Client, Lawyer Asks Says He Can't Contact Young Slaying Suspect
June 7, 1993
The Commercial Appeal
An attorney for one of the defendants in the West Memphis child murder case said Sunday he has not been able to contact his client or determine his whereabouts.
Paul N. Ford of Jonesboro, representing Charles Jason Baldwin, 16, said authorities told him his client would be held in the Craighead County Jail in Jonesboro over the weekend but that he was not there.
"I intend to find out where he is and why he can't be visited by his lawyer or his own parents," Ford said. He has not talked to Baldwin since Friday. Crittenden County Jail officials would not confirm the whereabouts of any of the defendants. Ford added that he has read the statement of a co-defendant in the case, Jessie Misskelley Jr., and "my reading of that statement is that it's either fabricated or the answers that he gave were suggested by the police."
Also Sunday, the mother of Michael Wayne Echols, also charged with the murders, said talk of satanism is hurting her son's right to a fair trial.
Pamela Hutchison took issue Sunday with press and television reports that she said portrayed her son as involved in devil worship. People who know Echols have said he claimed to worship the devil and that he carried around a cat's skull and called himself Damien, as in the popular Omen movies. But Hutchison said her son took the name from a book about Father Damien, a Belgian Missionary priest who worked with lepers on Molokai in the Hawaiian Islands in the 19th Century.
Echols was not involved in satanism, Hutchison said. She said she believes her son is innocent. Echols, 18, Baldwin, 16, and Misskelley, 17, were charged with capital murder on Friday in the May 5 killings of the three 8-year-olds. They were being held without bond in undisclosed locations over the weekend. They were scheduled to appear in Crittenden County Circuit Court this morning to enter pleas to the charges, although deputy prosecutor John Fogleman said Sunday that lawyers may handle the pleas without their clients present. The court also is expected to appoint permanent legal counsel.
Police have so far remained silent about a motive in the case. The three children were found beaten to death in a wooded area behind an Interstate 40 truck wash with their hands and feet bound. The case's notoriety apparently prompted a trailer park landlord to evict Echols' 16-year-old girlfriend from her $175-a-month trailer home.
The girl's mother, Dian Teer, called The Commercial Appeal to report the eviction from the trailer home that she said her daughter sometimes shared with Echols. She also said neighbors had been calling for their removal from the park. Teer, 43, said she plans to fight the eviction. Teer said Saturday that Echols, 18, often stayed overnight in the trailer with her pregnant 16-year-old daughter. Teer also has said there is nothing to the satanism rumors, saying Echols is misunderstood.
Also Sunday, the chief juvenile officer for Crittenden County, Jerry Driver, said he started seeing a marked increase in satanic-related graffiti and reports of animal sacrifice about a year ago. Driver said he's visited at least five sites in the county where he's found graffiti and animal carcasses. One location east of Marion, known to locals as "Stonehenge," after the ancient Druidic monoliths near Cambridge in England, on Sunday contained the remains of a dead gray cat with tan feet and a plastic bag containing a part of a rattlesnake.
The abandoned concrete cotton gin is covered with spray-painted graffiti, including backward swastikas, pentagrams, tridents and references to Lucifer. Besides broken bottles and spent shotgun shells, Stonehenge contained charred logs and several unopened condom packages. "Kids get involved in this as a joke," Driver said. "Ninety percent of them are in it for the so-called thrill. There's a small group that's in it seriously." Drug and alcohol use and sex often are common at the sites, Driver said, and serve as a magnet for kids out for a good time. For many, it's a fad, he said, "but a dangerous one." Driver could not provide an estimate of the number of young people in Crittenden County involved in such activities, but said the great majority are probably on the fringes and not seriously involved in satanism.
Local teens often travel to the site at night to socialize and marvel at its legend and chilling atmosphere. "Sometimes people think it's funny trying to scare other people," said Kim Floresca, 15, who just completed 10th grade at Marion High School. "It's supposed to be a place where cults go out, and they're supposed to sacrifice virgins and animals and stuff." Floresca said she once went to the Stonehenge site about two years ago with a group of teens who included Jessie Misskelley. The night was just a typical night, she said, and Misskelley did nothing out of the ordinary. Floresca said she never heard of the other two suspects visiting the site.
Floresca said Misskelley told her and other students the day before he was arrested that he participated in the killings. A group of students were driving last Wednesday after school to a friend's house to go swimming when Misskelley began telling his bizarre tale, she said. "He was saying he hit the little boy and the little boy ran off and he was taking him back to where Damien and the other boy were," she said. According to Misskelley's story, Echols had already killed the two other boys, she said. Floresca said she didn't believe Misskelley at the time.
Jim Maguire, a Chattanooga clinical therapist and former Massachusetts police officer who consults with police about satanism, said anyone in the habit of ritualistic cat killing is more than just dabbling in the occult. If it is established that satanistic behavior was a motive for deaths of the three West Memphis second-graders, Maguire said those involved would have worked their way up to killing children with earlier animal sacrifices.
Hutchison must have forgotten about all the times she stated that Damien was into devil worship and was going to try and kill their family. This is the first time I've seen the name Kim Floresca mentioned in the above article.