Who Killed Those Boys?

As I watched Paradise Lost, I was blown away by Mark Byers’ visceral response to the murder of his son, Christopher Byers. He was loud, and he took up a lot of screen time railing about how he hated the West Memphis Three. He stood in the creek bank where the boys were found, grinding his teeth, and said he would piss on the graves of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jesse Misskelley. A particularly interesting passage was when he sang a very solemn song at his Baptist church, and the lines were something like:

whatever it takes to be more like You
is what I will do

The next scene was him firing a gun into a pumpkin, saying, “This one’s for Damian. Oh he’s still wiggling a little bit, I think I need to shoot him again.” This went on and on.

He is seen mourning at his son’s grave with his wife. Then I noticed that she was much quieter than he. She kept trying to stay out of the picture frame.

And then I realized that this man who was making such a huge show of his grief was the boy’s stepfather. I know that it is possible for steps to love their spouse’s children but Mark Byers’ grief seemed crazily out of scale to his wife’s, and this wasn’t even his own flesh and blood. It made me think he was trying to convince me of something.

Other things would come about, such as his many contradictory statements to police, the knife given to HBO that had human blood on it, and his wife’s mysterious death. I don’t want to accuse anyone of murder without a really good reason, but I am interested in learning more about Mark Byers. For all his look-at-me-ism, he really does seem to have been overlooked during the initial investigation.

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  1. When I read this story this morning I wondered if the police could still investigate with guilty pleas on the books. It’s all so sad.

  2. Jill, I was wondering the same thing.

    Cara – yeah, it’s one of those things where it’s obviously not a crime to be a weirdo – like the stepdad is (and there are a lot of weird weird people who show up in that documentary) – but something there feels definitely “off”.

  3. Cara Ellison says:

    Well this was the only child killing I’ve ever heard of where the police didn’t even look at the family. That’s usually the first place investigators go.

    And Jill, I don’t know if police will investigate, but Damian Echols said that the defendants could continue to investigate and clear their name. I do wonder how likely it is that anyone would take them seriously though.

    Honestly though, I doubt they’ll spend their time investigating the crime for which they’ve paid 18 years.

    I read that Damian and Jason Baldwin took separate planes to parts unknown, and are not excepted back in Arkansas.

  4. heather w. says:

    I am devastated and sick at the judge and the system. Would like to waterboard some of those ‘likely suspects’…..

  5. Cara Ellison says:


  6. It is easy to see the author of this post is educated in the arts and literature and appreciates the finer points of life, people, and society as a whole.

    I have read some of the articles on the West Memphis Three, (though, not all) and there are events, people, and misunderstandings that do not add up.

    Mark Byers “visceral” response as seen in Paradise Lost, (which I only heard about a few months ago-believe it or not) could be more to do with is drug addiction and that of his heroin addicted wife more so than is misunderstanding of church doctrine. It seems as if he were the main character in the movie and it is easy to figure why-he was the easiest to manipulate. Just reading about his ‘bidness’ dealings would make a person think he is street saavy. Apparently not as he was scammed by a pawn shop owner though he himself had knocked off a jewelry store owner. Oh yeah! It is doubtful he was the leader of the choir prior to the docu-drama filmmakers arrival. But who needs facts when they have innuendos and color moving motion pictures to know the truth?

    He wasn’t overlooked. Blood was found on a knife of his and he then was suspect. After being sizzled, grilled, then overcooked, they moved on to someone else.

    Then more people jumped on the “band” wagon and professionals got involved.

    After looking at all the hair they collected, and they collected so much that a stylist at the Curl-up and Dye would gag, I am amazed at how precise and detailed other people became.

    An example: A hair was found on a stump near the water in which the boys were found. Bear in mind that this is a season reported to have brought in a thick swarm of mosquitoes that prevented even the police from searching, but a much more astute and detailed person locates it.

    What was their response? OMG! Look! It’s a hair! Where? Over there! ‘Bout 20′ on that thare stump! (Obviously most people would be looking for a copperhead instead of a hair, but not these people)

    Then there’s the matter of the teenage gothic youths who would prefer to hang out at the laundromat watching Ima and Ura Hogg fold their underwear when a truckstop loaded with much more racy and interesting people abound.

    Mr. Bojangles couldn’t have done it since he had a cast on-blue. Unless he had carpal tunnel and it was a removable one purchases at nearly any local store that sells aspirin. They lost his blood sample he left behind, though a negro hair conveniently shows up after the bodies have been removed from the water.

    Can’t wait to read comments on the other two movies and decide if they are worth viewing.

    Great post! Enjoyed the blog and thanks for sharing your views.

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