Saturday, August 6, 2011

Time Line


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.

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