Overhead view of the Discovery Woods
The Paths to the Crime Scene.
I used overhead photos, crime scene
sketches, the police videos and my personal visit to the area to create
this description (given below) of the paths and access to the crime
scene. The Blue Beacon Woods are surrounded by the Blue
Beacon Truck Wash on the northwest, the Union 76 Truck Stop directly to
the west across the southern end of the Blue Beacon lot, the Interstate and Service Road to the north, a large meadow
to the east and the bayou to the south. Across the bayou, visible
from some areas, were the Mayfair Apartments. All of the photos
below are from police videos taken in 1993.
The Dead End of W. McAuley (crime scene tape visible)
dead end at West McAuley Drive you leave behind the residential
neighborhood. Even from here, the Mayfair Apartments are mostly
obscured. There is a path that takes you down to the pipe that
crosses the bayou. Just before reaching the pipe from the south
side, there is about a five foot drop via a sharp but navigable
slope. The pipe itself is about 30 feet across with the water
about 3 feet below it. The south and north ends of the pipe are
hidden from view from any buildings or businesses. This is
confirmed in the videotape taken at the time of the murders. From
the north end of the pipe, looking to the northeast, the Blue Beacon
Woods hover over you.
south, two views of the pipe. Taken from the same place the second image has
camera tilted up. In the second
image the Mayfair Apartments come into view. Although there is
undisturbed crime scene tape, the path is already obscured by grass.
There was a path from the pipe that heads north to
Turtle Hill where you encounter the southeast end of the Blue Beacon
lot. This path is clearly visible in the overhead shot, but
is all but invisible in the police video. From the pipe, this
path heads north across a brief plain, I estimate 15 yards. As
you walk along this, if you turn around, the upper floors of the
Mayfair Apartments can be seen. Heading straight, this path goes
to Turtle Hill and the southeast corner of the Blue Beacon lot.
From the police sketches and overhead shot, there was a path that broke
off to the right and entered the Blue Beacon Woods and headed directly
to the Byers/Branch discovery site.
Police sketch of crime scene area including the
paths to the west of the discovery site.
Turtle Hill is about six to eight feet
tall. From the top of Turtle Hill but before you enter the Blue
Beacon lot you can see the totality of the Mayfair Apartments.
You pass a line of trees that obscure the southeast corner of the Blue
Beacon lot from the Mayfair Apartments. From the southeast corner
of the Blue Beacon lot the police video and sketches show a path that
leads straight to the Byers and Branch discovery site. Also in
the police video it is shown that the trees from the Blue Beacon Woods
bulge out and obscure this area from the back of the Blue Beacon.
Several single trees partially obscure the view here from the
interstate, although the interstate can be seen between the trees.
corner of Blue Beacon lot looking into trail that lead to discovery
site of Byers and Branch. Entryway overgrown.
north from the southeastern corner of the Blue Beacon Woods.
Trees obscure a view from the Truck Wash which would be to the
right and out of the picture.
The video doesn't pan west toward the truck stop,
although State Exhibit 15 suggests that there is a direct line of
view. It could be argued that the perpetrator could have obscured
this view by moving a car or truck up against the entry to the
woods. This area is clearly accessible to cars as can be noted by
the many ruts in the photo of the ground. In her testimony
Melissa Byers described her son Ryan and her husband's search for her
missing son, Chris. "There's a little pond or something back
there and he said "Ryan drove around the pond and blew the horn on the
car to try to" - you know, like to try to - you know, blow the horn on
the car in case." Another path leads from an area closer to the
Blue Beacon to the woods. This is visible in the sketches and in
the video, although the video only shows the path and not its entrance
into the woods.
west from the discovery site. The trail on the right goes to the
southeastern corner of the Blue Beacon lot (photos above). The trail on the left joins the trail to the pipe. Note, in the
interior of the woods, the trails are well-defined.
Two paths head from the discovery site of Moore west toward the
meadow. The northeastern path and a slow slope are described in
one sketch, and in the same sketch, the southeastern trail heads into a
steep slope. In another sketch, only the northeastern path is
identified and here it is described as a "dim trail." On the
eastern side of the woods there was a single large tree jutting out
into the meadow, effectively obscuring any south of it from being seen
from the interestate. This tree is visible in exhibit 15.
This meadow can be transversed by automobile, in fact, I was approached
from this direction during my visit.
There is what is
described as a slow slope down on the western (Blue Beacon) side of the
ditch to the area down to where Byers and Branch were found, as
can be seen in the photo of the trails, above. This slope
on the west bank becomes a steep bluff overseeing the area where
Moore's body was found.
drawing of crime scene area. This sketch is more representative
of the types of drawings made. Note that some tubes are trails,
while other are trees. This drawing includes information not in other drawings, including the trails leading
to Moore's body, the slopes, and the bluff overlooking Moore's body.
Access to the woods by car on the western side would
require passing by the Blue Beacon Truck Wash. There are no notes
or comments from the staff of the Blue Beacon for the late night
period. Access to the woods by car on the eastern side could be
seen from the interstate. Of course, at that time, nothing
unusual was known to be taking place to those passing through West
Part three of triptych