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Dan Stidham's Case Synopsis

by Dan Stidham

Note: The original version of this synopsis was written during Jessie Misskelley’s trial in 1994. At that time Dan Stidham did not have the assistance of a forensic scientist or a criminal profiler.  Mr. Stidham has written new notes to update his case synopsis for our web site in order to address newly discovered evidence and findings, to answer questions relating to his client Jessie Misskelley and to point out the important information that the jury was not permitted to see or hear. The new portions of the synopsis are shown in italics and were added by Mr. Stidham on June 27, 1999.

A. Poor investigation of crime scene

1. Crime Scene not properly secured resulting in loss of potential evidence.

a. After discovery of first body, the crime scene was literally trampled, especially the creek bed.

b. Bodies were removed from the water too quickly, prior to the arrival of coroner (who was almost two hours late in arriving at crime scene) and placed on ditch bank in the sun destroying invaluable evidence regarding time of death, i.e. body temperature, rigor mortis, etc. (creek bed should have been drained leaving bodies where they were, thereby preserving potential valuable evidence).

c. Coroner's investigation was extremely substandard which led to the destruction of valuable evidence and ultimate misunderstanding of evidence by police.

d. Police did not keep the facts of the crime scene confidential, especially the injuries to the bodies. Rumors of sexual mutilation were reported in the news media and widely circulated throughout West Memphis as evidenced by the officers notes from interrogating potential suspects about what they had heard about the murders. 

B. Legitimate facts from crime scene

1. Bodies found nude, bound with own shoe strings in "hog-tie" fashion;

2. All bodies had substantial injuries to head, with one body (C. Byers) having been sexually mutilated, the testicles removed and the head of the penis removed with the shaft intact but having been "skinned". The testicles and head of the penis were not recovered; (Medical examiner testified in Echols/Baldwin trial that whoever did the mutilation had some knowledge of anatomy and was quite meticulous. The mutilation would have taken quite some time to perform even under laboratory conditions, and almost impossible to do in the water, in the dark, with thousands of mosquitoes swarming. Bodies had no insect bites.)

Update: After consulting with forensic experts in 1997 and 1998, it was learned that Dr. Perretti's testimony