There’s a conspiracy theory out there that Damien Echols as a teenager was so deeply involved in the occult, the murder of the three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis was an expression of that – in other words it was a ritualistic killing. It was the shedding of their blood to magically bestow power on himself. This power would turn him into a god of some sort, and give him greater power of the world, and of men.
Of course, this theory is completely nuts. There was zero occult activity in the woods and abandoned bridges of West Memphis, wasn’t there?
You can laugh at that theory all you like. Today Damien Echols believes in the same MAGICKal transcendence stuff; so much so he’s just written a book about it.
It’s quite ironic – the satanic occult stuff is all a myth and had nothing to do with the murders. Cut to 2018, it’s still absolutely epicentral to who this guy thinks he is.
If Echols did murder and torture those boys, he must believe the voodoo has worked – he beat his death row conviction after all, and has emerged since then as a celebrity – way beyond the mold of true crime TV shows like murder made me famous. Echols has spawned a cottage industry of art works, bestsellers and MAGICK-themed workshops around his MAGICKal persona.
He has big media publications at his beck and call when it’s time for another PR blitz.
What’s weird about Echols is he presents this tough, cool, tattooed rock star type persona on camera, and yet whenever he talks it’s about his victimhood and how much he’s suffered and been hard done by [especially while on death row].
He can’t stop talking about how he pissed blood, forgot how to walk, had to learn how to use a fork again and almost went blind. That’s why Echols is often sporting those zany blue glasses, in the vein of movie stars like Robert Downey Junior and Johnny Depp and rock stars like Bono and John Lennon.
Who knew being accused of murder made you this cool?
It seems Echols is the only death row inmate to become such a pathetic specimen simply by virtue of being behind bars for an extended period.
Really? He had to learn how to use a fork? How hard or traumatizing is that?
He talks about triumphing over something, but he can’t quite extricate the murder that made him famous from his MAGICKal self. He never quite let’s it go although in every interview it’s all about putting the past behind him once and for all and going to live on happily ever after. Until the next book, or show or art exhibition.
Well, maybe he’s just a sensitive soul? An artist type. And how many artists commit murder?
But sensitive souls tend to have the capacity to think sensitively about other souls too. Does Echols have the capacity to think about others, and not just how these can be used to benefit him from through blood or money?
In an interview with Vice, he’s asked precisely this question.
Did you ever have time to feel pain or sympathy for all the other numerous victims involved in this horrible ordeal?
During it, the only thing you can focus on is trying to survive. It takes everything you have to put one foot in front of the other and make it through one day at a time. When you’re being beaten and starved and in misery and being abused every day, having to look out and make sure nobody is going to murder you the next minute, you don’t have a lot of time to sit around philosophizing and thinking about things in the outside world. When you’re in there it’s almost like a daydream or a fairy tale, something that may exist somewhere, that someone told you once that existed. You don’t have anything other than the cold, brutal reality that you’re spending every ounce of energy you have to get through.
So no, he doesn’t feel sympathy for the three dead children he was accused of murdering in this saga. Yet he can take the time to write books, several in fact, glorifying in his MAGICKal self.
Irrespective of whether you believe Echols is guilty or innocent, what’s beyond doubt is how much of a poser he is.
Given his standalone starpower, it’s easy to forget that Echols had two co-accused implicated in the three murders, and that one of them repeatedly confessed to the crimes of all three.
Echols was by far the most significant character of the trio. In King of Freaks, my book on Echols, I made the case that if it was a ritualistic killing, then the three killers and three victims made sense. If the boys were lured to their deaths, then potentially each of the three boys was matched to a murderer based on looks and the qualities the murderer wanted from his victim.
It must have touched a nerve, otherwise Echols wouldn’t have bothered with King of Freaks. In five years of true crime writing, he’s the only murder accused who’s left a review on a story about him and his alleged crimes.
On October 30th, the ironically named Big Think published a puff piece on Echols. Here’s an extract:
I see the good points of true crime and I see the bad points of true crime. For me personally I tend to stay away from it. I honestly have not even seen the Paradise Lost documentaries.
Do you believe the 3-part documentary that basically set the so-called exoneration ball rolling was too much trouble for the man at the center of it to watch? Do you believe that a preening peacock who’s so particular about his tats and his facts, didn’t bother to soak up the reflection of the camera’s hero worship?
I tried to watch them, I made it through 15 to 20 minutes of the first one, and I could understand why it had such a big impact on people because when I was watching it, it felt like being in the courtroom. It was like experiencing it again. And, for me, that was the last thing in the world that I wanted. That was—it ate up 20 years of my life, so the last thing I wanted to do was go back there. At the same time I’m grateful that so many other people did watch it and were affected by it and came to our aid, because it saved my life. But that doesn’t mean I want to watch it.
And then it’s back to the whinging and self-pity.
The hardest parts of being in prison, the worst parts to deal with were just the sheer brutality of it. You know, there were times when I was beaten so bad that I started to piss blood. They’re not going to spend a lot of time and money and energy taking care of someone they plan on killing. So it’s not like you’re going to see a real doctor or a real dentist. At one point I’d been hit in the face so many times by prison guards that it had caused a lot of nerve damage in my teeth, so I was in horrendous pain. Your choices are: live in pain, or let them pull your teeth out. I didn’t want them to pull my teeth out, so I had to find techniques that would allow me to cope with the physical pain. That was probably the biggest thing that kept pushing me forward to learn more and more and more about magick, because I had to find ways just to survive.
This though, is real pain, and real brutality, the true victims of WM3:
Magick, spelled with a K at the end, M – A – G – I – C – K, the reason it has a K is to differentiate it from sleight of hand, you know, sawing assistants in half, pulling rabbits out of a hat, things like that. The entire point of high magick it is a path that leads to the same things that Eastern traditions refer to as “enlightenment,” which is the dissolution of the self. The form that I practice derived, for the most part, from the late 1800s in London. You had a group of people, they called themselves the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn—some really intelligent people, the beloved poet W.B. Yeats was a member.
What Echols is selling now is no different to what he was saying during his murder trial and throughout his time on death row.
Echols, based on his twitter following, is at least three times more popular than Amanda Knox, another “innocent victim” accused of the brutal murder [using a knife to saw deep gouges in the throat] of her housemate Meredith Kercher.
In fact he’s so alluring, a woman fell in love with Echols while he was on death row, quit her job to move closer to the prison and ultimately marriage Echols – while he was on death row.
Since his release from death row, Echols has been courted by celebrities, from Johnny Depp to Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, because he’s such a swell hard-done-by guy. Jackson even invited Echols and his wife to visit him at his home in New Zealand.
Officially, since the acquittal of Echols and the WM3, the murders of Steve “Stevie” Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore—from West Memphis, Arkansas—remains unsolved.