1996-2000-2011 © Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills – Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky (1996) / HBO
On May 5, 1993, the bodies of three eight-year-old boys were found next to a muddy creek in the wooded Robin Hood Hills area of West Memphis, Arkansas. A month later, with increasing public pressure on local law enforcement to find the criminal(s), three teenagers—Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols, and Jessie Misskelley—were arrested and accused of raping, mutilating and killing the boys as part of a satanic ritual. Despite the lack of evidence tying them to the crimes, all three were convicted in 2004: two received life sentences, one—Damien Echols, the alleged leader of the group—the death penalty.
Shot over a period of eighteen years, the Paradise Lost trilogy paints the picture of a community gone mad with fear and prejudice, lusting for revenge no matter the cost. The films not only influenced the proceedings of the case—weeks only after the gory triple homicide had taken place—they also impacted the viewers in an unprecedented way, rallying support across the country for the release of the wrongly accused ‘West Memphis Three.’