West Memphis High Blue
Devil and West Junior High Blue Imp.
Satan in this investigation.
"Authorities aren't ruling out anything in their
[Chief Investigator] Gitchell said, including the possibility of gang
or cult activity, though he said he saw no evidence of
West Memphis Evening Times, May 11, 1993.
"Do you believe in God - devil?"
"Do you believe in white or black magic?"
"Do you have or own a Bible?"
-- From a 32 item questionnaire specially prepared for this case.
arguments would later be made
to support the occult nature of the crimes, no such claims were present
in the early written summaries or the profile sent to the
There were no ritual markings or emblems found at the crime scene, nor
was there any physical evidence that rituals had taken place there in
the past. The mutilation of the bodies was savage but not
There were those in the police who
believed the most likely perpetrators were sexual deviants, transients
passing through town, or a truckdriver from the adjacent truck wash,
the Blue Beacon. (Another, even larger truck stop was just
more lot away.) Sensibly, patrons credit card receipts were
collected and their names checked. The first suspects brought
for questioning were transients and passersby, those who had raised
suspicions during the door to door interviews, and those that were seen
in the vicinity that night.
First broadcast looking for suspects, 10:38 pm, May 6, 1993
officials from the very beginning
suspected that a cult was at work. Steve Jones was in his
mid-thirties and worked for Crittenden County as an assistant juvenile
probation officer. It was he who discovered the floating shoe
that led to the discovery of the bodies. Staying at the scene
the first child was drawn out of the water, he immediately connected
the murder to one of his parolees, stating "Looks like Damien finally
killed somebody." Then, as an officer noted, he suddenly
ill and left.
with his supervisor, Jerry
Driver believed that there was devil worshipping and satan-based crimes
occurring in Crittenden County. After noting "a marked
in what they termed "satanic-related graffiti" they sought advice from
Little Rock cult consultant Steve Nawojczyk. Other evidence
cult activity included dead animal carcasses and campfires.
attributed these to hobos passing through.) Driver and Jones
into place a preventative plan. For over a year they
the county looking for signs of cult crimes. In particular
were concerned about human sacrifices taking place on the nights of
Blackwood Driver had been named the
chief juvenile intake and probation officer in March 1992. By
that time, he was in his fifties, married with three
This new venture was a step down. He had spent 20 years in
airline business in Memphis and Miami. He told reporters that
when he had worked in Miami flying cargo runs to Haiti, he'd become
familiar with voodoo. After his piloting career, he started a
couple of businesses, but they didn't last long. Now, as a
employee he was making less than $20,000 a year and soon headed for
becoming Chief Juvenile
Officer, Driver met Damien Echols for the first time. In May
1992, Echols was arrested with his then girlfriend Deanna Holcomb, and
charged with burglary and sexual misconduct after they attempted to run
away, and hid in an unoccupied trailer after it started
Echols told Driver an elaborate story about the 3 or 4 cults in West
Memphis, and animal sacrifices but didn't give him any names of these
people. Echols would claim he was feeding him stories.
The difficulties of proving the
existence of this
cult and the finding the names of those involved would be a recurring
theme in the investigation. Many residents passed along
some claiming strange smells from the nearby woods, bands of painted
people, one even claiming to have seen a sacrificed baby. Two
witnesses would come forward saying they were members of a satanic
cult, but these witnesses seemed to be in the throes of
schizophrenia. Fifteen year old Ricky Climer (probably the more
coherent of the two) said he belonged to the cult for almost
five years and told implausible and unsubstantiated stories about their
having beaten up a police officer, having hung one woman and killed
another. When asked if there was violence at these meetings,
Uh, you know sometimes it be flat out violence, you
know, getting into fights and stuff, uh then again sometimes it would
be like, you know, you're be sitting there, you know, the next you'll
start thinking of some cartoon characters. Let's say, the little guys
Yeah, Smurfs, things like that and the next thing you know, you
be, all of a sudden somebody will be running at you, and the Smurf has
a heart on his arms and he will be running at you and stuff, you know.
Such statements rendered
Climer unusable as a
witness (although he was on the prosecutor's witness list, he was not called.). As with other evidence in this
could be interpreted in any of several ways. Did their
participation in a cult drive them mad? Was the cult a haven
the mentally ill? Or did their mental illness inspire
and devilish illusions? Fundamental problems
There were few consistencies between these stories and no corroborating
witness, Victoria Hutcheson, would
testify at trial as to the existence of the cult stating that she had
gone with Damien to the beginning of a meeting but left before anything
happened. She has since recanted her testimony apologizing
the damage she had done saying that, upon reconsidering, she was drunk
that night and passed out on her lawn. (The prosecution also made
the case the crimes were satanic in nature through the testimony of Dr.
The day after the bodies were discovered
accompanied police lieutenant James Sudbury to visit Damien Echols at
his trailer. They took photos looking for scratches on his
(none were visible). They took notes about what they
odd answers to their questions. They would ask Echols in for
further questioning at the beginning of the next week.
This resulted in a second wave of
in for questioning: Wiccan teenagers and alleged members of
cults. (This second wave started just five days after the
disappearances. A third wave of suspects would be called in
during the coming week including local sex offenders and follow-ups
from the tip hotline.) Chris Littrell and Murray Farris, teenage heads
of a local meeting of Wiccans were interviewed. They named
members of their recently formed groups and passed along rumors
regarding Damien Echols and others.
and its practitioners would become
one of the centers of the investigation. Other suspects,
including ones with no seeming connection to the occult would be asked,
do you know Chris Littrell? Murray Farris? Damien
Focussing on Damien Echols
Early draft of questionnaire.
[Question] 27 Believe in white or Black Majic?
Expression - bobului or Pentigram?
28 Have or own a Bible?