True Crime Analysis, Breakthroughs, Insights & Discussions Hosted by Bestselling Author Nick van der Leek

Who do you despise the most in True Crime? Damien Echols is my pick [WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES]

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?

Fullscreen capture 20181031 081155

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.

damien-echols-salem-1_Adam_s_Creation_Sistine_Chapel_ceiling__by_Michelangelo_JBU33cut.0Damien Echols, of West Memphis Three murders infamy, emulating Aleister Crowley.deathrow2

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.



  1. Suzanne Weijers

    Years this case has been pictured hear as a wrong conviction. By the way it was brought I believed it. You put it into another light, perspective.
    Thank you!

    Ps. When I was a young girl I was anti death penalty. I wrote with a deathrow inmate for a couple of months through Amnesty. His name Michael Correll # 51493.

    All he wanted was money and ofcourse he was innocent. His letters became right away sexually orientated. Even at that age (I was 18) I realized that some people are truly bad. And its better if they stay locked up or leave our planet. I asked Amnesty an inmate to write with who wasn’t on deathrow. I ended up writing with an indian native. The letters were okay and I stayed in contact off and on because he is off and on in prison. The longest he stayed out was 3 months. It is sad to say but most of these perpetrators never change. Its like it is in their DNA.

    • Joe

      Prisoners are always looking to get money from lonely woman in the free world.

  2. Suzanne Weijers

    Typo Here instead of hear.

  3. Pauline

    Interesting you should bring that up Suzanne. Prisoners,at least prior to 2005, were allowed to be listed on a website. Just pick a prisoner and email him in jail! Bobby Beausoleil, Manson Family member, was just such a prisoner I emailed. I saw he had a whole CD production company going in jail and I listened to some of his music. It’s called “White Dog Music.” He was capitalizing on his fame as a Manson family member but also pre-Manson fame he starred in a Kenneth Anger film called “Lucifer Rising.” In any event I emailed him for a reason: to see if he would tell me anything at all about why he killed Gary Hinman and the Manson family. At first we talked about his music. He was, of course, very flattered. I should have stayed on that subject for alot longer. Then I asked him about Gary. He got very slippery and said sometimes you go along with someone else because you think it’s the right thing and you aren’t really responsible for how it turns out. Then he cut out. When I go back to 2005 on my computer I can see where I emailed him, but all of his responses have been deleted either by the prison system or my own internet server.

    It leads me to wonder if Chris Watts has written any letters? Scott Peterson has. I just read one this morning. Writing is a way to process what they have done, and are often very revealing – in that they will skirt around their crime and are still trying to sell their BS to a gullible public. I just want to warn you Suzanne, to not do it, unless you are writing an article, or a book, or doing some kind of research. You might get sucked in, or worse, when/if they get out they might come looking for you.

    • Debbie

      You are correct. I read a book a while ago about a young man who wrote to John Wayne Gacy. The name of the book is “The Last Victim.” It’s truly diabolical how Gacy pulled him in. Stay away people!

    • megynwhite

      I have 5 letters from Scott Peterson.

  4. thisisthebestthing

    Goodness dude, you need an editor.

  5. Love/hate true crime in equal measure

    Absolutely and categorically; Damien Echols. The irony of his “devil-may-care” attitude (pun intended) being so forced and contrived, is not lost on me.

  6. ElleJay

    You know, Eddie Vedder seems like the type of guy you could just hang out with, have a beer with, shoot the bull…also seems genuine, kind, and really cares about his fellow human beings. Guess what, he loves his friend Damien. He knows him inside and out…their bond is quite evident. See their conversation on utube. Eddie uses his fame to aid in bringing about justice for people wrongly accused. As of this writing he is lending his weight in getting justice for Brendan Dassey (Making a Murderer). My point…Eddie didn’t fight like he did for Damien, Jason and Jessie on a hunch. He knew the case very well as did his other big name supporters. I will say that Damien did have some issues at the time he was convicted, but murder wasn’t one of them. Oh, and I saw Damien in person…his positive energy filled the room.

    • Mike Cooper

      The ACTUAL evidence says otherwise. And psychopaths generally are warm friendly people on the outside. There’s so much more to this case than we will ever know. Just think a minute first the finding of the bodies caught on tape, then the arrest of the boys and the court trials where boys under 18 named which is unusual, then the fact the press kept going back to the story and interviewing Damien every few years and then the release was also caught all on camera. Too many odd things happened in this case and I believe they are guilty but I think more people are involved and it’s something that is a lot bigger than it’s shown to be.

  7. ganana

    Amanda Knox with Damien a close second. I despise Knox more because she squandered a privileged upbringing and a chance for a good education – not just with promiscuity and drugs, but ultimately in a stupid, senseless murder to satisfy her jealousy. She was out of control before she left for Italy and needed help.

  8. Laurie Fenner

    What you call “positive energy” is simply “charisma.” John Wayne Gacy had it, Ted Bundy had it, Charlie Manson had it.

  9. Ralph Oscar

    Looks like Echols, as “AvidReader”, has read – and hated – every book about the murders.

  10. Maggie Schnur

    I am a psychologist, and you have no idea what you are talking about. Damien Echols was innocent and the confession from Misskelly was coerced. Young people with lower IQ’s are at risk for false confessions and police officers are just trying to get a confession not necessarily the truth. I am in no way saying that police officers are not trying to do the right thing, they are just not trained well enough to deal with this demographic of people. It is hard for people to understand why you would falsely confess to a crime you didn’t do, but it happens time and time again with people with lower IQ’s. Misskelly most likely implicated others in the crime to try and get the attention away from himself. He was interrogated for 12 hours, it was a high-pressure interrogation without a lawyer, and he just wanted to get out of it. The real tragedy is that the person that actually committed this crime will never be caught because they pinned it on three innocent people with no evidence other than they thought they were part of the occult. Amanda Knox is another case where there was no evidence against her. She went to talk to police to try and help and ended up being trapped in a 15 hour investigation, in a language that was not her first, and she was alone without family or a lawyer. There was evidence found that connected someone else to the crime and the prosecution just said that she was working with that person.

    • nickvdl

      The real tragedy is that the person that actually committed this crime will never be caught because they pinned it on three innocent people with no evidence other than they thought they were part of the occult. >>>No evidence other than “they thought” they were part of the occult? What is Damien’s stock and trade right now?

      There was evidence found that connected someone else to the crime >>>Oh really, who?

      Btw, do you have a psychology degree or are you still working on getting one? You might want to look into criminal psychology while you’re at it.

      • Abby

        🔥🔥 I know I’m late to the party-but what a perfect reply. I’m watching the Depop/Heard trial and saw an email where JD says something about Echols so I dove into this rabbit hole. Damien Echols is one terrible dude-evil magick -and all. Gross. I’m bummed that Depp likes this guy. DE should be 6ft under as far as I’m concerned.

    • Jim Richardson

      If you may are a psychologist, then you are one who needs to surrender her license asap because you certainly aren’t able to see thru a self-proclaimed sociopath like Damian Echols, and the advice and so called help you offer clients who come to you for help is a dangerous weapon in your incapable hands. Thank God your damage hasn’t bled over into being a criminal investigator; you most surely aren’t that. Echols is a murderous, emotional flatline, and is as guilty as other “misunderstood and railroaded” criminals writers have tried to convince us are innocent of heinous crimes (Bruno Hauptmann being a prime example) in order to promoted books and documentaries. The author of this article is spot-on and you are sorely, sadly misinformed on the West Memphis Three, especially when it comes to Jessie Misskelly’s interrogation and confession. You have the most obvious facts totally and unforgivably wrong. What’s even stranger about your appalling assessment is that the facts of the case aren’t hidden facts or hidden evidence – they are right in plain sight. You just have to read them all to know that the documentaries don’t present an objective opinion but instead offer up an astonishing Fox News-type glossing over and ignoring of evidence. They all serve the purpose of making the WM3 seem like they got a raw deal. They didn’t. The three boys who suffered and died got the raw deal. You would be best off working in a new field.

    • Mike Cooper

      Instead of going on what the supporters who twist everything to fit their narrative are saying, try actually looking at the actual evidence because what you are talking about is nonsense and misinformation being spread by people with an agenda. You can easily find the evidence that was used, evidence that wasn’t used and the interview tapes. Also Damien is a compulsive lier even in the bit of interview here he said he only watched a bit of the paradise lost film, yet in an interview he done in prison he said he had watched it all. There’s so many things he’s been caught lying about. Should wake up and smell the coffee

    • Scott Sheppard

      Being a psychologist does not make you a psychic or omniscient.
      Eyes wide shut. Perhaps you have a degree but you lack the basic common sense to see what’s hiding in plain sight. Damien and friends were not selected for incrimination because of the kind of clothes they wore or music that they listened to. Damien had a history of far more than dabbling in the occult but actively attempting to make himself a direct representative of Satan on Earth. Damien bragged about drinking blood about wanting to ritually sacrifice a baby that he had conceived with his blood drinking girlfriend. He stomped a sick dog to death and then pulled its entrails out of its anus. He had no legitimate alibi it was seen in the vicinity of the murders covered in mud on the night that it occurred neither did Jesse or Jason have any alibis. Jesse Miskelley confessed repeatedly and as a psychologist you perhaps might understand that he was doing the only thing that gave him any relief from the guilt he felt for being involved in this horrific murder of three young boys.
      Damien on the other hand slipped off and leered at and insulted people at the trial and the parents of the murdered children. He has never apologized for his disgusting Behavior towards the families of the murdered boys. If attitude is Damien’s only self-protective option, that is pathetic, but it does not exonerate him of his actions.

  11. Maggie

    I apologize, I realize that I have come off as being confrontational in my initial post, which was not my intention at all. I just feel pretty strongly about this case. I understand that now Damien is involved in magick and wicca, but then there was no evidence to suggest then that he was an occult member. He said that he had looked into wicca but that was the extent of it, and other people also said that. Even if he was a practicing member then though it doesn’t make him a killer by any means. Also, Damien now has a murder conviction, everyone knows who he is and I feel that it would make it very difficult for him to get a job. He writes books and does interviews to make money because it probably wouldn’t be that easy for him to get a job elsewhere. There were bloody fingerprints and the DNA of Rudy Guede found at the crime scene and on the body of Meridith Kercher, which is why he was found guilty of her assault and murder. In regards to my education I called myself a psychologist without thinking because that is what other students and professors call psychology students, as in any other field. I do have an associates degree and I have three classes until I graduate with my bachelor’s. I am currently pursuing a PhD in forensic psychology. Just out of curiosity, what are your credentials?

    • nickvdl

      there was no evidence to suggest then that he was an occult member.>>>You really don’t seem to know much about this case.

      I called myself a psychologist without thinking because that is what other students and professors call psychology students, as in any other field. I do have an associates degree and I have three classes until I graduate with my bachelor’s. I am currently pursuing a PhD in forensic psychology>>>You have a very, very poor grasp of criminal psychology, so you should be very careful calling yourself a psychologist. Let me guess, the sum total of your knowledge on the Echols case is based on watching Paradise Lost 1-2-3.

  12. Mary J

    I’ll say that Echols, Casey Anthony and Amanda Knox. All three walked away gloating. But I still think Damien E is the most evil, he was laughing in court when those little boys’ autopsies were discussed on the stand. Shame these three monsters made money from their deeds.

  13. Joe

    Damian Echols definitely comes across as an insufferable douche. Why is he always trying to look like a rock star?

    He might be innocent, but one thing is for sure; the Paradise Lost documentaries have a ton of bullshit in them.

    The police and district attorney did have a lot of good reason for thinking the WM3 were guilty which the documentaries do not disclose, choosing instead to paint a picture of them as incompetent rednecks on a witch hunt.

    This article lays it out real well (though the author really needs a proof reader):

  14. Bajskorven

    What a shit show. Anyway, I don’t see a lot of clear arguments… DNA said he didn’t do it… But his friend had blood on him or something? He “lied” about paradise lost, and thus it is clear he committed the crime? Can someone point at why it is clear he did it. I haven’t read into it, just heard new DNA test set him free, and people say still he did it.

  15. tiki

    Damien Devil Dick Worshiper is so guilty he stinks. I am 100% positive he did it. I think the other two guys held the victims for Damien and he did his evil on them. I cannot stand the guy. And who the hell does Johnny Depp think he is a judge? I think he had the hots for Damien. They probably consummated more then with tattoos.


    Interesting…I recently found out about the case and could not get enough….I sat through hours of documentaries and interviews.
    First totally into it and charmed by the well spoken Damien,….but when you watch several interviews back to back…you realize he is very fake.
    I noticed Exactly the things that you brought up ! While on tour promoting the HBO movie after his release:
    ” I do not enjoy is like reliving my time in jail…I hate talking about it and I just want to move on”
    Uhhh forward 7 or 8 years later….he is STILL milking it..STILL talking about ” how i survived death row” non stop.

    I am not saying he is guilty or not…they Actually wasted too much time folowing nutty Byers around in the movies ,when they Should have focused on the evidence. They only showed silly evidence “bloopers ” but like the Investigator said on camera….
    The HBO movie did not show all the evidence they had and people are welcome to look at it.

    The OTHER THING that bothered me….Upon being released, everybody ( the Supporters,the stars and Damien) all promised that Now they will focus on finding the Real killers.

    But all thd Post Jail interviews are purely about Damien’s life, time in jail,survival,new book…
    I never heard him talk about being actively involved in finding the killer…
    There was no talk about it.

  17. Lara

    This is the funniest article I have read 😂 love the dry humour👍 Damien Echols is without a doubt a narcissist, my mum was one and I know the traits far too well. There a nightmare to live with, everything will always be about them and there interests only and nobody else matters. They keep people around who are useful to them but they don’t form real attachments or feel empathy, only superficially. Even if he was not the one that night he is still profiting from the murdrrs of these children without seemingly a care in the world.. never do you hear him speak of the families or show signs of trauma for the murders.. he only shows signs of feeling sorry for himself

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *