The Moyer-Clark sighting

November 13, 2012

In September 2009, three people — Deborah Moyer, Jamie Clark Ballard and Brandy Clark Williams — gave affidavits claiming to have seen Terry Hobbs with the three murder victims outside the Hobbs home at 6:30 PM on May 5, 1993. Jamie Clark was 13 at the time of the murders; Brandy Clark was 11 or 12; Deborah Moyer is their mother. They all lived at 1609 S. McAuley Street, four doors east of the Hobbs house (1601 S. McAuley Street).

If true, this would make Moyer and the Clark girls the last people to see the murdered boys alive. And if true, this sighting would lend great credence to the case against Terry Hobbs (stepfather of Steve Branch) as the real killer.

Here’s what the three new witnesses declared in 2009 (links go to PDF files):

Jamie Clark Ballard:

Approximately between 5:30 and 6:30 PM, I saw Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers playing in my backyard. [...] The boys were just playing and screwing around. Stevie was riding a bike. There was also a bayou and a ditch in the backyard. [...] Stevie, Michael and Christopher were playing around the ditch. [...]

At 6:30 PM on May 5, 1993, which was a Wednesday, my sister and I went out the front door of my house to go out to the car to meet the people who were picking us up to take us to Wednesday night youth group. As I came out into the front yard, I saw Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers come racing between my house and the house next door that was in the direction of the Hobbs’ house. [...] While I was out in the front yard in the evening of May 5, 1993, Terry Hobbs hollered at Stevie, Michael and Christopher to get back down to the Hobbs‘ house.

Brandy Clark Williams

On May 5, 1993, around 6:30 PM, my sister Jamie and I were leaving our house to meet the youth group coordinators who were picking us up to drive us to our church youth group meeting. As we were walking down the driveway, I remember seeing Stevie Branch come out of our backyard, around the side of our house, riding his bicycle. Christopher Byers and Michael Moore were running behind Stevie, going in the same direction. [...] As we were getting in the youth group coordinators’ car, I remember seeing Stevie’s dad standing in the driveway of his house, a few doors down, while Stevie’s little sister was riding a three—wheeler in the driveway. Stevie’s dad then yelled to the boys to “come back down” to his house, and the boys went in that direction toward him.

Deborah Moyer

On May 5, 1993, approximately between 5:30 and 6:30 PM, I looked out a window in the back of my house and saw three little boys, including the blond boy that lived down the street, playing in my backyard. I knew these boys because I had seen them playing in my backyard before. My backyard backs up to a bayou and there is a ditch that runs along the bayou. [...]

At approximately 6:30 PM on May 5, 1993, when I saw that my daughters’ ride was out front, I walked out the front door with Jamie and Brandy to see them off and to say hello to the sponsors. I was going to then go around the corner of the house and tell the boys not to play in the backyard. As I walked out the front door, though, I saw the three boys who had been playing in my backyard, including the blond one who lived down the street, come through between my house and the house to the left of mine (to the left if you were walking out my front door). The blond one was on a bike and the other two were running behind him. At this same time, as I was in front of my house seeing the boys go by between the houses, I saw the man who lived down the street with the blond boy, whom I believed to be the blond boy’s father, yelling for the three boys to get down to his house. He was walking up the sidewalk talking loud to the little blond boy and telling all the boys to get down to his house.

There are obvious reasons to be suspicious of the Ballard-Williams-Moyer affidavits. They waited 16+ years before telling anyone. Even then they didn’t contact law enforcement, they contacted the defense, which had been running local billboards offering a six-figure reward for new information. Their memories are incredibly detailed for something that happened at a specific date and time 16 years earlier.

Ballard and Moyer both address the first issue in their affidavits. Why didn’t they share this information with the police back in May 1993?

Jamie Clark Ballard: “Following the murders, I was aware that there was a search in West Memphis for the killer or killers. I also knew that the West Memphis Three were convicted of the murders. However, I was not aware until very recently that Terry Hobbs has repeatedly stated that he did not see Stevie, Michael, or Christopher at all on the evening of May 5, 1993.”

Deborah Moyer: “I could never understand why no police officer ever came to interview me or my daughters. In fact, I never saw any police officers canvassing the neighborhood interviewing folks about the murders. Of course, had I known that I or my daughters had any information that was important to the investigation of the murders I would have gone to the police. However, I did not know that the fact that those little boys were in my backyard around 6:30 PM on May 5, 1993 was significant. I also did not know that the fact that I saw the father of the blond boy calling the kids that night to come down to his home was significant. If I had known that, or if I had known that my daughters had any important information, I would have contacted the West Memphis Police Department immediately and we would have told them what we knew.”

These explanations stretch credulity. A neighbor’s child was murdered; Jamie was close friends with another victim’s brother; the children were last seen alive around 6:00-6:30 pm; the investigation, arrests and trials were headline news for ten months — and it never once occurred to them that their information was relevant?

Maybe Moyer never saw police in the neighborhood, but they were definitely there. Mr & Mrs Milton Morgan (1605 S. McAuley Street) lived in between the Moyer-Clark house and the Hobbs house. WMPD detective Stan Burch interviewed the Morgans and the Hobbs on May 12 about a young man named Bobby DeAngelo. That line of investigation led to the Morgan’s son Christopher becoming a top suspect. Even if police never knocked on their door, Moyer and the Clark girls could have contacted police on their own. Hundreds of other people did.

The biggest problem with the Ballard-Williams-Moyer affidavits is that they contradict so many eyewitness reports from 1993. Investigators naturally attempted to track the locations and movements of the three victims before they disappeared on May 5. Here are the major witnesses:

John Mark Byers (interrogation 19 May 1993): “When I left the house at 5:30, I left Christopher under the carport with instructions to pick up paper under the carport and clean up the carport.” When JMB arrived home again at 6:15, Christopher was gone.

Melissa Byers (testimony at Misskelley trial): Last saw Christopher “On our carport [...] around five-thirty, quarter to six.” Sometime later, before JMB arrived back home, “I went outside hollering for him and he was gone out of the yard.”

Kim Williams (age 8; police interview 8 May 1993): “stated that between 5:30 and 6:00 PM on 5-5-93 she saw Steve and Michael going into Robin Hood into the ditch that goes to the Devil’s Den area. She stated that she also saw their bicycles parked by the road near Goodwin. [...] Kim stated that she never saw Christopher that day.”

Debra O’Tinger (lived at 1309 Goodwin; talked to police multiple times, testified at both trials):

(undated police note) “Saw all 3 boys at approx 5:30 or 6:00 PM (5:45 PM) were riding in her yard. Told them not to ride in the yard. Last seen headed toward the trails.”

(handwritten statement for police 30 June 1993): “On Wed May 5, 1993, around 5:30 pm Michael Moore, Steven Branch & Christopher Byers were in the front of my yard. Steve Branch rode the bike in my yard and was running by my small trees we (me – my husband) had just planted. I told the boys could they please get out of my yard and ride on the side walk cause my ground was wet. [...] By then when we [Debra & husband] left at 6:00 pm they Christopher, Michael, Steven had went in the wooded area (dead in street). That was the last I saw of them.” [[Note: "dead in street" probably = "dead end street".]]

Dana Moore (testimony at Misskelley trial):

Q: Later did you see him with somebody else besides Steve Branch?
A: Yes, sir. Chris Byers.
Q: Where did you see them at that time?
A: Going north on 14th Street.
Q: Were they walking or – -
A: They were riding their bikes.
Q: How many bikes were there?
A: There was two bikes.
Q: Who was on what bike?
A: Michael was on his. Chris was on Steve’s, and Steve was on his.
Q: So Chris and Steve were on the same bicycle?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: How far down were they from where you were?
A: Approximately six houses.
Q: What time of the day was it?
A: Six o’clock.
Q: Did you see him any after that?
A: No, sir.

Bryan Woody (talked to John Mark Byers and Gary Gitchell on 5/6 afternoon before bodies were found; testified at E/B trial):

(undated police notes): “Subject stated that around 6:30 – 6:45 he observed 4 w/m with two bycycles going into the Robinhood area off of Goodwin. He stated his mother lives on Goodwin and he works at Radio World and that he remembers 1 of the boys to have blond hair in a spike because his little boy has the same hair style. He stated he grew up in the area + as a kid played in the Robin Hood area.” [At E/B trial, Woody testified that this undated note referred to conversation he had with a police officer, possibly Gitchell, on May 6. Handwriting looks more like Mike Allen.]

(Report by Hester 28 May 1993): “On 5-5-93 at approx. 6:30 P.M. Bryan got off work from Don’s Super Shine and was on his way to his mothers at 1823 Goodwin – went to Barton to Goodwin – turned on Goodwin by East Jr. High. At the dead end of Goodwin by N. 14th he observed 4 W/Ms – 1 was carrying a skate board and 2 bikes going into the dead end toward Robin Hood Hills. Just saw the backs of the boys but from the back one looked like Steven Branch because of the blond spiked hair. [After lunch with mom on 5/6,] he left and went to 14th + Barton and told John Mark Byers what he had seen. They asked if he would help them look – he went and got a 3 wheeler + helped search.”

Bryan Woody gave police another statement in September 1993, then testified at the Echols/Baldwin trial in 1994.

In his 5/19/93 interrogation, John Mark Byers described his encounter with Bryan Woody:

That Thursday evening was probably like 6 … no it wasn’t even that late. They were still searching. They hadn’t found the boys yet. It was a little after lunch time. And I, this fellow talked to Gitchell. But it was a white guy, kind of chunky, heavy-set, had kind of shoulder length wavy hair and said when he had come home the night before 6:30, quarter ’til 7, something like that, that when he drove by there, he had seen 4 people and 2 bicycles. And I thought, you know, are you sure it was 4? He said yeah, it was 4. And that’s when we were right there at my house and I think Gitchell pulled up and I went over and said, Gary there’s a guy that saw ‘em. And I think he went and talked to the guy right there. But during the day, the guy was on a like a 180 or a 250 red 3-wheeler helping us look through the day. Kind of heavy-set [...] looked maybe to be, I’m going to say 22, 23. But he said he saw 4 people.

According to his subject description form, Bryan Woody was white, 20 years old, 5’8″, 205 pounds. He definitely fits Byers’ description of the guy he talked to.

Here’s a map to help sort out the various sightings. (B=Byers, M=Moore, H=Hobbs/Branch, C=Moyer/Clark, O=O’Tinger homes; W=location described by Woody.)

moyer-clark-woody-map

Ballard and Moyer both claim they saw the three murdered boys playing in their backyard between 5:30 and 6:30 PM. It’s not impossible to make that claim jibe with the 5:30-6:00 PM sightings by Kim Williams, Debra O’Tinger, Melissa Byers and Dana Moore. These were energetic 8-year-olds on bicycles, after all.

But there’s no possible way to make the Moyer-Clark sighting of the three boys in their driveway at 6:30 PM jibe with Bryan Woody’s sighting of the three boys at Goodwin & N. 14th at 6:30-6:45 PM. If Ballard, Williams and Moyer recollect that evening correctly and honestly, then Bryan Woody was lying back in 1993. If Bryan Woody was telling the truth on May 6, 1993, then Ballard, Williams and Moyer are lying.

So the question really boils down to: Which witness is more believable? The guy who told the missing child’s parent and the police what he saw on May 6, before the bodies were discovered? Or the people who waited 16 years to talk?

UPDATE: Billy Sinclair wrote a post about the same topic: The Three “Witnesses” Against Terry Hobbs.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Val November 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Great blog, as usual.

I won’t outright accuse these witnesses of lying, but I think they are almost definitely mistaken about the day. As you described, their sighting does not jive with the sightings of witnesses who actually came forward in 1993.

You mentioned the 10 months of trials. You forgot to mention the HBO crew, three HBO documentaries, a book by Mara Leveritt, and the spawning of the Free the West Memphis 3 movement, which gained momentum with celebrities long before the Ballards came forward. It didn’t occur to them that they had relevant information after all THAT?

Further, Jamie Clark Ballard’s affidavit states the following:

“The next day, I saw Ryan at school and he was very upset. Ryan told me that the
boys had never come home and that the police had found the bodies of the Stevie,
Michael and Christopher. Ryan was so upset. When he told me that the boys had
been killed, I said something like, “What, I just saw your brother last night
playing in my backyard!” Ryan was crying and said to me, “Why didn’t you tell
my brother to come home?” That really upset me and I told Ryan, “I did tell him
to come home!” They let out school and everyone went home soon after that.”

So now, according to Jamie Clark Ballard, Christopher’s brother Ryan was also aware of this sighting in 1993 and he didn’t say anything either? Presumably, he would have told his parents. And they didn’t say anything either?

And, one major red-flag: Ryan Clark went to school the next day and remained there AFTER his little brother was found murdered with his two friends? After searching the night before and his 8 year old brother still missing, he went to school the next day? Then after Chris’s body was found, he was still at school to have this conversation with Jamie? Frankly, I don’t buy it.

Seems like John Mark Byers would be able to clear this up. Surely he would know if Ryan went to school the next day. Has he ever responded to this glaring inconsistency?

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Fred J Walsh November 18, 2012 at 8:14 am

Agree val, this analysis of the Moyer-Clark sighting is very helpful.

And great question for JMB, about the assertion that Ryan had been told about the sighting on the day the bodies were found, May 6, 1993. I, too, wonder what JMB would make of that assertion based on his own memory of events. Should be easy enough to get him the question via some internet channel or another. We should try to do so.

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jimmy jones weber February 17, 2013 at 4:23 pm

No matter what happened and when. The bottom line is three little boys were tortured and brutilized then murdered. A damn shame. And what are w.m.p.d. doin to find the piece or pieces of trash that did this horrible crime. NOTHIN CAUSETHEY ARE LAZY SCUM

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tIM February 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I know this website is supposed to convince people of the guilt of the WM3, but all it does is confirm how flimsy the evidence is. I still don’t believe they did it, but after carefully reading most of this website i am 100% positive that no rational jury would convict these 3 of these crimes today. It’s all witness statements and theories with no hard facts or evidence. The police were extremely leading in their questioing and did an awful job of ruling out other suspects, since there were never other suspects to begin with.

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EJ February 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm

you obviously haven’t read this website as well as you said you have(there were TONS of other suspects)

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BT March 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm

You are discrediting the Moyer evidence on the basis they waited 16 years to give it meaning that they were unlikey to remember things clearly. C’mon, think about it – if a murder happened a few doors down, you are more likely to remember that night clearly than a random night last month, since it would stick in your mind.

I can understand them not saying anything sooner – particularly if the police didn’t ask the questions (it doesn’t sound like they asked any questions, as they had made up their minds from the start). The Moyers wouldn’t have suspected the parents, who were all over the press grieving and attracting massive sympathy – so why would they think their information was relevant? You are underestimating the power of suggestion – if they had been sold the story that three evil teenagers did it, they would most likely have been scanning their memory for sightings of them, not the ‘innocent’ stepfather.

Even at the time of trial it was a stretch of the imagination – how anyone can reasonably think, knowing what we know now, that the WM3 did it, blows my mind.

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BT March 22, 2013 at 12:24 pm

And another thing, in your tab to the left (which doesn’t have a comment facility) called ‘Gail Grinnells Freakouts’ you have provided the testemony of ‘Sammy’ a friend of Jasons, who states clearly that the knife was thrown into the lake BEFORE the murders. It then goes on to reiterate how he did not think Jason was capable of the murders and what a nice, non-violent child he was.

Isn’t this a massive own goal on your part? Shame on you, but more shame on Fogleman for leading the jury to believe that the knife was thrown in the lake after the murders.

Still, in the light of expert evidence conducted for ‘West of Memphis’ explaining how ALL of the injuries caused to the boys (bar the blunt head trauma) were caused by post-mortem animal predation (explaining the lack of blood at the scene) I would say that the whole knife issue is totally irrelevant, wouldn’t you?

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John April 9, 2013 at 2:57 pm

The fact that experts say the injuries were caused by animals does not mean that is true. It’s just speculation, and by pleading guilty the WM3 prevented these opinions from being examined in court. Until that happens I will continue to believe that the injuries were caused by a knife wielded by Jason Baldwin, just Jessie Misskelley said.

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BT April 12, 2013 at 11:49 am

The fact that experts say the injuries were caused by a knife does not mean it is true.

But, more importantly, the explanation of the animal damage is possible (even if not conclusive). This means that there is REASONABLE DOUBT that the prosecution evidence is true…and where there is reasonable doubt, there cannot be a conviction. Not fairly, anyway. The whole point being, you only kill a man for a crime, if you are 100% certain he did it.

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Slr April 19, 2013 at 7:17 am

They are GUILTY! They will mess up, but because of the celebrity power and money will never go back to prison. My guess these celebrities are devil worshippers too. I smell conspiracy. Anything to make a buck!

This website is factual and full of evidence. They were convicted becase they are GUILTY. They were released, because of politics.

My most sincere wishes go to the families of the victims who must live this horrific
tragedy everyday.

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Ace April 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm

There is no motive. Why would Echols want Misskelly around, he is half-wit that didn’t know which way was up. I think he kept reiterating the same story, thinking it would be proven false and go away. Just my theory.
No real, credible witnesses, no solid gold motive, no footprints from any of the accused, no shoes matched up, no bloody clothing from them, no fingerprints on any of the knives found, no signs of rape.
A well put together site, but I don’t buy it… I’m unconvinced of their guilt.

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Ace April 19, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Misskelly says he saw them on only two bikes when three were found at the scene… he said the murderes occurred at 9am or so, which we know is not true since everyone saw them up to 6pm on the 5th and they had went to school that day. Could not have been on the 6th since the search was in full by then and the kids were most likely dead by at least 8 hours.
It’s possible Hobbs told his boy to go inside. He went off to the woods as many suspect, to get high and drink with his buddies or do whatever, (he was spotted to have been kissing one of the teens a few weeks earlier) became furious when the boys rode up on their bikes…him and the gang kill them and scatter. Impossible to know since Hobb’s home was never searched, his shoes were never inspected for mud/blood, nor was his house, sidewalk, carport etc.
Just a theory…

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Hogman September 20, 2014 at 12:20 pm

The thing that strikes me in all of this is that really, Echolls and his clan had no motive for this killing. Its been proven that they were not devil worshipers and it has been proven that it was not a satanic killing. I also find it very hard to believe that three teenage boys could pull of such a heinous crime without leaving a shred of evidence behind. You mean to tell me that a kid with a big time learning disability, a 120 ib 16 year old and a weirdo who wore all black were so smart and perfect in their murders that no evidence was left behind? I grew up about 90 miles away from the murders, I was only in 7th grade when it happened but I always had doubts about the case. Im a hard evidence guy and there is zero and I mean zero evidence that links those three to the murders. Damien is about as strange as they come and his demeanor back in 94 in the court room did not help but the fact is, being weird and Dark does not make you a Cold Blooded Killer…

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