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Shawn Sharp interview

Shawn Sharp is the sports editor at the Oxford Eagle and was at the Eagle offices the night Monica Drum was killed. Detectives Murphy and Parker interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.

Monday, November 26, 2012 - 5:00 p.m.

Participants:

  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Detective E. Parker
  • Shawn Sharp

Detective Parker: Thanks for coming in. For the record, could you please state your name and address?

Shawn Sharp: I'm Shawn Sharp, 1414 Pierce Avenue, Oxford.

Detective Murphy: How long had you known Ms. Drum?

Shawn Sharp: Since the Greatest Show on Turf.

Detective Parker: The what?

Shawn Sharp: The Rams kicking ass and taking names. Marshall Faulk? Kurt Warner? Football? You've heard of it?

Detective Parker: And when was that exactly?

Shawn Sharp: Actually that was 1999 through 2001, but I met Monica when she was working for the Cinci Post in 2000.

Detective Parker: So you've known Ms. Drum since 2000?

Shawn Sharp: Yes, but I really got to know Mon when we were both working here in Oxford.

Detective Murphy: You called her Mon? You knew her that well?

Shawn Sharp: Sure.

Detective Murphy: She didn't mind being called that, even in a professional setting?

Shawn Sharp: You mean was she uptight? Nope. You'd never know she was a Yankee or under so much pressure. She was tough as nails – in fact, sometimes she was a pain in the ass – but she was certainly never uptight. I think she liked being called Mon. She had a nickname for everyone else anyway. She always added an -ie to the end of everyone's name. She called me Shawnie. I liked it. Kind of endeared her to me.

Detective Parker: What were some of the other names she used for people?

Shawn Sharp: Well, she called Steve in the press room Stevie, and my assistant, Morgan Andrews, she called him Morrie. Everyone got an -ie.

Detective Parker: What about Rick Hughes?

Shawn Sharp: Richie. Boy, he hated it!

Detective Parker: How do you know?

Shawn Sharp: It wasn't a secret. She would even come over the intercom and say, "Richie, please come to my office." Heh, heh, you could see the steam coming out of his ears. Matter of fact, they got in a big argument about that the day before she was killed.

Detective Murphy: Did anyone else in the office hear or see the argument?

Shawn Sharp: I don't think anyone in the office did, but it wasn't in the office. It was at the open house. I was there with … a lady friend, and we were waiting in line for a carriage ride. That's romantic, right? I should get points for that, right? Anyway, Rick and Monica were a few people ahead of us in line. I didn't even notice them at first because I was concentrating on my lady, but then they got loud and everyone noticed them.

Detective Murphy: Loud?

Shawn Sharp: They were arguing, which isn't anything new, but they were loud enough that we could all hear them.

Detective Murphy: Did you hear what they were arguing about?

Shawn Sharp: The Egg Bowl, if you can believe it. Neither one of them knows much about college football, but that didn't stop them. Rick was saying that State was going to win because they had more wins over the season, so they were the better team. Some people would say State had an easier schedule and that's why they won more, but there was no point telling Rick that because he wasn't hearing it. Monica was saying wins didn't matter as much because it wasn't like a regular game and not to count Ole Miss out. 'Course, we know how that turned out.

Detective Murphy: So they were arguing loudly about the game. Did anything else happen?

Shawn Sharp: I wasn't listening to every word, but I thought it was pretty stupid of Rick to be yelling about that when he was surrounded by Ole Miss fans. Monica must've thought so too because I heard her call him an idiot.

Detective Murphy: What was Rick's reaction?

Shawn Sharp: He got real quiet and just looked at her. She could see he was upset, and I could tell she liked it. She was fearless. I think she kind of got a kick out of pushing her luck with people. I didn't read too much of the stuff she wrote, but I was always hearing about her stepping on someone's toes. I think her and Hollis had agreed to disagree.

Detective Parker: The mayor?

Shawn Sharp: Yes. Some story once about the city limits expanding or something. She wasn't exactly an objective type. She always wrote stuff up fairly, people respected her, but she definitely had an opinion. She was usually right too, which can be annoying as hell.

Detective Parker: How did the argument between Rick and Monica end?

Shawn Sharp: Well, she kept on at him about home field advantage and who wanted to win more and all that. He hadn't said a word since she called him an idiot, but he finally told her to shut up loud enough that people turned around and looked at them. The ones who weren't looking at them already anyway. Monica just smiled at him real sweet-like and said, "That's not a very nice thing to say … Richie."

Detective Parker: What did he say?

Shawn Sharp: Nothing at first. Then he leaned over and said something to her that I couldn't hear, but it really pissed her off so I can guess what it was.

Detective Murphy: What's that?

Shawn Sharp: There's a word that always set Mon off. I don't like to say it in mixed company, but you can probably guess. It's four letters, starts with–

Detective Murphy: I think we got it. So what happened then?

Shawn Sharp: She took a step back away from him. Then she brought her hand back like she was going to slap him. Hard. In the face. But he grabbed her arm before she made contact and shoved her backwards. 

Detective Murphy: What happened then?

Shawn Sharp: Well, she didn't fall down or anything, but it wasn't a gentle nudge. She had to scramble to stay on her feet. She was way past pissed then. She pointed at him and said, "That is it. You're done." Then she turned around and walked off.

Detective Murphy: What did Rick do?

Shawn Sharp: He just looked around at the people around him who were staring at him pretty hard, and then he walked away.

Detective Parker: Did either of them know you witnessed all this?

Shawn Sharp: I don't think so, no.

Detective Parker: Can you identify any of the people in line?

Shawn Sharp: Well, there's my lady friend. Her name is Teresa … something.

Detective Parker: Uh-huh. What about any of the other people in line?

Shawn Sharp: I don't think I knew any of them. After they left, we were all pretty much avoiding looking at each other and pretending nothing happened.

Detective Murphy: What time did all this happen?

Shawn Sharp: Around 2:30 maybe?

Detective Parker: Before this public argument, how was Rick and Monica's relationship around the office?

Shawn Sharp: Oh, it was good most of the time.

Detective Parker: Most of the time?

Shawn Sharp: Yeah. Rick can fly off the handle about little things.

Detective Parker: Such as?

Shawn Sharp: Well, if Monica brought in some beer that he didn't like, he would complain and sulk.

Detective Murphy: This was at the office?

Shawn Sharp: Oh, yeah. Mon was good about that. If we had to work late on something – and we were always working late – she would bring in beer. Or she would order pizza, stuff like that. She would shred our stories, she was generally a hard-ass when it came to the paper and what went in it, but she was definitely generous on a personal level. She took care of us.

Detective Parker: What kind of beer?

Shawn Sharp: She usually brought in fancy stuff like Heineken. Rick is strictly a Bud Light man.

Detective Murphy: What else can you tell us about the two of them?

Shawn Sharp: Don't know a whole lot. Talk around the office was that they dated some, but I sure couldn't see them ever getting married or anything like that.

Detective Murphy: Why?

Shawn Sharp: Oh, I don't know. Who knows? I don't pay much attention to all that. Mama always told me to mind my business, and I'd be all right.

Detective Parker: You mentioned working late. What's the usual schedule around the office?

Shawn Sharp: There is no usual schedule most days. I guess most of the reporters work pretty normal, like 9:00 or 10:00 to 6:00 or something, but if there's some kind of late meeting or game or to-do, they might not come in until 2:00 or 3:00. Most of them are just in and out depending on what they're working on, and leave when their stuff is filed for the day and it's been OK'd. Monica usually came in late because she stayed late, until the paper goes back to press. My deadline is usually 10:00 p.m., so I'm usually out right around then, unless there's a game running later than that.

Detective Parker: That's seven days a week?

Shawn Sharp: Technically, no. We're all supposed to be working a 40-hour week. Most of the reporters can get by with that, although they do stuff on their days off, you know, a couple of hours here or there. I can usually manage to stay away on my days off, but it's a stretch. I don't think Monica was ever off really. The Eagle was her life. Like for instance Saturday, that was supposed to be her day off, but she was in her office when I came in after the game. She said she just wanted to make sure everything was OK. It was like her kid or something. She always had to check in and put it to bed.

Detective Parker: And Saturday night you were working?

Shawn Sharp: Yeah. I had to write up the game and all that. I got something written up for the online edition, and then I had to get back out to cover the post-game festivities. Before I left, I stopped in Monica's office. We were talking about the game. I asked her if she wanted to come check out the scene with me, but she didn't seem in the mood, so I left pretty quick.

Detective Parker: Did she say anything else to you that night? Anything unusual?

Shawn Sharp: No. I could tell she was in a bad mood, maybe because of the whole thing with Rick. But she didn't say anything.

Detective Parker: What time did you leave?

Shawn Sharp: About quarter to 11:00.

Detective Parker: Was anyone else there when you left?

Shawn Sharp: No, just Monica. Ernie probably came in right after that, but I didn't see him.

Detective Murphy: What about the mayor? What about his relationship with Monica?

Shawn Sharp: I just heard they didn't get along since that story I told you about – I guess that was back in '07 maybe – but I didn't pay any attention, really.

Detective Parker: There was a headline taped to Ms. Drum's desk. No date, just a headline reading "Acquitted." Do you know anything about that?

Shawn Sharp: Sorry, nothing. I decided a long time ago to just stick with my sports beat.

Detective Murphy: You mentioned that Monica sometimes didn't get along with Rick and with the mayor. Was there anyone else she had disagreements with?

Shawn Sharp: Not that I know.

Detective Murphy: What about you? You and Monica never had any disagreements?

Shawn Sharp: Well, sure. She got worked up about something with everybody at one time or another, but she always calmed down. We got along fine.

Detective Murphy: Is that what the other Eagle employees are going to tell us?

Shawn Sharp: I don't see why not.

Detective Parker: OK. Well, thanks. We may need to get back in touch with you to ask a few more questions.

Shawn Sharp: Sure. Glad to help. Who do y'all think is going to win the Super Bowl?

Detective Parker: Um … the Falcons?

Shawn Sharp: Huh. Maybe. But they've got to win a playoff game first.

Interview ends - 5:31 p.m.

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