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Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three [Paperback]

Mara Leveritt
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Oct 2003
"Free the West Memphis Three." Maybe you've heard the phrase. But do you know why their story is so alarming? Do you know the facts? The guilty verdicts handed out to three Arkansas teens in a horrific capital murder case were popular in their home state -- even upheld on appeal. But after two HBO documentaries called attention to the witch-hunt atmosphere at the trials, artists and other supporters raised concerns about the accompanying lack of evidence. Now, award-winning journalist Mara Leveritt provides the most comprehensive look yet into this endlessly shocking case. For weeks in 1993, after the murders of three eight-year-old boys, police in West Memphis, Arkansas, seemed stymied. Then suddenly, detectives charged three teenagers -- alleged members of a satanic cult -- with the killings. Despite stunning investigative blunders, a confession riddled with errors, and an absence of physical evidence linking any of the accused to the crime, the teenagers were tried and convicted. Jurors sentenced Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley to life in prison. They sentenced Damien Echols, the accused ringleader, to death. Ten years later, all three remain in prison. Here, Leveritt unravels this seemingly medieval case and offers close-up views of its key participants, including one with an uncanny knack for evading the law....

Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (20 Oct 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743417607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743417600
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.1 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 328,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Library Journal Reviews" "Arkansas Times" investigative reporter Leveritt explores the 1993 West Memphis Three murder convictions, which have been the subject of two HBO documentaries. The book is arranged chronologically, from the crime through the trial, and dispassionately dissects the prosecution's case against three teens who were convicted of the grisly murders of three eight-year-old boys. Leveritt interviewed the principals, reviewed the police file and trial transcripts, and leads the reader to conclude from her exhaustive research (430 footnotes) that the case was botched, improperly based on a single confession from a retarded youth and the defendants' alleged ties to satanic rituals. Well written in descriptive language, the book is an indictment of a culture and legal system that failed to protect children as defendants or victims. Highly recommended. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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AT 7:41 P.M. ON MAY 5, 1993, a full moon rose behind the Memphis skyline. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing stuff 5 Sep 2003
By A Customer
This is a very important book about a horrific crime which took place in West Memphis in the early 90s - three eight-year-old boys were brutally murdered in a terrifying attack, and subsequent events led to the imprisonment of three teenagers for the crime, and yet there appears to be a dearth of evidence to actually link these suspects to the murders. These three suspects were convicted & are currently in jail (one is on Death Row), but there is a massive movement of people who subscribe to the view that the arrest was wrongful and that there are certain other suspects still at large who appear to have been inadequately investigated by the police. It's a tangled web, and one that is harrowing, intense, and quite likely to have you in tears. And it's still not over; there have now been two books about this, two films, and a new major movie is in production now about the events - read this book and make up your own mind. Considering the 'evidence' in this case, it's good that the author maintains as much objectivity as can be expected - there are times when reading this that you may feel, as I did, like banging your fists on the floor in exasperation at the incredibly inept investigation into this case, and it's then, on reflection, that you sometimes wonder about the reasons behind that apparently lax police work, and you hope that the hints here and there of hidden agendas are wrong, because therein lies the spectre of sinister goings-on behind the scenes. Let's hope the truth will finally be uncovered by the attention this book and the movie will bring to this case once again, and that justice can be done and the poor victims can finally be allowed to rest in peace.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, educational read 28 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent insight to the case but it takes forever to read as all the case notes/sources/references are in the back and throughout the book, it references back to these so there is a lot of flicking back and fourth and a lot to take in. The only consolation of reading this is knowing the 3 are out. Check out West Of Memphis as a follow-up... Mara Leveritt also features in the documentary -- but this is a fantastic but thorough "introduction" to the case. It's also being turned into a film at some point!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read. 6 May 2013
This was such a sad story to read and it just leaves you with a feeling of disgust for the human race.After reading the story it really leaves you not knowing who really murdered these three young boys.The police were totally incompetent in their handling of the whole investigation and it really leaves you wondering were they actually that incompetent or did John Michael Byers have some damning evidence against some of the officers that were leading this investigation as he looked the prime suspect in this case.In the Bible belt of America it is easy to twist an investigation against 3 teenagers that are not your normal everyday teens, when you bring satanic overtures to the table and that is what was done here in my opinion.It's definitely a book I would recommend someone to read.
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