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A Timeline of Terror: Day of the Murders


On May 5, 1993, three 8-yearold West Memphis boys left their homes and never returned.

• Steve Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers were reported missing later that evening. The first report to the police was made by Byers' adoptive father, John Mark Byers, around 7 p.m.

• The boys were allegedly last seen together by three neighbors, who in affidavits told of seeing them playing together around 6:30 p.m. that evening and seeing Terry Hobbs, Steve Branch's stepfather, calling them to come home.

• Initial police searches made that night were limited.

Friends and neighbors also conducted a search that night, which included a cursory visit to the location where the bodies were later found.

• A more thorough police search for the children began around 8 a.m. the next morning, led by the Crittenden County Search and Rescue personnel. Searchers canvassed all of West Memphis but focused primarily on Robin Hood Hills, where the boys were reported last seen.

• Around 1:45 pm, juvenile Parole Officer Steve Jones spotted a boy's black shoe floating in a muddy creek that led to a major drainage canal in Robin Hood Hills. A subsequent search of the ditch revealed the bodies of three boys. They had been stripped naked and were hogtied with their own shoelaces: their right ankles tied to their right wrists behind their backs, the same with their left arms and


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• Their clothing was found in the creek, some of it twisted around sticks that had been thrust into the muddy ditch bed. The clothing was mostly turned inside-out; two pairs of the boys' underwear were never recovered.

• Christopher Byers had lacerations to various parts of his body, and mutilation of his scrotum and penis.

• The autopsies, by the forensic pathologist Frank J.

Peretti, indicated that Byers died of 'multiple injuries', while Moore and Branch died of 'multiple injuries with drowning'.

• Police initially suspected the boys had been raped, and trace amounts of sperm DNA were found on a pair of pants recovered from the scene.

Prosecution experts claim Byers' wounds were the results of a knife attack and that he had been purposely castrated by the murderer.

• Police believed the boys were assaulted and killed at the location where they were found.

• Police follow multiple leads over the next several days.

• Ultimately, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin were convicted, twice (in 1994 and again in 2011) for the murders. The case generated widespread controversy and has been the subject of several books and documentaries.

• On Aug. 19, 2011, Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin were released with 10-year suspended sentences, having served 18 years.

• Christopher Byers, Michael Moore and Steven Branch — the real “West Memphis Three” — would all be nearly 40 years old now.

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