The Arty Semite

Friday Film: Vindicating the West Memphis Three

By Curt Schleier

On January 12, HBO will broadcast “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory.” For filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, this marks the end of an 18-year, three-movie odyssey that resulted in the freeing from prison of three apparently innocent young men.

In June 1993, high school students Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley — known as the West Memphis Three — were accused of the brutal murders and mutilations of three 8-year-old boys, supposedly as part of a satanic ceremony.

The day after their arrests, Sheila Nevins, president of HBO Documentary Films, sent Berlinger and Sinofsky a clipping about the detentions from The New York Times and asked them to fly out to West Memphis, Ark., to do some investigating for a potential documentary.

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