The Victims The Place Time It Was The Crime The Investigation The Convicted
The Victims The Place The Investigation Time it was The Crime The Convicted

john mark byers

John Mark Byers delivering sermon

John Mark Byers.

"One friday we are lined up to go to the store (comm.) There was this black mjr. he was a real hater of all gangs more so the white ones. The guy beside me had in very large block letters GFBD across his neck, the mjr,grabbed him out of line & started in on his tat. What does that mean he knew very well what it ment (God forgives Brotherhood Dosent) you got the picture?? The mjr. was driving him for the answer to this day I can still see him right in the mjr. face his answer with a straight face. He said going fishing with bill dance. I fell out laughing & got one week in the hole it was worth the laugh."

John Mark Byers relating a prison story about the white supremacist gang, GFBD.  [mjr. is a major, a senior corrections officer]


Also it is real sick of you trying to talk crap dont you know you CANT CON a CON I can smell game a long way off. !st & last words that I will have with you. GFBD,, GFBD,, GFBD,, GFBD,, GFBD,, GFBD read it & YOU better BELIVE it.
.....(snip, another excerpt, a posting directed to another person)
Think about that.
JOHN MARK BYERS 20yr member of GFBD
.....(snip, a posting directed to still another person)
I really hope I get to met you again .Because this time I am going to be real nice, oh PLEASE bring your big bad boyfriend.  You have talked much crape about me, now I am ready to TALK to you UP CLOSE>Bring your friends bring who ever, just remember i know a few myself (GFBD) maybe you would like to meet them real nice group of folks. Just country like me.  Your call,, time, place, day????  Get you some, you are no more then a tick on a dog just needs to be stepped on.  Hope to see you soon.

John Mark Byers threatening various people on line. 

John Mark Byers

           At six foot five and 238 pounds, John Mark Byers (usually called Mark), the stepfather of victim Christopher Byers is an imposing figure.  Outspoken, he is a magnet to controversy.  The documentaries chronicle him in a series of ranting proclamations and threats delivered with fire and brimstone fervor. 
He has identified himself as a member of the white supremacist group, the Brotherhood.  Some see this and his criminal history as evidence that he is the real killer. Others see him as a harmless good old boy and fellow sufferer of the tragedy that consumed his family.
       He can be an articulate man.  He was a Master of Ceremonies for his Masonic Lodge in 1991.  He can be a model citizen.  The Christmastime opening of his jewelry store in 1988 was featured in the local paper declaring him "the first member signed on the 1989 Chamber of Commerce roster." 

            God Forgives, Brotherhood Doesn't, is the motto of a thuggish white supremacist group.  Searching online, this group is associated with violent crimes.  In fact, when the actual group is identified, most of the web pages are related to murders.   Examples are presented below:

        Exhibit #1.

The [Nevada] high court ruled against Robert Rowland and Tony Smith, convicted of killing Steven Silva at the Nevada State Prison.  Rowland and Smith, part of a white-supremacist gang called GFBD, which stands for "God Forgives, Brothers Don't," also were found guilty of burglary and conspiring to rob the victim.  (Associated Press) 

       Exhibit #2.
Craig told the court last month that he witnessed the murder of Johnston. He said when he walked up to a car he heard Elisarraras say "This bitch won't die," as both Elisarraras and Williams repeatedly stabbed the 19 year-old with knives.  . . . God Forgives - Brothers Don't  - A Tattoo on Raymond Elisarraras Neck    (Madera Online News Top News Stories 2004)

        Exhibit #3.
Hoyt was a piece of work. Just 22 years old at the time of Genore Guillory's murder, he already had a string of arrests for aggravated battery and assault. . . .He was also the founder of a fledgling skinhead gang called "The Brotherhood." Phillip Skipper and John Baillio were two of the gang's original members. All three had the letters "G.F.B.D." tattooed across their backs. The letters stood for "God Forgives, the Brotherhood Doesn't."  (Crime Library, CourtTV)

        Neighbors and law enforcement officials also knew about his dark side. A note was made near the time of the murders from a neighbor who had lived three doors down from him. 
    Byers -
    $11,000 - in 3- wks Won a judgment - He declared Bank
    Rupsy - Substituting - Fake diamonds for real diamonds.
    Mother has big drug problem.
    Father deals to supply habit.

    Another neighbor passed along this:

    "[name removed] said he knew who did it, his stepfather because of the crack."

        Chris Byers mother, Melissa Byers had a longstanding addiction.  Chris Byers biological father, Ricky  Lee Murray, stated that Melissa had been a heroin addict since the age of twelve.  (Devil's Knot (DK), p. 298).  Mark Byers lamented that he was warned about marrying a drug addict.  "The first rehab I put her in was nine months after we were married.  And I had a doctor tell me then that you all just go ahead and divorce her, he said, heroin junkies one out of, I don't know the statistics exactly he had, ever stay clean, he said, this is going to cause you a lot of pain and misery." Paradise Lost, Revelations (PL2).  At the time of her death in March 1996 at age 40, Dilaudid was found in her blood.  The death scene was described in Devil's Knot.  
At 9:40P.M., a team of local and state investigators began a search of the Byerses’ house. While the search was being conducted, Byers stood outside the house with a woman who was identified in the state police reports as Mandy Beasley. One investigator videotaped the interior of the house while another took still photographs. The lead investigator dictated a careful description of the single-story wood-frame house, paying special attention to the bedroom where the ambulance workers had found Melissa. A third state police investigator prepared a diagram of the “crime scene.” In the bedroom, they seized as evidence three towels and a shirt, all found on the bed; “suspected marijuana and paraphernalia”; a couple of glasses, one of which was believed to contain peach schnapps; and “seven different types of prescription medication prescribed for Melissa Byers,” all of which the investigators listed. [DK, p. 347]
        Cause of death remains undetermined.  Also in DK, Mandy Beasley was described as a girlfriend of Mark Byers.  "Beasley told both that she had been having an affair with Byers, that Melissa had found out, and that on the day she died, Melissa had told Mark she was going to divorce him." Amanda Beasley died July 26, 2002, age 46.  (I have no information on cause of death.)

        Together with and separate from Mark Byers, Melissa Byers had a criminal record.  In 1994 Melissa Byers was charged with assault for holding a gun on a carpet installer.  Other joint crimes are listed below. 

        Mark Byers was also identified as an addict.  Just two days after the bodies were discovered, this tip came into the West Memphis Police Hotline:

        "Byers is in drug re-hab in Mphs and on methadone - sourse in Mphs called him + told him"  An officer wrote at the bottom of this note:  "OLD NEWS"

      "You don't know all of the wrongs I've done. . .  After twenty something years of living like a savage on this earth that He [the Lord] knocked at my heart's door and spoke to me and I'm so glad I invited him in."   Mark Byers, church sermon, 1993, Paradise Lost:  Revelations. 

        John Mark Byers has a long series of criminal, drug use and violent behavior as chronicled in The Devil's Knot (DK), documentaries (PL1 and PL2) and other sources. 
  •  1970s.  "I can remember quite vividly the day that I came to from the comatose state I had overdosed in my parents home. . ."  PL2, church sermon.  "Marijuana, I've tried coke, and some pills. . . just experimented as a teenager going to college."  PL2, pre-polygraph interview.
  •  1973.  Byers threatened parents with butcher knife.  Police called in.  Threatened to cut the throat of the officer.  DK, p.  299.
  •  1980s.  Ex-wife stated that Byers beat her and her children.  Reported to Ron Lax, quoted in DK.  p.  205.  Melissa Byers father said, Mark Byers "beat Melissa up more than once; he blackened her eye."  DK, p. 311.
  •  September 1987.  Conviction for threatening to kill his ex-wife.  Three years probation.  Wife cited previous death threats.  DK, p.  20-21.  149
  •  1990.  Sued for disappearance of $65000 in jewelry.  Not held liable. 
  •  July 1992.  Arrested for conspiracy to commit felony cocaine and possession of dangerous weapon, Memphis.  No time served. DK, p 46
  •  December 1992.  Investigated for the disappearance of $11000 in gold watches.  Byers confessed.  No charges brought.  DK, p.  22, above note. 
  •  1994.  West Memphis police have 13 outstanding warrants against Byers for bad checks.  Reported by KAIT8 News, as shown in PL2.   (Twelve outstanding warrants reported in DK)  No time served. 
  •  September 1994.  Mark and Melissa Byers jailed for stealing $20,000 in antiques.  The complainant had her motor home burn down, cause undetermined.  Ordered to pay restitution, banished from area. 
  •  September 1994.  Contributing to delinquency of a minor.  Providing a minor a folded knife to use as a bruising weapon.  Byers held a .22 rifle to insist the fight take place.  Sentenced to one year in jail.  Ordered to pay half of hospital bills, $2000.  No time served. 
  •  1994.  Restraining order by Kingsbury's after Mark bruised their child.  Kingsbury's stated that the Byers had threatened them.  Bullet holes appeared in their trailer, the source undetermined.  DK  p.  299 and 390.
  •  1996+.  "I got in a DWI after my wife was murdered."  PL2. 
  •  June 1998.  Convicted of writing a bad check.  One year suspended sentence.  DK, p.  305.
  •  April 1999.  Sells Xanax to undercover officer.  Five year prison sentence, sentence suspended.  DK  p.  306.   With this judgment, prior probation is revoked and he is sentenced to eight years for the prior crimes of burglary and inciting a fight.  He served fifteen months. 
    There is also the matter of violence directed toward his stepson, the victim, Christopher Byers. From the door to door interviews in the days after the crime, there is this note from a twelve year old neighbor who said Chris had come to visit him that night. 
Bobby Posey - Chris said daddy whipped him + was going to run away. . .Chris left + dad came to door + asked Carlos where Chris on Goodwin + Dad stated going to have to whip him again.

    Mark Byers described the whipping in court testimony:
    Price: Alright. Earlier that afternoon, had you given Chris a whipping?
    Byers: Approximately around 5:30.
    Price: Ok, this was around 5:30 and was this with a belt?
    Byers: Yes sir.
    Price: Ok and approximately how many times did you hit him with a belt?
    Byers: I spanked him two or three times.
    Price: And what part of the body did you spank him?
    Byers: It would have been just on his behind.
    Price: Ok. Was his, was he wearing his pants or did you have him pull his pants down?
    Byers: No, he had on blue jeans.

    This description has an eerie parallel to an incident a year after the murders.  As was reported of KAIT8 News. 
    Reporter:  Problems began when Mark spanked the Kingsbury's five year old. 
    Mark Byers:  "I took the fly-swatter and I just on it, just the plastic end, just on the back of his blue jeans." 
    Reporter:  But the Kingsbury's say the whipping bruised their son. 
    Kingsbury:  "We did have to put out a restraining order put on them because I was worried about my family."   

    Another neighbor recounted a more horrific beating of Chris. 
    One of the times i went to hang out at Ryans [Chris's brother] (seems like it was one of the first times) Ryan and I were going up the stairs to play nintendo. Mark was beating the crap out of chris, who was either already naked or had shorts and such down to his feet. mark was cursing chris and hitting him everywhere with, i think, a belt.

    I nudged Ryan on the way up the stairs with a crazy look and he said something like "dont worry about that, it happens all the time". Something in that region anyway. Mark stated somewhere in his yelling at chris that it was because chris had left a toy on the stairs.  we were up in Ryans room for a while and when we came back down chris was covered in whelps and no longer crying... maybe he passed out or gave up or something.  At that point, the poor kid was sweaty and completly naked. It was really bad.

    Although in the autopsy, the defense failed to emphasize that Chris had multiple old scars, two on the face, one on the chest, and "a few" (unenumerated) on the legs.  These could not come from Chris's biological father because, as Mark Byers notes in his 5/19 interview, Chris's biological father abandoned him before he was born. 

John Mark Byers, alibi

Melissa and Mark Byers

Melissa and Mark Byers, K8 news interview

Copyright © 2008 Martin David Hill