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Devil's Knot

Devil's Knot

The True Story of the West Memphis Three

*SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING REESE WITHERSPOON AND COLIN FIRTH *

The West Memphis Three. Accused, convicted…and set free. Do you know their story?

In 2011, one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American legal history was set right when Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were released after eighteen years in prison. Award-winning journalist Mara Leveritt’s The Devil’s Knot remains the most comprehensive, insightful reporting ever done on the investigation, trials, and convictions of three teenage boys who became known as the West Memphis Three. 

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 the witch-hunt atmosphere of the trials, and a case which included 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 convicted. Jurors sentenced Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley to life in prison and Damien Echols, the accused ringleader, to death. The guilty verdicts were popular in their home state—even upheld on appeal—and all three remained in prison until their unprecedented release in August 2011.

With close-up views of its key participants, this award-winning account unravels the many tangled knots of this endlessly shocking case, one which will shape the American legal landscape for years to come.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 432 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743417600 | 
  • October 2003
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Murders

At 7:41 P.M. on May 5, 1993, a full moon rose behind the Memphis skyline. Its light glinted across the Mississippi River and fell onto the midsized Arkansas town aspiringly named West Memphis. Sometime between the rising of that moon and its setting the next morning, something diabolical would happen in West Memphis. Three eight-year-old boys would vanish, plucked off the streets of their neighborhood by an unseen, murderous hand. Under the glare of the next day's sun, police would discover three young bodies. They would be pulled -- naked, pale, bound, and beaten -- from a watery ditch in a patch of... see more

About the Author

Mara Leveritt
Photo Credit: Dixie Knight Photography

Mara Leveritt

Mara Leveritt won a White Award for investigative journalism in 1991, was named Arkansas Journalist of the Year in 1992, and was awarded Arkansas’s Booker Worthen Prize in 2000 for her book The Boys on the Tracks. A contributing editor to the Arkansas Times, she lives in Little Rock.

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