ne of the greatest Netflix original hits returned this year with new and endearing characters. Eddie Munson is one of the season four favorites of stranger thingswho is blamed for the deaths of Crissy, Fred and Patrick, Fatal victims of the Vecna monster.
But… Did you know that his character is based on a real life criminal case? You have to go back to 1993, in memphis, Arkansas, USAwhere a small community experienced the horror after the disappearance of three children and the subsequent discovery of their lifeless bodies in a lake in the town. The trial of three teenagers, the only suspects that the Police had despite the lack of evidence, was one of the first to be televised and became an infamous case.
LOOK: The deadly lynching of a young man in Mexico at the hands of a mob influenced by WhatsApp rumors
At that time, the United States was experiencing a phenomenon that was later known as the satanic panic, in which in situations of heinous crimes and serial murders the motivation was attributed to rituals with the devil and sects. As in the case of fictional character from stranger thingsthe suspects in the case were singled out simply for being fans of heavy metal, heavy rock and their taste for the horror stories.
What left that horrible crime
Three eight-year-old friends Christopher Byers, Michael Moore and Stevie Branch decided to go out on their bikes one afternoon. As night fell, the parents, seeing that they did not return home, alerted the authorities of a possible disappearance. The next day, local police officers found the three naked bodies in a lake.
Thread explaining the West Memphis three case
(This case is very extensive so I will probably divide it into 3 threads, rt and fav to make more threads of this type, that would encourage me a lot) pic.twitter.com/MFN5OvJs1E
— iri????@???????????????????????????? (@kickitjmn) June 8, 2020
The case was especially appalling, since the three had been tied up and Byers’ body had signs of genital mutilation. At the time, the authorities argued that the triple murder had been perpetrated as part of a satanic ritual. and so they decided to investigate the young Damien Echols, who was known at school for his eccentric tastes, as well as practicing a religion called Wicca.
From the start, Echols denied knowing the three murdered children or having anything to do with their deaths. However, the police went ahead with their theory that the teen was the culprit, along with two of Echols’ friends. During the trial they did not present conclusive evidence of their responsibility and concentrated on circumstantial evidence.
The Prosecutor’s Office argued that due to his depressive history, his fondness for the Metallica band and interest in Stephen King’s horror books, Damien Echols was prone to violent actions and demon worship. After the trial, he was sentenced to death. The other two suspects, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, also received harsh sentences: life in prison without the right to appeal. All three were minors when they were arrested.
An investigation sown with doubts
West Memphis Police presented testimony that the teens had performed a ritual on the night of the victims’ disappearance, which turned into an alleged orgy. Vicki Hutcheson, a witness for the prosecution, assured that she had witnessed the act and that they had sexually abused the children. However, there was no evidence of sexual assault on any of the bodies.
Secondly, Jessie Misskelley was pressured by investigators to confess and her statements were far from the evidence collected by the forensic team. For example, he commented that the three children had been tied up with industrial rope, but were actually tied up with their own shoelaces.
Almost 15 years later, they found evidence that could be analyzed through technology that did not exist when the crimes were committed. They found hair in one of the shoelace knots belonging to Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of Stevie Branch, one of the victims. They also found hair from a friend of Hobbs’s; however, the man denied having anything to do with the case.
In addition, Hutcheson, who had claimed that he had witnessed a satanic ritual practiced by the suspects, withdrew his testimony and stated that she had been intimidated by the police on pain of being implicated in the murder of the three infants in case of not accusing the adolescents.
It’s now estimated that 1 out of every 10 people executed in the United States is innocent.
I was nearly one of them.
You can help put an end to this horror by supporting organizations like @NorthwesternCWC who contributed to saving my life.@LauraNirider @SDrizin pic.twitter.com/MpYjHDUkHB
— Damien Echols (@damienechols) December 31, 2020
The release of three innocent youths
In 1996, HBO produced a documentary titled Paradise Lost: Robin Hood’s Mountain Child Murdersabout the case. In the audiovisual they questioned the validity of the police investigation, since they dismissed other theories by focusing exclusively on adolescents.
They pointed out that all the evidence used to convict the defendants was purely circumstantial. Due to the popularity of the documentary, they produced two other feature films, and even various celebrities such as Johnny Depp and Eddie Vedder, the singer of Pearl Jam, came out in defense of the teenagers accused of murder.
After spending 18 years behind bars, the three young people were released using a legal figure known as the Alford Doctrine, in which they pleaded guilty according to the evidence presented, but innocent of the criminal act. The Arkansas Supreme Court granted them their release based on this legal argument. Unfortunately, the case was never conclusively resolved.
I, Ronald Payne, am a journalist and author who dedicated his life to telling the stories that need to be said. I have over 7 years of experience as a reporter and editor, covering everything from politics to business to crime.