Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills
The West Memphis Three, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin were positive proof that the “Satanic Panic” that held 1980s America looking behind every corner for Ritual Abuse of children did not fade away completely with the end of that decade. In Arkansas in 1993 three very young boys were murdered in a grisly fashion and their bodies disposed of in a forested gully just off the highway. A year later, with the full weight of law enforcement and the local judiciary, the blame was placed on the shoulders of three other boys, themselves all under 18, with no hard evidence.
The victims were hog-tied and left in a ditch, for animals to chew on, but by the time the corpses were discovered, it certainly looked like some kind of ritualistic mutilation to the local law enforcement in need of a quick closure on the crime due to the young age of the boys. So, they grabbed a pair of kids that listened to Metallica, wore black, and occasionally checked Aleister Crowley from the library along with another that had an IQ so low, it was almost debilitating.
The resulting miscarriage of justice, botched police work, eccentric members of the community and other bits of true crime drama were captured by an HBO crew, and the appeals process went on for 17 years.
The first part in a trilogy of documentaries (more to come in this space for the next few days) is horrifying, engrossing, and illuminating all at the same time as the filmmakers become more and more involved in the trial.