The Victim(s) --
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.
*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.]