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"The West Memphis Police Department"


Sketch of Detective Bryn Ridge of the West Memphis Police Department


THEORY: When police officers are involved in crime, the criminals who they work with know a lot of information regarding their “dealings” and their criminal behavior. Certain police officers assisted the killers in their plans in order to intimidate the community from coming forward and get rid of the children who were bringing attention to their operation. Certain members of the police department actively helped criminals get away with murder and found 3 innocent teenagers to blame. This chain of corruption, drugs, and money goes as far up as the police chief, the prosecuting attorneys, and the judge who presided over these trials.



FACT: “Steven Jones, the juvenile officer who’d made the first crucial find in the case – the child’s tennis shoe floating in the water – resigned as a juvenile officer a year after the trials. He moved away from West Memphis.” Source: Atria Books: Mara Leveritt, Devil’s Knot, p. 341, 2002.


FACT: Chief Inspector, Gary Gitchell, of the West Memphis Police Department resigned two months after Damien and Jason’s convictions. He was forty-one years old at the time. He now owns a private detective agency in Memphis, Tennessee. Source: Atria Books: Mara Leveritt, Devil’s Knot, p. 340, 2002.


FACT: Jerry Driver, a “juvenile officer” and also one of the people responsible for making Damien Echols the focus of the police investigation, was placed on administrative leave in February of 1997. An audit of his department found a shortage of nearly $30,000. He resigned from the Crittenden County Juvenile Probation Office the following month. In January of 2000 he was placed on probation for 10 years and was ordered to repay the missing funds at a rate of $241 per month. Source: Atria Books: Mara Leveritt, Devil’s Knot, p. 341, 2002.

(Link to a newspaper article covering the story)


FACT: When the murders happened in 1993, the Arkansas State Police was investigating several members of the West Memphis Police Department’s “Narcotics Unit.” A state police investigator said that Detective James Sudbury was “leading a higher than normal lifestyle” on his police salary. Guns and drugs were “missing” from the department’s evidence lockers. “Prosecutor Brent Davis, also in charge of prosecuting the case of the West Memphis Three, signed a consent order to terminate this investigation sometime during mid- to late June 1993. There were allegations that he had appropriated drugs and stolen merchandise for their own use.” Source: Atria Books: Mara Leveritt, Devil’s Knot, p. 342, 2002.


FACT: On May 19th, 1993, Detectives Sudbury and Ridge also question sex offender James Kenny Martin. Martin stated that from knowing the psychology of the abuser and being able to step into his shoes, he was certain that “it’s going to happen again, until this guy is caught.” Sudbury responds a few lines down with “If he does this again, he does this again.”

(Link to the 2 pages of the police transcript showing the above statements)


FACT: In March of 1995, The Evening Times reported that six narcotics officers from the West Memphis Police Department were transferred to patrol duties for mysterious reasons. The police chief named it an “administrative move.” “The Arkansas State Police investigated the disappearances of several pounds of marijuana from the narcotics unit’s evidence locker.”

(Link to the newspaper article covering the story)


FACT: On October 12th, 2001, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that, “Three police officers lost their jobs Thursday after FBI stings revealed discrepancies in the handling of seized cash and falsification of drug evidence, sources familiar with the investigation said.” Detective James Sudbury was one of the narcotics officers who was in charge of the department that was being investigated. He was among the officers that got fired. One of the many indiscretions that James Sudbury was accused of was this, “The sources said Sudbury compromised a criminal case by ordering an officer to throw away the remains of what appeared to be a methamphetamine lab instead of processing the items for fingerprints, the sources said.The police chief said at a news conference that he had heard from the FBI “that indiscretions in the unit could have occurred as long as 10 years ago.”

(Link to the transcripts of the newspaper articles)


FACT: John Mark Byers was working as a “police informant” during the time of the murders and was on a first name basis with several of the detectives involved in the investigation including, Gary Gitchell, James Sudbury and Bryn Ridge.


FACT: Detective Bryn Ridge lost the blood samples that he took from the Bojangles Restaurant on the day the victims were discovered.


FACT: “Detective James Sudbury was the first West Memphis detective to question Damien. He was also the first person to report Jerry Driver’s suspicions, and present during key interviews with John Mark Byers and Vicki Hutcheson. He was the only narcotics detective whom Gitchell had allowed to participate in the murder investigation.” Source: Atria Books: Mara Leveritt, Devil’s Knot, p. 401, 2002.


FACT: In one of the photos taken of Michael Moore right after the bodies were discovered, his body was wielding what appeared to be a “piece of cloth” in his right hand. This is a crucial piece of evidence, which never made it past this photograph. No one has ever received or heard about this piece of cloth ever since. Source: Atria Books: Mara Leveritt, Devil’s Knot, p. 315, 2002.


FACT: Even under the threat of facing charges of perjury, Vicki Hutcheson stated, “basically I said what the West Memphis Police wanted me to say. The esbat meeting was all their stories. For the first time since all of this went down, I have a feeling of comfort. I feel better. What I did was wrong, and I hate that I ever did it. And I think that, if I had to do it over again, I would let them send me to prison, like they were saying. But back then, I was too scared.” Detective Bryn Ridge was on of the first to question Aaron Hutcheson regarding the murders. Aaron Hutcheson told the police in the first interviews that Mark Byers hated kids and named him as the possible killer. Vicky Hutcheson says that Detective Gary Gitchell had both her and Marion police officer Donald Bray sign an “affidavit of silence” pledging themselves never to mention that Aaron had named Mark Byers as the killer.

(Link to the media article reporting the above statements)

Sketch of Christopher Murray and Gary Gitchell


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