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West Memphis Three: $100,000 reward offered to clear their names

The West Memphis Three, convicted of killing three Cub Scouts, were released last year but not exonerated. A new $100,000 reward aims to clear their names.

By Suzi ParkerCorrespondent / February 28, 2012

Documentary filmmakers Joe Berlinger (l.) and Bruce Sinofsky (r.) pose with former inmate and West Memphis Three member Jason Baldwin as they hold copies of the Commercial Appeal newspaper with a headline "3 Walk Free," in a scene from the documentary "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory."

Jonathan Silberberg/HBO/AP

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Little Rock, Ark.

Activists hope a $100,000 reward, offered by an anonymous donor on Tuesday, leads to an arrest and conviction in the West Memphis Three case.

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The three men originally arrested in the 1993 murders of three Cub Scouts in West Memphis, Ark., were released last August after 18 years in prison. They offered an “Alford plea,” in which the three actively claimed innocence, but pleaded guilty for freedom in exchange for time already served.

The murders were described as Satanic and gruesome at the time, but no physical evidence, including DNA, linked the men, who were then teenagers, to the crime.

The three men – Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley – became a cause célèbre within parts of Hollywood and the music industry, with stars ranging from actor Sean Penn to singer Eddie Vedder championing their cause. Since their relese in August, the three men have led a whirlwind life of attending celebrity parties, learning 21st century technology, and coping with freedom. 

But West Memphis Three supporters want the men to have a clear name and won’t stop until the real murderer, or murderers, is behind bars.

“We know Damien, Jason and Jessie were not involved in this crime, and that those responsible are still in our community,” says Capi Peck, a founder of Arkansas Take Action, a group of concerned citizens seeking justice in case. “It may be difficult to provide information about a murder, but it is the right thing to do.”

In January, the defense team said that it had new evidence against Terry Hobbs, one of the Cub Scouts’ stepfather. Mr. Hobbs’s nephew allegedly told his friends that his uncle killed the three boys. The friends underwent polygraph tests. They passed the tests, according to the defense team.

Hobbs’s DNA has also been linked to the crime scene in previous investigations. Hobbs, however, has always maintained his innocence.

Billboards and radio advertising will promote the reward. A confidential tip line has also been created.

In 1993, a $30,000 reward was offered by the West Memphis Police Department. That reward contributed to luring Mr. Misskelley into a police interrogation that resulted in him falsely confessing to the crime and implicating Messrs. Echols and Baldwin.

Hollywood attention is continuing to keep the case in the limelight.

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