(Memphis) It’s a murder mystery that’s captivated America for the last twenty years: the West Memphis Three.
All these years later, the country is still divided on who murdered those three little boys in Arkansas in 1993.
Many have theories, including one where Terry Hobbs, the step-father of one of the boys, is the killer. Hobbs hasn’t done a TV interview in years, but agreed to sit down with WREG’s Sabrina Hall to answer some questions.
Terry Hobbs says he is a church member, a father, and working man and in no way a killer.
“Everyone has a story and this just happens to be mine,” said Hobbs.
What a story it is.
It’s one that’s sparked documentaries, a handful of books, even a movie that is about to be released.
“With Hollywood actors,” said Hobbs.
“And who is playing your wife?” asked Hall.
“Reese Witherspoon,” laughed Hobbs. “I am happy about that.”
Hobbs can find humor in a story that’s brought him so much pain over the last twenty years, “There is not a day that goes by, seriously, that you don`t think about it.”
On May 6, 1993, three boys are found hog-tied and murdered in a ditch in West Memphis, Arkansas. One of the 8-year-olds is Hobbs’ stepson, Stevie Branch.
“He would have been a heart breaker if he grew up. Blonde hair, blue eyes,” said Hobbs.
West Memphis police believe the killers to be three teenagers in a satanic cult: Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley. Misskelley even confessed to the crime, a confession Hobbs says he heard because he sat through every day of their trials.
“They are guilty,” said Hobbs.
Hobbs says he believes that with all his heart, yet many have a different theory on who killed those boys.
“Terry Wayne Hobbs,” said Mark Byers, a father of one of the victims, in a previous interview. “I don`t know how much clearer I have to make it.”
That theory is the premise of the latest documentary “West of Memphis”.
“In the middle of a knot that had been tightened, there was hair jammed in the middle of that knot,” said a forensic expert in the film.
Forensic experts say DNA evidence ties Hobbs to the crime scene and that neighbors saw him with the boys that night.
Hobbs says the hair found could be his, “all those little boys played at our home.”
But says the rest of the accusations in the documentary are false.
“So you didn`t even see them that day at all?” asked Hall.
“No,” said Hobbs.
“So why do people say they saw you outside and you were calling them home?” asked Hall.
“Because people can,” said Hobbs. “People can say whatever they want to say. It doesn`t make it true.”
Hobbs says when he got home from work on May 5, 1993, the boys were already out riding their bikes, he never them saw them again. Yet, theories keep coming that point to Hobbs as the man behind the murders.
“This is not a theory of who did this, this is evidence,” said an attorney.
Just this March, lawyers for Hobb’s ex-wife, Pam Hicks, and the father of another victim, Mark Byers, paint a more detailed picture: that Hobbs killed the boys with three other men after a day of drinking and smoking pot. Hobbs says the entire story is a complete fabrication.
“There should be a time when you draw the line and you say ‘you don`t cross this line’ and it’s been crossed,” said Hobbs.
Hobbs says he is a victim in the story and has even tried to file lawsuits against those who’ve said otherwise but says, because he’s seen as a public figure, lawyers tell him that he doesn’t have a case. In the end, he says he lives with it, “At some point you’ve got say ‘I got to keep on going. This thing will beat you down if you let it and I chose not to let it control my life.”
Hobbs says his ex-wife knows he is innocent, “She knows better.”
But says Hicks, as well Byers, are wrapped-up in a story that’s turned into an industry, “To me, they`ve all tried to capitalize and they have turned our tragedy into a money making business .”
He says that business, and Hollywood hype, has set the real killers free, “Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley. I believe that with everything inside of me.”
Hobbs says he hopes the three eventually tell the truth one day and apologize, but until then Hobbs says he has to live with the story that many people believe.
“Do you wish you had a different story?” asked Hall.
“Well sure,” said Hobbs. “I am as human as anybody else and I don`t like to be portrayed as a bad person because I am not.”
Hobbs says he has considered contacting the makers of the Devil’s Knot, the movie coming out this year, to find out if they are portraying him as a bad guy. Instead, he’s decided to be surprised like the rest of us.