Friday, January 04, 2008

West Memphis 3 Update: Terry Wayne Hobbs vs. John Mark Byers?

West Memphis, Arkansas--In a case that has had as many twists-and-turns as the aftermath of WWII, there is another bizarre development: John Mark Byers is alleged to have come out for the innocence of the West Memphis 3. At this time, it's impossible to corroborate as Byers is alleged to be claiming that he's been doing "undercover work" towards whether another step-father might have been involved in the murders of the three eight-year-olds back in 1993--Terry Wayne Hobbs.
[John] Mark Byers has recently come out in favor of the innocence of those in prison. He has said he has helped perform undercover work, making tapes of his conversations with Terry Hobbs. He has made some remarkable allegations about Hobbs past. The supporting evidence for these allegations have yet to appear. (, November 15th, 2007)
What's interesting is that there have been suspicions that Byers did in fact do "undercover" informant work for the West Memphis Police Department prior to the murders of his own step-son and the other two children. It's likely that the informant work was related to drug interdiction, as West Memphis is a well known corridor for the flow of illegal drugs through that part of Arkansas. It should be noted that Hobbs's and Byers' step-sons suffered some of the most brutal mutilations and violence to their bodies. This includes what could be a bite-mark (or the lashing from a belt-buckle) on his face. Christopher Byers, step-son of John Mark Byers, suffered mutilation of the genitals.

Byers innocent? So far, DNA-evidence found at the scene has not fully exonerated the man, now purported to reside outside of Millington, Tennessee. Some of the results of the DNA testing are still unknown, but one of the hairs found on the bodies of the children in a a shoestring ligature (binding) has a positive ID: Terry Wayne Hobbs. John Mark Byers and Terry Wayne Hobbs--what's common to these men? That's answered easily: both were step-parents, and both were involved in patterns of criminal violence, breaking-and-entering, and heavy drug-use. They also show signs of being abusive in their homes and with the children of others. Both Hobbs and Byers also came from strictly religious and economically comfortable backgrounds. They did not grow-up poor as the West Memphis 3 had. Then, there is the mysterious David Jacoby:

THOMAS FEDOR, FORENSIC EXPERT: None of the defendants could have been the source of that hair. None of the victims could have been the source of either hair. None of the DNA evidence from the crime scene connects any of the defendants to the scene of the crime.

MATTINGLY: So, who could the hairs belong to? A defense petition in federal court says the DNA from one hair is consistent with that of Terry Hobbs. Hobbs is the former stepfather of victim Steve Branch.

(on camera): Mr. Hobbs, do you feel like that the attorneys are accusing you of this crime?

ROSS SAMPSON, HOBBS'S ATTORNEY: The answer to that would be no.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Hobbs agreed to go in front of our cameras while his attorney did the talking. And through most of my questions, Hobbs remained silent.

(on camera) Is it possible, Mr. Hobbs, that that was your hair?

SAMPSON: Sure. It was his son, Stephen Branch, who was murdered, and he's had to deal with this for the last 15 years.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Defense attorneys say a second hair found at the scene is consistent with the DNA of Hobbs's friend, David Jacoby, and that the two were together in the hours before and after the victims disappeared.

Jacoby did not return our calls, but he did volunteer DNA samples to the defense. Authorities say they stand by the old convictions. West Memphis police have no plans to question anyone. ... (CNN transcipt, November 8th, 2007,

And what of David Jacoby? What is his background? Who is he? His hair sample was found at the site where the bodies of the three murdered children were found, located on a tree stump. This is a relatively new name, and it should be noted here that Hobbs and Jacoby--both friends supporting each other's alibis on that day--have all generally remained out of the spotlight of this whole affair, ever since 1993. Hobbs in-particular has gone out of his way to avoid interviews until recently, while Jacoby has been relatively unknown to the general public until 2007.

While the cops try to get their stories straight and lose more evidence in their custody, a real move towards exoneration of the West Memphis 3 is building. It is long-overdue.

On November 18th of 2007,
Pamela Hobbs was arrested for domestic abuse of her sister, Sheila Muse. Drug abuse is the suspected reason for her behavior, a trait she shares with her ex-husband (as well as problems with drugs). Her own daughter aided her in the beating of Muse.

In an about-face, Pamela Hobbs is now siding with the calls for a new trial for the West Memphis 3. Still, there's the nagging question: what's John Mark Byers up to? Whatever it is, it appears that the real murderers of Steven Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers are growing restless. Everyone has to confess to their transgressions, and it's just a matter of when. When is coming soon.