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The alleged victims included their own children, traded between families and used for group sex, as well as children from the Bluebird troop run by Deborah Mc Cuan and the unlicensed day care facility in her home.
Many ritual child abuse cases never are prosecuted due to the disbelief of authorities or the unlikelihood that young, severely traumatized children will be able to withstand cross-examination.
Michael Wayne 'Damien" Echols, 19, and Charles Jason Baldwin, 16, were convicted March 18, 1994, on three counts each of capitol murder. A jury recommended the death penalty for Echols and life in prison without pareole for Baldwin. A third teenager, Jessie Lloyd Misskelley, Jr., 18, was convicted in February 1994, of one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder.
He is serving a prison sentence of life plus 40 years. One witness testified that one of the defendants drank the victim's blood. During the trial prosecutors presented evidence suggesting that Echols was a satanist.
(Beifuss, 1994) Misskelley confessed to his role in the killings, telling police the murders were linked to a cult ritual that included the rape and mutilation of victims. West Memphis police detective Bryn Ridge testified that elements in the case pointed to the work of a satanic cult. Steve Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore disappeared while riding their bicycles in May 1993. Acquaintances said Echols carried a cat's skull to school, wrote satanic poems, and claimed to worship the devil. During his first police interview Echols told Detective Ridge that his favorite author was Anton La Vey, author of The Satanic Bible. Mental health records indicate that Echols' parents expressed concern about his possible involvement in "satanism or devil worship" when he was hospitalized in 1992.
Their nude bodies were found the next day in a drainage ditch. Just four months prior to the murders a clinician noted: "Damien explained that he obtains his powers by drinking blood of others." (Sullivan, 1994).
Akron Philip and Michael Schmidt pleaded guilty to molesting children attending the day care center operated by their grandmother, Hazel Riggs, who was sentenced on a lesser charge.