On May 5, 1993, Steve Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers, all 8, were reported missing by Byers’s adoptive father John. The boys were last seen by neighbors around 6:30 p.m. The next morning, members of the Crittenden County Sheriff’s department led a search that included a drainage canal in the Robin Hood Hills neighborhood. Around 1:45 p.m., a police officer saw a black shoe floating in a creek that led to the canal. Upon further inspection, he found the boys’ bodies in the ditch. They were naked and hogtied with their own shoelaces. Byers had lacerations on his body and his scrotum and penis had been mutilated.
Most of the boys’ clothing was recovered from the creek. Only two pairs of underwear were unaccounted for. Byers’ cause of death was “multiple injuries.” Moore and Branch died of “multiple injuries and drowning.”
Three teenaged suspects, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., 17, Damien Echols, 18, and Jason Baldwin, 16, were arrested and charged with murdering the boys. They were eventually convicted with Echols being sentenced to death, while Misskelley and Baldwin were given life sentences. There were plenty of holes in their convictions, however, and their case became a cause celebre. In 2011, the three convicted perpetrators were released from prison after agreeing to a plea deal. Each man entered an Alford plea, where they pleaded guilty due to the fact prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them, but also stated they were innocent. The judge then sentenced them to time served and they were released.