MAURY POVICH: Thank you, everyone. Glad you could be with us. In west Memphis, Arkansas--that's just on the other side of the bridge from Memphis, Tenessee--local papers reported that three eight-year-old boys were found savagely murdered, and Vicki Hutcheson's son Aaron told his mom, his Aunt Jane and his brother Scott that he had not only witnessed those slayings, but he also told his mom that he was forced to take part in in the gruesome attack. Vicki, people don't believe--at least some people don't believe that your son Aaron witnessed this. Why?
Ms. VICKI HUTCHESON (Says Her Son Witnessed Boys Being Murdered): That's right, Maury. They don't believe it because they think that I made it up for the reward money, 32,000 to 35,000. I don't know exactly how much.
MAURY POVICH: Have you gotten the re-reward money?
Ms. HUTCHESON: No, I haven't.
POVICH: OK. The court, however, believed Aaron's report and they believed his mother's testimony, which helped convict the three teen-age boys accuesed of these heinous slayings. We're about to look at a background report of this frightening story, which you might find a little too graphic for young children who might be watching, but it's real. It really happened and we don't want it to happen again.
West Memphis, Arkansas, looks like any other quiet town. But that calm was shattered last year when something very evil happened in these woods. Three eight-year-old boys went into the woods one day last May, but they never came out. Hours after they were reported missing, police found their bicycles and soon made another gruesome discovery. Michael Moore, Christopher Byers and Steven Branch were found in a drainage ditch, their bodies bound, beaten and sexuallly mutilated by devil worshippers in what many say was a satanic rite. Twenty-year-old Damien Echols, 19-year-old Jessie Misskelley and 17-year-old Jason Baldwin were charged and eventually convicted in the slayings.
Key to the convictions were the testimony of Jessie Misskelley, who confessed when he heard a tape made by eight-year-old Aaron Hutcheson, who said he saw the whole thing. Aaron went back to the crime scene and told the police how he hid in a tree and witnessed the murder of his best friends. Aaron's life was spared , but today he's trying to live with the awful memories of what he saw and criticism of those who don't believe that he's telling the truth.
Vicki, what would you say is the main argument for those who still doubt not you but Aaron?
Ms. HUTCHESON: Maury, I would say my child,being at that time eight years old, knew things that no one could possibly know unless he had been there and seen it, witnessed it with his own eyes.
POVICH: When you say things that nobody else would know, in terms of what happened that--that day?
Ms. HUTCHESON: Ex--I mean, explicit details.
POVICH: Explicit details in terms of the abuse that went on?
Ms. HUTCHESON: In terms that Aaron saw what they did to the boys and could tell us where they were cut and that Damien Echols had made him put his hand on the knife that cut Christopher.
POVICH: Yeah. And that knife cut Christopher where?
Ms. HUTCHESON: His genital area off.
POVICH: And Aaron said that he held the knife which did that?
Ms. HUTCHESON: That's right.
POVICH: We followed Aaron, by the way, into the woods last week, into the same place where all this happened, as he explained what he witnessed the night of the murders.
Late May 5th, late in the afternoon, Aaron set out on his bike to meet his friends in the woods that they call Robin Hood. He says they often went there to secretly watch a group of older boys perform satanic rituals. What you are about hear is Aaron's story, in his own words, told to a trusted friend in the police department.
(Excerpt from recording)
AARON HUTCHESON (Witnessed Three of His Friends Being Murdered): When I went over there, I crossed the pipe. We crossed the pipe whenever we--we was watching them, see what they was doing. And I went over to the tree house and whenever they--I got up there, they started coming.
Unidentified Officer: Who was coming?
AARON: Michael, Chris and Steve. And I said to come up here, and they--Steve started to, but then Damien, Jessie and Jason--they all came in. Damien--he grabbed Chris and Jessie grabbed Michael. Jason--he grabbed Steve and then they started--they start hitting them, and then there's two--there's two other guys that came out. Damien--he cut Chris and then Jason--he started hitting Steve. He kept hitting him. They hit Christopher with a board in the h--top of the head.
Officer: Where were at during this time?
AARON: Up in the tree.
Officer Did they not see you?
Officer: What did they do to you?
AARON: They made me cut Christopher and then they tied Michael and Steve up with their shoe strings.
Officer: What did they do with them?
AARON: Threw them in a ditch.
(End of excerpt)
POVICH: I know it's not easy for you, Aaron, to talk about this. But you said that you wanted to come here today because you wanted to help other young people, that maybe your story will help them. And I know that you drew pictures, as I understand it, as to what happened that day in the woods. What did you draw?
AARON: I drew where Damien--Mike, Damien, Jessie and--Jessie, and they came across a fight, and they started hitting Michael, Chris and Steve.
POVICH: You drew pictures of that, huh?
POVICH: Yeah. Vicki, Aaron didn't testify in court, did he?
Ms. HUTCHESON: No, he didn't, Maury.
Ms. HUTCHESON: During the first trial, they did everything they could to keep him out of it. They didn't think they needed him for the first trial.
POVICH: The prosecution?
Ms. HUTCHESON: That's right. They did want him for the second. He was subpoenaed. But Aaron had to be hsopitalized in Memphis and undergo therapy.
POVICH: Yeah. We're going to talk about that, because that's when you recognized-as--as I understand it, your--your sister Jane and--and--and yourself and--and Scott. There were some grave changes, stark tra--changes in Aaron's behavior. What--what i--what happened?
Ms. HUTCHESON: He wanted to hurt himself all the time. He wanted to die. He told me many times he wanted to die. The reports came out--Mark Byers, who is Christopher's father--that Aaron had said that he saw him in the woods, and they carried away with it and made it sound like Aaron said he took part.
Ms. HUTCHESON: And...
POVICH: This is the father of yo--one of the young boys...
Ms. HUTCHESON: That's right.
POVICH: ...who was killed.
Ms. HUTCHESON: That's right...
Ms. HUTCHESON: ...who was our friend.
Ms. HUTCHESON: If he...
POVICH: He's going to be here later on. He'll be able to answer for himself.
Ms. HUTCHESON: Those--those were our friends that--this hurt him.
Ms. HUTCHESON: ...and he decided that he didn't want to live anymore.
Ms. HUTCHESON: People didn't believe him, and he got made fun of
Ms. JANE BARNETT (Says Her Nephew Witnessed Boys Being Murdered): Well, I think it was guilt--you know, the guilt that--because he couldn't help his friends, you know. I mean, he...
POVICH: And that's why Aaron had nightmares?
Ms. BARNETT: That's wh--right. Right.
Ms. HUTCHESON: Yes.
POVICH: He was a threat to himself?
Ms. BARNETT: Right.
POVICH: He changed overnight. Did you see that, Scott? Did you see your young brother change?
SCOTT HUTCHESON (Aaron's Brother): Yes, sir.
POVICH: Huh? What was he like before?
SCOTT: Well, he was--he was a regular little boy.
POVICH: Right. And afterwards?
SCOTT: Well--and then he just all of a sudden changed and became bad.
POVICH: Could you talk to him much?
POVICH: Would he ever talk to you much?
POVICH: Hmm? Had you always been close before that?
SCOTT: Yes, sir.
POVICH: Right, Do you believe what Aaron said?
SCOTT: Yes, sir.
POVICH: Do you believe the story that Aaron told you...
SCOTT: Yes, sir.
POVICH: ...that he hid up on the tree and watched those boys beat those other young friends of Aaron's?
SCOTT: Yes, sir.
POVICH: And that Aaron held the knife when they did that? You believe Aaron?
SCOTT: Yes, sir.
POVICH: Why don't you think other people believe him?
Ms. BARNETT: They don't want to believe--I mean, it's--it's--it's something so horrible, you know.
Ms. BARNETT: You know, it's just easier to put--put it out of your mind. You know--I mea, it's...
POVICH: We want to wrap this up segment this way. After the killings happened, we--I assume maybe--was it after Aaron talked to you about this? When did you start playing detective, Vicki?
Ms. HUTCHESON: I had no idea before Aaron--before I had any idea Aaron had anything to do with this. My children became victims. We were victims. We're not villians.
Ms. HUTCHESON: I--I loved Michael and Chris. They were at my house all the time. You kow how buddies go...
POVICH: Right. And you wanted to do something about it?
Ms. HUTCHESON: I wanted their killers caught.
POVICH: And you had an idea that these guys were involved.
Ms. HUTCHESON: I had heard that the occult had something to do with it from this trusted friend, who is in the police department.
POVICH: Now was it well know that these older boys--18, 19 years old or so--had this little ritual...
Ms. HUTCHESON: No.
POVICH: ...occult going?
Ms. HUTCHESON: No. There were rumors that the occult was around.
Ms. HUTCHESON: But there were rumors that Damien drank blood. But you kind of blow that stuff off. Nobody drinks blood, Maury.
POVICH: So, as I understand it, you kind of infiltrated this occult?
Ms. HUTCHESON: I told Jessie, who was someone I also loved very much like a little brother, that I wanted to get to know Damien, thinking Damien might be this occult thing. And so he introduced me to Damien.
POVICH: And you went to one of their meetings?
Ms. HUTCHESON: Yes, I did.
POVICH: What happened?
Ms. HUTCHESON: I didn't stay very long, needless to say. It was very dark. Everyone was painted black. They were--they took me to--I don't even know if I could take you back to the same place--way out in a field. You could hear water. There were about 15, 20 standing around. I didn't get close enough to see them, but I could tell that they were black because you couldn't see anything but their clothing. And I stood back with--Damien and Jessie went ahead, and they started taking their clothes off, and I looked at him and I said, "I want to go now. I want to go home."
POVICH: And later on, you invited a couple of them to your house?
Ms. HUTCHESON: Yeah, I have--I tried to have a party, where I thought maybe they would get drunk and kind of get loose and talk and--you know, and the policed had wired my house and it didn't work. Damien was onto it or something because he didn't show up over there.
POVICH: And you knew what other people around town say, that you did all of this just so you could collect the reward money.
Ms. HUTCHESON: That's right, but they're not the one that slept at night and had my dreams of Mike and Chris in their head. I am.
POVICH: OK. We're going to excuse you, Aaron, because some of the people that are coming onto the stage you don't want to see, and there's no reason to put you throught that. But we're glad you came here today, OK? And Scott, too. Next, a parent of one of the murdered boys tells us why he became a suspect in all of this.
POVICH: Those are the pictures of the teen-age boys convicted of murdering three young Arkansas children. The victims: eight-year-old Michael Moore, eight-year-old Steve Branch and eight-year-old Chris Byers. Chris Byers' parents, Mark and Melissa, join us today. Not only did you have to face the fact that your son was brutally murdered, but Mark, you also had to face the suspicion that you were part of this. Why?
Mr. MARK BYERS (Son Murdered By Alleged Satanists): I honestly don't know the reason why they wanted to pick on me. I don't know how the rumors got started. The media went bizarre. I was taken in and interrogated by the police for over seven or eight hours--seven or--five or six, seven days after it was taken. Blood, hair, saliva--they treated me like a criminal.
Mr. BYERS: Investigated us to even down to who the home's--our home's name was in or how much we paid for it.
Mr. BYERS: I don't know why they picked on me out of all the fathers.
POVICH: Well, let--let me try to fill it in. Maybe we can do this together. One of the reasons why they looked at you was didn't Aaron mention Mark's name, Vicki?
Ms. HUTCHESON: He did.
POVICH: What did Aaron say?
Ms. HUTCHESON: He heard and saw Mark.
POVICH: At the scene?
Ms. HUTCHESON: Close to the scene.
POVICH: All right. What about that--what about that...
Ms. HUTCHESON: Not--not directly there.
POVICH: But close to the scene...
Ms. HUTCHESON: Close to.
POVICH: ...while all of this was going on?
Ms. HUTCHESON: Maury, I don't know for sure if it was during the act or after.
POVICH: OK. But your name came up, Mark, and Aaron brought up your name.
Mr. BYERS: I had heard that, and that's what bought everything to light.
Mr. BYERS: There's no way, on the face of the earth, that Aaron saw me out there.
POVICH: Right. What di...
Mr. BYERS: There was another father at 7:00 out there hollering and yelling for his children before I ever got to the wooded area, which was from the other end of the crime scene over 100 yards away.
Mr. BYERS: And it was a quarter till nine, pitch black dark. It's totally impossible that he saw me.
POVICH: OK. Did he...
Mr. BYERS: Because he couldn't even identify what clothes I had on.
Mr. BYERS: I changed clothes twice during the day.
POVICH: OK. But what did Aaron say Mark did, Vicki?
Ms. HUTCHESON: He didn't.
POVICH: He didn't.
Ms. HUTCHESON: Aaron said that Mark used to hit Chris a lot.
POVICH: Did you punish him like that?
Mr. BYERS: If my son did something wrong that he needed a spanking for or to be punished, as any parent would do to want your child grow up to be a respectable citizen, of course. Who--who hasn't spanked your child for disobedience?
POVICH: Is that what you just did, spank him?
Mr. BYERS: I had spanked him, yes.
POVICH: Right. How about that day? Did you do anything to him that day?
Mr. BYERS: That day, I caught him riding on his skateboard, laying on it down on the middle of the street. He had been told before not to, just talked to. I gave him two spankings with a belt on his blue jeans--a narrow belt. His mother was right beside me in her kitchen. Then I sent him out on to the carport to pick up the rest of the trash to do his chores for the day...
Mr. BYERS: ...as I went back to court to pick up my other son who was in West Memphis court, who was testifying to a traffic accident that he had seen...
POVICH: Right. Now you didn't see your son again that day?
Mr. BYERS: Five-thirty that afternoon is the last time I saw my son.
POVICH: Right. And wi--and when the time--a--at the time of all this was taking place in the woods, where were you?
Mr. BYERS: From 5:30 after he left, I went back to the courtroom in--in West Memphis there on Broadway.
POVICH: I sat with my son Ryan. The court was over about 6:15.
Mr. BYERS: I came home. My wife was waiting on me. I had picked her up at work at five. I left the court--I got at court at four. I left at 10 till five. I got home about 10 after five. We got home. Christopher had been there because he had tried to raise the window up under the carport, but he hadn't gotten in. So I told her I'm going back to the courtroom to wait on Ryan and get him. As I'm heading to the courtroom, I see Christopher going down the street, right in the middle of the road. I pull up behind him. I get him. I put him in the car. I take him home. I explained what he had done wrong. Why didn't you come home after school? Why--you know, we went through all the basis rules of why did you not do this and this? Then I took him inside. I gave him a spanking--two licks with a belt that I took off from around my waist, and I asked him to do his chores. I said, "I'm going to get your brother from court, and then we're going to supper as soon as I get home."
Ms. HUTCHESON: You know, Maury, we have been--we've sat at Mark and Melissa's table, and we went over this story. We figured it out
POVICH: Did you think he and anything to do with this?
Ms. HUTCHESON: Mark?
Ms. HUTCHESON: No. Mark was--I do--I didn't know Mark and Melissa except for by Christopher.
POVICH: Right. But guess what? Why do you think she's involved in all this?
Mr. BYERS: I have no--there's--there's several...
POVICH: Is it for the money? Is it for the reward money?
Mr. BYERS: Well, that'd be a question she could only answer.
POVICH: You think she's after the reward money?
Mr. BYERS: I don't know her heart.
POVICH: Is she entitled to the reward money?
Mr. BYERS: If she's entitled to the reward money, one of the victims are entitled to whose son they can't hold and talk to anymore. I can't love and see my child and hold him, and in two days, he would have been 10 years old. On the 23rd of this month, my son would have been 10. He'll have a birthday, but it'll be in heaven, not here on earth. I can't make him a birthday cake. I can't buy him another bicycle. I can't take him fishing. So she's entitled to a reward for whatever she helped do, whatever part it might be. What are the victims entitled to? Because we found out we didn't have any rights.
POVICH: So maybe...
Ms. HUTCHESON: Mark--like we have rights, Mark?
Mr. BYERS: You had a lot more rights than we had?
Ms. HUTCHESON: No, Mark, we haven't had any rights.
Mr. BYERS: The media did not slam you and do you the way they did us.
Ms. HUTCHESON: Oh, Mark, you're worng.
Mr. BYERS: They victimized us twice.
Ms. HUTCHESON: You're wrong, Mark
Mr. BYERS: Your son's still alive.
Ms. HUTCHESON: That's right, he is, by the grace of God. I don't know why. I can't help that. I can't help it that God spared Aaron. Do you want me to be sorry?
Mr. BYERS: No, but for any accusations that I was there, who gave you Christmas--who gave you Christmas...
Ms. HUTCHESON: What--what day--what day did we sit and talk at your table, and we said, "Aaron heard you"?
Mr. BYERS: You said--you said his psychiatrist from East Arkansas Mental Health Center told him that he heard my voice. Now how could he know that he heard my voice when there's 18-wheelers going up and down the interstate and Damien Echols himself admitted when they were questioning him, " Oh, they wouldn't worry about the boys screaming and hollering because of all the highway traffic. They would never hear it."
POVICH: Was there...
Mr. BYERS: He couldn't have heard me in any way.
Ms. HUTCHESON: O-OK Maury...
POVICH: Was there a time in the courtroom when--is it Damien Echols who walked by in the courtroom, Mark, and all of a sudden, he shells out--yells out, "Bishop did it"?
Mr. BYERS: "Byers did it."
POVICH: I mean, "Byers did it."
Mr. BYERS: That was during the--that was during the--at the pretrial when they were getting the jury selection, which I think his lawyers put him up to it.
POVICH: Some of the guys who were convicted said, "Byers did it."
Mr. BYERS: Right.
POVICH: Boy, that must have not sat well, right?
Mr. BYERS: Oh, it felt real good to be victimized twice, to have your son brutally butchered and murdered like an animal, and then to come back and say that I have something to do with it...
Mr. BYERS: ...where my time is documented all day long. From 8:00 in the morning till 10 till three, I'm having an MRI done because I have a brain tumor. I'm 100 percent disabled. I'm paralyzed on the left side. I couldn't run from here to the mailbox. I just got home from the hospital. I'm in court from 4:00 to 6:00. From 6:00 to 6:30, I'm looking--talking to the police.
Mr. BYERS: From 7:30, I'm talking to the police.
POVICH: But I un...
Mr. BYERS: Eight o'clock, I've got the police at my house.
POVICH: ...I get the--but I get the--I get the feeling, Mark that you resent Vicki in some way?
Mr. BYERS: Would you resent anybody or anyone that any way incriminated you in anything to do as terrible as this? In any way incriminate you by pointing a finger, make an accusation, an innuendo ...(unintelligible) Damien Echols...
POVICH: But she--she says she doesn't think you'd had anything to do with it.
Mr. BYERS: Well, I'm glad. I appreciate that.
POVICH: Yeah, but you seem to resent her in a different way, and that is that sh--first of all, her son is alive. I think we can understand that.
Mr. BYERS: I'm thankful for that. I thank God that he's alive.
Mrs. MELISSA BYERS: (Son Murdered By Alleged Satanists): We're thankful for that.
Mr. BYERS: ...and that she still has him.
POVICH: And that she might get money out of it.
Mr. BYERS: I--as far as her getting any money from it...
Ms. HUTCHESON: I don't care.
POVICH: You don't care, Melissa?
Mrs. BYERS: I don't care.
POVICH: OK. We'll be right back after this.
POVICH: Eight-year-old Steve Branch was one of three Arkansas boys who were missing at dinnertime on March 5th, 1993. The next afternoon, Steve and the other two boys were found murdered. With us are Steve's parents, Pam and Terry Hobbs, and his grandfather, Jackie Hicks.
It's not easy, I know, Pam, to talk about this. But you want to make people aware of how brutally your son was killed. What happened?
Mrs. PAM HOBBS (Son Murdered By Alleged Satanists): When they found my son, he had been stabbed, he had been beaten. The left side of his face had been cut or hit with a bat to where the impact had just torn this side of his face off. And he was supposed to have been sexually molested also.
POVICH: Do you think he had anything to do with it--Mark? Do you think he had anything to do with it?
Mrs. HOBBS: Do what?
POVICH: Do you think Mark had anything to do with it?
Mrs. HOBBS: No, I didn't.
POVICH: You don't.
Mr. JACKIE HICKS (Grandson Murdered): I can answer that very clearly. He was with us that night--part of the night--on the search. No, Mark didn't have anything to do with it.
POVICH: You--you didn't have any--you're convinced of that?
Mr. HICKS: I'm convinced he didn't have a thing to do with it. And--and from what I've heard here, back there awhile ago--what I saw on the monitor back there...
Mr. HICKS: ...about the little Aaron, I'd like to know--I'm Stevie's granddad.
Mr. HICKS: And I viewed his body as it came out of the water in a plastic bag--how could he have been there? The way that little boy of mine was beaten and cruelly, you wouldn't do an animal that way.
POVICH: So what are you saying about Aaron?
Mr. HICKS: I don't believe he was there.
Mr. HICKS: Why? Why would--why would three people brutally kill three little boys and let one get away, walk away, which they'd already caught?
Ms. BARNETT: I can answer that. I believe that for the simple fact that because those boys were prayed for and--and asked God to protect them and be with them, that that's exactly the reason why Aaron was spared, because God protected him.
Mr. HICKS: You mean to tell me that God would take care of your little boy and wouldn't take care of...
Ms. BARNETT: No, I'm not saying--but I'm just saying...
Mr. HICKS: ...ours under the same Jesus Christ?
Ms. BARNETT: ...no, that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm just saying i--specifically, he was prayed for to be protected...
POVICH: But he says--he believes he wasn't there.
Ms. BARNETT: Well, you know, everyone is entitled--everyone about this whole thing...
Ms. HUTCHESON: We can't...
Ms. BARNETT: ...has an opinion. I don't--you know, I don't know. I'm not...
Ms. HUTCHESON: We can't make everyone believe it, Maury.
Ms. BARNETT: We're not trying to make everyone believe it.
Mr. HICKS: Well, there...
Ms. HUTCHESON: I--I can't sit here and say you have to believe Aaron.
Mr. HICKS: There's a good question to the facts, which came out in the trial and the belief that we're talking about right now, that if you go into the S-Bath meeting and didn't like it--and I worked with world renowned experts on this since this trial has been over--and you mean you sit here and try to tell me or them that you'll go to a satanic S-Bath and walk away with 15 or 20 people there? No, no way.
POVICH: You don't think she even went?
Mr. HICKS: I'm sure she was there.
POVICH: Why do you think she's in this, for the money?
Mr. HICKS: I don't think she left.
Ms. HUTCHESON: You don't think I left the--the meeting?
Mr. Hicks: No, I don't think you left.
POVICH: Let me go back and ask you this, Jackie.
Mr. HICKS: Yes.
POVICH: You think those three people who have been convicted of this crime are guilty?
Mr. HICKS: I most certainly do, but it doesn't make any difference what I think, what you think, what they think. Those 24 people in the state of Arkansas have found them guilty.
POVICH: Right. Ok.
Mr. BYERS: Maury, what gets me is for over nine months, during all the depositions, during all the detectives' talk to Aaron, he never mentioned me being out there. But after the Corning trial and things came up, then the--I have heard that he didn't say I was out the but that heard me, and the media blew that all up.
Ms. BARNETT: Right. What he--what he...
Mr. BYERS: But during like--he gave a big deposition to Mr. John Fogleman, the prosecuting attorney, just weeks before the first lawsuit--the first trial.
Mr. BYERS: And I asked Mr. Fogleman, "Did he mention my name? Hear me, see me, anything?" He said no. He didn't say but you...
POVICH: But you've been absolved, Mark, all of this.
Mr. BYERS: Yes, I've been vindicated...
POVICH: You're not involved--OK.
Mr. BYERS: ...but there are still people out there that don't have much between their ears that want to believe the media.
Unidentified Man 1: Yeah, I wanted--I want to know what Mark's relationship was to the three boys? Were they friends? Did they hang out together?
Mr. BYERS: Yes. One lived across the street and one lived a couple blocks down. We had a pool in our backyard. They liked to swim, skateboard together. They played together. They were in Cub Scouts together.
Man 1: ...the three boys that were convicted?
POVICH: How about the three boys who were con...
Mr. BYERS: I've never seen them before in my life until...
Mrs. BYERS: ...they arraigned them Friday in court.
POVICH: Steve Branch loved to sing. We'd like to share a song that he sang into his tape recorder with you.
(Excerpt of Steve Branch singing)
POVICH: Yeah. And it's difficult, of course, for his mom to hear that. Are you OK, Pam?
Mr. Terry Hobbs (Son Murdered By Alleged Satanists): ...this is what I don't like. This hurts. This hurts bad.
Mr. HOBBS: You wouldn't believe it.
Mr. HOBBS: But I have to watch my wife go through this.
POVICH: Yeah. I know that. It's hard to believe anbody could kill an eight-year-old boy. And there were three of them.
Mr. BYERS: People want to hide their head and don't believe that the occult, that devil worship is real, that that's something out of boogey bear. But you'll see on talk shows where there's good witches. Well, my soul, if there's good witches, there's bad. If there's God, there's hell.
POVICH: We'll be right back after this.
Mr. BYERS: If there's black, there's white.
Unidentified Man 2: Yes, I'd like ot hear some comments on the reward money. Who offered this rem--reward money? Why? Where did it come from?
POVICH: How about that, Vicki? Who offered the reward? The authorities?
Mrs. HOBBS: People from different states. People from different states send in like 1,000, 2,000...
POVICH: So it was pr--it was pri...
Mrs. HOBBS: ...emotional...
Mr. HOBBS: ...(unintelligible)
Mrs. HOBBS: Yeah.
POVICH: It was privately collected.
Mr. HOBBS: Private donations.
Man 2: Is it--it's still out there?
Mr. BYERS: A lot of people retracted their money and took it back.
POVICH: Vicki, have you went through--have you gone and sa--to the authorities and said, "Where's the money?"
Ms. HUTCHESON: No, I haven't.
Unidentified Man 3: I just want to say I understand Mark's frustrations with the authorities, and--but I'm a little confused as to why he's angry at Vicki when Vicki appears to be the lead person who basically led--led the efforts to solve the crime.
Mr. BYERS: Well, I can answer that quite well. As far as Vicki leading the efforts to solve the crime...
Mr. BYERS: ...that's, you know, an opinion that you would only have to draw on yourself.
POVICH: You don't think she helped?
Mr. BYERS: Well, I ask a question. If I'm going to have a party and try to incriminate somebody and I get them over to my house, why do I turn the stereo up so loud that it can't th--be made as a tape? Now, why is the tape not sent? All of you people smart enough to know with the communications that we have today, that you could take that tape, filter all the music out of it and hear every word that was said. Why wasn't that ever done? Now I understand...
POVICH: Do you have any answer to that, Vicki?
Ms. BARNETT: Well, that's something that--that the authorities can answer.
Ms. HUTCHESON: That's something that--what West Memphis Police Department did, Mark. That has nothing to do with me.
Mr. BYERS: Right. I know that you didn't have anything to do with the tape.
Ms. BARNETT: They had--they had the tape...
Mr. BYERS: My question is, why was that never done?
POVICH: We--we should say these three young people have been convicted. What are their sentences?
Mr. HICKS: Death row.
Mr. BYERS: Death penalty, life without parole and life plus 40 years.
POVICH: OK, that means what? None of them have a chance for parole?
Mr. BYERS: I certainly hope not.
POVICH: How about life plus 40 years? No chance for parole?
Mr. HICKS: Right.
Unidentified Woman 1: I want to know, Vicki is such good friends with you supposedly, how c--how come she went off and did this investigation all by herself? How come the other parents didn't help you...
Ms. HUTCHESON: I wasn't--I wasn't...
Woman 1: ...come to the parties, go to the woods with you?
Ms. HUTCHESON: ...good friends with them.
Mr. BYERS: and she had moved from down the...
Ms. HUTCHESON: I had moved.
Mr. BYERS: ...street to us out to live w--in the middle of where the rest of...
Woman 1: OK, so the--the boys were friends. All the boys were friends. How come the parents didn't get together and--help each other? How come you did this all by yourself? I don't understand that...
Ms. HUTCHESON: I could not talk to--I was told not to talk to Mark and Melissa, Todd and Dana, at all.
Mr. BYERS: She moved into the trailer park where the majority of this cult was and lived.
POVICH: Pam, as I understand it...
Ms. HUTCHESON: Oh, that makes it sound good, Mark.
Mr. BYERS: Well, you moved out there. There's all kinds of places to live in west Memphis.
Ms. HUTCHESON: Jessie lived there. That's it.
Ms. BARNETT: OK.
Mr. BYERS: Well, Jessie Misskelley lived across the street, you know.
Ms. BARNETT: There was a reason that she moved there.
Ms. HUTCHESON: Just Jessie. I had no money.
Ms. BARNETT: Let me answer a question that was brought up awhile ago. There were other--according to--to Aaron, there were more than the three boys there. We--both boys and myself were in a grocery store in west Memphis one Friday afternoon, and we were leaving the store. As we are leaving, Aaron turns just ghostly white, and he grabbed my hand and he said, "Aunt Jane." And I turned around and looked at him and I said, "What, Aaron?" And he said, "I'll tell you when we get to the truck." and he just--you know, he kept looking at this guy that was standing just a few feet away from us. And he was--I mean, he was absolutely scared to death. And I said, "What is it Aaron?" Because previously, on the way into the store...
POVICH: What, did he see somebody?
Ms. BARNETT: It was one of the other people that were there, that had--was involved.
POVICH: So it was in--so according to Aaron, there were more than three people there?
Ms. HUTCHESON: Five...
Ms. BARNETT: Right, there was...
Ms. HUTCHESON: ...it has always been five.
Mr. BYERS: Did you tell the police about it?
Ms. BARNETT: Yes, I did. I spent 15 minutes at a pay phone trying to get through. I could--he was--he said in a--he came out of the store and went to a pickup that was parallel parked at a fire lane right there in front of Kroger in west Memphis.
Ms. HUTCHESON: Called right then.
Ms. BARNETT: He was as close to me as that lady is right there in the second row. I stood there for 10 to 15 minutes trying to get through to Don Gray.
POVICH: Did you report that--in--in...
Ms. HUTCHESON: Yes.
Ms. BARNETT: Yes, I did.
Ms. BARNETT: And then finally, because Aaron was so scared and so upset, and th--and I--so I finally, I--I gave up. I went around. I wrote down--as we were walking by, I casually wrote down the license plate number of the truck.
POVICH: And gave it to the police?
Ms. BARNETT: Later that evening, I gave it to them.
POVICH: We'll be right back.
Ms. BARNETT: I had to go back to them and asked them who it belonged to.
POVICH: We'll be back right after this.
Unidentified Man 4: Was there physical evidence that helped convict these three?
POVICH: How about that? Let--let's--let's talk about this for a second. It's very im--interesting. A--what finally convicted them, besides Aaron's testimony, which he actually was--didn't do--did not make in court. It was a report on his testimony.
Mr. BYERS: Jessie Misskelley confessed.
POVICH: Right. One of the three confessed.
Ms. HUTCHESON: Why?
POVICH: And why did he...
Ms. HUTCHESON: Why did Jessie confess?
POVICH: ...and why did he confess? Ddid he confess because he heard a tape of Aaron implicating them?
Mr. BYERS: Maybe he's the only one out of the three that had a little bit of a conscience or a heart.
Ms. BARNETT: This is--this...
Ms. HUTCHESON: That's right. It was because of Aaron.
Ms. BARNETT: ...is the thing people...
POVICH: So let's understand this, everyone. One of the three who was convicted, Jessie Misskelley, heard a tape of Aaron describing what happened, implicating the three of them, and then Jessie broke down and confessed.
Ms. BARNETT: Right.
Mrs. Hobbs: That's right.
Ms. BARNETT: Right.
Mrs. HOBBS: On the tape, it said, no one knows what happened...
POVICH: Is that the me...
Mrs. HOBBS: ...but me--me and Jessie Misskelley.
Ms. HUTCHESON: That's...
POVICH: ...was--was--is that, as we call it--is that the smoking gun in this case?
Mr. HOBBS: That's how we heard it...
Mr. BYERS: All they played--all they played in court...
POVICH: What about...
Ms. HUTCHESON: In court.
Ms. BARNETT: ..."No one knows what happened to me."
POVICH: Was there any other physical evidence?
Mr. BYERS: Yes. They had fiber evidence, trace evidence, weapons.
POVICH: OK, OK.
Unidentified Woman 2: Mark, why are you so antagonistic to Vicki? She wasn't implicated or convicted of anything. And why are the rest of you so antagonistic?
POVICH: Yeah, you--you all do seem to be a little put off by her.
Mr. BYERS: If I could explain to you, there's sometimes a fine line between being ang--antagonistic or hurt beyond hurt which you cannot understand. First to have your son brutally murdered, castrated, his testicles eaten and the end of his penis cut off and the blood sucked out of it and then for you to be incriminated, to be put into it, would anybody be too happy about that?
Woman 2: How does that involve Vicki?
Mr. BYERS: It doesn't involve Vicki other than her trying to infiltrate and help--and to help the police. I'm grateful for that and if she helped convict those three, I'm grateful for that.
POVICH: OK, h...
Mr. BYERS: The media blew it out of line of saying Aaron said I was out there.
POVICH: ...there--there was a--as I understand it...
Mr. BYERS: The media took avantage of an eight-year-old baby.
POVICH: OK. OK. OK. Hold on now.
Ms. BARNETT: ...and because an eight-year--old child will--will--you know, anybody can sit here and your stories--five minutes later, you can come back...
Ms. BARNETT: ...and ask the same question, the stories will vary.
POVICH: Hold on, Jane. I want to ask Pam this. As I understand, there was kind of a lovely grove dedicated to the three boys in the town, right?
Mr. HOBBS: Yeah.
POVICH: Aaron and Vicki weren't invited to that dedication, were they? Why?
Mr. HOBBS: It was i--it was open to the public. Anybody that wanted to come were allowed to come.
Ms. HUTCHESON: No, I...
Mrs. HOBBS: Why they didn't come, I have no idea.
Ms. HUTCHESON: Aaron was suppo--Aaron and Scott were supposed to carry the flags.
Mrs. HOBBS: No, it was open to the public. It was in the newspaper.
POVICH: And--and what happened?
Ms. HUTCHESON: And they were never gotten ahold of. Aaron cannot go to Cub Scout meetings anymore because he cannot sit hrough one. Because he cannot...
POVICH: He's--he's too traumatized?
Ms. HUTCHESON: ...get over it.
Ms. HUTCHESON: He cries. He remembers Mike. He remembers Steve, and he cannot go through a Cub Scout meeting.
POVICH: We'll be back right after this.
Unidentified Woman 3: Well, I feel the same way that this lady did, too and--and you. I feel...
POVICH: Me? What do I...
Woman 3: No, no, no, but you were saying that...
POVICH: I'm asking questions. I don't feel.
Woman 3: No, you said...
POVICH: Of course we do. we all have feelings.
Woman 3: I mean, the whole town, like these--these two families seem to be antagonistic towards this--this woman and her little boy.
POVICH: You don't--and you don't understand that.
Woman 3: I don't understand that.
Woman 3: I--why would you resent that she's getting reward money and you're not?
POVICH: Well, first of all, she's not getting it.
Woman 3: Well, if--if--if she were, she deserves it.
POVICH: I mean, she's getting it because nobody has given it to her.
WOMAN: Right. But, I mean, she's been--been trying to help.
POVICH: But you feel, don't you, that Aaron deserves it, don't you?
Ms. HUTCHESON: I believe that--that we're going to be given to someone, that he's been through the hell to--to get it.
POVICH: How about--anybody want to react to the whole town's against Vicki.
Mr. BYERS: Our comment was that we didn't care if she got it. My wife and I said we didn't care.
Mrs. HOBBS: Aaron had admitted to participating in this also, so we asked the question, too. How much does Aaron really know? Was Aaron there? Is Aaron a part of these three guys? Because he said he had to cut one of the little boys. He had to drink their blood and say, "I love the devil."
Ms. BARNETT: That's right.
Ms. HUTCHESON: That's right.
Mrs. HOBBS: And that is the reason we feel...
Ms. BARNETT: With a nine--with a 9 millimeter...
Ms. HUTCHESON: Nine millimeter pistol to his...
Ms. BARNETT: ...to his temple.
Mrs. HOBBS: ...like we feel towards Vicki and her--her accusations.
Ms. BARNETT: He was told to say that with a 9-millimeter gun to his head.
(Guests all talk at the same time)
POVICH: That's the story he told.
Ms. BARNETT: I've have two brother-in-laws murdered and a sister-in-law murdered. I know what it is to lose loved ones who have been murdered.
Mr. HICKS: You've never had them brutally mutilated.
Mr. BYERS: You've never had them brutally killed like animals.
Ms. BARNETT: Yes.
Ms. HUTCHESON: Yes, yes, we have.
Ms. BARNETT: I had a sister-in-law that--her head was decapitated and her insides were gutted out.
POVICH: We'll be back right after this.
Ms. BARNETT: Yes, I do know...
POVICH: OK, Vicki. You wanted to say why you came on here. Because you want to addresss other mothers, right?
Ms. HUTCHESON: I want for other mothers--don't ignore your child's--the least little things. Aaron came home with his head shaved, and I thought it was because the other little boys were doing it. He went with Jessie on a bike because I thought he missed Jane's son Tommy.
Ms. HUTCHESON: They were close in age.
POVICH: So ev--so what you're saying to mothers is, look at every little clue.
Ms. HUTCHESON: Listen, don't let your child go with anyone anywhere unless you know for a fact where they're doing, what they're doing--every detail. Anything, anything that's different, check it out.
POVICH: I thank you so much, Vicki, for joining us. I thank you, Jane. I think your message has gotten across today, and I think the reason you came has been fully answered. I thank you. And I want to thank you all very much. It's very difficult to talk about something like this when your little loved ones are involved and they're no longer here. So I thank you all very much.
Mr. HICKS: No one will ever know and feel--not Vicki Hutcheson, not this audience, not you, not any of us...
Mr. HICKS: ...will ever feel and know what it's like until you wear these same shoes.
Ms. BARNETT: I just--I just want to say one thing about the occult, Maury...
Ms. BARNETT: ...is people don't realize how...
Ms. HUTCHESON: How...
Ms. BARNETT: ...dedicated and devoted these people are.
POVICH: Yeah, and--and that's what I was going to end up with saying.
Mr. BYERS: The occult is real.
POVICH: If it's out there...
Mr. BYERS: ...kill babies.
(Guests all talk at the same time)
POVICH: Let me tell you something, if--forget other--if it's out there in west Memphis, after what you all have gone through, I mean, you know, I'd call your authorities and say, "Hey, I mean, deal with this."
Mrs. BYERS: Well...
Mr. BYERS: Oh, you don't even want to know about the police and get them involved, Maury.
POVICH: I want to thank everybody for joining us. I thank you out there, everyone. Until next time, America.