When I first read the true crime book Blood of Innocents by Guy Reel, Marc Perrusquia, and Bartholomew Sullivan, I thought at that time – which was shortly after the millennium had been ushered in, albeit fearfully, due to the Y2K threat – that three teenage boys couldn’t possibly have murdered, and in such a savage fashion, three little 8 year old kids. In 2004, I saw, for the first time, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills. I was shocked at seeing the brutalized bodies of these small children, but I still thought that an adult or two had to be involved somehow. The police did shoddy work, their investigations into the murders were flawed and biased, and even the prosecution was prejudiced. Hicks, was my snooty conclusion after watching Paradise Lost 2: Revelations and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. The cops and prosecutors and defense were all hicks.
On 5 May 1993, three 8 year old boys – Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore – were reported missing by their parents. An initial search by police was limited due to the hour and possibly also where they thought the boys may have disappeared – Robin Wood Hills – though family, friends, and neighbors of the boys conducted a search that led them into the wooded area where their bodies were later discovered. Even a ‘shoulder to shoulder’ search carried out the following day did not yield the boys’ bodies. It wasn’t until juvenile PO Steve Jones found a child’s black shoe floating in the creek that a further investigation guided them to the pale, mutilated, hogtied bodies of the children.
They were naked, had all been viciously attacked – particularly Christopher, whose undeveloped male sexual organs had been partially skinned and removed – with bruises, cuts, scratches, and other marks of violence that revealed a torture no little kid should ever have to endure. I knew – and still know – that children and adolescents are fully capable of committing acts of murder. The tragic story of little James Patrick Bulger, the equally pathetic tale of Maddie Clifton, and the mind-boggling sorrows that are visited upon the families of other children killed by their peers proves that kids can and really do kill. It’s rare but it happens, same as with women who murder. Homicide isn’t the exclusive domain of men though I am sure testosterone plays a huge role in their being the main perpetrators.
Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were not the only suspects. They were not even considered suspects in the beginning of the investigation. A pair of teens with drug histories, a Chris Morgan and a Brian Holland, were viewed with suspicion early on after departing suddenly for
Oceanside, California just a few days after the bodies were recovered from the muddy waters. Chris Morgan had driven an ice cream truck for a time in the neighborhood where all three victims lived. According to polygraph results, both men showed deception when asked if they had any involvement in the murders.
During subsequent questioning, Morgan claimed a long history of drug and alcohol use, along with blackouts and memory lapses. He claimed that he “might have” killed the victims but quickly recanted this part of his statement. California police sent blood and urine samples from Morgan and Holland to the WMPD, but there is no indication WMPD investigated Morgan or Holland as suspects following their arrest in California. The relevance of Morgan’s recanted statement would later be debated in trial, but it was eventually barred from admission as evidence. – Wikipedia
Then there is ‘Mr. Bojangles’. I have never understood how the police could overlook a Black male, covered with blood and behaving strangely, going inside a ladies’ restroom in a fast food place, and then leaving abruptly, having smeared blood all over the restroom walls. What police officer only takes a report of such an incident from the drive thru window without going inside to investigate further? Shoddy police work, I tell you. They want to get paid but they will do little to earn their keep at taxpayers’ expense. It’s the same with cops everywhere, I guess. though you will find a few that will work hard to solve crimes though it’s mostly the detectives. Beat cops aren’t worth a the money they waste.
So the police, typical dumb bumbling hayseeds (very bright people never become cops, as you may realize by now), are now stymied. They have totally dropped Morgan and Holland as suspects, Mr. Bojangles never even entered into the equation, and now they have no one else to go after. Gary Gitchell, the lead investigator on the case, had already had the notion that some type of cult might be involved. This is the Bible Belt, remember, and if a crime is bizarre enough, it must have been committed by Satanists or Witches or some other ‘anti-Christian’ element, Right? Lo and behold, Jerry Driver, a PO who has been harassing the Echols family for some time – probably because he had little else to do in such a backwoods place – believes that Damien, this weird high school drop out who dresses all in black, follows a strange belief system known as Wicca, and writes wicked, even ‘demonic’ poetry and essays, could be included in this ‘cult murder’.
Then along comes one Vicki Hutcheson, and the rest, as the cliche goes, is history.