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The legal troubles of Terry Hobbs and John Mark Byers 

Two murdered boys' stepfathers now face charges.

click to enlarge John Mark Byers and Melissa Byers image
  • Angela Roberts
  • NO PEACE YET: Melissa and John Mark Byers, now facing criminal charges themselves, hold a picture of their murdered son Christopher in their new home at Cherokee Village.

On Nov. 6 police in Memphis responded to a call that someone had been shot at 4460 Kerwin St., the home of Pamela and Terry Hobbs. The Hobbses are the mother and stepfather of Steve Branch, who was one of three 8-year-old boys found murdered in May last year, in a wooded area near where the family used to live in West Memphis.

Sgt. Mike Houston of the Police Department said police who went to the house pieced together the following of what had transpired:

Pamela Hobbs said that earlier in the day, her husband Terry had beaten her with his fists. Police said they observed injuries to Pamela Hobbs' face and to the back of her head.

Before she went to the hospital. Pamela Hobbs told police, she called a relative in Blytheville and told him she believed her jaw was broken. That person reportedly contacted other relatives in Blytheville, and together they drove to Memphis, where they confronted Terry Hobbs about the assault.

According to Houston. Hobbs refused to talk to the relatives, but instead left the house and went to a truck outside, from which, unbeknown to those inside, he removed a .357 magnum pistol, which he put in his pocket.

At that point. Jackie Hicks, Pamela Hobbs' brother, came from the house and confronted Terry Hobbs again. Houston said it appeared that "Hicks passed the first lick," and a fight ensued. Hicks had gotten Hobbs down on the ground, when Hobbs reached into his pocket, pulled out the gun, and shot Hicks in the abdomen.

Hobbs then reportedly pointed the gun at some of the other relatives, threatening that he would shoot them too. When police arrived, Hobbs was taken into custody and charged with assault on his wife and aggravated assault on Hicks, his brother-in-law.

Hicks was hospitalized in critical condition. He has since been released from the hospital.

The assaults are but another twist in a tragic saga. And here is another: A year and a half ago, it was Jackie Hicks who, as part of a search team scanning West Memphis for the missing children, was the first to discover the bodies of young Steve Branch and his two murdered playmates.

***

A longer trail of violence followed the lives of Melissa and Mark Byers, the mother and stepfather of Christopher Byers, another of the young victims of that crime, who, besides being murdered, was also found castrated.

In April of this year, shortly after the trials at which three West Memphis teen-agers were convicted of the killings, the Byerses moved to Cherokee Village, a quiet community of about 4,000, close to the Missouri border. They told reporters they wanted to escape the publicity that had engulfed them and live peacefully, but police say, rather, that, since arriving, the couple has disturbed the peace.

Police from Cherokee Village, the neighboring town of Hardy and the Sharp County Sheriff's Office all have been called to investigate incidents involving Mark or Melissa Byers, or both. Donna and John Kingsbury, who live next-door to the house where the Byerses moved, have sought a restraining order against their new neighbors, alleging that Mark Byers whipped their 5-year-old son with the metal end of a swatter, that shots have been fired at their house, and that Melissa Byers threatened them, saying, "We'l1 put you in a hole you can't get out of," and "I lost my Christopher. Maybe you need to see what it's like to lose a child."

The Byerses, who did not respond to requests for an interview, have also sought a restraining order against the Kingsburys.

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