December 24, 2009 Comments Off on Ninth Annual Trafficking in Persons Report Alongside Leaders in Congress
Remarks at Release of the Ninth Annual Trafficking in Persons Report Alongside Leaders in Congress – Hillary Rodham Clinton – Secretary of State June 16, 2009
Around the world, millions of people are living in bondage. They labor in fields and factories under brutal employers who threaten them with violence if they try to escape. They work in homes for families that keep them virtually imprisoned. They are forced to work as prostitutes or to beg in the streets, fearful of the consequences if they fail to earn their daily quota. They are women, men, and children of all ages, and they are often held far from home with no money, no connections, and no way to ask for help.
This is modern slavery, a crime that spans the globe, providing ruthless employers with an endless supply of people to abuse for financial gain. Human trafficking is a crime with many victims: not only those who are trafficked, but also the families they leave behind, some of whom never see their loved ones again. http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/06/124872.htm
U.S. Department of State – Trafficking in Persons Report 2009
December 21, 2009 Comments Off on False Memory Defense in court, retractor information
The “False Memory” Defense: Using Disinformation and Junk Science in and out of Court Charles L. Whitfield, M.D., F.A.S.A.M.- Journal of Child Sexual Abuse 9 (3 & 4) Haworth Press (2001)
…in a study of 30 malpractice law suits by retractors against their former therapists for “implanting false memories” or “implanting DID,” Scheflin and Brown (1999) found that most of the 30 had recovered their memories and/or had the diagnosis of DID made before the sued therapist had seen them. There were many other kinds of direct and circumstantial evidence in these cases. Nearly all 30 retractors had been previously given multiple co-morbid psychiatric diagnoses that are extensively reported in the clinical scientific literature to be associated with or caused by childhood trauma, especially child sexual abuse (e.g., Herman, 1992; Whitfield, 1997c, 1998c). These included: major depression (e.g., Kendler, et al, 2000), anxiety disorders (e.g., McCauley, et al, 1997), PTSD (e.g,, Rowan, Foy, Rodriguez, & Ryan, 1994), major dissociative disorders (e.g., Whitfield, 1997c), personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder (e.g., Herman, 1992), and major addictions such as chemical dependence and eating disorders (e.g., Felitti, et al, 1998; Herman, 1992; McCauley, et al, 1997). Ninety percent (27 of the 30) had a diagnosis of either DID (11 retractors) or Dissociative Disorder, Not Otherwise Stated (DD-NOS) (17 retractors) (Scheflin & Brown, 1999).
Nearly all of the therapists sued had given the retractors appropriate stage-oriented trauma treatment. In none of the 30 cases was there any mention or evidence of “recovered memory therapy” or a single-minded focus on recovering memories of abuse. Scheflin and Brown (1999) said, “.later, after encounters with pro-false memory (mis)information, the patient came to misattribute the source of his/her abuse memory to the defendant therapist and forgot that it had been self-reported, sometimes being recovered outside the context of therapy” (p. 685). In fact Scheflin and Brown (1999) found that if any false information was implanted, it likely occurred by exposure to pro-false memory sources close to or after the time of the identified therapy sessions. They said, “in all 30 cases the plaintiff failed to report his or her vulnerability to post-therapeutic suggestive influences that might have been operative in the shaping of the retraction belief itself..the most striking finding from our analysis was [that] the significant post-therapeutic suggestive influences associated with the development of the retraction belief could be identified in every one of the 30 cases” (p. 687).
They conclude, “In our analysis of these 30 cases, significant exposure to false memory (mis)information occurred in the great majority of the cases and had a significant impact on the progressive shaping of retraction beliefs. .What do these data tell us? That sometimes litigious patients, plaintiff attorneys, and other individuals intentionally solicit other former patients in order to influence them” (Scheflin & Brown, 1999, p. 688). http://childabuse.georgiacenter.uga.edu/both/whitfield/whitfield24.phtml
December 19, 2009 Comments Off on Study: Clergy sexual abuse an ongoing problem
More than 3 percent of adult women who attend religious services at least once a month have been victims of clergy sexual abuse, according to researchers at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. Four percent of respondents said they knew of a close friend or family member who experienced a sexual advance by a clergy member in their congregation, the study said.
Baylor researchers said their report is the largest scientific study into this issue in the U.S. “Because many people are familiar with some of the high-profile cases of sexual misconduct, most people assume that it is just a matter of a few charismatic leaders preying on vulnerable followers,” said Diana Garland, dean of Baylor’s School of Social Work and lead researcher in the study. “What this research tells us, however, is that clergy sexual misconduct with adults is a widespread problem in congregations of all sizes and occurs across denominations.” http://www.thelutheran.org/article/article.cfm?article_id=8572
December 19, 2009 Comments Off on Mohler Ritual Abuse Legal Case Articles
Child incest pamphlets found in second search of Mohler property By DONALD BRADLEY The Kansas City Star 11/24/09 A second police search of the Independence property of Burrell Mohler Sr., charged with an array of sexual offenses against some of his grandchildren, turned up child incest pamphlets. Also seized were more adult movies, including a pornographic DVD about having sex with “Grandma & Grandpa,” according to new documents released today. Other items listed on search warrant affidavits include what authorities are calling “incest porn” as well as homemade videotapes, a Focus on the Family film series, and a Book of Mormon Stories for Children. That and other Mormon literature taken from a house and a shed indicate that some of the materials could belong to Mohler’s oldest son, Burrell “Ed” Mohler Jr., who also has lived in Independence. While the senior Mohler and most of his sons belonged to the Community of Christ Church, Ed Mohler, 53, joined the Mormon church in 1992 but was excommunicated in 2007 for personal conduct unrelated to child abuse. Mohler, 77, is in jail in Lexington, Mo., along with his four sons and a brother from Florida. Authorities say the men carried out years of sexual abuse on children as young as 5 in the extended family. Darrel Mohler is being held in Florida. In all, the Mohler men face 42 charges. The search of Mohler’s home in the 1300 block of Dodgion Street was conducted Friday by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities believe some of the alleged assaults against the Mohler children in past decades were photographed or taped. The first search of Mohler’s home turned up incest magazines, computers, tapes and recording equipment. Similarly, a search of a Columbia, Mo., house belonging to his son Jared Mohler, 48, also turned up computers, tapes and video equipment. http://www.kansascity.com/news/breaking_news/story/1591849.html
Many back Missouri incest suspect By Judy L. Thomas, Donald Bradley and Brian Burnes MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS 11/23/2009 KANSAS CITY ….Mohler’s reputation as the strict but good patriarch would come crashing down. He’s in jail now, after allegations from at least three grandchildren that “sleepovers” on his farm often meant incestuous rape, and that when granddaddy sang “Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” his hands ended up in wrong places. After allegations that their uncles wedded and bedded first-graders in a chicken coop and that their father did unspeakable things to them less than a mile from that little white church. Once the charges – 42 so far – were filed, it seemed the Mohler family was shattered as irreparably as the bad-memory jars the little girls purportedly buried and authorities earlier this month hoped to dig up….Yet all or nearly all six children of Burrell “Ed” Mohler Jr. gave credence to the tales of twisted family relationships, according to court documents. Nor did it help the senior Mohler’s legal defense or public image as a grandfather when police hauled incest pornography out of his home in Independence, Mo. While some question the validity of the accusations, others may ask why authorities did not investigate earlier. In the 1980s or early ’90s, at least some of the grandchildren reportedly went to their mother about the abuse, according to police documents. Instead of going to law enforcement, she told the head of her Mormon church. And nothing happened.
An Overland Park, Kan., man, who once shared custody of his 7-year-old son with an ex-wife who married into the Mohler family, said he tried to alert the Lafayette County sheriff, the Missouri Division of Family Services and a court-appointed guardian to what he feared was happening at the Mohler place.
“I notified everybody I could notify in February 2000 about this.” Then, three months ago, an Independence police detective told the man there were multiple victims, “and my son was on the list.” “I said: ‘You mean it took them nine years to figure this out?'”
Many of the allegations directed at the Mohlers defy what experts encounter in sex abuse situations – group encounters involving children within the same family are rare, primarily because they are less apt to be kept secret. Still, there are cases of incest being so ingrained in a household that, for some families, “the act becomes normalized … a family value, as common as Sunday dinners or watching football on TV,” said Joseph Beck, a therapy director at Spofford Home, a Kansas City nonprofit that treats children with severe emotional problems. “Although it’s abnormal, it becomes, ‘This is how we do things,'” Beck said, adding that victims can be trained early in life not to trust the outside world.
Clinicians widely believe that child molestation, especially within a household, is driven more by urges to be violent and exert power than act out instilled sexual practices. “It’s not about sex. It’s about power and control,” said Judith Ann Cohen, who specializes in child-rape cases at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. “A man who feels he is king of his castle gets to abuse his children because, well, you can if you’re king of your castle.” Beck agreed. “Usually it revolves around a single patriarch of a family, the man in power.”
5 men charged with sex crimes against children AP By Bill Draper And Heather Hollingsworth 11/11/09 LEXINGTON, Mo. – Authorities on Wednesday were searching a rural property in western Missouri for bodies and buried glass jars containing notes written more than 15 years ago by children who may have documented sexual abuse by five members of their own family. Lafayette County Sheriff Kerrick Alumbaugh pleaded for the public’s help, saying investigators “believe that there are other victims out there, and we believe people in the public can give us more information.” Alumbaugh said authorities believe there may be bodies buried on the property outside Bates City, which is about 30 miles east of Kansas City. He refused to say to whom any of the bodies would have belonged. The property and a nearby home is owned by a man unrelated to the case who is cooperating with authorities….The five men were arrested Tuesday and are charged with several felonies, including forcible sodomy, rape with a child younger than 12 and use of a child in a sexual performance. The allegations, which include bestiality and forcing an 11-year-old to have an abortion, date from 1988 to 1995….Three of the five men are lay ministers in the Community of Christ church whose licenses have been suspended, church spokeswoman Linda L. Booth said….The woman who came forward claimed some of the men sexually abused her and her siblings, forced her to have sex with a dog, forced the siblings into fake marriages with relatives and forced her to watch as her brother was abused…..”The church takes seriously the allegations that have been made and suspended the priesthood licenses of three lay ministers: Burrell Mohler Sr., David Mohler and Jared Mohler,” the church said in a statement. Booth said one of the men, whom she refused to identify, had been registered to work with children but that license has been terminated. The Community of Christ, headquartered in Independence, split from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1860 and was known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints until 2001. It has about 250,000 members worldwide. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091111/ap_on_re_us/us_family_sex_crimes
Child sex abuse allegations may turn into a murder case By DONALD BRADLEY The Kansas City Star 11/11/09 LEXINGTON, Mo. They said they were just little girls trying to bury their horror in jars around the farm. They wanted somebody to know what happened to them. So, according to authorities, the sisters wrote notes about the years of sexual abuse at the hands of older relatives and hid them in the earth. Then the children – one was a boy – buried the pain and anguish within themselves. Years would pass. But on Wednesday, authorities came to the farm south of Bates City, Mo., to dig for the notes – and possibly a body. With a man and his middle-aged sons in jail, investigators descended onto the rural property looking for evidence of rape, sodomy, bestiality and possible homicide….The five men were charged with 14 felonies, including forcible sodomy and forcible rape with a child less than 12 years old and use of a child in a sexual performance. The sheriff said he expected more charges to be filed….The woman who came forward alleged that the abuse against her began at age 5, when the girls were forced to “rotate” sleeping in the same bed as the senior Mohler.
Five charged for ritual child sex crimes By Donald Bradley, AAP November 12, 2009
A Missouri man and his four sons have been charged with the ritualistic sex abuse of his six grandchildren, and police are searching the family farm for buried bodies.
Officials declined to say whether the remains they were searching for were those of adults or children but said they were investigating allegations of murder. “There have been indications of a body or bodies in numerous locations,” Lafayette County Sheriff Kerrick Alumbaugh told a press conference.
The backhoes began digging before noon on Wednesday, and a more careful search was undertaken to find glass jars filled with notes the children wrote describing the horrific abuse.
“When the victims were younger they were writing down what had happened to them and placing it in those jars and subsequently burying it in the property in hopes to forget about the occurrences,” said Bill Lowe, a spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol.
The alleged crimes came to light in August when a 26-year-old woman approached police with the suppressed memories of years of abuse at the hands of her father, uncles and grandfather.
Her four sisters and brother are cooperating with police and more charges are expected to be filed, Lowe said. “We believe there are other victims out there,” Alumbaugh said. “Pedophiles don’t stop with just one. They keep going.” The woman described nine incidents of abuse which she believes began when she was about five and ended after she became pregnant and was forced to have an abortion at age 11. The abuse included elaborate “wedding” ceremonies in which the girls would pick flowers to adorn their hair and wear special dresses….The alleged abuse occurred between 1988 and 1995 at the farm in Bates City, Missouri. The five men were formally charged with various counts of child sex abuse on Tuesday and remained in jail on Wednesday after a judge set bonds ranging from $US30,000 ($A32,275) to $US75,000 ($A80,690). Charged in the crime were: Burrell Edward Mohler Sr, 77; Burrell Edward Mohler, Jr, 51, the father of the six children; Jared Leroy Mohler, 48; Roland Neil Mohler, 47; and David A Mohler, 52. http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/newshome/6462729
Father Says Son Was Victim of Mohler Family – Kathy Quinn Meagan Kelleher, Web Producer
November 12, 2009 INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – The Lafayette County Sheriff said they are actively searching for more people who may have been sexually abused by the Mohler family men. Burrell Edward Mohler Sr., 77, his brother and his four adult sons have been charged with forcible sodomy and rape involving children under the age of 12.
In their search for more victims, detectives have contacted people like Mark Young’s son, who was seven at the time of the alleged abuse. Young confirmed to police that his son was abused by one of the Mohler men.
Mark Young said he and his former wife, Pamela Robison, had a child together and that woman later married Burrell Edward Mohler, Jr. Young said Robinson and his son would disappear for days.
UPDATE: Story of alleged 7th victim detailed on K.C.’s WDAF-TV 11/16/2009 J. Noedel-Publisher – Kansas City’s WDAF-TV (Fox4) has reported that in 1999, a Kansas City area man named Mark Young divorced his wife. His ex-wife got custody of the former-couple’s seven year-old son. The ex-wife then married Burrell “Ed” Mohler Jr. Not long after, Mark Young met Burrell Mohler Jr.’s own ex-wife. Burrell’s ex-wife — whose own six children the Mohlers allegedly abused — told Young that she had learned that “Jr. was quite fond of (Young’s) son and liked to sleep with him.” Young quickly sued for custody of his boy, alleging the child was being abused….The probable cause statement says that a granddaughter of Burrell Sr. remembers being raped by her grandfather when she was six years old. The now-grown woman and one of her sisters also are quoted in the probable cause statement alleging that their great uncle Darrel Mohler raped two of the girls when they were five and six years old, and then their grandfather threatened to kill them if they were not quiet.
The Associated Press has reported, “The original complaint in the case includes allegations of bestiality, forcing children into fake marriages with relatives and making an 11-year-old have an abortion.”
WDAF-TV, Channel 4, in Kansas City is reporting that three of the accused child abusers were lay ministers in an Independence, Mo. church.
A 77-year-old man and four of his middle-aged sons in western Missouri were charged yesterday on multiple charges of forcible sodomy and rape of children between 1988 and 1995. According to the Kansas City Star, a woman has told authorities of her and other children being forced to line up on a bed on their knees and each being assaulted by the men.
Daugther Say Mohler Jr. Forced Them To Kidnap, Kill Man
Three-page sworn probable cause statement from one Cynthia L. Schroer.
Group Asks Church to Help Other Potential Victims Come Forward Rob Low, edited by Jason Vaughn November 13, 2009 INDEPENDENCE, MO – Activists representing people who have been abused by clergy members traveled to the metro area on Friday to ask the Community of Christ Church to help bring other potential victims of a family accused of multiple counts of child rape.
Three members of the Mohler family were lay ministers of the Independence-based church.
Search in family sex abuse case also is for bodies, Lafayette sheriff says By Donald Bradley The Kansas City Star 11/11/09 LEXINGTON | Authorities are searching a rural property near Bates City, Mo., looking for bodies, as well as buried jars of written memories of anguish and horror allegedly left years ago by sexually abused children. Indications are that “an individual or individuals were killed,” Lafayette County Sheriff Kerrick Alumbaugh said Wednesday as law enforcement personnel swarmed over a farm once owned by one of five men arrested the day before. Investigators also expect that even more than the five alleged victims of the decades-old “mock weddings” will come forward. Court documents indicate the case involved rape, sodomy and bestiality, Alumbaugh said at his Lexington office. Investigators see a “strong possibility” of more victims, he said. Five members of the Mohler family, a 77-year-old father and four of his middle-aged sons, were arrested Tuesday on multiple charges of forcible sodomy and rape after a woman related stories of her and other children being forced to line up on a bed on their knees and each being assaulted by the men.
December 15, 2009 Comments Off on dissociative identity disorder DID/MPD studies
Brand B, Classen C, Lanins R, et al. A naturalistic study of dissociative identity disorder and dissociative disorder not otherwise specified patients treated by community clinicians. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. 2009;1:153-171. The prevalence of dissociative disorders (DD) in clinical settings ranges between 5-20.7% among inpatients, (Friedl & Draijer, 2000; Gast, Rodewald, Nickel, & Emrich, 2001; Ross, Anderson, Fleisher, & Norton, 1991; Tutkun et al., 1998), 12-38% among outpatients (Foote, Smolin, Kaplan, Legatt, & Lipschitz, 2006; Garcia, Rico, & Agra´z, 2006; Sar et al., 2003; Sar, Tutkun, Alyanak, Bakim, & Baral,2000)….
Information modified for readability
Patient Characteristics – 280 total
Abuse History – 272
% and # in study
Was the patient physically abused as a child? 79 (215)
Did the patient witness domestic violence as a child? 49 (133)
Was the patient emotionally or psychologically abused as a child? 94 (255)
Was the patient neglected as a child? 68 (184)
Was the patient sexually abused as a child? 86 (233)
Perpetrator(s) – 275
Father 55 (151)
Stepfather/mother’s lover 10 (28)
Mother 21 (58)
Brother 22 (62)
Other relative 42 (117)
Adoptive family member 3 (9)
Nonrelative 58 (159)
NA 8 (23)
Ross CA. Errors of logic and scholarship concerning dissociative identity disorder. J Child Sex Abus. 2009;18:221-231. The author reviewed a two-part critique of dissociative identity disorder published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. The two papers contain errors of logic and scholarship. Contrary to the conclusions in the critique, dissociative identity disorder has established diagnostic reliability and concurrent validity, the trauma histories of affected individuals can be corroborated, and the existing prospective treatment outcome literature demonstrates improvement in individuals receiving psychotherapy for the disorder. The available evidence supports the inclusion of dissociative identity disorder in future editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19306208
December 14, 2009 Comments Off on West Memphis 3 confession, witness corroboration and physical evidence
These articles describe graphic crimes of abuse
Echols’ psychiatric records
Misskelley’s Third Confession Transcript
Misskelley describes the crimes in front of his lawyer, implicating Echols and Baldwin.
Statement about Damien Echols stomping and killing a dog
Misskelley confession to Kim Floresca
Misskelley confession to Buddy Lucas
Death Penalty Recommended for Teen-Ager March 20, 1994 …Prosecutors presented evidence suggesting Mr. Echols was a devil worshipper and the younger teen-ager his loyal follower. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/03/20/us/death-penalty-recommended-for-teen-ager.html?scp=18&sq=west+memphis+3+murder+case&st=nyt
Youth Is Convicted In Slaying of 3 Boys In an Arkansas City CORNING, Ark., Feb. 4 The teen-ager, Jessie Lloyd Misskelley Jr., 18, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of a boy whom he had admitted chasing down. He was convicted of second-degree murder in the deaths of the other two boys….Mr. Misskelley told the police in two tape-recorded interviews that he had watched as his two friends beat the boys, raped two of them and castrated one. The prosecution said the slayings might have been part of a Satanic ritual. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/02/05/us/youth-is-convicted-in-slaying-of-3-boys-in-an-arkansas-city.html?scp=11&sq=west+memphis+3+murder+case&st=nyt
Jessie Lloyd MISSKELLEY, Jr. v. STATE of Arkansas CR 94-848 S.W.2d Supreme Court of Arkansas Opinion delivered February 19, 1996
On June 3, 1993, the crime having remained unsolved, Detective Sergeant Mike Allen sought the appellant out for questioning. The appellant was not considered a suspect, but it was thought he might have knowledge about Damien Echols, who was a suspect. Detective Allen located the appellant and brought him back to the station, arriving at approximately 10:00 a.m. Later in this opinion, we will address in detail the circumstances surrounding the appellant’s interrogation. For now, it is sufficient to say that the appellant was questioned off and on over a period from 10:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. At 2:44 p.m. and again at approximately 5:00 p.m., he gave statements to police in which he confessed his involvement in the murders. Both statements were tape-recorded….
In the early morning hours of May 5, 1993, the appellant received a phone call from Jason Baldwin. Baldwin asked the appellant to accompany him and Damien Echols to the Robin Hood area. The appellant agreed to go. They went to the area, which has a creek, and were in the creek when the victims rode up on their bicycles. Baldwin and Echols called to the boys, who came to the creek. The boys were severely beaten by Baldwin and Echols. At least two of the boys were raped and forced to perform oral sex on Baldwin and Echols. According to appellant, he was merely an observer.
While these events were taking place, Michael Moore tried to escape and began running. The appellant chased him down and returned him to Baldwin and Echols. The appellant also stated that Baldwin had used a knife to cut the boys in the facial area and that the Byers boy was cut on his penis. Echols used a large stick to hit one of the boys. All three boys had their clothes taken off and were tied up….
The appellant was asked about his involvement in a cult. He said he had been involved for about three months. The participants would typically meet in the woods. They engaged in orgies and, as an initiation rite, killing and eating dogs. He noted that at one cult meeting, he saw a picture that Echols had taken of the three boys. He stated that Echols had been watching the boys….
Damien Echols was observed near the crime scene at 9:30 p.m. on May 5. He was wearing black pants and a black shirt and his clothes were muddy. A witness testified that she had attended a satanic cult meeting with Echols and the appellant….a witness from the State Crime Lab testified that she found fibers on the victims’ clothing which were microscopically similar to items in the Baldwin and Echols residences….
Detective Allen asked him (Misskelley) if he could come with him to the police department to talk about the case. The appellant readily accompanied Allen. He was not handcuffed and rode in the front seat of the car.
The two arrived at the station at approximately 10:00 a.m. Detective Allen and Detective Bryn Ridge questioned the appellant for about an hour when they became concerned that he wasn’t telling the truth. In particular, he denied participation in the cult activity, a statement which was at odds with what other witnesses had said. At this point, the detectives decided to advise the appellant of his rights. Detective Allen read him a form entitled “YOUR RIGHTS,” and verbally advised him of the Miranda rights contained in the form. The appellant responded verbally that he understood his rights and also initialled each component of the rights form. There was no evidence of any promises, threats or coercion.
The form also contained a section entitled “WAIVER OF RIGHTS,” which read as follows:
I have read this statement of my RIGHTS and I understand what my RIGHTS are. I am willing to make a statement and answer questions. I do not want a lawyer at this time. I understand and know what I am doing, no promises or threats have been made to me and no pressure or force has been used against me.
The waiver was signed by the appellant.
After he was advised of his rights and had waived them, the appellant was asked if he would take a polygraph examination. He agreed that he would. Detective Allen took the appellant to look for his father so that his father could grant permission for the appellant to take the polygraph. They observed Mr. Misskelley driving on the same road they were on, stopped him, and received the authorization. There was no evidence of promises, threats or coercion.
Upon returning to the station, Detective Bill Durham, who would administer the polygraph, once again explained the appellant’s rights to him. The appellant verbally indicated he understood, and initialled and signed a second rights-and-waiver form that was identical to the first. http://courts.state.ar.us/opinions/1996/cr94-848.html
Damien Wayne ECHOLS and Charles Jason Baldwin v. STATE of Arkansas CR 94-928 S.W.2d Supreme Court of Arkansas Opinion delivered December 23, 1996
Where two witnesses testified that they overheard appellant Echols state that he killed the three boys, this was direct evidence; a confession is sufficient to sustain a conviction if it is accompanied by other proof that the offense was committed by someone….
There was substantial evidence of the guilt of appellant Echols where, among other things, the testimony of witnesses placed him in dirty clothes near the crime scene at a time close to the murders; where two independent witnesses reported Echols’s statement that he had killed the three boys and was direct evidence of the statement; where a criminalist from the State Crime Laboratory and a State Medical Examiner testified concerning the similarity of fibers found on the victim’s clothes with clothing found in Echols’s home and the serrated wound patterns on the three victims that were consistent with, and could have been caused by, a knife found in a lake behind appellant Baldwin’s parents’ residence….
Echols admitted on cross-examination that he had delved deeply into the occult and was familiar with its practices and where various items that had been found in his room supported the State’s theory of motive that the killings were done in a satanic ritual; where an expert in occult killings testified that there was significant evidence of satanic ritual killings; where a detective testified that Echols had made a statement regarding the mutilation of one of the victims that the jury could have reasonably concluded he would not have known about unless he had been involved in some manner; and where Echols’s testimony contained additional evidence of guilt….
Echols admitted on cross-examination in the penalty phase of the trial that he had an altercation with his father in which a knife was involved and the police were called; where he admitted that he was hospitalized that same day and that when his father came to the hospital, “I told him I would eat him alive”; where headmitted that he tried “to claw the eyes out” of a student; and where a psychologist who testified for Echols admitted that Echols had “an all-powerful God-like image of himself,” that his parents were concerned with his satanism or devil worship, and that Echols’s medical records included notations of statements by Echols pertaining, among other things, to his rage and the drinking of the blood of others….
Where one witness testified that appellant Baldwin had told him that he had dismembered one of the boys, sucked the blood from his penis and scrotum, and put the testicles in his mouth, and where an expert on ritual killings stated that one of the facts that led him to believe that the killings were cult-related was that one of the victims had been castrated and had had the blood sucked from his penis, there was sufficient evidence of appellant Baldwin’s participation in occult activities, and the trial court correctly allowed the evidence….
Twelve-year-old Christy VanVickle testified that she heard Echols say he “killed the three boys.” Fifteen-year-old Jackie Medford testified that she heard Echols say, “I killed the three little boys and before I turn myself in, I’m going to kill two more, and I already have one of them picked out.” The testimony of these two independent witnesses was direct evidence of the statement by Echols….
Dr. Dale Griffis, an expert in occult killings, testified in the State’s case-in-chief that the killings had the “trappings of occultism.” He testified that the date of the killings, near a pagan holiday, was significant, as well as the fact that there was a full moon. He stated that young children are often sought for sacrifice because “the younger, the more innocent, the better the life force.” He testified that there were three victims, and the number three had significance in occultism. Also, the victims were all eight years old, and eight is a witches’ number. He testified that sacrifices are often done near water for a baptism-type rite or just to wash the blood away. The fact that the victims were tied ankle to wrist was significant because this was done to display the genitalia, and the removal of Byers’s testicles was significant because testicles are removed for the semen. He stated that the absence of blood at the scene could be significant because cult members store blood for future services in which they would drink the blood or bathe in it. He testified that the “overkill” or multiple cuts could reflect occult overtones. Dr. Griffis testified that there was significance in injuries to the left side of the victims as distinguished from the right side: People who practice occultism will use the midline theory, drawing straight down through the body. The right side is related to those things synonymous with Christianity while the left side is that of the practitioners of the satanic occult. He testified that the clear place on the bank could be consistent with a ceremony. In sum, Dr. Griffis testified there was significant evidence of satanic ritual killings….
Echols took the witness stand, and his testimony contained additional evidence of guilt. When asked about his statement that one victim was mutilated more than the others, he said he learned the fact from newspaper accounts. His attorney showed him the newspaper articles about the murders. On cross-examination, Echols admitted that the articles did not mention one victim being mutilated more than the others, and he admitted that he did not read such a fact in a newspaper….
Jason Baldwin does not contend that there was insufficient evidence of his guilt. This is, perhaps, in part, because of the testimony of Michael Carson, who testified that he talked to Baldwin about the murders. Carson’s testimony, in pertinent part, was abstracted as follows:
I said, just between me and you, did you do it. I won’t say a word. He said yes and he went into detail about it. It was just me and Jason [Baldwin]. He told me he dismembered the kids, or I don’t know exactly how many kids. He just said he dismembered them. He sucked the blood from the penis and scrotum and put the balls in his mouth. http://courts.state.ar.us/opinions/1996a/961223sc/cr94-928.html
Appeal puts 3 Ark. boys’ murders back in spotlight
By Jill Zeman Bleed AP October 2, 2010 (the article discusses both sides of the case in detail)
….Echols’ statement under cross-examination that he was interested in the occult, as well as a funeral register found in his room with hand-drawn pentagrams and upside-down crosses. Echols’ journal was also admitted into evidence, and “it contained morbid images and references to dead children,” the court’s opinion noted. Echols’ statement to police shortly after the murders that he understood the boys had been mutilated, with one suffering more serious injuries. That information hadn’t been released to the public, the opinion said. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/02/AR2010100201274.html
Larry King Live “West Memphis 3” Follow-Up
September 7, 2010
During last nights show on the “West Memphis 3,” we shared statements from Diana Moore, mother of murder victim Michael Moore, and the Arkansas Attorney General, whose office will defend the conviction of Damien Echols before the Arkansas Supreme Court later this month….
Statement from Diana Moore, mother of murder victim Michael Moore:
In 1993, all I wanted was justice for Michael, Christopher, and Stevie, and closure for myself, and my family. 17 years later, still no justice, or closure.
Since the convictions, the media has made it a point to make this case all about the convicted. I would like to take this opportunity to remind people that three innocent 8 year old children were brutally murdered, and these three men were convicted on the evidence presented to 24 , (in total), juror members that voted unanimously to convict.
Not one of the celebrities interviewed in this program has ever bothered to personally read the case file at West Memphis PD, or speak to anyone involved in prosecuting this case.
My little boy died that day. I’m his mother, and wish to say that the public remains ignorant about what happened in court primarily as a result of the Paradise Lost films, and the writing of Mara Leveritt. My voice is small compared to theirs, but I believe more relevant. They weren’t there during the trials, and they didn’t lose anybody. I lost almost everything, and not a day goes by that I don’t mourn for Michael. The public should think about that before casting their lot in with Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines.
(Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines also replied to Diana Moore.) http://larrykinglive.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/07/west-memphis-3-follow-up/
Deal Frees ‘West Memphis Three’ in Arkansas
By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON August 19, 2011 JONESBORO, Ark.
….Under the terms of a deal reached with prosecutors, Mr. Echols, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Misskelley leave as men who maintain their innocence yet who pleaded guilty to murder, as men whom the state still consider to be child killers but whom the state deemed safe enough to set free.
Last November, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that there was enough evidence to call a hearing to determine whether to have a new trial. The hearing was scheduled for this coming December.
But it was less than three weeks ago that lawyers representing Mr. Echols began working on a deal to offer to prosecutors that would free the men.
Under the seemingly contradictory deal, Judge David Laser vacated the previous convictions, including the capital murder convictions for Mr. Echols and Mr. Baldwin. After doing so, he ordered a new trial, something the prosecutors agreed to if the men would enter so-called Alford guilty pleas. These pleas allow people to maintain their innocence and admit frankly that they are pleading guilty because they consider it in their best interest.
The three men did just that, standing in court and quietly proclaiming their innocence but at the same time pleading guilty to charges of first- and second-degree murder. The judge then sentenced them to 18 years and 78 days, the amount of time they had served, and also levied a suspended sentence of 10 years.
The prosecuting attorney, Scott Ellington, said in an interview that the state still considered the men guilty and that, new DNA findings notwithstanding, he knew of no current suspects. “We don’t think that there is anybody else,” Mr. Ellington said, declaring the case closed.
Asked how he could free murderers if he believed they were guilty, he acknowledged that the three men would likely be acquitted if a new trial were held, given the prominent lawyers now representing them, the fact that evidence has decayed or disappeared over time and the death or change of heart of several original witnesses. He also expressed concern that if the men were exonerated at trial, they could sue the state, possibly for millions of dollars.
“I believe that with all the circumstances that were facing the state in this case, this resolution is one that is palatable and I think that after a period of time it will be acceptable to the public as the right thing,” Mr. Ellington said.