Michael Moore, Stevie Branch, and Christopher Byers were all great friends and 8 year old boys in the second grade at Weaver Elementary in West Memphis Arkansas. The boys had come to know each other because they were all cub scouts in their local troop. On May 5, 1993 Michael, Christopher, and Stevie all went outside after school to play on their bikes. Later that evening, as the sun began to fall, family members began searching for the boys. At 8:10 P.M. Christopher's parents called the police to file a missing persons report. While the police where speaking with Chris's parents, Michael Moore's parents knocked on the door and alerted the police that their son was also missing with Stevie Branch. Family members, friends, and police began to search the neighborhood and went door to door for blocks. Many neighbors testified that they saw the boys that night heading toward a small wooded area know as, "Robin Hood Hills." Though the search party lasted off and on throughout the night, none of the three boys could be located. The next morning on May 6, 1993, a detective in Robin Hood Hills came across a boys shoe floating in a ravine. As he went to investigate he came across three bodies submerged in the water. All three of the bodies were naked and hogtied with their own shoe laces behind their backs. Finally, Michael Moore, Christopher Byers, and Stevie Branch had been found. Michael's cub scout uniform that he always preferred to wear even on days when there wasn't a meeting was found under a large stick. Christopher was sexually mutilated and mainly bled to death. Stevie Branch was severely attacked along with Michael Moore, who had severe skull fractures. Both Michael Moore and Stevie Branch were still alive, although probably unconscious, when they were placed into the water. The boys were simply attacked and savagely beaten.
Finally, the police investigation narrowed to three individuals: Damien Echol's, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Miskelley Jr. After an interrogation, Jessie Miskelley confessed to the murders and implemented Echol's and Baldwin as well. All three were arrested and charged with the boys murders. In court, Miskelley claimed his confession was forced and not truthful. Still, the coincidences between his confession and the crime were too strong. Echol's, Baldwin, and Miskelley were all convicted of the boys murders. Echol's was sentenced to the Death penalty, while both Miskelley and Baldwin were given life sentences. At the time all of them were teenagers.
After spending 18 years behind bars, Echol's, Baldwin, and Miskelley had DNA testing done to prove that their DNA was not found at the crime scene. In essence, they would be allowed to walk free until the state choose if it wanted to pursue a new trial. In order to be released from prison though, Echol's, Baldwin, and Miskelley had to use an Alford plea. All three men had to plead guilty to the murders, but still maintain their innocence, to be allowed to go free. The state accepted the plea and has not optioned a new trial as technically the three men are "guility," but innocent.
May 5, 2013 marks the 20th Anniversary of the triple murders in West Memphis Arkansas. To this day three men have spent 18 years of their life for a crime in which there was no direct evidence linking them to. After all of this time the West Memphis Police Department needs to launch a new investigation in honor of the real West Memphis Three: Michael Moore, Stevie Branch, and Christopher Byers. Hopefully a new investigation will lead to the arrest of the true killer(s). Through all of the politics and emotions of this case, everyone's loyalty must still remain with the victims who were taken too soon by a person(s) who are presently walking the streets.
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