Eddie Munson, personaje de Stranger Things 4 protagonizado por Joseph Quinn. Fotograma de la serie

More than a thousand days of waiting have not been an obstacle for stranger things quickly reaffirming its status as one of Netflix’s most popular original titles. Moreover, only three days were enough for the first volume of its season 4 to pass the course 200 million hours watchedbreaking the record set a few weeks ago by the British drama Bridgerton.

The long-awaited return of the series produced by the brothers Matt and Ross Duffer brings a lot of new elements to the plot. However, the story does not only take place in Hawkins, the small American town where “strange things” have been happening for three seasons, but also there is a significant part of the argument taking place in California and Russia.

In addition, several mysteries that date back to previous seasons will be tackled and solved throughout this episode, while the murders are associated with a new monster that apparently has a modus operandi the young protagonists had never seen before. But there is one character in particular who has aroused the curiosity of viewersand whose creation has a rather particular past.

It is Eddie Munsona rehearsal teenager, metalheads, Freak and drug dealer who runs the Hellfire Club -a sort of fraternity school where Dustin and Mike practice the role-playing game popularly known as Dungeons and Dragons– and he is accused of being responsible for the first recorded murder in this phase of the series.

Like the rest of the members that make up the club, Munson is recognized around town as a misfit. And although he was the last to see the murdered young woman alive, the suspicions that fall on him have much more to do with his personal characteristics. and his role in the club Dungeons and Dragons (considered a “satanic” game not only in the series, but also by several people at the time).

It is here that his story begins to merge with that of Damien Echolsa a young man who in 1993 was identified as one of those responsible for the violent murder of three children in the city of West Memphis, Arkansas, simply because he wore black, listened to heavy metal and was considered a misfit among his peers, and whose case involved multiple judicial irregularities.

On May 6, 1993, around 1:45 p.m., the bodies of Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers They were found in a canal in West Memphis, Arkansas. They were naked and their hands were tied to their feet behind their backs with their shoelaces. One of them had several lacerations, but what caught the police’s attention the most was that his genitals had been mutilated.

The three children were eight years old and had been reported missing the afternoon of the previous day.although at this time no further due diligence was carried out regarding the search, only specifying a locals-run tour that included a cursory examination of where the bodies were later found.

Some neighbors testified to police that the last time they were seen alive they were together, playing on some hills, just minutes before Branch’s stepfather unnecessarily called them home.

And although genital lesions and a semen sample found in the pants of one of the miners suggest it was a case of rape, the autopsy ruled out that the children had been sexually abused before their deaths. Thus, the new theory of the police gained strength: it was, ultimately, a kind of human sacrifice, carried out within the framework of a Satanist ritual.

The eyes quickly turned to Damein Echols, an 18-year-old with divorced parents, recognized in the industry for having “dark” tastes – listening to heavy metal and reading Stephen King books – and being quite problematic. He was also not a new face for the police or social services, having already been arrested several times for committing a series of petty crimes.

Damien Echols at sentencing after being found guilty of murder, Jonesboro, Arkansas, March 19, 1994. Photograph by ZUMA / Alamy Stock Photo
Damien Echols at sentencing after being found guilty of murder, Jonesboro, Arkansas, March 19, 1994. Photograph by ZUMA / Alamy Stock Photo

Despite no concrete proof of their involvement, Echols and two of his friends, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskeleywere interrogated and treated as suspects in a procedure with many irregularities.

In 1994, the three were found guilty of triple homicide based on the testimony of Missskelley, who, though full of contradictions, assumed to have been present in the forest on the day his companions committed the crime, although he It was later alleged that the young man’s confession had been obtained by coercion. The testimony of a young woman who claimed to have heard Echols confess to the murder at one of the meetings of the pagan religion Wicca several weeks after the murder was also presented.

Memorial in honor of Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers.  Photograph by Thomas R Machnitzki (thomasmachnitzki.com)
Memorial in honor of Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers. Photograph by Thomas R Machnitzki (thomasmachnitzki.com)

And so Without convincing evidence to prove their actual participation in the events, the three were sentenced to extremely heavy sentences: while Baldwin and Misskelley received life sentences, Echols was charged with being the intellectual author of the crime and sentenced to nothing less than the death penalty. A resolution full of assumptions and conclusions based on value judgments, and which kept three innocent young men in prison for 18 years.

Things began to look up in July 2007, when new forensic evidence was presented in the case. That same year, the defendant’s defense prepared a state-assisted report dismissing that the genetic material found at the crime scene was attributable to the defendant. A) Yes, The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the youths, who were fully released in 2013.

In 1996, HBO created Paradise Lost: The Robin Hood Hills Child Murders, the first of three documentaries that go into detail about all the details underlying the case (available on YouTube).

There the directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky They reconstruct the events since the arrest of the young people, taking as the central axis of the story the trials that were carried out against them. The feature film contained the full recording of the process and included a series of interviews with members of the police, the lawyers in the case and the families of the victims and the accused.

The first part clarifies the position of the two parties: while the police and the relatives of the deceased children are convinced that the defendants are the only culprits, the parents of young people have always believed in the innocence of their children.

The second documentary, titled Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, focuses on Echols’ appeal against his death sentence, alleging that his lawyers at the time were not diligent enough to provide him with a fair defense.

The third and last part, called Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, ends by telling the story of the three young defendants, showing the new evidence that emerged along the way and the repercussions the case had on public opinion, ending with the release of Baldwin, Misskelley and Echols from their sentences.

Poster for Paradise Lost, HBO documentary
Poster for Paradise Lost, HBO documentary

However, the documentary trilogy did much more than solidify the scope of the case. Throughout its recordings, the conjectures made in the context of its production have led the courts to consider two new suspects: Sponge hobs, stepfather of one of the murdered children who had a history of domestic violence, who changed his alibi several times and whose DNA was found at the crime scene through a hair; Yes Jean-Marc Byersalso the stepfather of another of the victims, who in addition to changing his attitude throughout the film (coming to accept that the condemned were innocent), gave the directors a rather particular object.

The gift was a knife, which the librarians tested to rule out any anomalies. Traces of blood were found in the study. so they decided to turn it over to the police so they could investigate further. Although the results showed similarities to the DNA of the man and his son, it could not be determined which of the two it matched, so it could not be used as consistent evidence in the case. court case.

Another element that stood out in the production of the documentaries was the the use of Metallica songs, this being the first time that the group authorized the use of their music for an audiovisual project. This helped the feature get even more public exposure.

Note that in 2011, the series – represented by its third and final part – was nominated for an Oscar, in the Best feature documentary category.thus acknowledging the work that its creators have done for 15 years, recording and accompanying the three innocent young people through the process to clarify their zero connection to the crimes.

The crime has also inspired works of fiction, including a third season episode of the series. real detective and the movie devil’s knotfrom the director Egoyan atom.

Despite the fact that the judicial result was unfavorable to the young people, the obvious irregularities of the trial propagated by the trilogy of lost paradise they turned several civil society voices in favor of the “West Memphis Three”.

One of the greatest promoters of the cause was the actor, comedian and musician Henry Rollinwho has collaborated with several artists in Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three, an album gathering several versions of the theme overcome from the punk band black flag and whose profits were donated to the three defendants.

Johnny Depp and Damein Echols.  Photograph by Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Johnny Depp and Damein Echols. Photograph by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

But the celebrities who stood out the most in their support were actor Johnny Depp and Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vadder, who has never ceased to publicly advocate the innocence of young people. The latter even went to court, where he sat next to Echols’ wife, and kissed the young man once released from prison.

Vadder and Echols stayed in touch after the case was resolved, and in 2006, they co-wrote the lyrics to army reserve, one of the songs included on Pearl Jam’s self-titled album.

Another musician who also collaborated with the young man was Michale Graves, former singer of the Misfitswho invited him to participate in writing and performing backing vocals on his third solo album, titled illusion and in which the two appear as authors.

During his time on death row in prison – where he was initially awaiting the order to receive the lethal injection -, Echols turned to studies of Buddhism and ceremonial magic. At this time he also wrote his autobiographyentitled almost home and published in 2005. Upon his release from prison, he continued to write books in which he captured his experience as an innocent in prison.

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