Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky have their third documentary ready for viewing concerning the West Memphis Three, titled: “PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY.” It will premiere at the 49th New York Film Festival with a new ending, incorporating the release of Damien Echols, Jesse Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin.
It’s been a story of tragedy for the trio that were wrongfully convicted in the mid 1990s of murdering and sodomizing three young boys in a “Satanic ritual,” leading to 18 years in prison for all involved. The confession of Misskelley, a man with a very low IQ, and a confession that was totally wrong with many of the facts, the police and detectives manipulating the case to fit the three into the roles of murderers, and the fear of the public led to the miscarriage of justice.
Those that have followed the case from the beginning saw what was going on. The public needed to have the case solved to feel safe, the police had a great deal of pressure placed upon them and decided to create the killers rather than doing the proper police work to get the real murderer(s). They chose three kids that were into heavy metal, were anti-authority, and were easy marks. The jury was sold a bill of goods that was ridiculous but the prosecution played upon their fears. Selling Satanists was scary and interesting and Damien being so smart and charismatic made him dangerous.
Amazingly, bite mark evidence was thrown out, and a knife that was most likely planted by the police was kept in, made a center piece in the trials, and wouldn’t match any of the cut marks on the three victims. The state made up a story and the people bought into it out of fear. When there is fear, there is less reason, and they knew it and that is why three innocent people were locked up for 18 years.
Terry Hobbs, a stepfather to one of the victims, has come under suspicion. His DNA was found at the murder scene, and his ex-wife has stepped forward to say that she believed he did it and that he has been physically abusive and sexually abusive, and that includes children.
John Mark Byers, the father of one of the victims, has come forward to blame Hobbs, but he is not beyond suspicion himself. A criminal past and a wife that died mysteriously while with him have made him a person of interest.
This case may never be solved because the West Memphis Three have taken a plea deal to get them out of prison, and the state may look at the murder case as “solved,” but Hobbs and Byers deserve another look. One tragedy is three innocent boys locked up. Another tragedy is three dead children and the killer is free. Let’s hope that the state finally does the right thing.