'Lord of the Rings' director Peter Jackson isn't just interested in vanquishing evil on the big screen: He also wants to find the real killer in the still unsolved West Memphis Three case.

Even though the trio has been released from prison, Jackson (who also directed 'The Lovely Bones') will continue to fund the effort to clear their names and find the real murderer of three small boys, EW reports.

Jackson may not have been as vocal a supporter of the West Memphis Three as, say, Johnny Depp, but for the past several years, he's quietly funded private investigations and forensic experts in an effort to overturn their 1994 convictions.

Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley Jr., and Damien Echols were freed on August 19, but are technically still considered guilty. "The ongoing work will focus on proving the convicted men's innocence, as it always has," Jackson's manager, Ken Kamins told EW. He added that Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh hope their efforts will "lead to the unmasking of the actual killer."

The case was the subject of the award-winning 1996 HBO documentary 'Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills,' and celebrities including Depp, Eddie Vedder, Natalie Maines, and Henry Rollins rallied to support the teens whom they believed to be wrongly convicted.

"When Peter and Fran got involved, they had to decide how to best serve the case," Kamins told EW. "Everyone else who was raising money and bringing public attention to the case. Peter and Fran, therefore, decided to put their attention into funding and spearheading DNA work, hiring forensic and other experts, plus extensive private investigations into all aspects of the case."

Kamins continued: "Because Peter and Fran's role required a very close relationship with the defense lawyers, in particular Damien's team, they have always respected and understood that their role had to be of a confidential nature." He added that over the years, Jackson has become close friends with Damien and his wife Lorri. "They have always believed that if they could get Damien free, Jason and Jessie would benefit too."

Now all three are free, but the filmmakers don't consider their work over. "Peter and Fran are heavily involved in ongoing investigations, and the release of the guys is far from the end of the story."

Director Atom Egoyan ('Chloe') is attached to a film based on the case: Why do you think the story is so compelling to so many people?

[via EW]

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categories Movies, Hot Topic