Christopher Byers, Michael Moore, Stevie Branch (left to right)
WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (KTHV) - One of the greatest tragedies in the short lives of Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore is that most people will know them only as victims.
But to family and friends, the 8-year-old classmates were something far more than that; they were children - whose personalities, smiles, and spirits will never die.
As second graders, they were classmates, Cub scouts, and the best of friends.
After class at Weaver Elementary School, it wasn't uncommon to find the trio outside playing together, riding bikes, and exploring their West Memphis neighborhood.
Christopher, the oldest of the three, loved to swim and was always asking "why?"
Those close to him affectionately called him 'Wormer,' because he liked to climb. When the brutal murders of the three boys happened on May 5, 1993, Christopher was 49 days away from his 9th birthday.
"I think about my son every day," said his stepdad, Mark Byers. "There is not a day that goes by that I don't get up and fight for him."
Across the street from Christopher's home sat Michael Moore's house. Michael was known as a leader, a little boy who was well-respected by others.
"I lost almost everything, and not a day goes by that I don't mourn for Michael," his mom wrote in a statement to CNN.
Then there was Stevie Branch, nicknamed 'Bubba.' He loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, animals, and singing. At a mere eight years old, his family said he was already a heartbreaker, sporting his lovable snow white hair and blue eyes. And as with most sweet boys, Stevie was a momma's boy.
"Stevie was a very outgoing, brilliant child, anybody that knew him loved him," his mother, Pamela Hicks recalled.
If the 8-year-old boys would have lived through today, they'd be 28-year-old adults. Instead, a memorial stands at their elementary school; two of the kids' homes are now vacant and boarded up; and the woods at the crime scene in Robin Hood Hills are now gone.
The boys who played together and died together are now separated in death. Michael is buried in Marion, Arkansas; Stevie in Steele, Missouri; and Christopher in Memphis, Tennessee. But their families continue to remember their short lives and find peace in their passing.