Was this a Satanic ritual killing? Nope. But then it wasn't presented as one either - nor were the defendants said to be Satanists. Fogleman was very clear in his closing argument why Echols "satanic" evidence was presented: This satanic stuff--satanic picture in and of itself does that mean they're Satanists or anything like that? No. This mean in and of itself, Satanist? No. But, why present it? Why present this stuff? And by the way this doesn't have anything to do with Wicca, doesn't have anything to do with it. The reason to present it, is that to try to inflame you all and make you all so angry because it's something different--because it's something different and something we don't understand? Is that why we would present it? No, not at all. When you looked at those pictures of what was done to those three little boys, could you understand it? Could you have any reason to understand why someone would do that to three eight-year-old boys? Well, you've got three eight-year-old boys done that way, and then you got the defendants looking like choirboys during the trial--during jury selection. In fact, think back to jury selection when the defense trying to say, well, as they sit here right now what do you think about them? And either you or your fellow juror--you heard a fellow juror say, I think they look like typical kids. Well, think how hard it would be for you to conceive of typical teens doing what was done to these three eight-year-old boys. And I think you'll understand why the need to put on this evidence. It was character evidence, and nothing more. Griffis was presented simply to show Echols was a "Self styled dabbler" in Satanism, and that's what he testified to. In a report from the FBI done prior to these crimes during the "satanic panic" of the 80's, Kennith Lanning set out to find cases of "satanic ritual killings". http://www.skepticfiles.org/mys3/lanning.htm He scoured the largest criminal database on the planet and he never found one. What he did find were several distinct catagories of "Satanists" - some of which committed "satanic" crimes, or crimes with trappings of occultism. 1. Youth Subculture - Most teenagers involved in fantasy role-playing games, heavy metal music, or satanism are going through a stage of adolescent development and commit no significant crimes. The teenagers who have more serious problems are usually those from dysfunctional families or those who have poor communication within their families. These troubled teenagers turn to satanism and the occult to overcome a sense of alienation, to obtain power, or to justify their antisocial behavior. for these teenagers, it is the symbolism, not the spirituality, that is important. It is either the psychopathic or the oddball, loner teenager who is most likely to get into serious trouble. Extreme involvement in the occult is a symptom of a problem, not the cause. This is not to deny, however, that satanism and the occult are negative influences for a troubled teenager. But to hysterically warn teenagers to avoid this "mysterious, powerful and dangerous" thing called satanism will drive many teenagers right to it. Some rebellious teenagers will do whatever will most shock and outrage society in order to flaunt their rejection of adult norms. 2. Dabblers (Self-styled) - for these practitioners, there is little or no spiritual motivation. They mix satanism, witchcraft and paganism. Symbols mean whatever they want them to mean. Molesters, rapists, drug dealers and murderers may dabble in the occult and may commit their crimes in a ceremonial or ritualistic way. This category has the potential to be the most dangerous, and most of the "satanic" killers fall into this category. Their involvement in satanism and the occult is a symptom of a problem and a rationalization and justification of antisocial behavior. Satanic/occult practices (as well as those of other spiritual belief systems) can be used as a mechanism to facilitate criminal objectives. 3. Traditional (Orthodox, Multigenerational) - These are the true believers. They are usually wary of outsiders. Because of this and constitutional issues, such groups are difficult for law enforcement to penetrate. Although there is much we don't know about these groups, as of now there is little or no hard evidence that they are involved in serious, organized criminal activity. In addition, instead of being self-perpetuating master crime conspirators, true believers probably have a similar problem with their teenagers rebelling against their belief system. Now, Lanning claims "The teenagers who have more serious problems are usually those from dysfunctional families or those who have poor communication within their families. These troubled teenagers turn to satanism and the occult to overcome a sense of alienation, to obtain power, or to justify their antisocial behavior." Over and over again Echol's mental health history speaks of his dysfunctional family, his issues of control, obtaining power over others, and his total lack of compassion for anyone but himself - from his first comittal in 92, to his out-patient therapy just weeks before the crime. He wasn't just a misunderstood "Wiccan" with "teen angst", he was a violent psychotic drug abusing sociopath who dabbled in the occult. Lanning goes on to say "It is either the psychopathic or the oddball, loner teenager who is most likely to get into serious trouble." Echol's mental health history leaves nothing to the imagination there. But further, Lanning noted "Dabblers (Self-styled) - for these practitioners, there is little or no spiritual motivation. They mix satanism, witchcraft and paganism. Symbols mean whatever they want them to mean. This category has the potential to be the most dangerous, and most of the "satanic" killers fall into this category." This catagory was discussed at trial as well. Q: Now, do you have something called a self-styled satanist? A: Yes, those are -- that boils down, counselor, with the different types of groups. Q: Okay. A: Which would start out with an experimenter, usually one who practices alone in an unorganized manner, a self-styled occultist and we are talking here only in the field of satanism. And this person has some kind of problems in life and they use the trappings of occultism to get along. Then we have an occult cult group, and this has a little charismatic leader and some followers. Sometimes they got a name for their group, sometimes they don't have a name for their group. But they use -- all three of those use the trappings of occultism. See, the Prosecution couldn't present Echol's psych history unless the Defense entered it, so they couldn't show the jury his history of violence and drug abuse, his psychotic disorder, his dysfunctional family, or his issues of controling and demeaning others, but they COULD show the jury that Echols was a "self styled" dabbler in Satanism - and they did, through Griffis with Echol's own writings. Q: I wanna show you State's Exhibit 110 and ask if you if you'll look at that and also -- have you seen that before? A: Yes sir, I have. Q: If you'll look through that again. A: Yes sir. Q: Alright, and what does that appear to you to be? A: What I would refer to as a partial book of shadows. Q: Book of shadows -- A: A partial. Q: -- partial. A: Partial. Q: Alright. Now, the items drawn on the front, what is that? A: That is a pentagram, that happens to be a Wiccan, or white witchcraft pentagram. Q: Alright. Now if you would open the book to the front page. A: Yes sir. Q: Alright. Now, explain what that is. A: That's confusion to me. Q: Alright. A: And the reason why we've got a white witchcraft pentagram, then we have upside down crosses which comes from another type of occultism. Q: What type of occultism do the upside down cross come from? A: That's black witchcraft. Q: Black witchcraft? A: Yeah, and that is at the stations. Q: That's what? A: That's at what we call the points, the five points. Q: Alright, what significance does that -- that it's at the five points? A: Usually in traditional occultism -- excuse me -- satanism they'll have various activities take place or -- Q: Okay. Now -- A: -- figures -- Q: In white witchcraft or wiccan do you have upside down crosses? A: No sir. Just as the category Lanning had described years earlier, To Echols, symbols meant whatever he wanted them to mean, and he mixed Satanism Witchcraft, and Paganism into what he called "Demonology". Like it or not, that's relevant. And the fact is, the only "satanist" catagory Echols DIDN'T fall into was the traditional or "true believer" Satanist. The real ones. The ones for which no evidence of serious criminal activity exists. He was the very definition of the type "satanist" who has traditionally committed violent crime - the psychotic, drug addled self-styled teen dabbler from a dysfunctional family who had issues of obtaining power over others. Lanning isn't simply speculating on a "psychological mindset" like some sort of profiler, he developed these distinct catagories through researching documented historical examples. This wasn't real "satanic panic" - the people of West Memphis weren't afraid of cloak wearing, latin speaking figures lurking in the shadows snatching babies, they were afraid of a group of stoner anti-social teens who sat around campfires tripping, killing animals, and playing "devil worshiper". And they had a right to be afraid, because that silly crap was going on at the time. Witness after witness reported going to these little get togethers, and police found the remnants. http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/jdreport.html Now, whether you are willing to accept it or not, those are the type folks who are most likely to commit just such a sick and sensless crime, and the fact that Echols was one of them is relevant. Like Rod Ferrell, Richard Ramirez, Ricky Kasso, and a host of others. Echols and his gas-huffing, anti-social, heavy metal "devil worshiper" pals did this crime - make no mistake about it. They were out there in those woods stoned and drunk when the kids came by, they started bullying and humiliating them and in a frenzy, the brutality escalated into savage murder - just as Misskelley described, and just as the evidence clearly shows. The simple fact is, There was no motive. They did it just to see what it was like, and they bragged about it to anyone who would listen.