Paradise Lost: an Essay
Upon viewing the documentary, “Paradise Lost”, one of my first impressions was a feeling of shock at the hysteria surrounding the case, and how heavily it impacted the trial. Another area of concern was the tenuous (or nonexistent) evidence tying these youths to these horrible murders. The entire essence of the prosecution’s case was a confession of questionable authenticity by Jessie Misskelley, Jr, coupled with a community-based fear of a satanic ritual having occurred.
Such trials and convictions, sadly, are not new in the American experience. Many such mockeries of justice have taken place in our history, the most infamous being, of course, the Salem witch trials. Fortunately, the extremely weak bases for the convictions of the defendants are being systematically torn down, thanks to the appeals process. It is still disturbing to note, however, that an entire community can be thrown into a panic, based solely on fear and ignorance coupled with sensationalism.
One of the most interesting pieces of data that my research has turned up is a very compelling, meticulously researched, and extremely detailed forensic analysis by Brent Turvey, MS, of the crime, along with a psychological profile of the possible killers. It is attached to this essay in its entirety. The main conclusions of this analysis are in marked contrast to the conclusions reached by the Arkansas investigative authorities. Among the more significant are the following:
1. The nature of the crime. According to Mr. Turvey, the killings of two of the victims were acts of rage or hate, rather than ritual, and that the third victim may have only been a victim of association. The prosecution has maintained that the sexual assaults on all, and mutilation of one of the victims were the result of an occult ritual, though no evidence has been produced to support this conclusion.
2. The possible assailants. Mr. Turvey has further determined that the victims were most likely assaulted by two adult assailants, not the three juveniles convicted. He has further concluded that the assailants knew at least two of the victims well.
3. The bite marks. On the face of Steve Branch are bite marks, characteristic of an adult male. These marks have been positively identified as not belonging to any of the defendants.
4. The presence of older injuries. The ME performing the...