Damien Echols’ confession to Ken Watkins – May 7, 1993
Ken Watkins was a 16-year-old friend of Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Domini Teer. He lived in the same trailer park as Baldwin and Teer.
Watkins skipped school on Wednesday, May 5 (the day of the murders) and supposedly spent the morning with Domini; he went to school Thursday (the day the bodies were discovered); then he skipped school again on Friday and never went back.
Police interviewed Ken Watkins on September 16, 1993. Watkins gave a tape-recorded interview beginning at 11:12 am, in which he denied knowledge of the crime and provided Jason Baldwin with an alibi. Then Watkins took a polygraph, which the WMPD polygrapher claimed showed deception. Then Watkins gave a second tape-recorded interview beginning at 1:47 pm. Watkins’ mother, Shirley Greenwood, was in the room for both tape-recorded interviews.
During the second interview, Watkins recalled Damien Echols confessing on Friday, May 7, to participation in the murders.
Ridge- Okay. The next day on friday.
Kenneth- Friday, we was walking…
Ridge- Okay, you say we. Who do you mean, we?
Kenneth- Me and Damien.
Ridge- Alright, what time was it?
Kenneth- About 4. To get Domini.
Ridge- Okay. You were walking from…
Kenneth-…Lakeshore cause we had to go get…Yeah.
Ridge- And where were you going?
Kenneth- Then we walked on the overpass, which Damien, and Damien said that he was there, and a couple of other friends. A few people.
Ridge- Now what’s he talking about when he says he was there.
Kenneth- He said that he knows who killed the little kids, cause he was there, with a couple of people.
Kenneth- And I started talking about something else.
Ridge- You mentioned a few minutes ago that Damien said he wanted to be part of a group or had been being picked on. When did that conversation come up?
Kenneth- It was before that conversation came up. Cause, everybody was picking on him and laughing at him and all that. And talked about him, and he said he wanted to do something that no one would pick on him or talk about him or anything. He wanted to do something
Ridge- You used the word drastic while ago.
Kenneth- Yeah, drastic.
Ridge- What were his words?
Kenneth- He wanted to do something drastic, so no one would talk about, or, you know, tease him.
Kenneth- Then we got in that conversation, where he said that he was there, and he know who done it.
Ridge- Okay. The conversation where he says, people were talking about him, people were picking on him, and he wanted to do something drastic so that they wouldn’t do that anymore.
Ridge- Where were you at when that conversation took place?
Kenneth- On the bridge. On the overpass, going to Wal-mart.
* * *
Ridge- Okay. Then friday, you’re walking from lakeshore to wal-mart with damion and he tells you that he’s tired of being picked on.
Kenneth- And after that, talked about…
Ridge- And that he had done something drastic, and then a few minutes later he tells you that he was there with a couple of buddies when…
Kenneth- …When it happened.
Ridge- When it happened. He’s talking about the murders.
Kenneth- The murders.
Ridge- Is that what he said?
Kenneth- He said, i was there when the three little kids got killed.
Ridge- That’s what he told you?
Kenneth- That’s what he told me.
On October 12, 1993, Ken Watkins took another polygraph at the West Memphis Police Department. To the question, “Did Damien tell you that he was there when those three young boys were killed?”, Watkins answered “yes”; the polygrapher considered this an honest answer. Watkins denied knowing who else was involved and who actually committed the murders; the polygrapher considered those answers deceptive.
Watkins later recanted his story. Neither prosecutors nor defense lawyers called Watkins to testify at trial.