Witch hunt comparisons are a common theme in “free the WM3” propaganda. The murder investigation was a witch hunt from the beginning. The trials were witch hunts. Angry locals were like a pitchfork-wielding, witch-hunting mob. West Memphis in 1993-94 was just like Salem in 1692-93.
Sometimes WM3 supporters use the phrase “literal witch hunt”. Jive Puppi claims, “the case became a literal witch hunt eventually ensnaring three teenagers”. A Facebook page proposing a presidential pardon demands, “Mr. President, PLEASE use the power of your office to END this LITERAL modern Day witch hunt!” Googling wm3 literal witch hunt, I was dismayed to learn that a writer I admire, Julian Sanchez, fell for this “literal witch hunt” nonsense.
There’s one big flaw in this “literal witch hunt” claim. During the investigation, West Memphis police interviewed several people who identified themselves as witches, talked about the witchcraft they did, gave the time and place of their coven meetings — and the police didn’t arrest them or anything!
On May 11 (six days after the murders), WMPD interviewed Deanna Holcomb (age 16), who told them, “I was a black witch. It was a game people got into for the power and stuff. … I hate I was stupid enough to get involved in this stuff.” Holcomb was an ex-girlfriend of suspect Damien Echols. Despite her brazen admission of past witchcraft, she was a witness for the prosecution at the Baldwin/Echols trial.
On May 10, detective Bryn Ridge interviewed Chris Littrell (age 16). According to Ridge’s notes, Chris Littrell said he belonged to a group called Order of the Divine Light, which practiced a “witchcraft religion/religion of nature” known as “Wicker”. Littrell mentioned the book Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, described some of the group’s rituals, identified other coven members, and revealed that the Order met in his friend Murray’s bedroom or backyard. Another interview on May 27 covered much of the same ground.
Murray Farris (age 18) went to WMPD on May 9 for an interview (report 1, report 2). According to Ridge’s notes, “Farris stated that he was in a group of so-called White Witches and was wearing a star in a circle that he claimed he had just bought. He explained that the group believes in harming no one and gave a list of 4 members.” Farris took and passed a polygraph; the polygrapher’s handwritten notes include “says he is a white witch”.
Holcomb, Littrell and Farris were not arrested despite telling police officers they were witches who practiced witchcraft. If this was a “literal witch hunt”, West Memphis authorities really sucked at witch hunting.
Here’s my crazy alternative theory:
There was no witch hunt. West Memphis authorities were not hunting for witches, they were hunting for child-killers. They arrested and prosecuted Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley for murder, not for witchcraft. Police did not arrest any other local witches because the others did not kill anyone.