Was Jessie Misskelley a highly suggestible individual?

July 19, 2012

Part of the Misskelley defense’s trial strategy was to portray Jessie Misskelley as a highly suggestible person who would falsely confess to anything an authority figure proposed.

Before trial, defense psychologist William Wilkins tested Misskelley’s suggestibility using techniques developed by Icelandic psychologist Gisli Gudjonsson. Wilkins found that Misskelley scored high on the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale. The defense hoped to introduce this finding at trial, but judge Burnett ruled that the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale “does not meet a scientific standard upon which the profession generally relies [and] that Doctor Wilkins’ absence of experience, training and education in the utilization of the test would fatally flaw any results that he might conclude from such test.” (The Arkansas Supreme Court upheld Burnett’s ruling.)

As part of this suggestibility testing, lead defense lawyer Dan Stidham and defense psychologist William Wilkins conducted an experiment on Jessie Misskelley in a videotaped December 10, 1993, meeting. Stidham and Wilkins told Misskelley they had proof that he had robbed a local convenience store at gunpoint. This robbery never occurred; Stidham and Wilkins invented the story in hopes of convincing Misskelley to “confess” to the non-existent crime.

Stidham and Wilkins both later claimed that this experiment had worked. Wilkins slipped this claim into his trial testimony, even though the judge had ruled it inadmissible just minutes earlier.

DAVIS: Any significant changes that we should be aware of in your nine-page report that you made based on those first eleven hours?
WILKINS: Um, one of the sessions with Jessie was, uh, I made up a false story; in about a half an hour got Jessie to confess to a robbery that didn’t occur—
DAVIS: Your Honor, Excuse me, your Honor we’re going to have to approach the bench on that one.

BENCH CONFERENCE

DAVIS: I had never heard this story before, but I think what he’s getting ready—he, it’s some sort of creative test that he came up with where he created a false story and then, as I understand it he’s gonna say that in ten minutes he had Jessie confessing to something in his office regarding some made-up story about—
THE COURT: Well, I’m not gonna allow that.
FOGLEMAN: I think he already testified to it, your Honor, and we’d ask that it be stricken—
(speaking over each other)

RETURN TO OPEN COURT

THE COURT: All right, ladies and gentlemen, the last answer was not responsive to the question asked by the prosecutor; you’re instructed to disregard the last answer of the witness as unresponsive to the question directed to him.

Dan Stidham’s Case Synopsis at wm3.org includes the same claim.

As part of an experiment, Dr. Wilkins and myself were able to get Jessie to confess to committing a robbery that never occurred. This was ruled inadmissible by the Court, and the jury never knew this. I often bragged that I could get Jessie to confess to killing JFK, although he wasn’t even born in 1963. I am still convinced I could get him to confess to almost anything.

Stidham kept the videotape of the December 10, 1993, meeting at which this fake robbery mindfuck experiment occurred. As far as I can tell, he did not make the videotape or a transcript available to prosecutors or outside researchers. Nonetheless, “Free the WM3″ partisans took Stidham’s and Wilkins’ account at face value and frequently cited this supposed evidence of Misskelley’s highly suggestible nature.

The Baldwin/Misskelley Rule 37 hearings in 2008-2009 made the 12/10/93 videotape public for the first time. (In the Rule 37 appeal, Misskelley and Baldwin were basically arguing that they deserved new trials because their original lawyers had been incompetent. Stidham and the other original defense lawyers were required to turn over their case files. This revealed a great deal of previously confidential information to prosecutors, and much of that information ended up in the trial record.) The Callahan WM3 case archive posted full Baldwin/Misskelley Rule 37 hearings transcripts in April 2012, which included a 70-page transcript of the December 10, 1993, meeting (PDF).

So let’s hear it! How did Stidham and Wilkins convince Misskelley to confess to the fake robbery?

WILKINS: You ever robbed a store, Jessie?
MISSKELLEY: Robbed a store?
WILKINS: Yeah.
MISSKELLEY: I ain’t never robbed nobody.
WILKINS: Strange. Because there’s a report that said you did.
MISSKELLEY: A report?
WILKINS: Yeah.
MISSKELLEY: I ain’t never robbed no store.
WILKINS: Sure?
MISSKELLEY: I’m positive.
STIDHAM: There’s a Flash Market by your house?
MISSKELLEY: Huh?
STIDHAM: There’s a Flash Market by your house?
MISSKELLEY: Flash Market? That’s down the road, by the court- house.
STIDHAM: Yeah, is that the one?
MISSKELLEY: Saying I robbed it?
STIDHAM: Yeah.
MISSKELLEY: They’re lying. I ain’t never robbed nobody.
WILKINS: Have you ever been in there?
MISSKELLEY: Have I been in the Flash Market?
WILKINS: Uh-huh. (Affirmatively indicating.)
MISSKELLEY: Yeah, I’ve been in the Flash Market a bunch of times.
WILKINS: Why?
MISSKELLEY: Been in to get cigarettes, put gas in the car.
WILKINS: Ever been in there with somebody else?
MISSKELLEY: Huh?
WILKINS: Ever been in there with somebody else?
MISSKELLEY: Yeah, with my dad.
WILKINS: Your dad? Anybody else?
MISSKELLEY: My cousin.
WILKINS: Cousin?
STIDHAM: What’s his name?
MISSKELLEY: Bubba.
WILKINS: Bubba?
MISSKELLEY: His name is Charles Ashley.
WILKINS: Bubba is — – yeah, yeah, he’s the other one I was talking about.
STIDHAM: He’s the one that told the police that you did it.
MISSKELLEY: Huh? Huh—uh. (Negatively indicating.)
STIDHAM: He’s the one that told the police you went in there with a gun.
MISSKELLEY: I ain’t got no gun. I don’t even own one.
STIDHAM: Why would he say that?
MISSKELLEY: I don’t know. Ridge and Gitchell told ‘em that he was in on it, too.
WILKINS: He’s “in on” what?
MISSKELLEY: Huh? This stuff, killing and stuff.
WILKINS: He said that Bubba was in on it, too?
MISSKELLEY: They asked me was he on it, in on it, and I don’t know.
WILKINS: They said he was?
MISSKELLEY: Uh-huh. (Affirmatively indicating.) They asked me, “Are you sure?” I said, “I’m positive.” I only been to one store, and we was down the street when somebody was stealing something.
WILKINS: Who was that?
MISSKELLEY: It was me, Richard Lovelace, William Jones and, uh, Scott something.
WILKINS: What’d you steal?
MISSKELLEY: I didn’t steal nothing. We was down the street waiting for them. It was William and Scott is the ones that stole.
STIDHAM: What day was this?
MISSKELLEY: It’s been a while back.
STIDHAM: Did they have a gun?
MISSKELLEY: Huh—uh. (Negatively indicating.) All they did was went in the store, grabbed some – - grabbed a beer.
STIDHAM: Was it the Flash Market?
MISSKELLEY: It was in West Memphis.
STIDHAM: Was it the Flash Market, though?
MISSKELLEY: Huh—uh. (Negatively indicating.)
STIDHAM: Bubba says that you and him went in with a gun and stole some stuff and got some money out of the cash register.
MISSKELLEY: No, I don’t even know about it.
STIDHAM: Why would he say something like that?
MISSKELLEY: I don’t know.
WILKINS: Ever held a gun?
MISSKELLEY: Yeah, I held a gun.
WILKINS: What?
MISSKELLEY: I held a gun before.
WILKINS: Whose?
MISSKELLEY: My dad’s.
WILKINS: What is it?
MISSKELLEY: Well, it was my grandfather’s gun. Somebody sold it for some drugs. And my dad had a .25 when I was little, and I held it. I had a .22 and then I carried it back where I bought it from.
WILKINS: Why did you do that?
MISSKELLEY: It tore up. It wouldn’t eject the shells.
WILKINS: But you didn’t rob anybody?
MISSKELLEY: I would never pull a gun on nobody.
WILKINS: You’ve pulled a knife on people, don’t you?
MISSKELLEY: Huh?
WILKINS: And you’ve pulled a knife on people?
MISSKELLEY: Pulled a knife on people?
WILKINS: Yeah.
MISSKELLEY: (Not answering.)
WILKINS: And a ball bat (inaudible)?
MISSKELLEY: Yeah. If they make me mad enough, I would. Just like Dino, he got me mad one night ‘cause he was drinking. He got me mad. And I pulled a gun on him.
WILKINS: You pulled a gun on him? You don’t have a gun, you said.
MISSKELLEY: I know I don’t, but I pulled one on him.
WILKINS: Where’d you get it?
MISSKELLEY: I took it from my dad.
WILKINS: Is that the same one you robbed the store with?
MISSKELLEY: Hmm. I didn’t rob no store.
WILKINS: Look, Jess, I just, I mean, you said you’d never pulled a gun on anybody, you wouldn’t do that…
MISSKELLEY: …not unless they got me mad enough.
WILKINS: Got you mad. People try to get you mad, it’s all right to pull a gun on them?
MISSKELLEY: Yeah.
WILKINS: Who first started? What got you mad?
MISSKELLEY: Dino’s got me mad before; I pulled a gun on him.
WILKINS: But, but, but people started it, too, then?
MISSKELLEY: Yeah, they start it.
WILKINS: What?
MISSKELLEY: Yeah, they start stuff. That’s why people’s lying now, saying I robbed the store. I hadn’t got a gun to rob a store. See, people lie ‘cause they don’t like me, that’s what it is.
WILKINS: Better than that, let’s step back Jessie. Now you said, okay, you’ve never pulled a gun on anybody; right?
MISSKELLEY: No.
WILKINS: Then you said, “I pulled one on Dino one night because he got – - he pissed me off”?
MISSKELLEY: ‘Cause I won’t — — peop — — people make me mad. I’ll pull a ball bat and I’ll pull a knife on them if they make me mad.
WILKINS: And then you said, “I don’t own a gun”?
MISSKELLEY: I don’t.
WILKINS: Then you said, “I got a gun and pulled it on Dino.” Now you know, this ain’t making sense, Jessie; okay?
MISSKELLEY: You asked me did I pull a gun, uh, pull a knife and a baseball bat on people?
WILKINS: Uh-huh. (Affirmatively indicating.)
MISSKELLEY: Yes, if they make me mad enough. So I, I pulled a gun on Dino, when me made me mad.
STIDHAM: Well, Jessie, did it make you mad when that lady that you robbed at the store, and she called you a little faggot, did that make you mad?
MISSKELLEY: Little lady?
STIDHAM: While you was working at the store at the Flash Market?
MISSKELLEY: I don’t know nobody…
STIDHAM: …she said she called you a little faggot, and you got mad and pulled a gun and you took the money.
MISSKELLEY: No. I don’t know no woman at the Flash Market that’s short; my dad does, but I don’t. I don’t know her. He knows everybody works at the Flash Market. I don’t.
WILKINS: Well, you’ve been in there, haven’t you?
MISSKELLEY: Yeah, I’ve been in there with him.
WILKINS: And so, and so essentially, they know what you look like now, don’t they, in there?
MISSKELLEY: Yeah.
WILKINS: And they know who you are?
MISSKELLEY: Yeah.
WILKINS: Okay. She says…
STIDHAM: …I’m going to get a drink of water.
WILKINS: She says you came in there and was shoplifting shit. And she caught you and called you a little faggot and you got mad at her and pulled out a gun.
MISSKELLEY: People lie.
WILKINS: I’ll be back in a second.
STIDHAM: Well, I’m going to go down the hall and make that phone call again and see if they’ve got that tape.
[Stidham leaves the room; tape still running. Phone rings and Wilkins answers: “Yes. Okay, so it’ll be here when? Okay. Good. Thanks.”]
WILKINS: That tape’s on its way, Jessie. So here we are. Let’s talk about the robbery, Jessie.
MISSKELLEY: Who are you talking to?
WILKINS: You.
MISSKELLEY: You ain’t talking to me.
WILKINS: Yes, I’m talking to you.
MISSKELLEY: No, you ain’t, either.
WILKINS: Why not?
MISSKELLEY: Talk to yourself. I’m not talking.
WILKINS: You’re not talking?
MISSKELLEY: Huh—uh. (Negatively indicating.)
WILKINS: You damn well are now.
MISSKELLEY: (Silent.)
WILKINS: Look, Jess, okay? Let’s quit this shit. You lied to the police; Jess? [Door opens, closes. Telephone rings. Very long pause. Footsteps into the room.]

After the very long pause, the conversation turned to the events of June 3, 1993. The fake robbery store never came back up.

After this videotape was played in court at the Rule 37 hearing on November 19, 2008, the lawyers discussed its contents.

THE COURT: Was that the end of it? Is that kind of like the Nixon tapes? Is that it?
[Prosecutor Brent] DAVIS: Since I have never seen the original and I just saw this, part of this just last night and never got that far, I don’t know it ended prematurely or if that is the end.
STIDHAM: Your Honor, if I may elaborate for purposes of the record, I, I think that somehow during the transmission from VHS to digital format, that there may be some parts of the interview that, that are missing.
THE COURT: Where is the VHS tape?
[Misskelley's appeals lawyer Jeff] ROSENZWEIG: We have the original, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Is it the same?
ROSENZWEIG: I’ve not compared it, but we have the original.
STIDHAM: There are gaps in this one, and then there wasn’t any gaps in the original VHS tape, as I recall.
THE COURT: Well, you better take a look at it.
STIDHAM: Since it appears that I will be making an appearance again in the morning, Your Honor, I will be happy to, uh, uh, review the VHS tape this evening and report, uh, back to the lawyers.
THE COURT: I’m going to let the lawyers do it.

CROSS-EXAMINATION, continuing:

DAVIS: Dan, you’ve had an opportunity to listen to the video of December 10, ’93, uh, made between yourself and Dr. Wilkins and also Jessie Misskelley?
STIDHAM: Yes.
DAVIS: Okay. And you heard him, you heard the description of Jessie Misskelley as to the circumstances that surrounded the taking of his statement and the polygraph exam, where it occurred, the details of that; you heard him describe that?
STIDHAM: I did.
DAVIS: Okay. Was it, I mean, did you find that lacking in details and lacking in description of what had occurred?
STIDHAM: I found it to be dramatically different than all of the other times that I had talked to him and didn’t bother to record the, uh, interviews. Each time that I would talk to him, it would be different. And that’s why I stated earlier that a lot of times it was almost as if I didn’t have a client, because — – I made some notes, uh, there were a couple of times when I would say, “was it Ridge, or was it Gitchell that told you about the circle?” And he would say, “Ridge.” And I would say, “Are you sure?” And when he realized that that wasn’t the answer that I was ask- ing for, he would quickly change his answer to an attempt to, uh, uh, comply with what he thought was the correct answer. And, and that goes to, uh, Mr. Misskelley’s suggestibility, which we tried without success in introducing it in trial.
DAVIS: And all of this stuff of the tape about the Flash Market and everything, that was a little ploy that Dr. Wilkins and yourself were using to try to concoct some sort of fabricated criminal act and accuse him of having done it, and to see what his reactions would be?
STIDHAM: It was an experiment based on, uh, Dr. Gudjonsson’s suggestibility scale that again, we attempted to try to introduce at the time of trial, and when it got to the point to where Mr. Misskelley got angry and walked out, there was a gap, uh, so that’s why I suspect that there may be a difference between the digital format and the VHS format, because my recollection of the events is that Mr- Misskelley came back in the room and, uh, uh, Dr. Wilkins and I, uh, proceeded to tell him that there was a video tape of the armed robbery, uh, that was taken by the security cameras. And, uh, he said, “0kay, I did it.” And that’s not on the DVD that we just watched.
DAVIS: So that would have been the gap of the whole purpose of you being there, and that part of it is off the tape?
STIDHAM: It appears to be. And sometimes when you — — these machines that they make that transfer tapes to digital, some- times they, they make skips and jumps and, uh, also this tape that I discovered last night in my vault, I noticed that when I put it in the tape recorder, the first part of the tape had deteriorated, uh, I guess just because of age, uh, it’s been nfifteen years, and uh, after it got past a certain part then you could understand it better and it wasn’t near as staticy, so that’s why I think that there is a discrepancy. Also, I clearly. remember, and I was looking through the trial transcripts, uh, while the DVD was playing, uh, we attempted to introduce that, uh, experiment into evidence which, uh, I believe, uh, John Fogleman objected to and the Court sustained the motion, uh, stating that since Mr. Misskelley has not, hadn’t testified, that it was hearsay, I believe was the Court’s ruling. Uh, I haven’t had a chance to finish reading the transcript, but we did attempt to offer that as part of the suggestibility scale. Uh, but it’s clear that Mr. Misskelley, as you, as everyone in the courtroom saw, uh, is, you can pretty much lead him anywhere you want to lead him as far as asking him questions and putting pressure on him.

Dan Stidham did return to testify the following day, November 20, 2008. Neither Stidham nor Misskelley’s appeals lawyers brought the alleged missing portions of the December 10, 1993, videotape to court. The subject never came up. (See ADDENDUM below; this matter came up during Tim Derning’s testimony on 11/20/2008.)

So there are two possibilities: (1) the fake robbery mindfuck experiment worked, Misskelley false-confessed to the fake robbery, Stidham got it on tape; but that portion of the tape accidentally got deleted in the VHS->DVD transfer, and no one caught this mistake before court; Misskelley’s appeals lawyers had the missing portion on VHS, the judge offered to let them bring the missing portion to court and play it, but the appeals lawyers didn’t bother … or (2) the fake robbery mindfuck experiment failed, Misskelley continually denied committing the fake robbery despite Stidham and Wilkins’ efforts, Stidham got it on tape; Stidham and Wilkins then lied and claimed that the experiment did work; the Rule 37 hearing required Stidham to make the videotape public, which revealed that Stidham and Wilkins had been lying all along; Stidham chose to brazen it out and pull the legal equivalent of “the dog ate my homework” and keep lying.

The existing transcript shows Misskelley resisting the fake robbery scenario consistently and firmly. If the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale is legitimate science (of which I’m not convinced) and the fake robbery scenario is a legitimate way to evaluate suggestibility, then Misskelley comes across as highly NON-suggestible and non-submissive to authority figures. If anything, he gets downright surly and combative toward Stidham and Wilkins as they push the fake robbery story. Misskelley frequently lies of his own accord in these 1993-94 interviews, but there’s no evidence of him being easily manipulated into repeating lies suggested by others.

JULY 20 ADDENDUM: Reading further in the Rule 37 hearing transcript, I found this exchange between Brent Davis (prosecutor) and Tim Derning (psychologist hired by Misskelley legal team to evaluate Misskelley around 2004) on the day after the 12/10/93 videotape was played in court.

DAVIS: Okay. Did you ever see anything on that DVD, because there was some testimony to it, on what you were provided, did you see anything on there where a, uh, the defendant was presented with a scenario of a, of being falsely accused of robbing the Flash Market and that he broke down and confessed to it on video?
DERNING: Uh, no, I was told that that was missing, uh, from the video that I was watching. There was forty minutes…
DAVIS: …did you later learn that forty minutes…
DERNING: …forty minutes: that’s correct, that’s missing from that. Elt was described as like the Nixon’s Rosemary Woods where the tape’s deleted. So I couldn’t see it; it wasn’t there.
DAVIS: Did they inform you that after they went back and actually checked the original, it’s not on the original either?
DERNING: Uh, no, I didn’t know that.
DAVIS: Okay?
DERNING: I didn’t think that it was chicanery; it would have been something probably helpful to the defense, but it just wasn’t there. I don*t know why not or what happened to it or anything like that.
DAVIS: The part you observed is when they’re telling about there is a false charge of the deal at the Flash Market, and he’s looking at them like that are crazy: right?
DERNING: Uh-huh. Yes.
DAVIS: Okay. Looking at Dr. Wilkins kind of like “what in the world are you talking about — — I ain’t done nothing”?
DERNING: Correct.
DAVIS: And that would be consistent with somebody who when presented with false information, holds his own; right?
DERNING: For that moment; yes.

So they did check the original videotape overnight, and the alleged missing portion where Misskelley confessed to the fake robbery was not there. It never happened. Wilkins and Stidham both lied under oath.

{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Keese July 19, 2012 at 7:26 pm

“… there’s no evidence of him being easily manipulated into repeating lies suggested by others.”

There most certainly is:

http://callahan.8k.com/pdf/bm_rule37_state/bm_rule37_state_exh4_1.pdf

Reply

wm3truth July 19, 2012 at 7:46 pm

That’s a very long set of documents. Can you point to a specific page or passage that provides evidence of Misskelley being easily manipulated into repeating lies suggested by others?

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Keese July 19, 2012 at 8:03 pm

If you start on page 2-4, you will see Misskelley was diagnosed with mild mental retardation at 7 years old. It was thought he suffered brain damage from a high fever when he was a baby but “money and parental follow-through” prevented specific testing. His mental retardation is not disputed. He was also deemed to have “poor coping skills.” Now, if you want to argue that there was no specific mention of “easily manipulated into repeating lies suggested by others” and therefore he was not vulnerable, go ahead, but I didn’t think you were that silly. Or petty. I suppose I could load up a comment with many links about that very vulnerability (in both suggestibility and false confessions cases), but, seriously?

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Keese July 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm

“Parental follow-through” wasn’t clear. They did not follow through.

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Keese July 19, 2012 at 8:22 pm

By the way, David, if I were you and coming from your point of view, I would be interested in those documents. Even I would argue Jessie Misskelley was headed for trouble and for several reasons outlined there, including his response to his environment (violence and aggression). I don’t think he is guilty or that these documents are indicative of guilt, but you might.

The argument over his mental abilities is over, though.

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wm3truth July 20, 2012 at 12:59 am

Suggestibility and intelligence are not synonymous. The Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale is not an IQ measure, and nothing I’ve read indicates that they correlate closely. If they were the same thing, why would Wilkins and Stidham bother with this fake robbery experiment? And why would they bother lying about the results when Misskelley proved highly resistant to suggestion?

I’ve read through the Tim Derning files on Misskelley before.

No one disputes that Misskelley had a low IQ. There’s plenty of dispute over whether he was mentally retarded.

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Spengle July 20, 2012 at 6:14 am

Keese, you said that there most certainly is evidence of Misskelley being easily manipulated into repeating lies suggested by others and then posted a link to document. Could you please be specific about where in that document there is evidence of Misskelley’s suggestibility?

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Keese July 20, 2012 at 11:53 am

Try to follow along. David’s got this.

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Spengle July 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Ugh, Jesus you’re annoying.
I was just trying to get some more information from you since you seemed to be offering it.
It’s clear that the quest for truth takes a back seat to animosity and stubbornness with you. Whoever you are.

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Keese July 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm

It isn’t animosity and stubborness, but sarcasm. You asked the same question David did and I am working on the reply.

Bill January 9, 2013 at 11:35 pm

WOW. 7 years old!

Now that proves a lot.

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Keese July 20, 2012 at 11:48 am

Really, David? Is there “plenty of evidence” to dispute Misskelley’s mental retardation? Unless I have missed something, Misskelley was diagnosed as having neurological impairment, mild mental retardation, at age 7. In the 9 years before the murders, no one disputed that until his trial, where the prosecution had an interest in doing so. So what is the idea here? Diagnoses were wrong? Misskelley was put in special education simply because he had a low IQ?

As far as Stidham and the fake robbery, I can only speculate about Stidham, and I suspect a few “lawyerly” things there, but I also suspect Stidham may have been in over his head a little on this particular subject. It really doesn’t surprise me that they couldn’t get Misskelley to confess to a fake robbery, if that is the case, since he was IN JAIL after doing just that. I mean, come on, are you saying that if Misskelley gave a coerced-compliant false confession once, there is no way he would not do it a second time – and while still inside the jail?

As far as suggestibility, I will be back with that reply soon. Might as well get it all at once.

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wm3truth July 20, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Misskelley had scores of 73 and 74 in his two teenage IQ tests before the murders. After the murders, his defense team psychologist scored him at 72. Why would you consider his age-7 IQ test to be the one true measure, and ignore his age-14, age-17 and age-18 tests?

Also there’s plenty of evidence that Wilkins, the defense team psychologist, was massaging the results of his post-arrest/pre-trial psychological tests to help Misskelley’s cause, so the 72 IQ score is suspect. The 73 and 74 scores are more reliable.

Here’s the commonly accepted scale (copied from Wikipedia):

Profound mental retardation Below 20
Severe mental retardation 20–34
Moderate mental retardation 35–49
Mild mental retardation 50–69

A diagnosis of “mental retardation” also considers “adaptive functioning” or “skills needed to live independently”, such as:

- Daily living skills, such as getting dressed, using the bathroom, and feeding oneself
- Communication skills, such as understanding what is said and being able to answer
- Social skills with peers, family members, spouses, adults, and others

Misskelley circa 1992-93 had no significant problems in these areas. He lived fairly independently with little adult supervision, he had a wide circle of friends, he had multiple girlfriends, he went to & from work on his own. Communication skills was definitely his weakest area, but it’s clear he could understand people and hold conversations.

All the evidence shows Misskelley falling well above “mentally retarded” level by every accepted medical and legal definition. He belonged in the bottom 10-15% of the population by IQ, he definitely had emotional problems, he had serious alcohol & drug problems which harmed his cognitive functioning, but he was NOT mentally retarded.

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Keese July 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Where are his age-14, age-17 and age-18 test results?

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Keese July 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm

By the way, you might want to do a little more research on including those who have an IQ under 70-75 and MILD mental retardation. But, I’m collecting those links too.

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wm3truth July 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm
EJ July 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Didn’t Miskelly show signs of deception when taking an IQ test before trail but AFTER he knew his defense was trying to label him mildly retarded as a favorable strategy? Not sure where the link is, but didn’t he answer certain questions right then would miss a question that was pretty much the exact same and the only way he could get the question wrong was if he was trying to get it wrong or if he was blindfolded during that particular question?

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Keese July 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm

American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities:

“The IQ test is a major tool in measuring intellectual functioning, which is the mental capacity for learning, reasoning, problem solving, and so on. A test score below or around 70—or as high as 75 indicates a limitation in intellectual functioning.”

aaidd.org/content_104.cfm

Mental Retardation is Capital Cases: IQ variation (pp 1-2):
In general, the DSM codifies psychiatric diagnoses with sets of specific diagnostic criteria. The diagnoses are not tied to an etiology and the criteria are usually broad enough to allow for considerable heterogeneity among people sharing a diagnosis. In the DSM, a diagnosis of mental retardation requires an IQ of “approximately 70 or below” as well as deficits in two areas of adaptive functioning (described below). The DSM definition further codes mental retardation by severity. Mild mental retardation has an IQ range of 50-55 to approximately 70, moderate mental retardation has an IQ range of 35-40 to 50-55 and severe mental retardation has an IQ range of 20-25 to 35-40. Persons with an IQ below 20 or 25 are diagnosed as profoundly mentally retarded. The DSM allows for the diagnosis of “Mental Retardation, Severity Unspecified” when a person appears to have deficits consistent with mental retardation but is too impaired or uncooperative to be tested. There is also a diagnosis of “Borderline Intellectual Functioning” that is associated with IQ in the range of 71-84 (APA, 2000).

sog.unc.edu/sites/www.sog.unc.edu/files/Bell%20-%20Pretrial%20Issues%20(Mental%20Retardation).doc

IQ Margin of Error Explained:
With an average or mean IQ score being 100 and with a standard deviation being 15, an IQ score of 70 falls within the mentally retarded range, as long as the other criteria are met. But there is no such thing as an absolute IQ score. The IQ number should always be interpreted within a range of scores. There is built-in error in any type of measurement. For example, there can be slight differences in scoring between clinicians or there can be varying levels of motivation and/or fatigue within subjects, or other factors. Thus, there is a 95 percent chance that any particular “true” Full Scale IQ score falls within five points in either direction of the obtained score.

nlada.org/DMS/Documents/1066919805.15/Mental%20Retardation.pdf

IQ Variation and Vulnerability to Interrogation tactics:
First in direct response to your own faulty assessment,
“The first prong is commonly determined by individually administered IQ tests, and significantly subaverage intellectual functioning is generally understood as an IQ of 70 or below with a five-point margin of error given the standard error of measurement.27 Thus, a person with an IQ of 75 or below would generally meet the first prong. The second prong—the adaptive functioning prong—essentially looks to how the individual functions in the world, and focuses on deficits, not strengths, because both the AAIDD and the APA recognize that strengths often coexist with weaknesses as well as the fact that there is no common pattern of deficits” (p 6)

nylslawreview.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Blume-article.pdf

… and vulnerability:

“Also, low intelligence is related to interrogative suggestibility and an increase in the likelihood a defendant may succumb to police coercion or provide a false confession” (p 4).
nlada.org/DMS/Documents/1066919805.15/Mental%20Retardation.pdf
… agreed by Justice Stevens in Atkins vs. Virginia

I do not point to Jessie Misskelley’s diagnosis of mental retardation at 7 years old to argue a specific test score, but diagnosis, and to say it was apparent from back then that he was not operating at a normal level.

And apparently apparent during is interrogation:

“RIDGE: Do you know what his penis is?”

callahan.8k.com/wm3/jmjune1.html

Gitchell on the stand:
Q: Later on, on that same page he makes reference to the (p. 947) little boys had skipped school that day.
A: Yes, sir, he did. But I believe Jessie is getting confused there. Jason Baldwin was supposed to skip school that day, and they were all going to – -
Q: The little boys didn’t skip school that day, did they, Inspector Gitchell?

[…]A: It is easy to ignore the part about the boys skipping school because you simply know that’s not true. Jessie simply got confused. That’s all.
callahan.8k.com/wm3/garyg2.html

I think it is clear Misskelley was mildly mentally retarded (to keep with consistent terms), and I think it is so silly to argue he absolutely was not. However, it turns out that just low intellectual functioning (which you concede) leaves one vulnerable to “interrogative suggestibility.”

And by the way, I don’t mind combing exhibit 4 for examples, but not if it will be summarily dismissed as a defense tactic over and beyond outside facts involving IQ and suggestibility in low intellectually functioning persons. That would be a total waste of my time.

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Spengle July 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm

You’re the one that brough up exhibit #4.

You claimed that there “most certainly was” evidence that Misskelley was prone to repeating others lies. Saying that he’s retarded is not evidence of that at all!

This blog post was great and it showed a piece of “evidence” that claimed to be about Misskelley’s suggestibility while actually being evidence of the complete opposite.
Man, that’s interesting. Guilty or not, that is some interesting shit right there.

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Keese July 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm

….. You aren’t really reading my responses or the links I have provided, are you?

If the argument here is that based on Misskelley’s IQ of even 74 and his stated strengths he is not mildly mentally retarded, that is faulty. See above.

If the argument is that he is therefore not vulnerable to suggestibility, if even low functioning intellectually, that is faulty, see above.

If the argument is that these documents are from the defense, therefore are not exactly credible, there are plenty of excellent sources to prove mild mental retardation and low function intellectual capacity leaves a person vulnerable to suggestibility. See above.

Those are independent sources since exhibit 4 could be summarily dismissed, and pp 2-4 already has been. If you can’t be bothered to consider that, let alone read it, then… you have already proved the effort pointless. So, continue to not even try to look at exhibit 4 yourself while you chest-puff challenge me. Sure.

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Spengle July 20, 2012 at 10:57 pm

WM3TRUTH – “Misskelley frequently lies of his own accord in these 1993-94 interviews, but there’s no evidence of him being easily manipulated into repeating lies suggested by others.”

KEESE – “There most certainly is.”

It just sounded like you had some other interview of Misskelley being easily persuaded. I didn’t realise that your entire point was that, “he’s retarded peoples, come on! Retards are liars, fact!”

Thank you, it was very convincing. I now dismiss this entire blog entry. Misskelley must have been feeling less retarded than usual on this day.

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Frank July 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Exactly. That’s how your original comment reads. As if the link you provided is to a specific example where Misskelley was easily led into admitting something he hadn’t done.

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Llcoolsa July 21, 2012 at 12:55 am

Great post! I am not surprised at all that a supporter would argue about this. No matter how much obvious proof is cited, they will always always always find a way around it so they can hold onto their innocence fantasy. It’s obvious this experiment didn’t work! Jessie vehemently denies the nonsense and Stidham was caught in a lie. I think the better experiment would be to study the dynamics behind murderer supporters. That’s a strange phenomenon.

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Jeremy July 21, 2012 at 8:26 am

It is a know fact that many people have confessed to many crimes that they did not commit, if he was really smart the first time the police brought him in he would have shut his mouth and said nothing, he has the right to remain silent. If Jesse did not say anything the police would not have moved on Damien and Jason. There are many questions unanswered in this case, but like any trial you must find the defendant guilty beyond all reasonable doubt, really there is no reasonable doubt in this case.
However I wouldn’t refer to people as murderer supporters Justice might be a better word, what if they are innocent, you really want a person or persons to get away with a crime such as this.

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wm3truth July 21, 2012 at 11:04 am

It is a know fact that many people have confessed to many crimes that they did not commit

Agreed, that has happened many times. But that didn’t happen in this case.

if he was really smart the first time the police brought him in he would have shut his mouth and said nothing

Agreed. But it’s a known fact that many criminals do confess under pressure, especially criminals like Jessie Misskelley who feel some remorse over their crimes.

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Jeremy July 22, 2012 at 6:27 am

Is it just your opinion that it didn’t happen in this case? The reasons why I ask is firstly why wasn’t the entire police interview recorded, why was the confession only recorded. The confession does not exactly much the evidence, if the crime was committed where their bodies were found there would have been blood on trees and plants but there wasn’t any blood. So if it is a know fact that many criminals do confess under pressure why then would they lie in their confession?
Also your comment especially criminals like Jessie Misskelley, can you please tell what type of criminal you see him as?
I will tell you that I’m a criminologist and I really don’t know what you mean by that comment.
However, in the case of Thomas Cogdell who was brought in for questioning of the murder of his sister in 2006. Thomas was an intelligent book worm and told police 36 times he had had no part in the killing. But when he asked for food, officers switched off the tape recorder. Three and a half hours later they switched the tape back on and Thomas Cogdell confessed to murder. Guilty or innocent there is reasonable doubt over that three and half hours why did he confess does it mean he is guilty did they wear him down. I have been to crime scenes that stay with you for life, so I can understand how the police would feel in questioning a suspect of a horrific crime but you still need to do it by the law and many cases it not done right and not only innocent people could be convicted the guilty will get away with it.

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wm3truth July 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Is it just your opinion that it didn’t happen in this case?

This isn’t a matter for opinions. It’s an empirical question; one answer is objectively right, one answer is wrong.

Reasons to believe it didn’t happen in this case include Jessie Misskelley’s five other documented confessions. Have you read them all? How do you explain six false confessions, including three in private meetings with his defense lawyer(s)?

Also your comment especially criminals like Jessie Misskelley, can you please tell what type of criminal you see him as?

The original clause reads “especially criminals like Jessie Misskelley who feel some remorse over their crimes.” I think that’s pretty clear. I see Jessie Misskelley as a criminal who felt some remorse over his crime.

Agreed that the WMPD should have started recording the Misskelley interview at 12:40 pm. They also should have recorded the 5/10/93 interview with Damien Echols.

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Jeremy July 23, 2012 at 8:28 pm

His confessions are not consistent with each other and the evidence, there has to be some doubt about his confessions.
To explain why he kept the confessions up; in cases of false confessions they normally do more than one and in some cases there have been up to 10 confessions, most are not consistent with each other and/or evidence. Once the false confessions have started they don’t know how to change it that’s why in most cases there are multiple confessions.

The original clause reads “especially criminals like Jessie Misskelley who feel some remorse over their crimes.” I think that’s pretty clear. I see Jessie Misskelley as a criminal who felt some remorse over his crime.
Sorry I missed quoted you, the reason why I don’t think any of them have shown remorse for the crime, however you see him as a criminal not a murderer?

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keese July 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Oh my. You all are SO right! A failed experiment in which Stidham was unable to get Misskelley to stick his wet finger in an electrical socket a second time totally proves he was not suggestible!

All indications that he was vulnerable to giving a false confession the first time be damned. How simple.

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Spengle July 21, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Nice straw man.
I don’t believe a single one of us said that this proves he wasn’t suggestible.

All it does is dispel the misinformation that this suggestibility test actually worked when, in fact, it had an adverse affect. There’s no conjecture in this blog post.

Honestly, what’s with attitude? Your dudes are free now.
There is a possibilty that they murdered some kids, no? That’s impossible?
Don’t be so antagonistic.

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Keese July 21, 2012 at 7:18 pm

My dudes? But, uh, don’t be antagonistic. You’re an ignorant joke. Have fun going on to further prove it. ;-)

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Spengle July 22, 2012 at 2:26 am

I’m an ignorant joke.
Well you win then.
That’s how you win an argument.
You nailed me.

The irony is, since you believe that what I’m doing is “proving” my ignorance, we can establish how vapid your understanding of “proof” is.

It’s pretty impressive how you were able to establish my ignorance based on four internet comments that I made. Is being inquisitive a sign of ignorance? That sucks.

Anyway, I came here to discuss this entry and I genuinely believed that Keese had some other interview and I wanted to read it. I wasn’t really interested in whether Jessie is considered mentally retarded or not. Even taking his iq as fact, if he can string a sentence together then I want to hear what he actually says instead of just dismissing it all as retarded.

So, I will no longer be responding to Keese, since it’s an incredible waste of time trading barbs with internet trolls.

Enjoy one final insult, if you wish Keese, with the satisfication of an absent retaliation. It’ll make you feel like you won something.
Good luck with future endeavours. Our interaction has been short, but unpleasant. Farewell.

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TheOJSimpsons July 21, 2012 at 6:17 pm

While Jessie seems like a kid with learning disabilities, he also seems like a kid with street smarts and not afraid to stir it up — even with cops.

From Jessie’s recorded conversation with Ofshe regarding his police interview:

“OFSHE: And you were saying, and my tape recorder ran out, that he was raising his voice at you, you didn’t like it, and you were going to hit him, and then Mike Allen came in and said, ‘don’t do it.’

MISSKELLEY: He told me don’t do it, and then I sat down.

OFSHE: So you got up.

MISSKELLEY: Yeah.

OFSHE: Tell me about it. Tell me – describe to me what happened. Imagine that there’s a television set there and there’s a movie showing on the television set, and you’re watching it but I’ve got my closed, so you’ve got to describe to me what’s going on in that movie so that I can l imagine it, because I’ve got my eyes closed and I can’t just see it.

MISSKELLEY: Well, when he was hollering at me, I stood up. And I had my fist balled up by my side, and that’s when Mike Allen came in, told me don’t do it, and Mike Allen put his hands on me, you know, told me to sit down, and I sit down.

OFSHE: Did he just yell at you once, or did he yell at you repeatedly?

MISSKELLEY: Just that once.

OFSHE: Just yelled at you that one time.

MISSKELLEY: Told me that I was lying.

OFSHE: Even stronger than I gave -

MISSKELLEY: Uh-huh. (Affirmatively indicating)

OFSHE: Moved forward, got in your face, and then you get up, because you’re pissed?

MISSKELLEY: Right.

OFSHE: Was the other detective in the room at this time? Or how did he know that it was time for him to run and put you down in your chair again?

MISSKELLEY: I guess he heard – heard it. Because of the hollering or something. Cause after that Mike Allen came in.

OFSHE: Why did you get so mad?

MISSKELLEY: Cause he hollered at me. Told me I was a liar.

OFSHE: Was it that he was hollering at you or he was telling you that you were a liar, or both?

MISSKELLEY: Both. (inaudible) I tell something about that I know. If I don’t know nothing, I won’t – I don’t tell it.

So Jessie was going to hit the cops? He made a fist? That seems odd. Not the actions of someone who is afraid of the cops — is it?

Definitely an interesting documents to read — lots of arguments for both sides: http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/jm_ofshe.html

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Spengle July 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Thanks for that interview.
Also interesting that he got enraged at being called a liar which seems to contradict some perceptions of him.

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Christina July 21, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Bless Stidham’s heart – he was gonna ride that lie out till the end. :-P

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Fred J Walsh July 22, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Reading the debate between wm3truth’s and keese, it seems to me mistakes in were made on both sides.

Perhaps this article would be better served by more specific title than “Was JM a highly suggestible individual?” The piece explores the facts of the Stidham/Wilkins videotape — an interesting subject, deserving of attention — but it can’t really be said to answer the title question definitively.

As to keese, it seems to me that your initial statement that “There most certainly is…evidence of [Jessie] being easily manipulated into repeating lies suggested by others” proved similarly too big a promise. You offer general documentation about a correlation between mental retardation and suggestibility, as well as diagnoses about Misskelley’s cognitive abilities at age 7. But as wm3truth points out, it’s very debatable whether Misskelley could be classified as retarded ca. 1992-1994 — and going by his 72-74 test scores, he simply wasn’t.

However. I do welcome reading any documentation specific to Misskelley being easily manipulated. For instance, there is this news article from 1993, just after the arrests. By the accounts of “many” neighbors, the young Misskelley was said to be “easily persuaded,” “vulnerable” and “naive.”

TOUGH, A BIT TROUBLED, BUT KIND TO KIDS
Date: Saturday, June 5, 1993
Source: By Richard Kelley The Commercial Appeal

Neighbors on streets washed by the soft whine of I-55 used words such as “respectful” and “well-mannered” to describe Jessie Lloyd Misskelley on Friday.
From accounts of those near Highland Trailer Court between Marion and West Memphis, he also was quick and good with his fists when he wasn’t being respectful. Many people called him easily persuaded, said he could be vulnerable or even naive, but they add he was good with kids and that they liked him.

SOURCE: http://westmemphisthreediscussion.yuku.com/topic/2657

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Keese July 22, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Fred, I appreciate the fair and intelligent reply. I do want to point out that reliance on an IQ score above 69 and perceived social strengths is not how an accurate assessment is made, which is why I offered independent sources to show these assessments include an IQ score of 75 or below and deficits, not strengths. Since that is fact, Stidham may have overstated in his description, but one can’t argue Misskelley’s vulnerability was just a defense strategy. Low intelligence, mild mental retardation, and interrogative suggestibility is correlated and well documented.

Exhibit 4 is much more than a diagnosis at 7 and includes assessment many years after Misskelley was convicted. Anyone truly interested in this aspect of the case should read it. It is quite lengthy and includes a lot of sloppy handwritten notes, but there is nothing like context.

Thanks again, Fred. You have class.

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Keese July 22, 2012 at 9:54 pm

(That is, reliance on an IQ below 69 and perceived social strengths)

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Keese July 22, 2012 at 11:30 pm

P.S.

“…the tests I gave Misskelley, I found that he did not malinger. Looking at his record of academic achievement, it was very poor. He would have been subject to manipulation.”

DR. TIM DERNING

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/bm_rule37/bm_rule37_derning.html

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DogIsYourName July 23, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Keese -

There just isn’t anything that supports the notion that Jessie would be persuaded to lie about something like a triple child murder (implicating himself) repeatedly for more than a year. Being somewhat suggestible is one thing, but lying repeatedly about something like this is another. There simply aren’t any facts to support it. That’s why the Paradise Lost series has repeatedly simply referenced “the confession” by someone “borderline retarded” because at least then it is somewhat believable.

The guy has a mural of the crime tattoo’d on his arm. Was that suggested to him as well?

Go watch “My Brother’s Keeper” and notice the similarities.

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Thayer Gilltay August 23, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Exactly.

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TheOJSimpsons July 23, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Time for more observations…

Looking at many of the documents that have been added to Callahan’s in the last few months, Jessie states several times that it was himself who volunteered that he (Jessie) was there at the murders. He was trying to trick the police, etc.

Can you imagine the cops eyes when he finally said “I was there” — they must have been like: What?! Really?! Sadly, Jessie opened the door to the circle.

When police interview people, witness, suspects, etc. their goal is to get that person to tell them information that will help them solve the case. This was a triple murder of children.

Keep in mind that going onto Jessie’s interview, they have statements from people like William Jones saying that Damien bragged about the crime. Which, if you understand the type of attention-seeker Damien was, is probably exactly what Damien did. He admits now in the news that he made “jokes” at the time such as that stuff at the softball game.

Small town rumors start to snowball. Guess who fed some of those rumors?

Imagine Damien in 1993, drunk and hanging out with friends: “You better watch out — you’ll end up like those kids — I was there… blah blah.” Holy shit! He was the center of attention, etc.

“RIDGE: Okay, uh then you said that there was another conversation, he was drunk during that conversation?

WILLIAM: Yeah, when he was sober he came back to me, as a matter of fact, it was the next day and said, that, what was we talking about last night, and I told him what he said and he said, none of that was true, that he was just real drunk.”

Um… too late. The story spreads and grows legs.

So now nearly everyone in the town thinks Damien did it. They know that Jason hangs with Damien. Jason’s trading T-shirts for tapes, trading knives for other for weapons, trading all sorts of shit. Jessie’s trading sneakers with Buddy Lucas. BTW — LOTS of trades go down in West Memphis it seems… Now all they need is concrete proof to tie them all together.

Jessie Misskelley gets interviewed. Jessie gets pissed at the cops for yelling at him and accusing him of lying. What does Jessie do? He tries to “trick” the cops by saying HE WAS THERE. Uh oh…

Jessie thinks that he can tell the cops what they want to hear (which they can’t believe they’re hearing after a month of nothing) and then GO HOME.

Problem is — no new clues emerge pointing at anyone else. Also, none of the three suspects have alibis. They just don’t exist. Jason and Damien lawyer up right away and keep quiet. Their lawyers assume they did it and prepare accordingly. So all the police have is Jessie’s statement.

Jessie’s statement is a mess, but hey — he’s slow and probably confused. But he said it and even told them odd details. The town’s people aren’t surprised at all. Cops pretty much figure they have the case solved.

But just to be safe… the cops “find” the lake knife. Does anyone believe that knife was involved? Of course not.

They also get that chick Vicki to lie on the stand AND UNDER OATH about a CULT MEETING and an ORGY she attended. She was lying. There is just no evidence that anything she said was true. Slightly illegal, no?

So why did they even have her say that shit in the first place? Because the cops THOUGHT JESSIE WAS TELLING THE TRUTH!

Guess who brought up cult meetings and orgies in Jessie’s interview? I’ll give you a hint — it rhymes with MESSY!

Jessie introduced the devil cult stuff. Other things that Jessie made up? Oh, Photos and briefcases…

MISSKELLEY: That was something I made up. [14:18]

OFSHE: Okay. Now, the next part has to do with your telling them about the satanic cult. Do you remember what you told them about that?

MISSKELLEY: I told them that, uh, we go out, kill dogs, and eat ‘em.

OFSHE: Do you?

MISSKELLEY: Huh-uh. (Negatively indicating) I don’t even eat chicken.

So now the cops have this thing all wrapped up. Then the cops/prosecution get a Christmas present named Michael Carson.

Carson comes in on his own and passes a polygraph saying the most outrageous bullshit you’ve ever heard in your life. But no one tries to stop him or deny it. The cops must be looking at one another saying: “who paid this dude? — “not me” — “me neither” Scratches head…

So now they got Jessie’s confession, Damien’s hearsay, and Carson’s account of Jason’s confession.

What else do they get — Damien gets busted on the stand with his secret jail cell Alistair Crowley alphabet notes. Even that one creeps me out – can only imagine what the jury thought.

Does all this prove they did it? No.

Does all this prove the cops framed them? No.

My point of this rambling post: Were these kids singled out and framed by cops and prosecutors or did the cops believe that they had the right people? I think the cops THINK they had the right people.

Now if we could just have the damn local phone records from May 5th and 6th and settle this thing for once and all.

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Keese July 23, 2012 at 10:09 pm

“Keese -
There just isn’t anything that supports
the notion that Jessie would be
persuaded to lie about something like a
triple child murder (implicating himself)
repeatedly for more than a year. Being
somewhat suggestible is one thing, but
lying repeatedly about something like
this is another. There simply aren’t any
facts to support it. ”

What kind of facts do you think would support that notion? I assume you know people have falsely confessed to absolutely horrible crimes, so it being a triple homicide (just that fact alone) doesn’t rule out the possibility that someone would falsely confess to it. So, is it that he gave multiple statements and maintained guilt for… (I forget how long – a few months, was it?) that you find to be a completely unsupported notion? If I showed you that both multiple statements and maintaining guilt for a length of time have happened in false confession/exoneration cases, would you still think it is a completely unsupported notion that a person would falsely confess multiple times and maintain guilt for a length of time before being exonerated? (Chris Ochoa falsely confessed more than once to a rape and murder, and he maintained his guilt for several years, even after the real killer confessed. He was eventually exonerated when DNA came back as a match to the real killer, the same man who confessed. Chris Ochoa was an honor student, had no such mental deficits. He confessed because he was told if he did not, he would be executed. Just an example.) So, how is it that even with so much supporting evidence that Misskelley was indeed suggestible, and with documented cases of false confessions which include multiple statements and maintaining guilt that it is an unsupported notion that Misskelley lied?

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TheOJSimpsons July 24, 2012 at 12:11 am

These false confession cases are truly scary and often beyond comprehension (see: Norfolk Four). People in these cases are often questioned for days — cops YELLING IN THEIR FACES FOR HOURS, threatened with prison rape, physical violence, sleep deprived, kept from their family, etc.

It’s probably the circumstances surrounding Jessie’s interrogation / interview that make it hard for people to understand or compare the two. It seems like his Dad had hand-delivered him to the cops, and after an hour or so they went and talked with his dad again — while Jessie was riding in the front seat of a cop car, uncuffed.

Jessie had been through the process before, so maybe that’s why he had a cavalier attitude as he seems to state in his interview with Wilkins and Stidham:

MISSKELLEY: I think it was before. And then, after I, after I done told him, then they took me downstairs and then this black guy looked at me. They he said, “I can tell, I don’t like you.” I shrugged my shoulders, told him, “Oh, well.” And they put me in one of these cells.

I don’t like anything about this case. I don’t know exactly why Jessie told those cops what he did, but it seems very confusing and almost makes sense. That’s the problem. He outrageous story seemed plausible.

The cops needed something to believe — and Jessie gave them their story. They could have beat him and made him say shoelaces instead of rope. They could have done many things to get him to say 7:00pm instead of noon. Why force such a crappy confession? Maybe they thought what he was saying was true…

http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/jm_wilkins_stidham.html

STIDHAM: Did they tell you that they knew the boys had had sex before they died? ,

MISSKELLEY: Huh-uh. (Negatively indicating.) Nope. I, I, I just guessed at it, I just said it.

WILKINS: And so after you said that you saw Jason and Damien having sex with the boys and (inaudible) and pulled their ears up and then licking the blood up and stuff. They didn’t say you were wrong, did they?

MISSKELLEY: They didn’t say nothing. They asked me, then, after, you know, the cutting was going on, they asked me did I, you know, cut anyone. I said -no.”

WILKINS: Good. And so, and so, so you thought that what you said about them having sex with the little boys and all that was true because they said, they, they?

MISSKELLEY: They didn’t say nothing.

WILKINS: They didn’t say, “no, that’s wrong?” You didn’t have to go back to the beginning again and start back at ground zero. So you knew that, that that was true, then?

MISSKELLEY: No, they didn’t tell me to start over or nothing.

(Of course at this point the tape shuts off and when it restarts Stidham — who didn’t like what he was HEARING — gets Jessie to talk about how they made him go over and over his story, and back to the beginning each time. Maybe Jessie IS VERY EASILY INFLUENCED…)

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wm3truth July 24, 2012 at 1:13 am

False confessions do happen. The Arizona Buddhist temple massacre case is another, summarized here (pages 6-9). Another example is the Colin Pitchfork case — read Joseph Wambaugh’s The Blooding, or get the short version from Wikipedia.

But true confessions followed by false recantations also happen, probably a lot more often.

And many of the famous “false confession” cases turn out to be “true confession followed by false recantation” cases when you look at the actual evidence. Two good articles on the topic:

http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/guilt.htm
http://kspope.com/memory/facade.php

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EJ July 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Very very very very good find in the “prodeathpenalty.com” link you posted. Yes, false confesseions do happen, and yes, there is a slight chance Jesse Miskelly may have very well have been coerced into a false confession, but after reading that article/study, Leo and Ofshe are AWFUL and determining false confessions. There is no way a sane person can read that article and think Leo and Ofshe are GOOD at pointing out false confessions. This guy lists 29 different cases where Leo and Ofshe didn’t come close to correctly identifying false confessions in the court of law (the the miskelly false confession is I guess yet to be determined).

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wm3truth July 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Just for the record, the Paul Cassell article originally appeared in Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy (Spring 1999). It was reprinted (probably without permission) by whoever owns prodeathpenalty.com.

It’s a response to “The Consequences of False Confessions: Deprivations of Liberty and Miscarriages of Justice in the Age of Psychological Interrogation” by Richard Leo and Richard Ofshe, published in The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (Winter 1998). It’s not available free online anywhere. I found a copy on JSTOR, which many public libraries offer free. Or you can pay $12 for a copy online. Academic journals haven’t exactly embraced the internet.

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The Confession July 24, 2012 at 1:41 am

Jeremy
7/21/12
826am

“Beyond all reasonable doubt”

Wrong standard buddy.

“There is no reasonable doubt”

You are right, no reasonable doubt exist that these three men/boys killed those kids.

“I would not refer to people as murderer supporters”

What would you call someone who supports an individual who plead guilt to murder?

6:27am 7/22/12

“The confession does not exactly match the evidence.

There is specific unprompted information Miskelly gave in every single interview/confession/statement he gave about particulars of this case.

The other item I would have you consider is removing your bias that Misskelly would give the absolute truth if he presumably did confess. There is a massive ignorance and blatant fallacy with most “supporters” defending this case when presenting a counter argument to Misskelly’s statements. They will out doubt assume if Misskelly were to give a “valid” confession, in their eyes, he tell the whole truth. This despite overwhelming evidence that most “confessors” will deceive and manipulate the truth to lessen their own cupablity in the crime. What starkingly ironic about this, it is all to logical that Misskelly would be a horrible liar, giving his IQ, and give such an inconsistent and deceitful statements. What is damning though are the specific unprompted statements giving by Misskelly over and over and over again.

“I‘m a criminologist“

Not that I‘m trying to insult you, but I‘d highly doubt you are a riminologist. Besides an appeal to authority will not dissuade the many who have taken the time to actually look at the evidence instead of reading a message forum about this case. If it means anything, I have a background in investigative work as well.

Jeremy 7/23/828pm
“Confessions are not consistent with each other”

They are.

Who, what, where……in all three.

The WM3 killed three boys at Robin Hills.

I’d study more cases with multiple confessions. You’d see they are all inconsistent. While antidotal and a valid source of real study, I’d highly recommend watching the first 48 on A&E and see how many times confessed killer give different versions.

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The Confession July 24, 2012 at 1:44 am

*not a valid source

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Shawn July 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm

The entire first confession is not recorded, but even using solely what is recorded, I don’t know how anyone in his or her right mind could even try to say that it wasn’t full of leading questions. I still haven’t really chosen a side on this case, and probably never will, but you’d have to have a bias larger than I could imagine to read that confession and not see it as being packed with leading questions.

People on both sides of the argument need to step back every now and then and reread these document subjectively. If you do so and read this confession and say he was not led in any way whatsoever you have such a warped sense of reality in regard to this case that there’s no coming back.

I feel the same way about the supporters that disregard Damien’s childhood and dismiss the fact that he was clearly capable of committing the crime, but there isn’t a website dedicated to beating that dead horse.

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wm3truth July 27, 2012 at 2:08 pm

If 6/3/93 was Misskelley’s only confession, there would be room for doubt.

Yes, there are leading questions in the taped 6/3/93 interview. But not as much as wm3 supporters claim, and sometimes Misskelley rejects the leading question — eg, “Whose car were you all in?”, “We walked”.

But Misskelley made several more confessions. Read about Misskelley’s confession to his defense lawyer on 6/11/93. The “leading question” argument can’t explain that one.

Or Misskelley’s 8/19/93 confession to his defense lawyer.

Or Misskelley’s post-conviction 2/8/94 confession to his defense lawyer.

People on both sides of the argument need to step back every now and then and reread these document subjectively.

Believe me, I’ve stepped back several times. And every time I return, the emperor is still wearing no clothes.

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EJ July 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm

What I don’t think a lot of people understand or seem to grasp is that 85-90% of the people questioned by the West Memphis Police either as suspects, possible witnesses, or just simply people that may have information were just as dumb if not dumber than Jesse Miskelly. People are making Jesse out to be far and away the dumbest guy that has ever been through West Memphis. The police had DOZENS of witnesses/good ole boys/mildly retarded people/reward greedy citizens that they interviewed that they could’ve easily “pinned” this on too. So why single out Jesse? And oh yea, has anyone ever stop and thought that its more likely a stupid person will eventually confess to what they’ve done wrong because they’re simply not smart enough to concoct a well thought out lie/alibis that would remotely make sense? This is such a fantasy reach to get these guys off that its almost sickening.

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Shawn July 30, 2012 at 5:40 pm

I wasn’t aware that West Memphis was the mild retardation capital of the world. Maybe that is why the flag depicts a leaf at the helm of a ship trying to stay afloat on a river of roses.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Memphis,_Tennessee.svg

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jane July 30, 2012 at 10:35 pm

While I love clever snips directed at the ignorance of certian regions around the country, I am afraid yours only shows your own ignorance of the area, which is baffalling that you wouldn’t know this being on this site. Sorry Shawn, but west Memphis isn’t even in Tennessee, but across the river in Arkansas. Try searching West Memphis. Leave the insults for those who care enough to educate themselves instead of making yourself look “mildly retarded”.

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Shawn July 31, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Sorry, I’m from West Memphis myself, which would explain why I wouldn’t know where it is (according to EJ).

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jane July 30, 2012 at 10:57 pm

EJ,
“just as dumb if not dumber than Jesse MisKelly.”
It’s spelled Jessie Miskelley. I only point this out because you just insulted as your buddy Shawn did, an entire area of the mid-south. Can you please point me to where you found the 85-90% statistic that was more dumb than Jessie? I remember most of them held jobs, raised kids, or were kids in school themselves. Those people may not have the education that people in other regions get, but I can assure you that they are not walking into walls all day. Jessie Miskelley, whether telling a lie or the truth, told a story as facinating as any acclaimed author, we are still reading and debating it 20 years later. He was smart enough to fool half the people. Just which half?

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Joey July 28, 2012 at 1:37 am

What does EJ stand for? EJaculation?

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TheOJSimpsons August 1, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Not sure if this is old news… If you have an extra week to spend trying to keep track of suspects, here is a link to Ron Lax’s December 1993 timeline file.

http://callahan.8k.com/pdf/bm_rule37_pet/bm_rule37_pet_exh2.pdf

Always wondered what his files looked like. Take a pad of paper and try and keep track of everyone on the day of murders.

How exactly did L. G. Hollingsworth escape the WM police — it seems like the murders would have been easier to pin on L.G.

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jane August 1, 2012 at 11:31 pm

That’s some detective work for the best of them huh? Leaves a person wondering what kind of time warp everyone had stepped out of that day. Paul Ford had it right to not provide alibi for Baldwin. Everyone who provided them couldn’t have possibly been true.
Great link OJ.
I’m going to look through the Calahans, but was the skateboard ever found, and if so where? Byers was on that, right? (Not that the answer will ever put me any closer to developing any kind of ideas of the men’s guilt or innocence)

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TheOJSimpsons August 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm

For the record: “LG Hollingsworth, Jr. died in an automobile accident on October 26, 2001 at the age of 25.”

From here: http://www.jivepuppi.com/lg_hollingsworth.html

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jane August 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Got the answer that the skateboard was found down the road by C. Byers brother.

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josh September 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Jessie had a mind of his own 1) gave feb. 1994 confession against his lawyers protest 2) gave his sister a dirt look when she said damiens “a good kid” 3) told his family he kept his head down at his trial only becasue he was told too. his actions confirm he was guilty and knew what he was doing.

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WOW! crazy case October 15, 2012 at 2:42 am

I thank who ever put this info online, wow! after reading the court and case records, I am convinced these 3 just used the system to get out of prison. Echols was very disturbed, and must be still, but very good at acting socially acceptable. Wow!a nd Lori, she’s desperate for some excitement in her life–must of been really boring and mundane to take up with a child killer.
I cannot bring myself to read the confession part, it hurts my heart too much to ever allow that inside of me. I know it was terrible! those poor little boys who suffered so badly before they were snuffed out like they were nothing. I know some will think I am a crazy fanatic, but I do have a faith in God, and one day–the day will come when the truth will be known.
Jessee or Jason will want to release this new secret they live with.

I’ve noticed that Damien is the one in the limelight, and where is Jessee? it’s like he is being not included in all the hoopla because of anymosity for his confession.

I believe that confession, i also believe this was a cult thrill kill.

My prayers for the the family and may those precious boys rest in peace
how old would they be now? 24 or 25, s so so so wrong!
And if Damien is reading this: THE GOD WHO CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH IS BIGGER THAN YOUR CHEAP TRINKET STORE WICCAN idols–and you will be exposed and you will suffer bitterly. God will avenge those boys

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Elli October 31, 2012 at 4:10 am

Have you really looked into this case at all?
There is absolutely no DNA evidence linking Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelly Jr., and Jason Baldwin to the crime scene.
Thats a fact. While your ignorance is purely a personal problem.
False confessions are extremely common due to intense and emotionally abusive police interrogations. These boys are innocent, as the families of the victims agree.
So they deserve to find the real criminals responsible.

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AJFA November 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Oh poor, stupid, stupid Elli.

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T-Rog November 7, 2012 at 1:36 am

“These boys are innocent, as the families of the victims agree.”

Terry Hobbs, Steven Branch Sr, and Todd and Dana Moore would disagree with that statement.

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Jim November 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I’ve been very objective in my approach to this case. But, I can say with certainty that, I wouldn’t jump to conclusions about their innocense. There may be no DNA evidence, all evidence, in fact, may be circumstantial. But, that doesn’t mean they didn’t commit this crime.

I have looked over many pages of evidence, watched many interviews with Damien and Jason, and read several different opinions. I’ve come to the conclusion that these 3 very well could have done it. I base this conclusion on Interviews with Damien and Jason. Jessie, means nothing. Even with his confessions.

In every interview I’ve watched where Damien and Jason are together, it seems as if Jason is hiding something, or trying gain acceptance from Damien. We all know how controlling and manipulative Damien is. Jason would do anything to impress him as a boy and up until their parting of ways about the movie, Jason still had that look in his eye whenever Damien was in the room. If Damien wanted Jason to be a part of a brutal murder (even on a whim), I’m positive Jason would have done whatever it took to make Damien happy. Hell, he took the deal he said didn’t want just to get Damien off of death row.

Listen to the interviews. It was all for Damien. Poor littleDamien.

I’ve worked with people in a psychiatric setting for better part of 15 years. Both children and adults. I’m pretty sure that I can tell when someone is full of shit. Damien Echols is just that, full of shit. Just watch his interviews. His body language and bullshit stories, tell you everything you need to know.

But, then again, maybe I’m stupid.

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Jim November 2, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Here is my question. When are we, the public, going hear a real interview with Jessie? When are we, the public, going to hear what HE has to say? We’ve heard multiple scripted and well rehearsed interviews from, Jason and Damien . I want to hear Jessie’s prison story.

My fear, is that this will never happen. For multiple reasons.

First, his lawyers, along with the Jason and Damien’s, will never let an interview happen. For fear, that he will say something stupid. Like, “yeah, we did it”.

The plan here is: ostracize Jessie, and keep him quiet.

I live for the day that he gets in front of a camera. That is going to be interesting.

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tabasco November 20, 2012 at 1:18 am

This suggestibility test thing, whatever happened with it, hardly shows JM to be a reliable source of information, or lends credence to his completely jacked up confession.

http://www.dpdlaw.com/JessieFirstStatement.htm

He is *clearly* being led, he is contradicting himself all over the place, he’s a minor who is very likely legally incompetent. In *any* sane investigation/trial, there is NO WAY this confession should have been admissible in *either* case.

Again, I’m not even talking about guilt or innocence, I’m saying that this is a *wholly* inadmissible confession and its admission is just one of many examples of the mess that was made of this case. Perjury, jury tampering, crime scene destruction, inadmissible testimony allowed, and on and on. This case is practically a guidebook of nearly every type of legal mistake to be made. This was NOT a legally obtained conviction, period. If anybody should be suing the state of Arkansas, it’s the families of the murdered boys since the state through its wide-ranging incompetence in its handling of this case practically guaranteed that a proper conviction won’t be obtained. If, *you*, personally, believe they are guilty, that is one thing. But there is simply NO rational argument to be made that this was a properly made, legal conviction and to suggest that this utter disaster of an investigation and trial should be upheld is just wrong.

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Jenna December 10, 2012 at 5:07 am

Was the confession leading,yes completely! Does is mean it was not true,no! The one that stands out the most is the one he made in 94 where he talks about Well he never put his hand on the bible. The police screwed up numerous times in this case . The HBO documentaries don’t show the whole truth either. They show what they want you to believe. After watching them I thought for the most part they were innocent,but after reading all the evidence I’m split. Regardless ,they still plead guilty to killing three boys..18 years I think I could hold out a little longer to be exonerated of all guilt. I don’t know if he is guilty but Damien does have an extreme evil presence and a master manipulator. He feeds off this attention. ..I hope one day concrete evidence will surface that will prove without a reasonable doubt who the true killers are,no matter who it is…people really read all the facts before presume guilt or innocence..

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