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  1. #1
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    Viable Suspect: John Mark Byers

    Omg, before various heads explode, please read this line:

    Mark Byers WAS a viable suspect. In the minds of some, he still is. This thread is aimed at discussing WHY he was a viable suspect, and why he is still considered one by some folks. All points of view are of course welcome, but can we PLEASE not turn this into yet another "Terry did it" thread? And keep it all focussed on topic? Cheers.


    Why JMB was always a decent suspect in my mind is simply this:

    A violent and unstable individual with a long history of domestic abuse beats his son, then goes charging around in a rage looking for same son not long after. Same son is found dead, with two friends. The two friends are still alive when drowned, but the son is already dead.


    Violent, unstable individual appears to have the local police in his pocket as an informant, some of them highly corrupt, and has record of domestic violence expunged by same judge who presided in the WM3 case (and clearly wanted nothing more than to have the WM3 put away..).

    Can we really trust that judicial system to do all they can to investigate a man who got away with more crimes than he was convicted for, thanks to that same system?

    Sorry one more: Does the timeline *really* clear JMB? Is there not ANY room for doubt on that?

    I hope to hear from some of the people who think JMB really was a viable suspect.
    Last edited by Ausgirl; 06-27-2014 at 12:49 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Rather than tackling this the 'usual' way I am going to turn it on its head.

    IFF he were the killer then how did a Southern Country boy manage to put on such a brilliant Oscar winning performance at the flick of a switch? In order to have been the killer has to have been running to and fro being all things to all men, switching role of annoyed father, killer, angry father, killer, very worried father - there is no way he could have sustained that charade and not have tripped up.

    Yes, he had been angry with his son. Any sensible adult would have been furious to see a kid lying on a skate board going down the road in traffic lane.

    Later he was angry that Chris had done a vanishing act, despite fact that he knew they were going out for a meal that night. And they started to look for him.

    As time went on the irritation changed to concern. He was the first to say they were looking for their son - to a cop in his patrol car. They then went home and called the police and filed MPR. If he had been the killer then I find it hard to believe that he would have increased the pressure on himself by alerting authorities sooner rather than later!

    Added to this, he was also the only parent to contact Search And Rescue people to see if they could help.

    Yes he was a very 'visible' person. Yes, there were anger issues that became even worse after the horrendous murder of his son. Yes there were issues deriving from both he and his wife's use of drugs and alcohol.

    Yes he did know a lot of the local police force. However he was a drug informant for the police in Memphis Tenn. I believe - not West Memphis.

    He was loud and volatile in his anger at the people he thought had killed his son. He hated the fact that the case gained even more notoriety and that the three who were convicted became the focal point of the case whilst the real victims were pushed into the background.

    When I first became obsessed with the case I was reliably told that the only way the case would be resolved justly was for an alternative suspect to be exposed along with a lot of questions. Once past the conviction phase then the burden of proof is no longer down to the state but switches to the defense! Proving innocence with no alternative theory is a tough one. The best way forward is to high light others who maybe a better case could be made against. JMB being such a larger than life character was, for many, the obvious target. Sadly, many did not bother to examine thoroughly, and just stuck with pointing at JMB.

    The camera likes him - but only playing himself! He is not Oscar winning material!!

    There are still some who have him on their suspect list. Some even more certain after he took the trouble to go to the 'presentation of new evidence' meeting that the EDT held in 2007 before the legal team went public. He had some questions but was not, as far as I am led to believe, expecting to be persuaded by what he was told. But he was!

    BTW if there is any hint of 'reasonable doubt' over guilt then it is not proven. Further more emotive language might be a game changer in court - but only if the evidence does not stack up and the prosecution have to resort to theatrics. In this case the whole satanic thing worked for them on gullible juries and small town dynamics.

    Where the case is at now it can either not change and the wmfree are lumbered with the convictions for life and the families are left with no true justice. Not only is the burden of proof on what was the EDT, but so is the responsibility of finding who the killer most probably of is. THEN public pressure needs to be applied to the state Arkansas. As things stand they are able to state that the case is closed, they have their guilty pleas, the let them out as it was politically and financially expedient to do so. So which ever way anyone looks at it - the killer or killers walk free. Is that YOUR definition of 'Justice'?

  3. #3
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    I've said it before and I'll say it again: on paper, Byers is an even bigger suspect than Hobbs (to me, anyway). The fact that he was on the hunt for the boy; the fact that Chris had a (from reports, severe) case of ADD; the fact that he was angry, that very day, with Chris as he was hunting for him; the fact that he not only physically abused Chris on a regular basis, but earlier that very day; the reports that Chris had been beaten severely before; the fact that Chris died from blows as opposed to drowning; the fact that he's a mountain of a man and could have very easily carried 2 boys at a time; his testimony at trial; his grandiose emotional displays that could arguably be interpreted as forced; his background; etc.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for some thoughtful posts!

    It's really late here, and I'm super tired. I'll probably sound more curt than I mean to be.

    -- Are we *seriously* supposed to believe that JMB was completely uninvolved in, and untouched by, and in no way benefited nor profited from, the rife corruption going on in West Memphis? Again, I have a great deal more to say on this as when not suffering sleep deficit.

    -- JMB had *no* problem committing acts of violence against other people's children.

    -- As for the ability to switch back and forth emotionally.. if there's ANYone in this case I believe can do that? It's JMB. That people CAN do this, and DO do this, is evident to anyone who's ever watched Ted Bundy and similar violent psychopaths speak. Or anyone who's seen killer parents on TV -- c'mon, we've all seen it, on TV, in real life, somewhere. How is JMB magically exempt from the possibility of being able to switch easily from state to state? -- Of course, he isn't.

    -- JMB (to some people..) comes across as some kind of simple minded hillbilly. But he isn't that, either. I think a man who's managed to play the legal system like he did all those years can't be too simple. IMO, JMB is brilliant at giving himself just the right spin at any given moment, and making people seriously underestimate him when it suits him to do so.

    -- JMB is a career drug dealer, conman and thief, who has a well-documented history of violent acts against women and children. People who cross him have their property 'mysteriously' become subject to arson. He has no problem making death threats against people who defy him.

    It grinds my gears to read sentences beginning with 'He's no angel, but..." like his alarming litany of violence is nothing much to bother about.

    No-one on this earth is ever going to make me see this man as a 'loveable rogue'. The reality of JMB is sickening, especially if you read between the lines of all the 'get out of jail' cards he's been handed over the years.

    Do I think he's *capable* of this crime? Hells yes, I do.

    Do I think he *did* the crime? As usual, jury's out. But to me, he is right up there on the 'viable' list.
    Last edited by Ausgirl; 06-27-2014 at 02:27 PM.
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  5. #5
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    'On paper' and 'to you' maybe. You have your opinion and every right to express it. What makes it all so sad is that this case seems now to have morphed in to some sort of horrendous 'reality' type show, with real people but a secure green room for most to escape to between flurries of activity.

    I would rather tend to think that any grown man would be capable of carrying the bodies of two 8 year old boys, unconscious or dead.

    Being angry with a child being stupid enough to lie in a skate board and barrel down the middle of the road is, in my view, perfectly understandable. Have you never seen a frantic mother grab a kid back from running out into the road and smacking them? It is instinctive, even if now, not pc! Worth remembering too that this all took place in 1993 and a lot of attitudes have changed in the last 21 years!

  6. #6
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    Sleep deprived or not. You still managed some tabloid style formatting with no problems!

    I took you at face value and answered your first post. Did not realise it was but a disguise for a 'JMB did it' bash fest!

    Yeah, he was so bright back in the day that he got busted for trying to sell to an undercover cop!

    Had not, as far as I can remember, heard of any arson. But do not bother to try and fill me in as I will ask someone who is in regular contact with him.

    No way was I trying to suggest for one moment that he was 'untouched' by this horrendous crime.

    Yeah, he has done some very silly things in his life - and owned up to it. Did you ever read the book Greg Day wrote?

    For the record it is very possible that he has made the least money out of the case. All got a one off for PL1. He got a little for PL2 and, after it came out, realised what a mistake he had made. Since then he has gone on record as saying that if that helped keep the case alive then he would do it again - although he was made to look a complete twat!

    'Acts of violence against other peoples children' suggest multiple events. Can you justify this statement?

    OK in temper and pain he has made threatening remarks - as do many people. Can you cite any incidences where he has followed through with action?

    I had not realised he was still living and enjoying the fruits of a life of crime etc as in dealing, stealing and confidence tricking! All at the same time as he criticises the police and the Prosecutors office of incompetence.

    I do agree he was very hot headed but he is a lot calmer now. It took a great deal of integrity and courage to admit that he had been wrong about the three after he agreed that they were not guilty as a direct result of having seen and discussed the findings of the EDT's investigation. He still grieves for his son Christopher and also for Melissa.

    Yes, it does appear he got a pass for the mail fraud around the time of the murders. Just as other family members of the three boys got 'free pass' but as an experienced supporter you will know that. After the trials he moved from West Memphis and was out of their reach of influence and help for any subsequent troubles.

    Lastly, as an Australian with a very similar legal system based on English Common Law, I am surprised that you do not have more respect for one of the very basic tenets - presumption of innocence! American justice ignores it, using 'freedom of speech' as their excuse. Hobbs is at the top of my list of suspects, right at the top, but I do not go any further than that in public.

    Being contemptuous of the legal system in turn makes the judiciary contemptuous of it as well as members of law enforcement. This was spectacularly evidenced in this case. Very sad.

  7. #7
    IMO, if JMB were guilty, he would definitely not be exposing himself to the police by contradicting their theory. Like another suspect, he would be more than willing to accept the police theory since it would keep the "heat" off of him. Also, his outrageous actions, IMO, would make a thinking person wonder why he was so "out there" all the time - until 2007 when the EDT had their press conference.

    However, there is another adult male in this case who has been violent against both adults and children. The only physical evidence revealed in this case so far cannot exclude this adult male. His demeanor during this saga has been one of trying to hide from questioning until the innocent men were arrested and then laying low, letting JMB be the one "out there" for the public to see. IMO, laying low is much more suspicious than boisterously expressing one's opinion.

    So, if Damien's actions don't make him guilty, then neither do JMB's. Trying to paint him as guilty based solely on his actions is exactly what the wmpd did to Damien, Jason and Jessie! As to the "other adult male" that I mentioned, we have much more than the actions that could easily be those of a grieving father upon which to suspect him. JMB was investigated - and cleared. The "other one" hasn't been investigated - at all!

    ETA: The "other one" was also "on the hunt" for his son (supposedly) from 4:30 pm on May 5th. Also, Christopher didn't die "from blows" but rather from exsanguination, possibly from the penile injury (which IMO was from animal predation).
    Last edited by Compassionate Reader; 06-27-2014 at 09:23 PM.

  8. #8
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    I'm not responding to posts containing personal attacks. The end.

    CR, thing is, Damien never committed a prior act of violence against the victim. He didn't admit to beating on the victim (do any of us believe he hit that child through his jeans? really?) just hours before the victim was murdered. Damien wasn't in a fit of rage, telling people he wanted to continue to hit the victim. Damien wasn't observed to go into the RHH alone. Damien definitely did not have a get out of jail free card. There's massive differences between JMB's actions, JMB's history of violence, and Damien's. I don't think they hold up to comparison, really. JMB also changed his story on several points, several times. Including the deer-hunting knife and details of where he was, and when, and with who. His accounts do not match up in places with others' accounts.

    I get that there's other people who stack up pretty well as suspects, but this thread isn't about them.. nor am I aiming to make a 'case' against any one suspect in any of my activities on this sub-forum. I do of course concede that there's VERY strong cases against several people, which ought to have been (and should be, now) investigated properly. My personal distaste for drug dealing wife beaters aside -- I'm still seeing enough here, especially in the observable discrepancies, to put JMB firmly on that list.

    Speaking of observable things -- does anyone think Gitchell's questioning re the deer knife was.. peculiar, in any way?

    eta: Head wounds can bleed a LOT (I've had a relatively minor one that bled like the dickens for several hours, it was terrible, and just a blunt force impact over my eyebrow, small scar for so, so much blood!) so I'm not discounting that several massive wounds to the head could have contributed (along with the possible groin wound) heavily to that loss of blood.
    Last edited by Ausgirl; 06-27-2014 at 10:35 PM.
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  9. #9
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    One thing that to me somewhat negates the notion of Byers' involvement in the murders is that I don't think anyone could commit these crimes and not get scuffed up, dirty, bloody..

    Byers went home to change his his clothes (some time between 8.30 and 10.30pm? has that exact time ever been nailed down?) but I have not seen mention anywhere that the clothes he was wearing during the time prior to him changing into his overalls were seen by anybody to be bloody or showed any sign he could have worn them during three violent murders.

    I am assuming that these clothes changed out of were the same clothes he'd worn all day prior to Chris being perceived as missing.

    As Byers emphatically pointed out, he wore the same clothes he changed into, overalls etc, for several straight days after that.

    I'd like to be sure that they were indeed the very same pair of overalls. But no mention by anyone that I can find of Byers looking bloody or obviously wet or anything prior to the clothing change is (as far as I can presently see) a definite point in his favour.
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  10. #10
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    I find this also very interesting. Why would he A/ only get probation, when this was pattern behaviour? and B/ be granted a clear slate after committing such a violent assault?

    --from Devil's Knot, Mara Levitt, p. 32:

    In September 1987, Byers’s volatility toward his first wife had led to his arrest.21Shortly before 7A.M ., police in Marion received a call about “a woman screaming.” The caller also reported that “there were two small kids outside by themselves unattended.” That call was followed by a second, from another alarmed resident, who’d also heard the screams. The address the callers gave was that of Byers’s ex-wife and her children. An officer later reported that when he arrived, the older of the two children outside told him that “his mother and daddy were inside the trailer fighting.” Looking inside the door, the officer wrote, he could see “a white male and a white female on the floor. The white male appeared to have a black object pointing at the female who was crying and visibly upset.” When the officer entered the house, the man, who identified himself as Byers, “got off the floor immediately and became arrogant,” while the woman “was crying and begging this officer not to leave.”

    The woman told the officer that Byers had come to the house at 6:45A.M ., demanding to take the children. He then “began to threaten her, telling her that he wanted full custody of the kids, that he was going to kill her, and that he had an electric shocker and kept acting like he was going to use it on her.” The officer’s notes of the incident continued: “Mr. Byers acted strange. A few minutes he would calm down and talk normal, but then all of a sudden he would get arrogant again, advising me that he was the father and he was going to take the kids. He also became upset when I advised him that I was going to keep the Power Zapper, which he wanted back. I could not smell any type of intoxicant on his breath, but he appeared to have been either on some type of medication or intoxicant by the manner in which he was acting.” The officer confiscated the electric shocker and escorted the woman and her children to a friend’s home, where she could “feel safe.”

    That morning, Byers’s ex-wife drove to downtown Marion, where she reported the incident to John Fogleman, the city attorney. Years later, Fogleman too would play a key role in events following the murder of Christopher Byers and his two young friends. But that tragedy was still almost six years in the future. In 1987, in the hours after her assault, the former Mrs. Byers told Fogleman that her ex-husband had threatened to kill her or to have someone else kill her several times in the past; that she had sought a restraining order against him; and that because of his propensity toward violence, when he had shown up at her house that morning she had turned on a tape recorder. She handed Fogleman the tape.22It and the investigating officer’s report were convincing evidence. By the end of the day, Marion police had issued a warrant for Byers’s arrest, charging that he had terrorized his ex-wife by threatening to cause her death. Byers was convicted of the offense and sentenced to three years’ probation. All that was required of him was that he keep up his child support payments and remain gainfully employed.

    Byers fulfilled neither requirement. Over the next few years, his first wife took him to court repeatedly seeking back child support, and twice, when Byers professed poverty, a local chancery judge reduced his court-ordered payments. Meanwhile, in 1989, Byers, now married to Melissa, bought the two-story house on Barton Street in West Memphis and moved into it with Ryan and Christopher. The house had three bedrooms, three baths, and an in-ground swimming pool. When the couple’s jewelry store failed the following year, neighbors wondered how the couple afforded the house. Melissa worked as a cleaning lady, and Byers worked out of their home, mostly selling jewelry at local flea markets.23

    Something else that puzzled neighbors was Byers’s apparent chumminess with some members of the local police. One explanation for that emerged months after Christopher’s murder, when it was learned that Byers had worked as an undercover drug informant.24But there were other, deeper mysteries that were never fully explained. One was why, exactly one year before Christopher’s murder, the record of Byers’s felony conviction for terroristic threatening was formally expunged. Byers had not fulfilled the terms of his probation. He had neither kept up his child support payments nor remained gainfully employed. Yet on May 5, 1992, circuit judge David Burnett signed an order absolving Byers of all legal consequences arising from the assault and death threat on his ex-wife. A year later, Burnett would become another principal player in the murder case involving Byers’s stepson. But even in 1992, Burnett’s role in Byers’s life was important. The judge’s ruling allowed Byers to state “in any application form for employment, license, civil right, or privilege or in any appearance as a witness that he has not been convicted of the offense.”
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ausgirl View Post
    I'm not responding to posts containing personal attacks. The end.
    Which post, in your view, contained a 'personal attack', presumably aimed at you, Ausgirl?

    My first post in this thread was a very open one directed to all those who read here.

    I then was alerted to 'Userid' post and my second one was directed to that person, in response. Meanwhile you, too were posting. When I posted that reply I saw that you had posted again. It may well be that I am making a false assumption that you are likely to be Australian. But whatever the case, I hardly think that highlighting the importance of the 'presumption of innocence' foundation stone of 'our' common judicial systems can be seen as a 'personal attack'. It was not intended as such and if it hurt your feelings then I am sorry.

    My attention has been drawn to the fact that you have a number of different threads dedicated to possible suspects. An interesting angle but it is rather hard, in a real life situation to compartmentalise possible suspects and consider them, individually, in isolation. On that night in West Memphis there was a complex mix of social and criminal dynamics interacting. There may well have been other crimes being committed of which we are not aware!

    It is odd. I can cope with someone having a strong opinion and discussing it with them and others. However shadow boxing, as a 'performance' art in the sense of making a case for or against one possible suspect as some sort of mental exercise when they are real live people, is something I am not too comfortable with.

    Most of those who have followed this case for any length of time have, over time, done their own research and come to their own conclusions. That is not to say that they, or we are not prepared to change our view points if or when new information comes to light. Sometimes it is not even new 'hard' fact that can cause a shift of opinion, it can be influenced by a new insight into a behaviour or a mind set of a person directly involved in this tragic case.

    Lastly, I will add that Mara Leveritt's book is hardly a form of 'evidence. If one goes by Devil's Knot then Hobbs never had a look in. It is a great shame that she did not try to find out more about his earlier life. Having said that, back then she too, as so many of us, might well have fallen in to the same trap of needing to raise 'reasonable doubt' by highlighting another person who could have been the perp! In truth, it seems to an outsider that that small town was pretty choc-a-block of guys who could be abusive and either did drugs or alcohol or both. Even among the law abiding and respectable citizens, such as judiciary and police department members, there was ample evidence of corruption and dodgy behaviour!

  12. #12
    Again, if JMB were guilty of the murders of Christopher, Michael and Steven, why would he contradict the wmpd and the State of Arkansas by his insistence on the innocence of Damien, Jason and Jessie? A guilty man wouldn't want those verdicts overturned because it could put him on the radar! As to his previous actions, as I stated before, those actions don't prove him to be a murderer any more than Damien's bizarre previous actions prove him to be one. JMB was the only parent truly interrogated by the wmpd during 1993 or 1994. IMO, his timeline clears him. Have you read "Untying the Knot" by Greg Day? That is JMB's story, not only of the murders but of his life. You might find it enlightening.

    Untying the Knot: John Mark Byers and the West Memphis Three - Kindle edition by Greg Day. Biographies & Memoirs Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51e9%2Bg-aGjL.@@AMEPARAM@@51e9%2Bg-aGjL

  13. #13
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    I feel like I have poo on my shoe, even raising the topic of Mark Byers. How interesting!

    However, I can't seem to get past JMB's kid-gloves treatment by Burnett! And also, since no-one seems keen to discuss it, I may just talk to myself about the way Gitchell led the interview about the knife..

    Of note is that a man who committed an act of violence against a victim on the day the victim was killed, and was known to beat the victim quite a lot, is found to have possessed a serrated knife containing blood which matched the victim's type.

    Oh, I know, there's a lot of arguing to be done re whose blood is was, etc. What I'm looking at here is the way police handled this. I'm staring at right at Gitchell's interview over the deer knife, and comparing the treatment of the knife in terms of evidence, to the WM3 and the lake knife, which did not have human blood on it, let alone blood of a type which matched a victim. There's a huge difference.

    Gitchell leads JMB through the interview, even at times offering exonerating suggestions where JMB falters. JMB visibly and obviously changes his story about the knife multiple times as he is handed each new piece of information -- and this is what - quite okay? Normal practice for WM police officers?

    I wonder, if ANY other person, suspect or not (or hey, one of the WM3) had such a knife, blood and all, and flubbed his story multiple times regarding use of the knife and the origin of the blood - what might have happened to them?

    "Have you ever been in trouble with the police?"

    "No."

    ^ And how many times did that scene play out in media interviews? I think, IIRC, it might have even been played out in court.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Compassionate Reader View Post
    Again, if JMB were guilty of the murders of Christopher, Michael and Steven, why would he contradict the wmpd and the State of Arkansas by his insistence on the innocence of Damien, Jason and Jessie? A guilty man wouldn't want those verdicts overturned because it could put him on the radar! As to his previous actions, as I stated before, those actions don't prove him to be a murderer any more than Damien's bizarre previous actions prove him to be one. JMB was the only parent truly interrogated by the wmpd during 1993 or 1994. IMO, his timeline clears him. Have you read "Untying the Knot" by Greg Day? That is JMB's story, not only of the murders but of his life. You might find it enlightening.
    Yes, I have read it.

    I have a hypothetical re the "why" on his support of the WM3, but I'll think on that while.

    I'm curious -- if we are to give JMB a public-opinion walk on his previous treatment of a victim, domestic abuse, previous arrests, lalala, are we to do the same for Hobbs?

    As I do see plenty of discussion regarding that, here.
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  15. #15
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    I'm still quite new on the case compared to a lot of you. I've watched West of Memphis, Devils knot, Paradise Lost I-III, and various video clips concerning the case. I've also read myself into callahans, jivepuppi, and various other forums.

    I must say JMB was only a viable suspect for me in the context of all parents/step parents/relatives being viable suspects because of their possible motives.
    Even the "JMB Show" (Thats my nickname for Paradise Lost II), which obviously had the intention of setting him up, did not convince me that he was "directly" connected in the murders.

    Of course I can understand people coming to the conclusion that he was a major suspect, due to the reasons discussed by Ausgirl.

    JMB is certainly not the type of neighbor I would like to have.

    Because we are discussing a crime that is so unbelievably horrific and cold blooded, JMB relatively, looks like a "petty thief"

    "Domestic violence" is an awful word to describe beating up, abusing, sexually abusing, terrorizing (mainly) Women & children. The name itself makes it sound very trivial.
    "Domestic violence" is a result of "domestic violence". In other words, it's a re-staging of the "domestic violence" experienced by oneself. If you're pointing from "domestic violence" to the murders, we are going to have a lot of suspects.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the very ill person/s who murdered these boys, was himself a victim of the worst possible "domestic violence", and in association with an unstable character....well, the result is known!!

    I don't want to relativize JMB's wrongdoings, but I would put him in the class of a "hillbilly hobby mafioso" compared to someone like Ted Bundy. JMB was always caught for his bad deeds, and I don't think that bothered him to much, because he loved the attention he got. IMO there is always a varying amount of self destruction in the live's of drug abusers, and JMB fits into that category for me.

    I'm not looking for someone who's angry at their kids, I'm looking for someone who is full of hate, psychopathic, dissociative. Someone who, deep down, hate's children because they hated themselves as a child. Someone who identifies themselves with their tormentor and thinks their tormentor was right to abuse them.

    (BTW, Often see the thread name "domestic violence gone bad" Can domestic violence really go bad? I think it's quite bad without going anywhere!!)

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