Damien describes his goal for treatment:
To become a stronger person - or does it say stranger? (p. 487)
Damien's Demons, Part Two
Exhibit 500 is a large document. Out of chronological order, it can be difficult to follow. It is a mixture of fact, misinformation and allegation. Determining the validity of any given bit of information is a difficult task. Sometimes the thread can be followed, especially when there is a document near the source of a precipitating event, such as a police report. More often the source of a specific bit of information is not identified and statements are repeated transcriptions of earlier reports.
Exhibit 500 contains many allegations regarding Damien Echols behavior and beliefs. Some are well-documented and present the picture of a disturbed mind. Others can be seen as progressively larger confabulations, exaggerations that have little to do with the actual events. I will try to sort out these allegations into those that are well-documented, those that are purely misinformation or carry no more validity than rumor, and those that are difficult to assess.
The allegations (substantiated and otherwise) presented in Exhibit 500 are listed below. Left out are more run-of-the-mill accusations such as truancy from school or vague assertions such as "exhibited sneaky behavior." Some are different descriptions of the same subject or incident.
* Made a suicide pact with Deanna Holcomb.
* Self-mutilation (cutting and burning).
* History of drug abuse.
Violent threats or ideation.
* Threatened harm to or threatened life of Pamela Echols (mother).
* Threatened harm to or threatened life of Joe Hutchison (father).
* Threatened harm to or threatened life of father of Deanna Holcomb (girlfriend).
* Threats/terroristic threatening, others.
* Murderous ideation.
Violent acts and attempted acts of aggression.
* Chased child with ax.
* Initiates fights at school/aggression toward others.
* Attempted to claw out schoolmate's eyes.
* Started fires.
* Witchcraft interest and practice.
* Satanism, occultism or devil worship.
* Possessed by a spirit or demon.
* Drank blood of peers (voluntary or involuntary).
* Claimed to be a vampire.
* Planned to have baby and sacrifice it.
* Wrote disturbing, dark, or occult (or satanic) poetry.
* Made occult (or satanic) drawings.
"Cut out the scare tactics and keep up the good stuff."
"Let people like you for You!"
Two notes of advice from Echols' mental health care team. (p. 453)
Damien Echols was first admitted to Charter Hospital of Little Rock in June of 1992 after expressing a plan for suicide. "ct (client) had voiced suicidal ideation to folks at detention center re: hanging himself. (page 28)" This included a suicide pact with his girlfriend, Deanna Holcomb. After Damien's arrest, they were separated and she was hospitalized at Mid-South in Memphis and he was taken to Juvenile Detention. "Ct. readily admits suicidal plan - 'It would have been necessary if her parents would have let us see each other.' (sic) " (p. 28 - perhaps this is an error in transcription, meaning instead if parents would not let them see each other and consistent with other times in which it is referenced, e.g., p. 469) . This suicidal pact is not referred to many times for greater clarification. A further note is made on page 145. "At this time Damien was in Charter Hospital in Little Rock Arkansas when he had been hospitalized for 6 weeks after running off w/ girlfriend + both threatening to kill themselves when they were picked up." (A note of correction: his stay was approximately three weeks.)
His hospitalization at St. Vincent's Hospital in Oregon was also precipitated by threats of suicide. The police report only notes a single threat of suicide expressed to his sister Michelle Echols.
On 9-1-92 at 8:57 pm, I contacted Joe Hutchison his daughter Michelle + his son Michael who Joe learned was contemplating suicide. The only evidence that I could find to support this was the fact that Michelle told me that last night she had asked Michael if he was thinking about suicide + he responded "yes." Michelle said she asked Michael when he would commit suicide, he responded "soon." However, Michael denied that he was considering suicide, although he admitted to being depressed. After talking with Michael, I was able to convince Michael to let his parents take him to St. Vincents hospital to be seen by their staff. Michael agreed. (Washington County, OR, Dept. of Public Safety, Miscellaneous Service Report, Officer Ortez)In his hospital charts more details were presented along with specific ideation and planning: ". . . he talks about drinking a bottle of bleach. . . Pt. told sister that he would be killing himself in the next 3 days. Pt. has made threats to kill himself by hanging w/ bed sheet or tying socks together. . ." (p. 145)
Along with many notes of suicidal ideation there is one that has Damien saying he attempted suicide in the past. There is no supporting record that this had occurred. ". . . stated he had attempted suicide before and 'was not worried about trying again because I know I can come back.' (p. 427)" In contrast, there is another notation where past suicide attempts are specifically denied (p. 220). There is also a note stating incorrectly that he attempted suicide while in detention. "In Juv. detention past 2 wks. and co sherriff reports pt. tried to hang himself w/a bed sheet while there" (p. 168) His belief in reincarnation was alarming to the staff, perhaps because it made suicide more likely.
After his arrest for the murder of the children, on June 8 1993, Damien attempted suicide by saving his antidepressant pills and then overdosing. This may have been a half-hearted attempt or a means of seeking attention or help as he quickly informed his jailers of his overdose.
Damien made various declarations of cutting and burning himself. Sometimes this was done to create tattoos. The methods of self-mutilation described are: cutting with knives, burning with a lighter and burning using heated thumbtacks. It was noted he had cuts on his hand and arm (page 54), a self made tattoo on his chest (the symbol of Venus or female, page 280) , an undescribed tattoo on his hand (p. 373), and the letters E-V-I-L on his fingers (p. 130). These tattoos soon faded and with different hospitalizations different tattoos were noted. None were noted in his police arrest report.
Damien described past experimentation with the following drugs/compounds: gasoline, propane, spray paint, glue, cocaine, acid, marijuana, speed, caffeine (sodas), tobacco (1 1/2 packs per day), and alcohol (ps. 234, 105, 168, 227, others). He denied regular use (other than tobacco) and said he had given them up because they interfered with his religious practices. In his two drug tox screenings taken three months apart, he was negative to all drugs tested, including alcohol (ps. 251, 397).
Continued in Damien's Demons, Part Three
Suicide note, signed Michael Damien Hutchison, June 8, 1993.
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