September 11, 2013

Author Damien Echols to Address First-Year Students

“Life after Death” author Damien Echols Addresses First-Year Class

September 12, 2013, at 6:00 p.m.

Wentworth, Watson Auditorium

Damien Echols, author of this year’s summer required reading selection, Life after Death, will address the first-year class as part of the annual summer reading initiative, which unites first-year students through a shared academic experience and emphasizes the importance of reading. Echols will address the first-year class, read from his book, and take questions.

In 1993, teenagers Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr.—who have come to be known as the West Memphis Three—were arrested for the murders of three eight-year-old boys in Arkansas. The ensuing trial was marked by tampered evidence, false testimony, and public hysteria. Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison, 18 year-old Echols, deemed the “ringleader,” was sentenced to death. Over the next two decades, the WM3 became known worldwide as a symbol of wrongful conviction and imprisonment, and in a shocking turn of events, all three men were released in August 2011.

Now Echols shares his story in full—from abuse by prison guards and wardens, to portraits of fellow inmates and deplorable living conditions, to the incredible reserves of patience, spirituality, and perseverance that kept him alive and sane while incarcerated for nearly two decades.

The event is sponsored by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and is open to the Wentworth community. For more information, contact Elaine Mom, academic coordinator, at or (617) 989-4293.

About the Author:
Damien Echols was born in 1974 and grew up in Mississippi, Tennessee, Maryland, Oregon, and Arkansas. At age 18 he was falsely convicted, along with Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. – afterward known as the West Memphis Three – in the case known as the Robin Hood Hill murders. Echols received the death sentence and spent 18 years on death row. In 2011, all three were released in an agreement with the state of Arkansas known as an Alford plea. The West Memphis Three have been the subject of the HBO documentary series Paradise Lost, and West of Memphis, a documentary produced by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. Echols is also the author of the memoir Almost Home.

Past Summer Reading Selections

  • 2012 - Aleksander Hemon’s Love and Obstacles
  • 2011 - Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • 2010 - Dennis Lehane's Mystic River
  • 2009 - Frederick Reiken's The Odd Sea
  • 2008 - Andre Dubus III's House of Sand and Fog
  • 2007 - Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

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