The West Memphis Three & How to become an Expert Witness

The West Memphis Three & How to Become an Expert Witness

  • In the late 80’s, early 90’s, there was a wave of satanic hysteria gripping the country.
  • With the help of false confession and so-called witness expert in Satanic occults, three young men spent more than 18 years in prison.

May 5th, 1995. West Memphis, Arkansas. Three eight-year-old boys riding bikes went to play near the riverside but never returned home. At dawn, the concerned friends and neighbors joined the families for the search but returned empty handed. The next morning police began the formal search and noticed a sneaker without laces in the creek and bound, broken bodies of three little boys with their skulls crushed.

The horrible news swept through the town in the middle of Bible belt. The God-fearing community was outraged and was rather seeking for revenge than justice. Adding fuel to the fire, police speculated with stories of Satanism and cult rituals. In the late 80's, early 90's, there was a wave of satanic hysteria gripping the country.

Less than a year after murders, two young men were sentenced to life and one death for the slaying of Edward Branch, Christopher Mark Byers, and James Michael Moore.

The West Memphis Three victims: Edward Branch, Christopher Mark Byers, and James Michael Moore
Victims Edward, Christopher, and James.

At the time of their arrests, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. was 17 years old, Jason Baldwin was 16 years old, and Damien Echols was 18 years old. Police "felt" the murder had "cult" overtones, Echols might be a suspect because he had an interest in occultism, and Echols was someone capable of killing children. During a 12-hour police interview, Misskelley described in graphic detail how he and his two co-defendants beat, raped and mutilated the boys. The confession was at odds with facts known by police. At the time, Misskelley was a minor and had an IQ of 72, meaning he had a borderline intellectual functioning.

The West Memphis Three: Damien Echols
The West Memphis Three: Jason Baldwin
The West Memphis Three: Jessie Misskelley, Jr
The West Memphis Three: Damien Echols
Damien Echols with his attorney waiting for the quilty verdict.
From top left: Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley.

Dale W. Griffis

False confessions aren’t just a strange anomaly only in this case. The phenomenon is beginning to get more attention from criminal-justice experts and legal academics. But the icing on the cake was when the prosecution called a man named Dale W. Griffis, a graduate of Columbia Pacific University and retired police officer, who considered himself an expert in the occult to testify the murders were a "Satanic ritual."

And he was able to find diabolical signs in a real conspiracy level:

Question: Okay. Does the number 3, three victims, have any significance? Griffis: One of the most powerful numbers in, in the practice of satanic belief is 666, and some believe the beast wrote a 6 as 3.

Question: Is the factor that the victims were the age of 8, is, is that a factor that you considered in making your opinion? Griffis: Yes.

Question: Okay, now is 8 a factor because that is a witches’ number? What’s the significance of 8? Griffis: Okay, in Crowley’s, in Crowley’s work, he discusses that sex before 8 or you lose the magical power. Question: Sex before 8, or lose magical power. Okay, so that if the victims were all 8 years old, then that wouldn’t be sex before 8, correct? Griffis: I said say eight? I’m sorry. Not—nine. Eight or before.

Eight is a witches' number," was cited by the Arkansas State Supreme Court in upholding the verdict.

Dale W. Griffis: self-proclaimed cult expert
Dale W. Griffis: self-proclaimed cult expert.

Question: Okay, is, is torture, something in your experience that’s done by occult cults, or… Griffis: Occult cults? Question: Occult cults. Griffis: Yes.

Griffis obtained his "diploma" without ever attending a class, from a mail-order diploma mill. Based on his knowledge, experience, and training in the area of occultism or Satanism, he was considered an expert. Here is a real life example how an attorney demolishes a so-called "Accident Reconstruction Expert." In sad coincidences, this expert died when a truck pulled in front of his motorcycle.

Take the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was put to death by the state of Arizona by flawed investigation and rubbish science. His three young children died in a fire, and he was sentenced for arson. The prosecution claimed that it was “very likely” that Willingham had poured some accelerant on the floor in the shape of a pentagram as a symbol of Satanic worship and offered posters found in Willingham's room as proof -- posters from the rock bands Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden. The pentagram was a ventilation pattern because the windows drew the exact shape of the so-called pentagram.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who at the time was running for re-election, refused to delay the execution because apparently, Willingham was an evil man, "This is a guy on his the death chamber, his last breath, he spews an obscenity-laced triad [sic] against his wife. That's the person who we're talking about here. And getting all tied up in the process here is, frankly, a deflection of what people across this state and this country need to be looking at. This was a bad man."

There is an excellent documentary called Death by Fire that is eye-opening and sad reality how the court systems often operate.

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