Jessie Misskelley Jr., Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols have been incarcerated since July of 1993, they were unjustly arrested, tried and found guilty of murdering three little boys in the Robin Hood Hills of West Memphis, Arkansas. The police were under enormous pressure to solve the heinous crimes, but they couldn't find any likely suspects since the crime scene was "obliterated" so they picked up 17-year old Jessie Misskelley for questioning in May of 1993. After five hours of questioning (the majority of it off the record), Jessie confessed that he, Jason, and Damien commited the murders. His confession is unconstitutional for two reasons, Jessie has an IQ of 72 and was unable to understand his Miranda Rights and, the police must get written permission from a parent or guardian to waive Jessie's Miranda Rights. No such permission was ever sought out or given to the detectives.
Unfathomably, Jessie's illegally obtained confession (detailed at length as "coerced compliant" by witness Richard Ofshe during Misskelley's trial) was ruled voluntary. He immediately recanted his statement, but it still paved the way for the arrest of Baldwin and Echols--there was no other evidence, witnesses or motive that they commited the Robin Hood Hills murders. The critically acclaimed HBO documentary Paradise Lost captured the neo-Salem witch trials of 1994. Jessie's in January and Jason and Damien's in February. Their "crime" was that they listened to heavy metal music, wore black and didn't act like teenagers were supposed to in West Memphis. If the court had set aside Jessie's confession, and recognized the fact that his civil rights were flaunted by the West Memphis police and prosecutors, all three would be free men today. This should have been the end of this terrible saga.
It wasn't: Jessie pleaded "not guilty" but was convicted for three counts of capitol murder, as were Jason and Damien. Jessie refused to testify against the other two even when enticed with a reduced sentence by the prosecution. The fact is: Jessie and Jason are still in prison serving life sentences! Damien is on death row, waiting to see if he will die by lethal injection; all the while forbidden to own CDs or cassettes, or to read books that the prison finds objectionable. To date, all of their appeals have been denied--nothing has changed.
Free the West Memphis Three Support Fund, Inc. is a non-profit organization to gain Misskelley, Baldwin and Echols their freedom as quickly as possible by making the public aware of the overwhelming injustice against them, and to demand that their cases be re-opened. It will endeavor to publish any and all information pertaining to this case through its website, and any other available means. We're asking you to help us in the most profound way that you can -- whether it's writing letters to government officials, telling others about their plight or by making a donation. To be incarcerated without just cause is everybody's worst nightmare, the West Memphis Three have been living through it for four years and counting, imprisoned because their civil rights were violated. They never thought it would happen to them in this country -- are you sure it won't happen to you?
1. Rent the video of HBO's Paradise Lost distributed by Cabin Fever Productions.