On May 5, 1993, in West Memphis, Arkansas, three 8-year-old boys were brutally murdered. They were found bound ankle-to-wrist with their own shoelaces, severely beaten and dumped in a nearby stream.
Several weeks passed and police were stumped—not even a suspect in the case. The public clamored for an arrest. A month later, detectives finally made three arrests: Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr.—teenagers who just didn’t fit in: they wore black, listened to heavy metal music and read horror novels. Spurred on by a local “expert,” police decided the murders were part of a satanic ritual, despite the lack of evidence of such at the crime scene. But this mattered little: they had three young misfits—one of whom, Misskelley, had confessed to the murders after a grueling eight hours of police questioning. He recanted it hours later, but by then it was too late.
Surely a jury could not convict these three boys without proof, without a shred of physical evidence. Not in America. But they were convicted. Circumstantial evidence and a clearly coerced confession was enough to send Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin to prison for life, while Damien Echols, considered the “ring leader,” was sentenced to death. He is currently on death row, awaiting lethal injection.
While many artists, actors and musicians have come forward to fight this injustice, this book is the first collection of writings in support of the West Memphis 3. Collected here are case-related fiction and essays by some of the best dark fiction writers working today, as well as eight pages of black-and-white illustrations by -horror-master Clive Barker, a piece by comedian Margaret Cho, and an introduction by filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky creators of the acclaimed West Memphis 3 documentaries Paradise Lost and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations.
This project is a fundraiser for the West Memphis 3 Defense Fund (wm3.org). Contributors have donated their stories, and all proceeds will go toward legal efforts to ensure that this miscarriage of justice is resolved.