The Phelps fled town and disapeared after being charged with 33 counts.
Ritual elements in the case were ignored by authorities at the time. In August 1996, a judge overturned the child molestation convictions of Alvin and Deborah Mc Cuan and Scott and Brenda Kniffen.** (Northwest Herald, August 14, 1996).
(Beifuss, 1994) Misskelley confessed to his role in the killings, telling police the murders were linked to a cult ritual that included the rape and mutilation of victims. West Memphis police detective Bryn Ridge testified that elements in the case pointed to the work of a satanic cult. Steve Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore disappeared while riding their bicycles in May 1993. Acquaintances said Echols carried a cat's skull to school, wrote satanic poems, and claimed to worship the devil. During his first police interview Echols told Detective Ridge that his favorite author was Anton La Vey, author of The Satanic Bible. Mental health records indicate that Echols' parents expressed concern about his possible involvement in "satanism or devil worship" when he was hospitalized in 1992.
Their nude bodies were found the next day in a drainage ditch. Just four months prior to the murders a clinician noted: "Damien explained that he obtains his powers by drinking blood of others." (Sullivan, 1994).
It is impossible to give information on ritual abuse, and about people's opinions about ritual abuse, in a way that is not upsetting and/or triggering.Akron Philip and Michael Schmidt pleaded guilty to molesting children attending the day care center operated by their grandmother, Hazel Riggs, who was sentenced on a lesser charge.A Denver Post report on the case included ritual allegations by a child victim. Acree, former heroin addict and operator of a halfway house for juvenile delinquents, was convicted in February 1983, on two counts of prostituting children and one count of sexually assaulting a child.A 1993 survey by the American Bar Association's Center on Children and Family Law determined that 26 percent of prosecutors nationwide have handled cases involving "ritualistic or sexual abuse." (Ross, 1994).The ritualistic aspects of the crimes often are not presented in court but are clearly indicated in the victims' accounts.* West Memphis Three teenagers were convicted in the cult killings of three 8-year-old boys.In February 1987, a California appeals court reversed Leroy Stowe's conviction on 12 of 16 felony counts, with the grounds cited as a technical insufficiency in the pleadings.** (Newton, 1996). Wilkins, 38, and Lori Elizabeth Bartz, 22, were convicted in July 1987 on 8 counts of sexual abuse involving children from Bartz's unlicensed day-care center.The original list of charges, dating back to 1984, included 92 counts of sex acts forced upon girls aged 10 to 15.During the trial, Patavino wore a pentagram medallion around her neck. More than 50 children accused Fuster and his wife, Iliana, of abuse that included feces-eating, drugging, pornography, animal killings and anal rape with a crucifix.Fuster's 7-year-old son was treated for gonorrhea of the throat.Bridgeport Kerri Lynn Patavino, 28, a school bus driver, was convicted in August 1996 of statutory rape for seducing a 14-year-old boy who said she engaged him in strange rituals during sex. The boy testified that Patavino once cut her arm with a razor blade and forced him to lick her blood. Dade County Francisco Fuster, 36, was convicted in 1985 on 14 counts of child abuse and sentenced to a minimum of 165 years in prison.According to police, Patavino sent the boy love letters decorated with occult symbols and signed in her blood. Fuster had previously been convicted of lewd and lascivious assault on a 9-year-old girl and had served four years in prison for homicide.