This article was updated after publication to add more context about the honorariums paid to the families of the victims and the West Memphis Three and also to correct the time frame in which Berlinger and Sinofsky informed HBO about the changing scope of the documentary. Robin Lynn Jones. Covered in wounds, all three showed signs of having been beaten. Although the Alford Plea set the West Memphis Three free, they are, at least in the eyes of the law, guilty, and therefore, the state of Arkansas is under no obligation to continue investigating the crimes at this time. Over the years there has been lots of speculation and finger pointing as to who was responsible. He is from USA. '", In 1999, a more mature Echols explained the comment. Published by The Commercial Appeal from Jun. As for Paradise Lost, it was the inciting incident in the two-decade chain of events that led to the release of the West Memphis Three. To authorities working in West Memphisa largely Southern Baptist communitysatanic activity seemed to be the most likely cause for the killings, in part because the boys bodies were bound and appeared to have been mutilated. There have also been several high-profile incidents of laypeople reinvestigating decades-old cold cases in more rigorous, journalistic ways and helping bring them to a resolution. Spotting a small, black tennis shoe in the water, Jones radioed for help. We were finally winning, he says. During the final year of the two-year span, from July 2021 to July 2022, California lost about 211,000 people, according to data from the state Department of Finance. So with less urgency surrounding full exoneration and no documentary cameras rolling, the question 25 years later becomes: Who is paying close enough attention to the case to pick up the fight? Explore. In West Memphis, Hobbs worked as an ice cream delivery man and Hicks worked at a restaurant. A benefit album was released in 2000, and the phrase made it into a Dawsons Creek episode when Pacey shouted Free the West Memphis Three over an airport intercom. The boys were so mutilated, investigators thought the murders were part of some kind of Satanic ritual. The evolution of how the teens were perceivedon behalf of both the filmmakers and even part of the defense teamis captured on camera early as Stidham and his colleagues began to consider whether Misskelleys confession had been coerced. Stidham, who was just 30 years old and not long out of law school when the court appointed him to be Misskelleys attorney, went in thinking he would negotiate a deal for his client, who had told police that his acquaintances Baldwin and Echols committed the crimes and that he was present and played a role as an accessory. 2012 West of Memphis (Documentary) Self - Steven Branch's Stepfather. The idea, Berlinger says, was to tell a story of disaffected youthabout kids killing kids., There was no reason not to believe the press, Berlinger says. weaving supposedly anti-Christian and occult messages into their songs, he discovered her while Googling cold cases, funded an extensive private investigation, a November 2010 Arkansas Supreme Court ruling, biggest allies in the years before his 2020 death, acquitted of capital murder in 2018 after a 25-year legal saga. Unfortunately, for three teen outsiders, the West Memphis Police Department chose to focus on the cult angle to the detriment of their efforts to investigate the other two, more likely scenarios. As detailed by The Hollywood Reporter in 2011, Jackson and Walsh helped fund key investigations for the West Memphis Three's defense during the last seven years of their incarceration. On Aug. 11, 2011, the West Memphis Three entered the courtroom for the final time. A quarter-century later, what does the documentary tell us about citizen activism, the criminal justice system, and the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and 90s? Well theres been a lot of things that happened over the years. In the joint trial of Baldwin and Echols, which took place separately from Misskelleys, Berlinger and Sinofsky filmed the surreal moments that juries were actually present for: a rundown of the books Echols checked out of the library, a parade of band T-shirts worn by the pair, a copy of a Blue Oyster Cult record found in Damiens girlfriends house that became evidence because of the word cult and song titles like Dont Fear the Reaper. What the cameras couldnt capture, however, was the introduction of physical evidencethe prosecution didnt offer much of that aside from a knife that was never directly linked to the crimes and fabric threads deemed microscopically similar to items found in Baldwins and Echolss homes, an assertion that has been questioned in the years since the trials. As the 20th century turned to the 21st, the movement seemed to be picking up steam. As recounted in Mara Leveritt's book, Devil's Knot, a thorough search of Robin Hood Hills directed by Chief Inspector Gary W. Gitchell of the West Memphis Police Department commenced early on the morning of May 6, 1993. They even hired experts to examine the case, including a forensic criminal profiler who discovered what appeared to be bite marks on one of the victims that didnt match any of the convicted. This is a brand new website dedicated to the internationally famous musician, Terry Gibbs. Terry Hobbs was born on November 25, 1969 in Columbus, Georgia, USA. Terry Hobbs, Actor: Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers. To learn more, watch The Forgotten West Memphis Three on Saturday, March 28 and Sunday, March 29at 8/7c on Oxygen. The arrest, trial, and conviction of the three young men known as the West Memphis Three came under national scrutiny as details of the case became public. It's affected a lot of lives, but for some reason it keeps being brought up," said Hobbs. West Memphis is pretty much like a second Salem," Echols stated in the 1996 documentary Paradise Lost: The Murders at Robin Hood Hills. The whole point of the web sleuths presented in the Cecil Hotel is that you cannot assume something is truthful just because circumstantially it seems interesting. Although Damein Echols had a teenager's typical disdain for authority, he nevertheless trusted that the system would work in his favor. Their bikes were found by a pipe nearby. At the request of West Memphis authorities, the two were picked up and questioned by Oceanside police. On the evening of May 5, 1993, three 8-year-old boys disappeared from the streets of West Memphis, Ark. Hobbs denied the accusation, saying that his family does have secrets, but none of them have to do with murder. This is the true story of the West Memphis Three murders. Their advocates believe the Alford pleas represent their own form of injustice, but correcting that is a less pressing issue than the early battlesthe men are free and have been able to mostly live their lives in the years since their release. Cinemorgue Wiki. In the years since the trial, John Mark Byers, adoptive father of Christopher Byers, and Pamela Hobbs, mother of Stevie Branch, became vocal supporters of the West Memphis Three. Baldwin is the co-founder of the legal advocacy organization Proclaim Justice. On the surface, 18-year-old Damien Echols, an intelligent, but psychologically troubled teen with interests in Wicca and extreme music, fit the profile. Jesse was gonna take it anyway. While police had focused on Echols and Baldwin in the intervening weeks because of their reputation, the arrests came largely because of a confession by Misskelley, which was leaked to the largest newspaper in the area, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, and ran under the banner headline Teen describes cult torture of boys. At a press conference shortly after the arrests, the lead investigator was asked how confident he felt about the case on a scale of 1-10. No charges have been brought against Jacoby, and he has never been named a suspect by the West Memphis Police Department. Hobbs denied seeing the boys that night and questioned why eyewitness evidence surfaced 16 years later. Investigators never found any evidence that tied him, Jason Baldwin, or Jessie Misskelley to the murders of the boys, Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers. Mojo was right. Griffis also knew how to spot a Satanist. Misskelley returned to life in West Memphis. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. That's not the same Terry Hobbs. He also lost the defamation case because of his violent past. The consequences of that online campaign were ruinous: The person they targeted, a Mexican metal musician who worked under the name Morbid, was harassed into hiding. But then the verdicts arrived: Both Baldwin and Echols were found guilty on all counts, just like Misskelley had been six weeks before them. According to Griffis, black hair, black T-shirts, and black jeans were signs that a kid was in league with the devil. Case Details. Rather, they were fighting for something they believed in. Best selling books such as Lawrence Pazder's Michelle Remembers and disgraced evangelical comedian Mike Warnke's The Satan Seller fueled the madness with tales of ritual abuse and human sacrifice. A graveside service will be conducted on Wednesday, March 17 at Cloverdale Memorial Park beginning at 11am. In June 1996, Paradise Lost debuted on HBO, bringing the story of the West Memphis Three to TV sets and showing the power of the camera in the courtroom. (WMC) - Its a case that has captured the nation and certainly the Mid-South. A statement he made to the producers of Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills did little to help his public image. Sheila Nevins, the HBO exec who pushed for Berlinger and Sinofsky to make that initial trip to Arkansas, is most proud of the companys willingness to let her finance three documentaries over 18 years without knowing where they would go. She has since expressed her belief that her ex-husband was involved in the murders, citing the discovery of her son's favorite pocket knife in Terry Hobbs' belongings. With the guards blessings, Mojo led Baldwin to Varners visitation room, where everything had been put away aside from two chairs set up in front of a cart holding a small TV and a VCR. (At one point, Sauls says, it landed on Yahoos list of the top 100 websites.) I don't entirely think Hobbs did it, but I . I had a big box. The killings came at the peak of the so-called Satanic Panic, a time of heightened worries about ritualistic abuse. Beyond the black-and-white print of the newspaper, there was a movement brewing. He says his students seem to have a better grasp on the idea of coerced confessions than any of his peers in 1994. Hobbs has never wavered in his conviction that justice was served the first time around. Filing Date : The districts current prosecuting attorney, Keith Chrestman, did not respond to requests for comment for this article, but his predecessor Scott Ellington, whose office negotiated the deals, told The New York Times in 2011 that while new trials would have likely resulted in acquittals, We dont think that there is anybody else. The Moore family has been outspoken about the end result, vehemently protesting the 2012 Oscar nomination for the third Paradise Lost installment. Berlinger and Sinofsky, the latter of whom died in 2015 at age 58, were able to gain incredible and immediate access to seemingly everyone the case had touched: the families of the victims and the accused, the judge, the lead investigator, members of the community. And without substantial physical evidence, police zeroed in on a pair of teens they knew well: Echols, a self-professed Wiccan who wore all black and read Stephen King, and his best friend Baldwin, who was considered an outsider because of his love of drawing and bands like Metallica. Years of solitary confinement and the abuse he said he suffered at the hands of prison guards had taken its toll. It'll be sort of like I'm the West Memphis boogeyman. Although the appeals were repeatedly denied, a new batch of DNA testing done in 2007 reignited the investigation. Who Killed The Forgotten West Memphis Three? Inconsistencies in Terry Hobbs' alibi, as well as revelations about subsequent violent acts, have also led many to believe that he may be the actual killer. Im seeing the things I experienced, but not through my own point of view. (Maines briefly became a part of the story when Terry Hobbs, stepfather of another . It was clear that Paradise Lost was resonating. The third put forth the unusual theory that the killings were committed as a cult ritual. But none of that support has been able to fully exonerate the trio, something theyre still fighting for. But its closing moments point to how the filmmakers felt: that a horrific tragedy had just been compounded by a monumental miscarriage of justice. They formed the organization Proclaim Justice, a nonprofit that reinvestigates crimes with the hopes of freeing innocent people. But it wasnt in the ways its directors had hoped. More than 2,500 people attended and the story dominated the local press for days. I deeply admire that and I thought it was worthy of putting on film.. It was born out of genuine admiration for the fact that these guys took the time out of their lives to dedicate, to go down to Arkansas, to build a website, to really step out of their lives, Berlinger says. Events. Echols tweeted, New technology and evidence in science would now allow us to test DNA in amounts so small that it would have been previously impossible. He was handed the phone. For Rollins, it was a moral imperative: Id find myself up at 3:30 a.m. thinking about Damien. Sheriff's deputies in Calhoun County say Terry Hobbs was reported missing on Saturday, April 20, 2019. Theres no smoking gun. But Berlinger also believes that the sequel is important for documenting the power of citizen activism. It allowed them to get out of prison after almost 20 years. Other possible suspects includedBrian Holland and Chris Morgan, two young men from Memphis, Tenn., with a history of drug offenses. A year after the DNA results were released, Hobbs sued Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines for defamation, claiming she implied he was a murderer on the bands website and at a 2007 rally, according to The New York Times. The documentarians found me in one of the worst things a person could go through, Baldwin says. Terry Hobbs, one of the men named in the documents. We made a promise early on that we would never pretend to be law enforcement or detectives, Sauls says. (Shortly after Villegass acquittal, Baldwin had something of a full-circle moment with his client: He took him to a Metallica show in El Paso, Texas, where they hung out backstage on the invitation of Lars Ulrich.). Echols' disdain for authority, penchant for black clothes, and propensity to make shocking statements didn't help his plight. The sneaker ligatures in which Terry Hobbs' DNA was found in," Soury said . Over the years there has been lots of speculation and finger pointing as to who was responsible. When it didnt, the praise heaped on Paradise Lost felt hollow. On 04/08/2021 Terry Hobbs was filed as a Bankruptcy - Chapter 13 lawsuit. In fact, for the better part of 1993, it was nearly impossible to find anyone who believed they were innocent. I spoke with one of the jurors, years later after the trials and convictions, and he said he had no doubt that people could throw their lot in with the devil and be commanded to do things that they wouldnt have done otherwisethat they have basically made the deal with the devil, Leveritt says. I didnt want to stop with us being that close. I still believe in my heart that Jessie, Jason, and Damion Echols [sic] are responsible for what happened to our children, Hobbs told Memphis ABC affiliate WATN in June 2019. Terry Hobbs is the one suspected of murder and the wounds that were inflicted on my nephew were where turtles bit his face. Everybody Id come in contact with was hostile to the truth, Baldwin says. . Misskelley and Echols were 36; Baldwin was 34. Feigning a romantic interest in Echols, she asked Misskelley to arrange a meeting. Berlinger and Sinofsky expected a similar result to come quickly in the West Memphis Three case. As part of the deal, they cannot file wrongful-conviction lawsuits, which both Berlinger and Baldwin say couldve cost the state tens of millions of dollars. Maines won the lawsuit; police have never named Hobbs a suspect or charged him in connection with the killings.). Some believe the West Memphis Three are guilty to this day, and others, including some victims family members, point to their innocence and maintain the real perpetrator is still at large. Main Page; Id like to see this put to rest. By the time she got done watching it, her life was forever changed. February 27, 2023 (76 years old) View obituary. The cult part of the Commercial Appeals headline signaled how the case would be defined by both the media and prosecutors. Unaware of what was to come, Allen explained that he just wanted to ask him some questions. Damion Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were convicted of murdering the children in 1994. In 1994, the FBI said there was scant evidence that violent satanic crimes had ever occurred in America outside of a few isolated incidents, but that was long after TV hosts like Geraldo, Sally Jessy Raphael, and Oprah had spread moral hysteria about musicians weaving supposedly anti-Christian and occult messages into their songs, and long after wrongful convictions were handed down in the infamous McMartin Preschool sexual assault trials. You still dont really know what happened to these kids. In West Memphis, Hobbs worked as an ice cream delivery man and Hicks worked at a restaurant. To date, no DNA evidence from the crime scene can be linked to Damien Echols, Baldwin, or Jessie Misskelley. But for every Your Own Backyard or Ill Be Gone in the Dark that has applied journalistic rigor to their research in the past two decades, theres an Up and Vanished, which has been at the center of ethical debates since the podcast debuted in 2016. Its affected a lot of lives, but for some reason it keeps being brought up, said Hobbs. But I had to. Certain that, under what he felt were ridiculous circumstances, Echols' confidence and, on occasion, flippant attitude during the trial was often misinterpreted as evidence of his coldness toward the victims and their families. Over two decades after the murders, what really happened to Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore on the evening of May 5, 1993, remains a mystery. With the area secured, Detective Bryn Ridge volunteered to search the ditch. There also were issues with other details he provided, including how the victims were bound and whether the boys were raped. Two questions plagued the conservative, middle-class community: Why would anyone commit such a heinous act, and, more importantly, who? And yet Hobbs was not interviewed at all in the months after the crimes. Debates still occur regularly onlinethe West Memphis Three subreddit is fairly active for one on a 28-year-old caseand podcasts have looked at the crime from all angles. Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 9:56 PM CST WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. And they used that visibility to help raise funds for the defense. When they searched online, they found little to no information about the case. . Lying in the open air in near 80-degree temperatures accelerated the decomposition of the bodies. The state of Arkansas continues to attempt to prevent this testing from happening. Obituaries can vary in the amount of information they contain, but many of them are genealogical goldmines, including information such as: names, dates, place of birth and death, marriage information, and family relationships. The prosecutor would later say, There was a lack of physical evidence to tie anyone or anything to the crime scene, while the lead investigatorthe same one who told the press the case was an 11 out of 10would concede, Youve got a lot of circumstantial evidence is what youve got. Create your free profile and get access to exclusive content. Terry Hobbs was born on November 25, 1969 in Columbus, Georgia, USA. Self. After 18 years in prison, the West Memphis Three were finally free, but not exonerated. That type of support made observers question the verdicts perhaps more so than any rock star who shouted Echolss name into a mic because of an HBO documentary. Investigators kept minimal notes and omitted pertinent details including criminal records. So advocacy and diligence become tantamount, because most people in a similar situation to the one he was in dont have the benefit of filmmakers and musicians fighting on their behalf. Armchair detectives of today, I think a lot of them dabble in conspiracy theory, Berlinger says. Since the West Memphis Three were released, no one else has been charged in the murders of Stevie, Christopher and Michael.
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