|The three slain children|
I had never paid attention to the West Memphis Saga back when it was being played out. I had not yet become the aficionado of true crime that I have since, and at that time I was going through a saga of my own – the Saga of Crack Cocaine (though it wasn’t me that was abusing the drug). It wasn’t until 2002 or ’03 that I ever heard about the case, and by that time the teenagers Damien, Jason, and Jessie had become grown men while serving their life prison sentences, with Damien on Death Row.
After watching all parts of the documentary, reading the Devil’s Knot, and examining many articles, essays, blogs, and other writings about the case, I know far more about it than most and have reached the conclusion that an adult had to have been involved in the atrocious murders. Two adults actually were considered suspects in the crime, though not during the Satanic Panic witch hunt that put the three ‘misfits’ behind bars for 18 years of their lives. John Mark Byers was indeed questioned by the cops engaged in the case, but his being such an important bigwig drug informant for them seemed to have allowed more sympathy than suspicion to play a role in his so-called interrogation.
John Mark Byers was and still is a very strange character. A homely man, he appeared in all of the Paradise Lost docs either inebriated from alcohol or some other, more illegal substance. Playing the grieving stepfather, he was at once both religious and sinfully vengeful, ranting and cussing about the three teenagers one moment, singing Gospel hymns in church the next. He allegedly gave one of the filmmakers a bloody knife as a ‘gift’, and that is how he became a suspect, however briefly. Honestly, I cannot believe that Byers, eccentric though his behavior was, could be involved in the deaths of his own stepson and the two other boys. Why would he kill Michael and Stevie? If he hated Christopher so much, he could murdered him at any time, any place. His crimes are being a drug addict, perhaps aiding his depressed and equally drug-addled, plain-faced wife in committing suicide, if that’s what her death was, and acting like a typical redneck ass in several documentaries, for the world to see.
What about Terry Hobbs? A hair that was microscopically similar to one of his hairs was found embedded within one of the knots on the shoelaces used to hogtie the little boys. This by itself does not mean the man is a murderer, and a few years ago he gave an interview in which he stated that the true killers – Damien, Jason, and Jessie – have been set free, even though his ex wife, Pam, and John Byers both stated at the time that they now believed Hobbs to be the true killer. According to Terry, his former wife and Byers were only interested in profiting off the deaths of the boys, which I wholly agree with. Leave it to White people to use the deaths of children as money making machines! I just don’t believe myself that Hobbs had anything to do with the boys’ murders. Why would he include Chris and Michael, for one? He could just as easily have killed Stevie and buried his little body far away, making it seem like the child had been kidnapped and murdered. For another, why would he kill Stevie in the first place? It simply doesn’t make any sense but then murder sometimes does not.
I don’t believe that John Mark Byers had anything to do with it, I don’t believe Terry Hobbs did either and I definitely do not believe that Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley committed those violent, demonic acts. Someone else – probably more than one person – did. Whether or not it was ‘Mr. Bojangles’ and an accomplice, or some other bloodthirsty duo, I cannot state for certain. I wish I did know. It’s a tragedy that needs closure, not just for the families but for all who want to see true justice done. There is an individual, maybe more than one, who knows what really happened. If that person, or people, have even an ounce of human compassion in their hearts, they need to speak up and let America know what truly went on in Robin Wood Hills on that horrible night in May 1992.