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West Memphis Three Background Reading

The story of the West Memphis Three is heartbreaking no matter how you look at it. Three teenagers were just released after spending 18 years in prison–convicted on flimsy evidence of murdering three little boys.

The teens were characterized as Satanists because they read Anne Rice and Stephen King books, and listened to heavy metal. The controversial case has been the subject of an array of films and books including a new documentary that is currently at the Toronto Film Festival and a new biopic of the case that director Atom Egoyan has just signed on to direct.

For those readers that want more background on the case, we’ve put together a list of books and documentary films that will tell you how this bizarre case attracted the likes of Peter Jackson, Eddie Vedder and Johnny Depp.

Books:

1. Almost Home: My Life Story Vol 1.: The 2005 account of Damien Echols — the member of the group who served his jail time in solitary and was even three weeks away from being executed when he was on death row
2. The Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three: Journalist Mara Leveritt’s 2003 take on the case from her time covering the trials

3. Blood of Innocents: The True Story of Multiple Murder in West Memphis, Arkansas: Guy Reel’s 2000 true crime depiction of the case

4. The Last Pentacle of the Sun: Writings in Support of the West Memphis Three: Edited by Brett Alexander Savory & M. W. Anderson this collection of stories was published as a fundraiser for the West Memphis 3 Defense Fund

Films:

1. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills: The 1996 HBO documentary film directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky that shows the trials

2. Paradise Lost 2: Revelations: The follow up from Berlinger and Sinofsky that chronicles the appeals to the case

3. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory: The final chapter in the story, which is currently at the Toronto Film Festival, and will be getting a new ending before the screening at the New York Film Festival in October

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