West Memphis Three - The Makings of a Story

The best stories usually come from close observation of the world around us. There is hardly a more gruesome account than the actual events which occurred near West Memphis in 1993 when three 8-year-old boys were left to die in a ditch. But those convicted — Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin — have been freed as the result of an Alford plea in which the defendants — who became internationally known as the "West Memphis Three" — plead guilty to reduced charges while maintaining their innocence.

Echols was formerly sentenced to death and Misskelley and Baldwin to life in prison. They are also allowed to present new evidence to the court to prove that innocence. The surprise hearing came as a shock, as the Arkansas Supreme Court had called last November for a hearing to review their cases in December, as scientific examination of DNA evidence has yet to turn up DNA that matches the defendants. No physical evidence has ever been linked to any of the three convicted, and years of appeals ensued with growing public interest.

Cary Holladay, now an associate professor of fiction at the University of Memphis, wrote a short story explicitly based on the horrific events argued to be the result of satanic ritual, winning an O. Henry Award in 1999 for the piece. “Merry-Go-Sorry” captures the Southern hysteria surrounding the case, and ultimately gives a voice to the gravity of injustice that is capable of accumulating.

Yesterday, Holladay could simply hope for their freedom. Now Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley finally have it after spending more than half their lives in prison.

You can read the full text of “Merry-Go-Sorry" here.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

Five Things To Do This Weekend in Memphis May 22nd-24th

From Square to Roundhouse, your weekend is booked.
2015.05.21 03:01 PM

Contemporary Media Wins Certificate of Merit Award from the Tennessee Historical Commission

The award recognizes CMi for its work on “The First 150: The First Tennessee Story,” a book commemorating the bank’s 150th anniversary.
2015.05.20 12:36 PM

The Music of Andrew VanWyngarden, Part Two: "Congratulations" and Beyond

2013.11.21 03:00 PM
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Stories

The Grizzly Bear

The Grizzlies season may be over, but a fan base’s passion never dies.
2015.05.27 08:00 AM

Orpheum Board Names New Centre After Longtime President Pat Halloran

The Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education will be formally dedicated as such on September 24th during an event celebrating Halloran’s 35-year tenure.
2015.05.26 01:55 PM

Hip To Be Square

With more than 20 local bands set to play during its 45th anniversary celebration, Overton Square is the place to be this weekend.
2015.05.22 12:33 PM

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Memphis magazine staff blog

About This Blog

"901" is the current affairs blog compiled by the staff of Memphis magazine, where readers can find breaking-news tidbits relating to all facets of life in the Bluff City. 

Regular participants include long-time Memphis editors such as Marilyn Sadler, Michael Finger, Jackson Baker, Frank Murtaugh, and Kenneth Neill, along with Inside Memphis Business staffers Richard Alley and Anna Cox.

Every Thursday our Calendar Editor, Julie Ray, posts her picks for the weekend's events and activities.

"901" is the place where Memphis readers can "dial in" to find fresh reporting of recent developments in our city's political, economic, and cultural life.

Recent Posts



Atom Feed Subscribe to the 901 Feed »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags