW? I knew the evidence they had looked pretty strong based on what was seen in the second documentary. But how had this happened? What had changed now that wouldn't have happened in December? To figure this out, I traveled to their support site. From the articles stated on the site, "Alford plea", "guilty plea" and "release all three" were the only words my eyes would focus on.

     Now I really was confused. I know they are innocent. Their supporters, their family members, the documentaries... all point to innocent. WHY would they plea guilty? I figured they had the State on the run with the evidence that surfaced in 2007 and the A.G. didn't want to take on the case. Then I seen the word Alford plea. This sparked my memories from Criminal Justice class. I knew something about it, but not enough to fully understand how it could pertain to the case. Visit this link to learn more about Alford Plea.

     After reading this information and remembering that unlike the Casey Anthony case in Florida, I'm only a mere 30 minutes away from Jonesboro, Arkansas -- and I was bound and determined to be at the hearing. Texting my dear sister in law, I convince her go, and me and hubby ride along.

     The mood was almost surreal. The site was something out of a movie: News reporters filled the sidewalk as their white vans, decked out with satellites and deco paint jobs advertised their channels. People from all walks of life ventured out to the Craighead County Courthouse, some in support of the West Memphis 3: Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, JR., and some were not. I only seen a couple that did not agree with the issue of releasing the men who had been accused and found guilty of the murder of 3 - 8 year old boys in West Memphis in 1993. One person I didn't expect: John Mark Byers, step-father of Christopher Byers who died on that tragic day in May. If you've seen either of the two HBO Documentaries, you know that Byers certainly looks like he could be guilty... But looks don't count in the justice system. And if you've read my previous posts about the WM3, you've read an introduction to him. The information posted hasn't changed. However, my opinion of him has gone to a safer zone on the 'people to suspect' thermometer. Why? Because he supports their innocence and wants true justice for the murders of Christopher Byers, Stevie Branch and Michael Moore. Byers stated, "They didn't kill my son" only moments after he arrived to the courthouse. I was so impressed with his statements, I asked for a photo with him; he graciously accepted.

     Interviews with supporters would continue through out the morning and I became privy to listening to a lot of them... Even speaking on camera for one documentary crew (not the HBO crew). One woman believed that they were innocent, but she was loud in her protest about the State dropping the ball in the case and about who actually killed the boys. Though I didn't hear her name, she did rattle off several jobs she had working with Judges in the tri-county area. And one woman even smelled of alcohol, though she avoided any direct attention.

     The courtroom filled to quickly for me to get in, so I lingered outside the courthouse, watching as key people arrived. I seen Jessie Misskelley, SR arrive, smiling but looking very tired. I seen Damien Echols mother, who looked like she was having trouble believing this was actually happening. She later stated in an interview, "it's like I can't wake up from a dream." I was also able to catch a glimpse of Steven Branch and a man with him. I didn't recognize him from the documentaries and he was very upset. I didn't venture to speak with them. In a bizarre twist, standing in what I thought would be the appropriate place for the three to exit, as did every one else standing there, we find out through tweets and chatter that they will be released from the back of the building. We take of running to see a yellow barrier. Standing what had to be 100 feet away, I could barely make out a specific hair color, much less be able to identify or get a good picture of the three as they exit for freedom in what has to be the most happiest day of their lives!

     Panic soon consumed me and I ventured across the street. Police officers swarmed, but I was not about to miss a picture! (Granted, I left my Canon at home, so I was forced to use my itty-bitty-phone-cam!) And the weather was not cooperative. Fat rain sprinkles, thin rain sprinkles, rain sprinkles that were undecided on their size... And then the sun came out, just long enough to warm it up about 8 degrees. Then, right when we are about to wilt, we see Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines exit through the side door and walk right in front of us. Weather not cooperating, my phone cam steams over but I manage a couple of shots. Vedder, looking out the side door of the luxury van, places his hands together in thanking manner, showing he appreciates our support as we appreciate his. Then the waiting game for the three! But they do emerge. Damien wearing a black suit, his wife Lori, by his side. Jason Baldwin exited as well. The crowd chanted "freedom, freedom" as Echols waived and gave a smile. Misskelley was released a bit later and we had already left... I have kids, I couldn't stay there forever! :)

     I did make a friend that was in the courtroom and she said I could interview her about the mood in the courtroom and share it with you all... However, I can't do this until later tonight. But it will be posted for you all to read as fast as my fingers will type it!

     Until then, enjoy the pictures from the day and remember! Three lives were not the only ones taken, but three can work towards helping find the true murderers. Let's pray true justice is found!

Until tomorrow,
LaVonda

West Memphis Three Finally Free Photo Album

Raw Video Footage from WMC News 5 in Memphis, yours truly in White and Black blouse at :36


West Memphis 3 footage


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shawn Morgan, Senath, Had Previous Criminal Record


The man accused of killing a 3-year-old Missouri girl has a criminal record in Arkansas for threatening to blow up the factory where he worked, according to court records obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, the small town of Senath, Mo., prepares to say goodbye to Breeann Rodriguez with a memorial service on Friday and funeral on Saturday.
Records from Greene County, Ark., show that Shawn Morgan of Senath pleaded no contest in 2004 to a misdemeanor charge of making a terroristic threat. He served one year of probation and was fined $1,000.

Before the plea agreement, Morgan was originally charged with felony threatening to cause a catastrophe for leaving notes in a restroom stall at Prestolite Wire Corp. in Paragould, Ark., in May 2002.

"Notice if Eddie, Britt, Amy, & Gary B. aren't fire soon I will leave a bomb and blow everybody up I'm not joking Take me seriosly," read a note on May 7, 2002. Two days later, another note in the restroom read, "Bomb baby boom."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Writers Response

Wow! I've never had that many replies to any one post in my entire life -- and I've posted about children being murdered, slaughtered, sold, turned into sex slaves, etc, and the one topic that gets wide attention is the fact that a murderers family photos are posted on a blog that are also posted on their spouse's myspace page! I wish I could this many people interested in ending Child Abuse on a larger level! Don't just preach about a photo online, but actually BE THE VOICE for children who are Abused and Neglected! Join me? http://www.facebook.com/heartheircries

I expect 21 new page likes based on the feedback from the previous blog about Shawn Morgan... Or are you just hypocrits?

Mix of emotions at that right now. I can't decide whether to remove the photos or leave them. If I remove them completely, no one will have the opportunity to see them unless they search for them. If I leave them, I will continue to alienate my readers and I do not want that type of bad publicity, as my blog is to speak out for justice, not taint the public with the belief that I am a soulless creature determined to ruin the lives of those who are innocent for the sake of attention... So not me! Completely opposite in fact. I want to make known the issues at hand and show a true and genuine concern for the truth -- albeit a confession or a case gone disasterously wrong in sight of Lady Justice.

So, I have come to this conclusion -- and so people will no longer flood my inbox out of concern for the innocent -- I am removing the photos! But, I will paste the link to Tonya's Myspace page so that anyone who wants to see the photos can, at their leisure and their discretion. The only one who will then be responsible is Tonya, who failed to protect her page by blocking it's viewable content. If you have children and you post photos on a social networking site, take the precautions to prevent them from being seen by those you do not want to have access.

Until tomorrow,
LaVonda

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Who is Shawn Morgan


     Hello fellow bloggers, readers and passers-by,

     I want you to take a moment and think about your neighbors. Some of you have hundreds, some of you have one... and if your like the majority of southerners who are tired of people in general, your closest neighbor is a mile or two away. But in Senath, Missouri, most are fairly close. And in Senath, you have a relationship with your neighbors. You watch out for each other, speak to each other, even share recipes and garden goods with each other. But the one thing you never think about; the one thing you could never imagine: your neighbor killing your child.

     Senath is a fairly small town. Some 2,000 or so people. I want you to imagine you never lock your doors, you let your children play outside without standing 'right over them'. Because in Senath that is how it used to be. Until August 6, 2011. On this day, a simple man, a neighbor, someones husband, father, brother, uncle, nephew, son and fellow church member done the unthinkable. He took someones child and ended her life. He took a three year old, reportedly suffocated her and then disposed of her bike and her body.

Meet Shawn Morgan
Now, don't let your eyes play tricks on you. This man is married, with three children. One boy and two girls. His wife's name is Tonya M. Morgan. And when I learned this man was the person responsible for BreeAnn Rodriguez's disappearance, I began a mission to find out who he really is. All information was obtained from online websites.

Over the course of two hours, I had found out that he and his wife had lived in Kennett and Senath, Missouri as well as Paragould, Arkansas. He has an alias of Shawn D. Morgan and Shawn S. Morgan. His address is listed on pipl.com as 116 Ode Johnson Street in Senath, Missouri. He was born in October of 1968. He married Tonya M. Morgan and had three children. She is a Sagittarius according to her myspace page.

And on that same page, a simple 20 friends were listed. Granted, she had not been on that page in a while; nearly 3 years. But something I found interesting. She dressed as a devout Pentecostal woman. Her friends were definitely affiliated with the same religion. Looking at one friends page, Michelle Masters-Crider, I noticed she was employed with the Kennett Police Department as a dispatcher. Again, it had been some time since that page had been accessed by the user as well. Back to Tonya's page, I find "Mr. Preacherman". Finding that an odd nickname for a Myspace page, I click it. And to my surprise, he is a churchgoer... who is also a police officer for the Kennett Police Department. But that is on Tonya's page, not Shawn's. I could not find any social media sites that he uses, nor could I find any blogs or pictures, except for what was on his wife's myspace page.

(Read this post for info on the photos and the writers choice to remove them from this blog)

To see Tonya's Myspace photos, visit her page.  UPDATE 8/16/11 -- Page has been disabled.

So turning my attention to Shawn, because he is the one in question, I discovered a little bit more. He graduated in 1986 from Senath Hornersville High School. According to other sources, Shawn was employed by Tenaris, a steel pipe manufacturing plant, the nearest being in Blytheville, AR.  Authorities at this hour are working near Cottonplant, which is due east of Senath and is the main route to Blytheville, if he did in fact dispose of the body in that location.

Tenaris Hickman Facility in Blytheville, Arkansas


View Larger Map


In addition to his background, it was rumored that Shawn Morgan made a terroristic threat on a previous employer, Prestolite Wire in Paragould. He was not only fired but had criminal charges brought upon him. The FBI was involved with that issue about 9 years ago, but as of this blogpost, I was unable to confirm or deny that rumor. UPDATE click here.
According to public records, on July 20, 2000, he received a driving infraction for failure to have a person under the age of 16 properly safety belted in the front seat. His fine: $10.00.

Something a little stronger on the issue of lack of responsibility. In 2008, a CC Cert of Lein - DOR Taxes case was brought before the court. Shawn and Tonya had failed to pay their taxes. $489.00 in taxes due, plus interest at $28.22, additional fees at $24.45 and the lein fee of $4.50 brought the total to $546.17.  This was the property tax due for their home. The county sued in September of 2010 for the past due taxes, according to public records..

I've yet to find any information on his wife's employment. However, another rumor is floating that his wife came back from a mini-vacation of sorts and said he was acting strangely and turned him in herself. A local blog chat member stated they work at Tenaris-along side Shawn Morgan and his employer stated that Shawn Morgan did not report for work the night the little girl went missing.

     We all want to hope and and pray that this little girl is alive, but having been told by police officials that she was suffocated, it's hard to have faith even the size of a mustard seed. All we can do now is pray she is found, give her the proper burial she deserves and see to it that punishment is carried swiftly and harshly for the man named Shawn Morgan.

     Until Tomorrow,
     LaVonda

Behind The Scenes In Rural America

Hello fellow bloggers, readers and passers-by,

     I want you to step out of your back door, away from the bright lights of the big city and step into rural America -- Senath (SEE'nith), Missouri. A small town that is a nothing but a blip on the map. Surrounded by crops fields of cotton, watermelon, cantaloupe and corn, Senath is home to a consolidated school which is shared with another small town called Hornersville. Shopping consists of a Dollar General store, a locally owned and operated pharmacy, an insurance agency, and a General store. Senath State Bank is the financial institution of their town and the Postal Service is located beside City Hall. At one time, Ramey's would be the local grocery store, but met its demise in a fire not long ago. A small town park sits just off main street known as Commercial Street. A restaurant exists as well as a couple of flea markets. Two co-ops exist to help meet the demands of local cotton growers. Government housing is found on Highfill street and the majority of people are friendly southern folk who spend their past time tending the garden, supporting local school athletic teams and traveling the 9.5 miles to Kennett, Missouri, for the county fair, which is kicked off by a parade down First Street on the second Tuesday of every September. According to the 2000 Census, Senath residents totaled 2,302. Jobs are scarce in the area as most people commute to Kennett, Hayti, or Steele for jobs. Some will venture to Arkansas which is a hop, skip and jump from Senath. Rector being the closest town in Arkansas, but Paragould, Blytheville, and Jonesboro being the more likely.

     Senath is just a small town full of friendly people who are genuinely nice and help look out for each other. Over the past ten years, more out-of-towners are seen taking up homestead in this rural town. Hispanic speaking citizens are seen more often than not because of the high demand for farm work. The schools are small with a student-teacher ratio of about 9:1. Classes are small, but the hearts of the students and teachers are huge. You can see your teacher at school on Monday, at church on Wednesday and at the store on Friday -- and you better believe your parents knew if you ditched -- parents and teachers are tight like that. You never had to worry about locking your doors or letting your kids play outside. Everyone cared and watched out for each other. In the entire time that Senath has existed, no crime of any major case had occurred. Sure, people would drink, and fight, and sometimes they would drive fast... But you never worried or felt compelled to stay closed up indoors.

MAP OF SENATH


View Larger Map

Around the town


Senath Hornersville student signs
promise



Ramey Supermarket as it burns

    















Senath High School girls perform during
fundraiser

Students working on assignments in
Trina Johnson's Classroom at Senath Hornersville

















Snow and ice during the winter season


A major cash crop for the Bootheel of Missouri



Self Explanatory

     But the days of not locking your doors in this rural area have come and gone. On Saturday August 6, in the during the noon hour, this quiet little community would have their reality tested. Their would be tragedy gracing every doorstep, heartbreak around every corner. On this day, a little girl by the name of BreeAnn Rodriguez would disappear.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Man Called Byers

Mark Byers

Meet John Mark Byers.  You may remember him from petty crimes in Cherokee Village, Arkansas. But you may remember him easier from 1993. John Mark Byers adopted Christopher Mark Byers, who was born on June 23, 1984.

Christopher Mark Byers was 8 years old and attended school just down the street from his residence in West Memphis, Arkansas. Christopher and his friends, Michael and Stevie were murdered on May 5th, 1993.

According to the families of the three boys, they were last seen together between 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on the evening of 5 May 1993. The three boys had finished school for the day at Weaver Elementary School at 3:00 p.m. Steven Branch went home but left shortly afterwards, according to his mother Pam Hobbs. Christopher Byers’s step-father, John Mark Byers, arrived home at 3:10 p.m. but Christopher was not there, his brother Ryan arrived home at 3:30 p.m. Chris did not have a key to the house and was expected to wait outside until Ryan arrived to let him in.

John Mark Byers drove Ryan to the courthouse for a 4:00 p.m. appointment. After dropping Ryan he drove to pick up his wife, Melissa Byers from work. They both arrived back at their home at 5:20 p.m. to find that Chris was not at home, although there was evidence that he had been there. Soon after, John Mark Byers left home to pick up Ryan, but on the way he found Christopher riding a skateboard. He took Christopher home where Byers gave him "2 or 3 licks" with a belt, in the presence of Melissa, as punishment for not staying at home as instructed. Before returning to the courthouse to pick up Ryan, Byers instructed Christopher to clean up the carport area. He was last seen doing this at 5:30 p.m. by Byers.

At 6:30 p.m. John Mark Byers claims that he arrived home from the courthouse with Ryan to find that Chris was again not at home. Melissa was inside on the phone with her boss and had not been aware that Chris was gone again. John, Melissa and Ryan Byers left their home at 6.30 p.m. to drive around the neighborhood in order to find Chris. During the course of this search Byers informed a police officer of his son’s disappearance. According to Byers, he was told to wait until 8:00 p.m. before making an official report with the police. Byers explained to the officer that the reason he was so concerned was that Chris had never disappeared like this before. This statement was later contradicted by Melissa Byers, during an interview on 25 May 1993, when she told police that Christopher had disappeared on several other occasions for hours at a time.

John Mark Byers called the West Memphis Police Department at 8:00 p.m. to report that his step-son Christopher was missing. In response to this report Officer Regina Meek (the officer who failed to follow up on the Mr. Bojangles Call) went to the Byers' home. Fifteen minutes later, Diana Moore spoke with John Mark Byers, informing him that she had seen the three boys at 6:00 p.m. Byers stated that this was the first time he had been aware that Chris was not alone. Together with Diana Moore, Melissa Byers and Ryan Byers, John Mark Byers began to search the Robin Hood Hills area, the last known location of the boys. It was already dark by then, according to Byers. At some time between, 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Byers went home alone to change out of the shorts and thongs that he had been wearing, into a pair of overalls and boots. At the time that he left, the search party consisted of Ryan Byers, Ritchie Masters, Brett Smith and his sister, along with many others. They were soon joined by Officer Moore from the West Memphis Police Department, who continued to search with them from 10:20 until 11:00 p.m.

Blue Beacon Truck Wash #38
3904 Petro Road
West Memphis, AR 72301
I-40/55, Exit 280/4
John Mark Byers along with law enforcement officials scoured the area for hours. When John Mark Byers arrived home at 11:00 p.m. on May 5th, he called the Sheriff to request a search and rescue team. He was told to call Denver Reed, the leader of the Crittenden County team the following morning. He and Ryan left the house again and drove to the Blue Beacon Truck Wash. Here he told the people inside that he was looking for Chris and two other boys. He then drove his vehicle around the back. For some time Byers and Ryan shouted for the boys and honked their horn. After not hearing anything, John Mark Byers and his son Ryan left for the night.

Looking west from the discovery site.  The trail on the right goes to the southeastern corner of the Blue Beacon lot. The trail on the left joins the trail to the pip (see below). Note, in the interior of the woods, the trails are well-defined.  

Aerial View of Robin Hood Hills, Pipe where bikes were found.





Notes: a,b, and c represent the homes of Moore, Byers, and Branch, respectively.
Lakeshore is the neighborhood where Jason Baldwin lived, Broadway Trailer Park is where Damien Echols lived, and Highland Trailer Park is where Jessie Misskelley lived.


Police sketch of crime scene area including the paths to the west of the discovery site.
Note the location of the bodies in the ditch and the location of the Blue Beacon Truck Stop.
This would not generally be a big deal. However, John Mark Byers seems too -iffy. After the bodies were found, John Mark Byers showed genuine anguish for the loss of his stepson. But, in November 1993, John Mark Byers was interrogated by WMPD officers after he had given a knife to a member of a film crew who were making a documentary about the case. During questioning by the police, John Mark Byers admitted that he had given the knife away. He also stated that his wife Melissa had given it to him for Christmas, two or three years previously and he had never used it. He kept it in the top drawer of a dresser in his bedroom where he was sure that neither of the boys could have gained access to it. When asked whether anyone might have cut themselves with the knife, Byers stated that he was certain that no one had. This story changed when the interviewing officer told him that blood had been found on the knife. Byers then recalled that he had used the knife to cut up some deer meat at home. When he was told that the blood found on the knife had matched Christopher’s blood type, Byers continued to assert that he had no idea how Christopher’s blood had come to be there.

Later after test results on Melissa, Ryan and John Mark Byers were concluded, it was found that the blood stains matched in blood type with both John and Christopher Byers. No further testing was carried out which could have determined more conclusively whether it was Christopher or John Mark Byers’s blood.
Another item of evidence which could have linked John Mark Byers to the murders, at least as much as any evidence brought against Damien, Jason and Jessie, was the presence of another human hair on the victim’s clothing. It was a black Caucasian hair which was shown to appear microscopically similar to both John Mark Byers and Damien Echols. Unfortunately, nothing more specific was determined. 

In addition to the blood on the knife, later forensic review of the bodies established that specific injuries to the face of one of the victims was initially charged as a belt buckle mark, later proved to be that of human bite marks. One way, and the best way that John Mark Byers could clear his name would be to provide a bite sample. Plainly stated, have an impression of his dental bites taken to compare to the injuries sustained by the boy(s). But that will never happen. Not because he doesn't want to, but rather, John Mark Byers doesn't have any teeth. Claiming medication side-effects by Tegretol caused him to incur Periodontal disease, he stated he had his teeth removed months before the murders occurred. However, upon later submission of dental records, his teeth were surgically removed in April 1997, nearly four years after the murders.

During this interrogation the interviewing officer asked Byers what medication he was on to which he answered Xanax and Zorinal which he stated were anti-depressants. When he was asked whether he had any other medication he told police no, yet he had stated at other times that he was taking Tegretol which is the brand name of the drug Carbamazepine. This is the same substance which was found in non-therapeutic amounts in Christopher’s blood after his death. Christopher had also been taking Tegretol according to his medical records, but Byers had stated that Chris had not taken his medication on the day that he went missing.

Although there were many items of evidence that could have pointed to John Mark Byers as the murderer of the three boys, he was never considered by police as a suspect nor was he ever thoroughly investigated. It is interesting to note that John Mark Byers was on very friendly terms with the investigating officers and was a drug informant for the WMPD at the time of the murders. Could bias in favor of Byers and against Echols on the part of the investigating police have blinded them to any evidence which might have led the investigation away from Damien and toward Byers?

Finally, the tennis shoe imprint which was found on the creek bank near the bodies, did not match with any footwear owned by Damien, Jessie or Jason. This fact would again suggest that police should have been concentrating their investigations in another direction.

But the evidence against John Mark Byers doesn't end there. His demeanor in the documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and Paradise Lost: Revelation showed extreme mental ranges in the man. He self-admission of a brain tumor and the fact that he is heavily medicated with Xanax, Zoloft, Sinequan, Haldol, and Depakote leads one to believe he has the capabilities of causing the deaths of these boys. Not only that but in the latter documentary, John Mark Byers looked guilty, if such a look could exist.
Five years after the crimes, Byers returns to the scene. Through the overgrown brush, he remembers the way to where his sons body was found. He then begins digging three graves and puts what appears to be leaves or grass/brush in them. He covers them with dirt and places sticks of wood with crime scene tape on them as headstones for the three suspects. He then spits on their graves and covers them with lighter fluid, sets it on fire and burns it. While doing this, he is speaking in a calm, rational tone, almost as if he were giving an interview. He begins to show extreme anger toward the three suspects, almost a psychotic rage.

Furthermore, the neurologist for Christopher Byers who treated Chris' ADHD with Ritalin said he had no answers for why the medication was not abating his behavior. It is my belief that his step-father, John Mark Byers was using Ritalin as an amphetamine and refusing to give the medication to Christopher, which would explain his continuous display of negative behavior. It is also my belief that Chris was being abused by Mark Byers and his mother was unaware of the majority of the abuse.

During the latter documentary, John Mark proceeds to tell the official submitting the Lie Detector Test that he has been diagnosed with Manic Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Later he stated, "I've had hallucinations. I've had nightmares of hearing my son screaming."  John Mark Byers admitted that when the DA was describing the injuries to his son during the trial, it brought back memories of when he was attacked.  "When I was tortured and when I was attacked and when I had five people beat me up and torture me, but I lived through it. But it brought back all those feelings and all those emotions and it's like they were reading off what happened to me and I lived through it and it was like a mental thing and I had a mental breakdown from hearing it, reliving it all over again, except it wasn't me, it was my son." He stated that if he doesn't take his prescribed medication, he gets paranoid. 

One can't help but also notice his statements he makes. The are drenched with guilt, only in submissive rather than exploitative form. He stated in an interview prior to the bodies being found, "they haven't found the bicycle's or clothing..."  How strange that when the bodies are finally found, the bikes are submersed in water away from the bodies, which are also submersed in water, and that two pairs of the boys' underwear are missing.

And to defend the man, he has stated he is out for nothing but the truth. It was stated in another report that Byers has since written a letter to the Arkansas Governor and Byers is reportedly working in relation to free the West Memphis Three. By no means do I believe this man is guilty.

The remaining questions come to mind when I read this info:
1.) The distance from the court house to the Byers home was not that far. Could Byers have had time to kill the boys and remove the evidence?
2.) Could the anger he experienced while giving Chris '2 or 3 licks' have led to more than just discipline?
3.) If John Mark and Melissa Byers were abusing Christopher's Ritalin, is it possible she did not see the spanking and cannot truthfully confirm that Byers left Christopher at home to clean the carport?
4.) Why would he knowingly go behind the Blue Beacon Car Wash and honk/shout for the boys?
5.) Why would he give a knife to the HBO producers that had visible blood on it?
6.) Why lie about the dates you had your teeth surgically removed?
7.) Could his brain tumor have caused him to commit these heinous murders, hide the bodies, remove all evidence and still maintain a calm state of mind after the news comes out that the bodies have been found?
8.) If he truly does believe the West Memphis Three are innocent, will he still actively search for his sons killer?

These questions are yet to be answered. The facts are still the same. Three boys are dead, and three are in prison... and someone got away with murder.

Until tomorrow,
LaVonda


About The Victims

This information was gathered from Newspaper articles and websites.

The Victims


Left to right:  Chris Byers, Michael Moore an Steve Branch

They were in the second grade at Weaver Elementary School, the school located just a couple doors down from the homes of Byers and Moore. Each household had two children and the loss was particularly harsh on the sibling. Each had achieved the rank of "Wolf" in the local Cub Scout pack.

Michael Moore enjoyed wearing his scout uniform even when he was not at meetings. He was considered the leader of the three. He lived with his parents, Roy Todd and Diana Moore and his nine-year-old sister, Dawn.

Steve "Stevie" Branch taught himself to flip and make karate moves like the Ninja Turtles. He bought a birthstone ring for Michael Moore's sister, Dawn. He had a pet dog named King and a pet turtle. He was an honor student. He lived with his mother, Pamela Hobbs, his stepfather, Terry Hobbs, and a four-year-old stepsister, Amanda.

Cristopher Byers was hyperactive and naturally curious. He enjoyed swimming. He was nicknamed "Worm" because he squirmed so much. He lived with his mother, Sharon Melissa Byers, his stepfather, John Mark Byers, and his stepbrother, Shawn Ryan Clark, aged 13. According to his mother, he was a typical eight-year-old. "He still believed in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. He liked to play in the dirt with trucks. He liked to color."

Michael Moore. b. July 27, 1984 in Key West, FL.
Sister: Dawn Moore of West Memphis, AR.
Parents: Roy Todd and Diane "Dana" Moore of West Memphis, AR.
Uncle and aunt: James F. Moore and Linda Carson Moore of Marion, AR.
Maternal grandmother: Carolyn Howard, OK.
Maternal great grandmother: Louise Smith, OK.
Paternal grandparents: James and Georgia Landrum of Memphis, TN.
Great grandmother: Mae Pugh, West Memphis, AR.


Christopher Byers. b. June 23, 1984, Memphis, TN.
Mother: Sharon Melissa Byers. b. Jan. 16, 1956. d. Mar 29, 1996.

Half-brother: Shawn Ryan Clark of West Memphis, AR
Her parents: Kilbourn A Defir (1924-2004) and Doris C Defir, Memphis, TN.
Maternal uncle: Dennis Defir, Horn Lake, MS (residence 2004)
Father: Ricky Lee Murray, b. July 1961
Stepfather: John Mark Byers.
(Family below are through stepfather)
Step-uncle and aunt: Sonny and Marilee Simpson of Little Rock, AR
Step-aunt: Beth Cossey of Jonesboro, AR.
Step-uncle: George W. Byers of Memphis, TN.


Stevie Branch. b. November 26, 1984 in Blytheville, AR.
Mother: Pamela Hobbs of West Memphis, AR.

Brother: Dillan Gordon Branch of Osceola, AR.
Maternal grandparents: Jack and Marie Hicks of Blythesville, AR
Father: Steve Branch of Osceola, AR.
Stepmother: Sherri Branch of Osceola, AR.
Paternal grandparents: Billy and Geneva Branch of Earle, AR.
Step-father: Terry Hobbs of West Memphis, AR.
Step-brother: Bryan Hobbs of Malvern, AR.
Step-sister: Amanda Hobbs of West Memphis, AR.
Greatgrandparents: Stacey Hicks of Gobler MO, Bonnie Hale of Cooter, MO.
Willie and Lola Fitzhugh and Almeda Branch, all of Earle, AR.


[residences were for 1993]
The Families

Melissa and Mark Byers
(Mark is the Stepfather of Chris Byers. He legally adopted him and had his name changed.)

Ricky Lee Murray, Christopher Byers' Biological Father

From left: Pamela and Terry Hobbs, Parents of Stevie Branch
Todd and Diane Moore, Parents of Michael Moore

The Crime Scene

(from vanessawest.tripod.com)
(My notes are in Yellow)

There is no evidence of blood or a weapon at the scene. The boys' bicycles and clothing were in the drainage ditch as well, effectively washing away any trace evidence that may have been present. The boys' clothing had been held down with sticks, but these were not taken in as evidence by authorities. (Six months later, police would find two sticks in the woods and claim they were the same sticks used to weigh down the boy's clothing.)Two pairs of the boy's underwear were also missing. The only blood present was where authorities had removed the bodies from the ditch. An area of the drainage ditch's bank and had deliberately cleared, and an impression of a tennis shoe was found. The boys were probably killed elsewhere and then dumped in the drainage ditch in an attempt to conceal evidence.


Boys' Bikes, Mayfair Apartments in the background. Photo looking South.


Cloth found in hand of victim Christopher Byers
(Cloth never admitted into evidence)

Crime Scene 1


Crime Scene 2


Crime Scene 3

Sticks used to weigh down clothing
The investigation into the child murders at Robinhood Hills seemed doomed from the beginning - an investigation so inept, so biased, that it could never have held together in a court of law.
But it did - and now Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley are behind bars. Baldwin and Misskelley and both serving life sentences. Echols is on Death Row (I believe his sentence was based solely on his manner of dress rather than proof of his guilt).
 
Few towns as sparsely populated as West Memphis have to worry about homicide investigations. When a murder does occur, it is usually a domestic dispute turned ugly or a robbery gone wrong. The leads are often both numerous and obvious. A case like that of the West Memphis 3 is something a small-town cop will stumble upon perhaps once in his life - if at all. From the minute the boys' bodies were found, pontentially valuable evidence was destroyed, lost, or seemingly disregarded. Here is how the case of the West Memphis 3 - the child murders at Robinhood Hills - unfolded.
 
When word came out that the boys' bodies had been found, officers and curiousity seekers came out in droves. The WMPD had had no prior experience with such a horrendous crime, and as a result the crime scene was hopelessly compromised. Either through negligence or a lack of knowledge, the crime was not properly preserved, evidence not collected, and notes not taken. In the opening scenes of the documentary Paradise Lost, Chief Investigator Gary Gitchell can be seen smoking a cigarette - within the perimeter of the crime scene. Such foibles would compromise a complex investigation. (My question, did the HBO producers come out as soon as the bodies were found? Because there are bodies in the opening scenes. Did they use wax dummies to portray the bodies, or were they, in fact, there for the entire thing?) 
 
One of the first mistakes made was the removal of the bodies from the creek bed before the arrival of Crittenden County coroner, Kent Hale. (Hale himself was nearly two hours late arriving at the scene.) Not only did prematurely removing the bodies from the drainage ditch destroy any possible evidence, it also exposed the bodies to sunlight and dry air, which can throw any estimation as to the time of death way off track. (Before the trial of Jessie Misskelley, the medical examiner would state that it was impossible to even estimate a time of death, because Hale had done such a poor job of supplying the necessary information. Through further research, however, the time of death was narrowed down to between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. on May sixth.)
 
Secondly, investigators did not keep the facts of the crime scene confidential, most nostably the extent of the boys' injuries and the positions in which they were found. By withholding, for example, the mutiliation of Christopher Byers and the shoestring ligatures, police would have had key bits of information that would have helped them eliminate potential suspects. As it were, the information leaked to the general public caused rumors to begin flying, and eventually the media and the townspeople came to take erroneous information at truth. At first, it was believed that Christopher Byers had been emasculated, and that the act was carried out in a meticulous, tidy fashion. Adult human bitemarks on the boys' were initally mistaken as cuts and puncture wounds. Normal postmortem relaxation of the bodies' muscles was mistaken for evidence of sexual assault.
 
With the bodies discovered and the crime scene secured, so to speak, the search for suspects began with a vengeance. The day after the bodies were discovered, police questioned Damien Echols, then 18, for the first time. Echols voluntarily gave hair and blood samples for comparison - samples that were later lost by authorities.
 
It is believed that Damien Echols became a suspect in the Robinhood Hills murders because of the bias of the Crittenden County juvenile officer, Jerry Driver, whose past run-ins with Echols had somehow conviced him that Damien was a violent person, not to mention the leader of a non-existent local 'Satanic cult'. (See my post link here for more info on Satanism/Occult) Driver contacted the West Memphis police, and from there the investigation into Damien Echols took off.
 
The police had no real leads, no real clues, on which to base their investigation. In a rush to judgement and under intense pressure to solve the murders, they focused their attention on Echols. He professed his innocence, so the police began rounding up anyone and everyone who even hinted at knowing Echols. This is where Vicki Hutcheson comes into the picture.
 
Hutcheson had not lived in West Memhpis for very long before the crime occured, although her son Aaron was a playmate of Steven Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore. In fact, she had moved to West Memphis from Fayetville, Arkansas to avoid outstanding warrants for her arrest for bad checks. On the day the boys' bodies were discovered, Hutcheson was in the nearby Marioin, Arkansas police department for a polygraph test, after money had come up missing from the cash reigster at her place of employment. Her son was with her at the time of the test, and the officer conducting the test struck up a conversation with the little boy. Aaron Hutcheson told the officer, Don Bray, that the missing children were at 'the playhouse'. Bray called the West Memphis police and heard that the bodies had been found near where Aaron described.
 
However, when the police took the boy to the place where the playhouse was supposed to be, no playhouse was found. To complicate matters, Aaron also told police that he witnessed the murders, and described seeing men speaking Spanish in the woods. He also told authorities that he had seen John Mark Byers kill the boys. The boy could also not identify Jason, Damien, or Jessie from a line-up. His wild, ever-changing stories were eventually discredited, but not before his 'eye-witness account' could be leaked to the press.
Vicki Hutcheson was also a key player in the inital investigation of Damien Echols. She was told by the West Memphis police they would provide help with her own legal problems - if she would help them implicate Damien. She agreed to wear a wire, but her surveillance eventually proved fruitless. Damien never said a word to Hutcheson about the murders. Hutcheson also urged her young son to help with police with the investigation. The boy claimed to have been in the Robinhood Hills on May 5th, and told police he saw people speaking Spanish and riding motorcycles. The boy also told police that he had escaped by kicking the people in the woods and then running. Although he agreed with officers that Damien Echols had killed the three victims, police decided the boy was spinning tall tales and gave up on any reliable information. The boy's mother, Vicki Hutcheson, would also claim to have attended Esbats (which are pagan holiday celebrations,) with Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley. Due to the ignorance of Hutcheson and the police, this was taken to mean that Vicki had attended cult meetings or Satanic rituals with the boys. After the trials were complete, she would say that on the night of the alleged Esbat she was so drunk that she woke up in her front yard and may have dreamed the entire incident. All of this brings us to the involvement of Jessie Misskelley, Jr.
 
According to Misskelley's attorney, Dan Stidham, Jessie was only four years old when he and his severely retarded older brother were abandoned by their mother. Jessie's father, Jessie Sr., went on to raise Jessie by himself, after the older brother was institutionalized. Jessie Jr. was later diagnosed as mentally retarded, and tests conducted after his arrest for the murders of Chris Byers, Michael Moore, and Steven Branch indicate that he functions at the level of a five year old child. His reading level, however, is considered severely retarded; his overall IQ tests in the range of 72. Further testing indicates that due to his handicap, Jessie was not able to understand any part of his Miranda Rights, which require a sixth grade reading level.



Sketch of Area

Aerial View of Area in 1993, North is the top of the photo.

And the following picture is an updated view from googlemaps.com showing the same location as depicted in the upper photo. If you do not see a Green Balloon with a Black A in it, click and drag to the right until it appears. You are looking for W. Catt St. and W. McAuley Dr. with the interstate at the top of the map. Note that the woods have been completely cleared out and the Blue Beacon is merely a parking lot. In addition, the ditch the bodies were found in has been filled in, though you can still see the faint lines of the ditch. The pond behind the Blue Beacon has been filled in as well, though you can still see its faint outlines. North is the top of the photo.


View Larger Map







Furthermore, Jessie did not tell the police anything they didn't already know. His statements were led by the investigators in an attempt to coerce an admission of guilt. When the police were able to truly coerce Jessie, they did so by showing this boy who had been diagnosed as mentally retarded, a picture of one of the boys. In Paradise Lost, evidence that he was questioned for 12 hours, but only the last 45 minutes were recorded.
In the states defense of the interrogation, regarding the time the crime was committed, the police said, "he got confused". I doubt that.

Until tomorrow,
~L

Time Line

(From vanessawest.tripod.com)

The following is a timeline of what allegedly happened on May 5th, 1993, beginning at 3 p.m. The timeline has been compiled through police interviews and courtroom testimony.
  • 3:00 P.M.: Steven Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers left Weave Elementary school. According to his mother, Pam, Hobbs, Steven went home after his school day ended but left shortly afterward.
  • 3:10 P.M.: Christopher Byers' stepfather, John Mark Byers, arrived home, but states that Christopher was not there.
  • 3:30 P.M.: The boy's brother, Ryan, arrived home. Christopher did not have a key to his home and was supposed to have waited on his brother to let him inside the house.
  • 4:00 - 5:30 P.M.: John Byers dropped Ryan off at the courthouse for an appointment, He then picked up Christopher's mother, Melissa Byers, from her place of employment. Upon their arrival home at 5:20, they discovered that Christopher was not present, although there was evidence indicating that he had been home. Shortly afterward, John Byers left to pick up Ryan from the courthouse. On the way, he spotted Christopher playing with a skateboard. He took the boy home, and by his own accounts gave him 'two or three licks' with a belt as punishment for not staying home as he was told. He then told Christopher to clean up the carport. The child did as he was told, and was last seen by John Mark Byers at 5:30 p.m.
  • 6:00 P.M.: Diane Moore, mother of Michael Moore, saw her son, Steven Branch, and Christopher Byers riding bicycles. The boys rode away before she could stop them.
  • 6:30 P.M.: John Byers claims he and Ryan returned from the courthouse to find Christopher gone. Melissa was on the telephone at the time and did not her child had left the home. A few minutes later, Melissa, John, and Ryan left to drive around the neighborhood to look for Christopher. Sometime afterward, John Byers says he told a police officer of his son's disappearnce. According to Byers, he was told to wait until 8 p.m. before police would take an official report. Byers claims he told authorities that Chris had 'never disappeared' before and that he was very worried about the boy. The statement is one of John Mark Byers' first mistakes. While cases of missing adults are given a standard 24 hour waiting period, missing children are considered top priority with police departments, especially a child as young as Christopher Byers. (Several weeks later, Melissa Byers would tell police that Christopher had, in fact, left home without warning on several occasions, for hours at a time.)
  • 8:00 P.M. - 11:00 P.M.: John Byers again contacted the West Memphis police to report Christopher missing. Officer Regina Meek was sent to the home to take the report. At 8:45, Diane Moore told John Byers that she had last seen the boys at around 6 p.m, to which Mr. Byers said that this was the first time he had been aware this Chris was not along. Diane Moore, Melissa, Ryan, and John Byers set out on a search in the Robinhood Hills area, where Moore last saw the boys. By this night had fallen. Between 8:30 and 10, Mr. Byers went home alone to change clothes, from a pair of shorts and thongs to a pair of overalls and boots. At the time of his departure, the search party has grown to include friends and neighbors. Officer Moore from the West Memphis police joins the search from 10:20 to 11:00 p.m. At about 11, John Byers goes home to call the Sheriff and ask for a search and rescue team. He claims he was told to call Denver Reed, leader of the Crittenden County team, the following morning. Byers left the house and drove to the Blue Beacon Truck Wash. He tells the people there that he is looking for Chris and two other boys. He pulls his truck behind the building, where he and Ryan shout for the boys and honk the horn. After an undetermined amount of time, the two go home. They meet Melissa Byers, Steven Branch's grandfather Terry Hobbs, and Diane Moore at the home. They decide to search the woods again.
  • Thursday, May 6th, 1:30 - 3:00 A.M.: Sergenat Ball of WMPD drives to the Byers' home to inform them that a police search is underway. Sgt. Ball leaves the home at 2:00 a.m. Tony Hudson, a friend of John Byers, and Byers leave to search the Mid-Continent building, which was being rebuilt. They see a black van parked nearby on their arrival, and assume it belongs to one of the workers at the site. Hudson and Byers return home at 3:00 a.m. and intend to resume their search in the morning.
  • 6:30 A.M.: John Mark Byers called Denver Reed and arranges a meeting at 8 a.m. The search allegedly resumes in this hour and a half time frame.
  • 1:45 P.M.: The first body is found in the woods behind the Blue Beacon.
  • 2:45 P.M. - 4:00 P.M.: The second and third bodies are found, twenty-five and 30 feet away from the first body. The county coroner arrives at 3:05 and finds that the bodies have been removed from the scene. The removal of the bodies before the arrival of the coroner never should have happened - viewing a body in the state it was found is vital to an investigation, and moving a body too early can destoy evidence. At 4:00 p.m. the boys are pronounced dead. Althought their body temperatures are not taken, the time of death is estimated at around dawn. One important fact to remember here is that pinpointing the time of death is nearly impossible, particularly when a body is left outside in an ever-changing environment. The closest one can come to fixing a reliable time of death is within about twelve hours. Keeping this in mind, the boys could have been killed much earlier in the evening or night of May 5th.

Satanic Panic



"My great mistake, the fault for which I can't forgive myself is that one day I ceased my obstinate pursuit of my own individuality." ~Oscar Wilde
    
Before we go any further, I want to debunk several beliefs. I'm not saying Christians won't go to heaven nor am I saying that black magic is or is not real. I personally do not believe in magic or the fact that a person can conjure a spirit. I do believe in a higher power, so I must believe there is an evil power, however, I do not think a person can 'bring into this world' an evil spirit/being. Any actions that person takes is still of his or her own capabilities and of their own and true decision.  You can't blame the devil for something you done, even if you asked the devil to help you do it. Plain and simply stated, "you are still responsible for your actions -- do not use religion or the lack there of, as a cop out for your dastardly behavior."

The Definitions
  1. Satanism: the worship of Satan or the powers of Evil
  2. Occult: of or pertaining to magic, astrology or any system claiming use or knowledge of secret or supernatural powers or agencies. Beyond the range of ordinary knowledge or understanding -- hidden from view.
  3. White magic: magic used for good purposes, usually to counteract evil (black magic).
  4. Black magic: magic used for evil purposes; witchcraft; sorcery.
  5. Witchcraft: the art or power of bringing magical preternatural power to bear or the act or practice of attempting to do so. The influence of magic or sorcery. Fascinating or bewitching influence or charm.
  6. Magic: The art of producing illusions as entertainment through slight of hand. The art of producing the desired result through incantation or other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature.
  7. Sorcery: the art, practice, or spells of a person who is suppose to exercise supernatural powers through the aid of evil spirits.
  8. Wicca:  witchcraft, especially benevolent, nature-oriented practices derived from pre-Christian religions.

The Victims

In the Beginning... It was the End

*This post contains graphic verbage/content*

The Victim(s) --
     On May 6, 1993, the bodies of three 8 year old West Memphis boys were found murdered after their parents reported them missing on the evening of May 5, 1993. The scene where the boys were found was primitively wooded, water-logged and over-grown with brush.


     According to the documentary "Paradise Lost", the first body was found at 1:45 p.m. by Sergeant Mike Allen. TruTV states that following the first discovery, "Although his unsigned report doesn’t state the exact location of the discovery, it implies that the body was found in a creek. An hour later, the body was removed from the creek by police officers. Shortly after, the second body was found, 25 feet away to the south, by Detective Bryn Ridge, then the third a further 5 feet away.
Twenty minutes after the third body was located. WMPD contacted Crittenden County Coroner, Ken Hale. He was informed that the bodies were found near the Blue Beacon Truck Wash. By the time he arrived, all three bodies had been removed from the creek (or drainage ditch) by police officers at the scene. By 4:00 p.m. Hale had pronounced all three of the boys to be dead." This raises the first set of questions. 1.) Why were the bodies removed prior to the coroners arrival? 2.) Why was the crime scene so severely compromised by Law Enforcement Personnel?



     The following is from the TruTV website, whose link was previously included.
     "James M. Moore, born on 27 July 1984, had died of multiple traumatic injuries to the head, torso, and extremities with drowning. He had been found in a drainage ditch and had drowned in 2 feet of water near the bodies of the two other 8-year-old male victims. He had been found completely nude, with his wrists bound to his ankles by shoelaces. There was little evidence that James had defended himself against his attacker(s) and the lack of injuries caused by the ligatures suggests that he had not struggled after he was tied up. This would suggest that he was unconscious at an early stage in the attack. There was no evidence of sexual assault." 

     "Steven Branch, born 26 November 1984, died of multiple traumatic injuries to the head, torso, and extremities with drowning. He had been found in the drainage ditch near the bodies of James Moore and Christopher Byers, in two feet of water. As with the other two victims, he was found naked, with his wrists bound to his ankles by shoelaces. There were many violent, traumatic injuries to Steven’s face and head, along with a number of superficial scratches, abrasions, and contusions over the rest of his body. While the wounds were similar to those found on James, they were much more intense. There was also a 3-inch fracture at the base of the skull. Peretti did not note the presence of extensive defensive wounds. Although there was no evidence to support this, Hale, in his report, stated that Steven may have been sexually assaulted."
    
     "Christopher Byers, born 23 June 1984, received the most extensive, violent and most overtly sexual injuries of the three victims. He died of multiple traumatic injuries to the head, as well as the violent removal of his penis*, the scrotal sac, and the testes, along with associated cuts and stab wounds to the genital area. He was found in the same drainage ditch as James and Steven, in 2 inches of water. He was completely naked, with his wrists bound to his ankles by shoelaces. The toxicology report also revealed non-therapeutic levels of the drug Carbamazepine in the blood. There were also a variety of healed injuries. Peretti noted that there were defensive wounds. There were also three sets of wounds on the buttocks. While this attack was sexual in nature, there is no evidence of rape, although, Hale did state that this was a possibility. Christopher Byers did not drown as he was already dead before being placed in the water.
     These deaths were tragic. The lost of a child is unimaginable. Yet, three families, whose love was apparent, would begin the healing process, but not without angst. Three families would have their worlds turned upside down in the name of justice. But would justice be seen, or blinded by anger? Melissa and John Mark Byers, Todd and Diane Moore, and Pam Hobbs, parents of the children, would now know the pain associated with the loss of a child. And any parent would want to put their child's killer behind bars.

     Now that you are introduced to the crime scene, the children, and a brief detail of their families, I ask you to continue keeping an open mind. Look for justice, not anger. Look past the murder to see the true crime. A crime of injustice in every definition of the word.

     Stay Tuned.
     ~L

*WRITERS NOTE: The actual penis was not removed, but rather, the skin around it. The scrotal sac and testes were removed completely. Bite marks were not acknowledged by the medical examiner on the initial report, as it was testified to in court, the injury was due to a belt buckle being hit over the eye. Later examinations would prove the injury was a caused from a human bite.]