Written By: Billy Sinclair
Recently I came across a video interview featuring Johnny Depp and Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three fame. The video pique my interest for two reasons. First, I was slightly amazed that Depp, without a prepared script, found it difficult to articulate two or more thoughts in a coherent manner. Second, despite the difficulty in getting his point across as to why he elected to get involved in the West Memphis Three case, Depp made this point that I will paraphrase. He said he viewed the documentary about the case—and this was probably the first “Paradise Lost” documentary—and it convinced him that once you got past the occult/Satan aspects in the case, you had to believe that the West Memphis Three were innocent of killing the three 8-year-old Cub Scouts and that the real killer was “someone flying under the radar.”
That’s a significant observation: one that has actually led me to draw a conclusion completely opposite to Depp; namely, that the West Memphis Three are real killers of the boys. First, as to the other suspects linked to the case by WM3 supporters, “Mr. Bojanles” and John Mark Byers (the father of one of the slain boys) did not stand up long after serious scrutiny. The third suspect, Terry Hobbs, also the step-father of one of the slain boys, ultimately became the primary target of WM3 supporters as the “sure enough” real killer of the boys.
I have dealt with the Hobbs-as-suspect issue in several prior posts, and will not rehash the evidence, or lack thereof, against him as a “suspect” in this post. But there is one thing that must be said here: It is undisputed that Hobbs got home from work sometime between 4:00 and 4:30 on the afternoon the boys were slain. He then drove his wife, Pam, to a local restaurant where she worked between 5:00 and 9:00 p.m. They had their daughter Amanda in the vehicle with them. When Stevie, his stepson, did not show up at home by 7:00 p.m., Hobbs reportedly joined the search for him and the other two boys—a search triggered by Mark Byers who reported to the authorities that his son, Christopher, was missing. That left Hobbs with a two-hour window of opportunity—between 5:00 (when he dropped Pam off at work) and 7:00 p.m. (when he joined the search party)—to find the boys, strip them naked, tie them up with different shoe laces, inflict horrific injuries to them, and throw them into a creek still alive. And all this done with Amanda still in the his vehicle. And he then would have had to leave the crime scene, drive home, clean up, and start washing clothes as Pam’s sister said she saw him do.
To my knowledge, Amanda has never implicated Terry Hobbs in the killings. They apparently still have a relationship because Hobbs speaks fondly of her on his official website. Hobbs would have been bloody and muddy after inflicting such horrific killings, and Amanda would have seen this evidence on Hobbs, and even as a young girl, she would have been able to recollect it under questioning, either by Pam, Pam’s sister or the authorities. So the timeline, and the lack of evidence, simply do not support Hobbs-as-the-killer theory.
So this brings us back to “someone flying under the radar” as the real killer: Depp’s theory. For the life of me, I do not understand why Pam Hobbs and others almost immediately seized on the theory that one or more (and perhaps together) of the boys’ fathers killed the children. I don’t know what kind of water they drink in West Memphis, Arkansas, but apparently it is contaminated with some kind of toxicity that produces delusions as rational thought. So with Bojanles, Byers, and Hobbs out as suspects, that leaves us with “someone flying under the radar” who killed the boys and remained under the radar?
A serial killer did not kill those boys. There were no similar crimes in the West Memphis area before or after the boys were murdered. So whoever killed the boys was from West Memphis and was not only familiar with the isolated area where the boys were killed and their bodies dumped but knew the boys would be in that area that particular day. Not likely. Why would some West Memphis resident suddenly decide to brutally kill three 8-year-old kids? No one has ever answered that question, or even really given it much thought—except perhaps Johnny Depp who knows nothing about West Memphis, Arkansas.
Thus, absent a serial killer or a psychotic resident, we come back to all the original players: Bojanles, Byers, Hobbs and the WM3. The horrific nature of the crimes, and the opportunity in which they were committed, pretty much eliminates Bojanles, Byers and Hobbs as the killers. The murder of those boys was either ritualistic or psychotic. Neither Byers or Hobbs have ever exhibited, either before or after the crime, the kind of psychosis necessary to kill those boy in the manner in which they were killed/tortured. And as for old Bojanles: assuming a strange black man stumbled upon the boys and wanted to sexually assault them, why would he kill them in the manner in which they were killed: tying them up with different shoe laces and disposing of the bodies in the manner in which they were disposed? There may have been a real Bojanles, but he didn’t kill those boys.
That leaves us with the West Memphis Three. Assuming the killing of the boys had nothing to do with the occult/Satanism, Damien Echols had a long history of mental illness as well as some peer/psychological control over Baldwin and Misskelly. To say that all three were social misfits would be putting it mildly. Each, in his own way, was spinning out of control, especially for a community like West Memphis. Thus, of all the named suspects in the case, the WM3 trio had motive, means, and opportunity to carry out the horrific murders.
The murder of those three boys, I believe, was a spur-of-the-moment thrill killing, probably not intended as such in the early stages of the confrontation between the WM3 and the Cub Scouts but escalated to the point of no return as Echols’s psychosis spun out of control. And I know a lot of people disagree with this theory, but it is much more probable than Depp’s “someone-flying-under-the-radar” theory.