Jo Lynn McAughey, Stevie's aunt, said she saw Hobbs doing laundry that night—perhaps, the filmmakers suggest, to clean the mud off his clothes after killing the boys in the woods. She also found Stevie's pocket knife, which the boy always kept with him, among Hobbs's belongings. Hobbs says he took it off Stevie earlier that day because he didn't think it wise to let an eight-year-old carry a knife around.
Recently, three young men came forward to say they once heard Hobbs's nephew say that Hobbs was guilty of the crime. The Hobbs clan, these witnesses swear, refer to it as a "family secret."
Other evidence is even more circumstantial. In the film, Judy Sadler, another of Stevie's aunts, says of Hobbs: "There's always been something that creeped me out about him." Sadler is then allowed to claim that Hobbs would make Stevie watch him masturbate, and that he also molested Stevie's sister, Amanda. For her part, a tearful Amanda, now going through therapy, said she can't recall ever being sexually abused by Hobbs.
At one point, the filmmakers attempt to construct a motive for the crime. Stevie's mother, Pam Hobbs, who was married to Terry at the time, says she was told that he was jealous of how much attention she gave to her son compared to how much she gave him.
Is this mixture of facts, conjecture, and speculation enough to prove Hobbs guilty? How much of this evidence would hold up in court? How much would withstand interrogation? How much wouldn't even be admitted in the first place? How much is reliant on faulty memories?
Unless Hobbs actually goes on trial, we won't ever know. But the filmmakers aren't answerable to a judge or jury.
In Jackson's mind, the courts have already failed. For him, then, film is a viable surrogate for justice, and he is the self-appointed producer-prosecutor. The creators of West of Memphis decide not only what evidence the audience gets to see, but also how it should be interpreted. In aid of their cause, they supplement their version of the facts with evocative music, close-ups of Hobbs's shifty eyes, excerpts of his evasive responses to tough questions about his past, and smears from people who have reason to dislike him independent of any suspicion about the murders.
One scene shows John Mark Byers, the stepfather of another of the murdered boys, taunting Hobbs outside a courtroom. In front of the news cameras, Byers calls Hobbs a "baby killer." It is a telling moment. Byers, a figure with his own criminal past and a love for the camera, was once held up as a prime suspect by the West Memphis Three's supporters and by Damien Echols himself. Between the first Paradise Lost film and the second, Byers's wife Melissa died. The second Paradise Lost, subtitled Revelations, allows the Three's supporters to suggest the possibility that he killed both her and the kids. In an interview for the film, Echols supported the notion.