Echols was to mental hospitals three times in the year preceding the murders.
5/7/92. E. Arkansas Mental Health Center: Client admits to having been suspended seven times this past semester for initiating fights at school and starting fires. States in one fight he almost gouged out the victim’s eyes.
Clinical report based on psychological tests: The behavior of this youngster is characterized by impulsive hostility...the desire to gain power and demean others springs from animosity and a wish to vindicate past grievances. This teenager believes that past degradations may be undone by provoking fear and intimidation in others. Cool and distant, this youth demonstrates little or no compassion for others.
5/19/92. Damien arrested for breaking into a trailer with his 15 year old girlfriend, Deanna Holcomb. Suicide pact if they couldn’t be together. Damien threatening to kill police officers and Deanna’s father when picked up. Convicted of second-degree burglary and sexual misconduct.
5/19/92 to 6/1/92. Craighead County Juvenile Detention Center.
Damien voiced suicide plan to folks at the center. Staff reported that Damien and Deanna planned to have a baby and sacrifice it. Damien knocked a peer to the ground, sucked the blood from the boy’s wounded arm and rubbed the blood on his face. No remorse. Deanna is hospitalized at Mid-South Hospital in Memphis.
Joyce Cureton, Juvenile Director, reported that “it is our opinion that Damien needs mental health treatment.”
6/1/92 to 6/25/92. Charter Hospital of Little Rock. Immediate hospitalization due to suicidal intent.
Admits to a history of violence and attempting to scratch out the eyes of a classmate. There were major concerns that Damien was exhibiting disturbed thinking. He has a history of extreme physical aggression toward others. It was felt that he needed to be temporarily removed from his environment to provide protection for him and protection for others.
Damien states, “I burn myself with lighters. I have huffed gas and paint, used speed, marijuana, glue, and alcohol.”
Damien stated that he got ahold of a police officer’s gun, and that if Deanna’s father had acted aggressively, “I would have blown him away and the next time I will eliminate that person.”
Denies having a conscience or feelings of regret.
Stares into space and shows no emotional response to any kind of stimuli.
Verbalized concern that there are surveillance cameras behind his mirror and under the desk in his room. Quite paranoid; he definitely bears watching.
Still drawing witchcraft symbols & continues to speak of bizarre and unusual practices.
Makes an unusual sound with his mouth that sounds like a cat purr.
States that visit with parents didn’t go well, but would not elaborate.
Damien’s mother concerned about her son “not learning to deal with anger and rages.” Thinks Damien is responding to outside stimulation. Voiced fear that “son may be crazy.”
6/25/92. Damien discharged to mother with instructions for continuing care. Family moving to Oregon.
8/13/92 Home Visit Evaluation by Calvin Downey, Oregon Juvenile Counselor:
Damien indicates he did spend approximately 30 days in a psychiatric hospital via court order, because he was suicidal. He feel his prior depression has improved greatly. Denies use of nonprescribed, controlled substances or alcohol.
Mrs. Echols indicates there are no family conflicts with Damien, that he gets along well with the family, that she does not believe he has a behavioral problem & that she does not need any services from this state.
9/1/92. Officer Ortez is called to the Echols’ apartment in Oregon. Damien transported to St. Vincent’s Hospital.
Emergency Room Report: The patient denies suicidal or homicidal ideation. However, in talking with family members, they state that he made it quite clear that he had thoughts of harming other people, i.e. was going to cut mother’s throat, and also made verbal threats to his father here at St. Vincent’s.
Parents state that he has sniffed propane, glue, gasoline and almost any other drug that is possible. Parental concerns regarding satanism, devil worship.
Admission diagnosis: Suicidal/homicidal ideation.
9/4/92. Discharged from St. Vincent’s. Because of Damien’s threats, both parents do not feel that they wish to have him return to their home. They are frightened of him and what he can do, not only to them but to the other children who reside in the home (2 others). Damien is to return to Arkansas by bus.
9/14/92 to 9/28/92. Readmitted to Charter Hospital from Juvenile Detention Center. He admitted to sucking the blood out of a peer’s neck while in the Center. The other peers were afraid of him. Threats to kill both parents (slash throats, eat alive).
Presenting problem: Homicidal and psychosis. Alteration in thought processes evidenced by delusional thinking and inappropriate social behavior.
Progress notes: Belief in devil worship, has agreed to threatening to “kill” others. Bizarre behaviors. Stated he had attempted suicide before and “wasn’t worried about trying again, because I know I can come back.”
Says he’s going to eat father and that he needs to be locked up or he will hurt someone.
Peers complaining of Damien making growling sounds at them.
Continues talk of satanism. Possible deprogramming needed. Could be a danger to others.
Continues laughing strangely and getting peers to feed into his satanism. Tries to keep staff from seeing him do anything other than what’s appropriate according to unit guidelines. Depressed mood, bizarre behavior.
Said he was “happy to be here because otherwise he’d be in jail and this has to be better.”
Spoke with Jerry Driver re: Damien’s discharge to stepfather Jack Echols. Said this was “ok”.
Diagnosis: Psychotic Disorder NOS and Dysthymia. Prognosis: Poor.
1/5/93. Mental Health Center reopens case: Reports self-mutilation, cutting self with knives. Will “trance out” since 5th grade - doesn’t have to deal with what’s going on. Says he thinks a lot about life after death--”I want to go where the monsters go.” He admits being caught with satanic items, but denies cult involvement.
Is interested in witchcraft for the past 8 years. He has tried to steal energy from someone else and influence others’ minds with witchcraft. Describes self as “pretty much hates the human race.” Relates that he feels people are in two classes--sheep and wolves (wolves eat the sheep).
1/13/93: Damien reports that he’s very angry with family members and with other people who have “let him down”. He discussed issues of power & control. He states that he could make things happen. Affect and mood was flat.
1/19/93: Reveals history of abuse as he talked of how he was treated as a child. States, “I just put it all inside.” Describes this as more than just anger - like rage. Sometimes he does “blow up.” Relates that when this happens, the only solution is to “hurt someone.” When questioned on his feelings he states, “I know I’m going to influence the world. People will remember me.”
1/20/93: Damien is an 18 year old, recently discharged from Charter Hospital. He’s had three psychiatric hospitalizations. Each has been associated with anger, thoughts of killing others, and thoughts of killing himself.
1/25/93: Speaks of rituals, drinking blood, more involved in demonology. Damien explained that he obtains his power by drinking blood of others. He typically drinks the blood of a sexual partner or of a ruling partner. This is achieved by biting or cutting. He states, “It makes me feel like a god.”
Damien describes drinking blood as giving him more power and strength. He remembers doing this as far back as age 10. He wants very much to be all powerful. He wants very much to be in total control.
Damien relates that a spirit is now living with him. The spirit was put inside him last year. He indicates that a month ago, the spirit decided to become part of him and he to become part of the spirit. This is reportedly a spirit of a woman who was killed by her husband. In addition, he also reports conversations with demons and other spirits. This is achieved through rituals.
He denies that he’s satanic, seeing himself more as being involved in demonology.
Affect and mood today continued to be bland, although there was more emotion when talking about drinking blood.
2/5/93: Damien is noted to have cuts on his right arm and hand. Related that he cut himself as a way of permanently marking his skin. Related feeling very angry yesterday when running into previous girlfriend. “I controlled it - I can do anything.”
5/5/93: At times he is impulsive and does things that may be harmful to him. He has impulses to do strange and harmful things.
5/5/93: Christopher Byers, Steve Branch, and Michael Moore are murdered. (adding: Echols was seen walking away from the crime scene area 5/5/93)
Thank you Mary4/56 for the timeline.