Echols and two friends were convicted of killing three boys in what was portrayed as a satanic sacrifice back in the '90s. They were later released on an Alford plea.
The creators of "Stranger Things" drew inspiration from a real-life "Satanic Panic" case for its most recent season -- and one of the accused is "tremendously honored" they modeled fan-favorite Eddie Munson after him.
Warning: We will get into some serious spoiler territory here.
Speaking with Netflix when Volume 1 dropped, The Duffer Brothers said they really wanted to tap into the perceived wave of ritualistic abuse and murders in the 1980s and early '90s for the new season.
"So that brought us back to the 'Paradise Lost' documentary series with the [West] Memphis Three, and it brought us back to Damien Echols," they explained. "We really wanted that character who's a metalhead, he's into Dungeons & Dragons, he's ultimately a true nerd at heart. But from an outsider's point of view, they may go, 'This is someone that is scary.' So that's really where the idea for Eddie came in."
On the show, Eddie's played by Joseph Quinn, who is accused of killing cheerleader Chrissy Cunningham in a Satanic ritual. He goes on the run while the teens of Hawkins, Indiana form a mob to hunt him down. He, of course didn't commit the crime, as Chrissy was one of Vecna's first victims of the season. In the end, he sacrificed himself by playing Metallica's "Master of Puppets" on the guitar inside the Upside Down to distract the Demobats away from the Creel House, so the other kids could stop Vecna. Despite his heroic action, he was still labeled a killer in the press, which condemned The Hellfire Club and claimed the D&D group had a link to satanism.
Like Eddie, Damien Echols and the rest of the "West Memphis Three" -- Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley -- were accused and convicted of killing 8-year-old boys Steve Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers in 1993. Due to the grisly nature of the murders, they were linked to satanism in the media and throughout the three teens' trial. The case attracted a lot of attention and was chronicled in the "Paradise Lost" documentary trilogy, which questioned how the entire case was handled. In 2011, after 18 years behind bars and amid calls to reexamine DNA evidence, all three men were released from prison after signing Alford pleas -- in which they could maintain their innocence, while acknowledging prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them.
After seeing the Duffer Brothers comments, Echols tweeted out his reaction for his role in inspiring Eddie's character.
"In case anyone else is wondering, I was tremendously honored by it. And I greatly appreciate all the new eyes and hearts it has brought to our fight," he tweeted. "I was watching it at 3 am in the morning, and when I heard the very first chords from Master of Puppets, my heart exploded."
In another tweet, he wrote, "When I heard the very first chords of Master of Puppets I felt a tremendous wave of emotion roll through me. It was beautiful and overwhelming."