The West Memphis Three: How an Interest in Witchcraft was Used Against Teens in Court
The West Memphis Three
CW: Child death
The West Memphis Three refers to three teenagers, Damien Echols(18), Jesse Misskelley Jr.(17) and Jason Baldwin(16) who were falsely convicted for the murders of Steve Branch(8), Christopher Byers(8) and Michael Moore(8) in 1994.
The Memphis Three spent 18 years in jail before their release in 2011. They were not exonerated, but given a plea deal to plead guilty in exchange for being immediate release. Meaning they cannot sue for years lost and they are still convicts on record.
The trials are referred to as a “modern witch hunt” because Damien was openly Wiccan. There are many reasons why the three should not have been convicted, but this post is meant to highlight how witchcraft and other parts of his lifestyle were used against him. A lot of the evidence that was brought up in court you might find relevant to your own life.
Evidence seized/brought up in Damien Echols trial:
-11 black t-shirts in closet
-wore all black, a trench coat, black boots
-Metallica tape and poster
-animal skull in his room
-read books about history of witchcraft
-read Stephen King books
-read books about multiple religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity)
-stated he was Wiccan and believed in a Goddess
-wearing a pentagram necklace while being interrogated
-journal in which he wrote poetry, book quotes and metal band lyrics
-upwards pentagram drawn on his journal
-spells he had written down (he said he did not use)
-that he knew who Alister Crowley and Anton LaVey were (although hadn’t read their books)
-Harley Davidson necklace pendant
-prescribed medicine for manic depression
-asked whether changing his name to Damien had anything to do with Satan (he answered no, he chose it after a Catholic priest)
-Egyptian symbol Ankh and an upwards pentagram tattooed on chest, evil tattooed on hand
Expert witness on occult/cults who got a mail degree that he said required no classes stated this evidence:
-murders occurred on a full moon, 5 days after Beltane
-water is significant to occultists (victims were found in water)
-3 is a sacred number to Wiccans and Satanists (# of victims)
-occultists need the blood of young victims
-victims were found in a forest, and occultists like to practice in forests
There are other factors that went into the false conviction including forcing a false confession out of someone mentally challenged, multiple false witness statements that were later retracted and a complete lack of physical evidence connecting the three teenagers to the murders.
Police have stated that the evidence has been destroyed by fire, so the three victims will never have justice and the three convicted will never be exonerated. As of late 2021, it has come out that the evidence is intact.