Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 4:35 p.m.
Erin Markham lives in the Whitehall neighborhood and runs her consulting business out of her home. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness' knowledge and consent.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Erin Markham
Detective Murphy: Thank you for coming down today, Ms. Markham.
Erin Markham: Of course. I'm extremely busy with my business, but I'm glad to spare whatever time I can. Anything to help.
Detective Murphy: Would you please state your name?
Erin Markham: My name is Erin Markham.
Detective Murphy: Where do you live?
Erin Markham: I live at 222 Savannah Drive.
Detective Armstrong: What do you do for a living, Ms. Markham?
Erin Markham: I own my own business, Markham Consulting.
Detective Armstrong: What do you consult about?
Erin Markham: I mentor young companies around the Southeast, mostly in the north-central Mississippi area. I have some clients in my hometown of Natchez, in Jackson, Memphis, Oxford.
Detective Armstrong: How long have you owned your home in the Whitehall neighborhood?
Erin Markham: Just about five years. I bought it after my first six months at McKinsey. We closed a big deal, and I used the bonus money. But I've lived there for a little over a year now.
Detective Murphy: What did you do with it before you moved in?
Erin Markham: Rental income. Rented it to a visiting business professor.
Detective Armstrong: Do you own any other properties in Oxford?
Erin Markham: No, not in Oxford. I do own a row house in Federal Hill in Baltimore, a condo in the Washington Square neighborhood of Philadelphia, and a small antebellum home in Natchez.
Detective Murphy: That's pretty impressive. What made you choose those locations?
Erin Markham: I believe real estate is a great investment, and with the interest rates as low as they've been, it's stupid not to own property. But I need to actually see the property I'm buying and to know the area, so those properties were selected because I was working on projects in the area, saw a good buy, and moved on it.
Detective Armstrong: Since you've lived in Whitehall, how well did you get to know Ambrose Garrett?
Erin Markham: I didn't know Mr. Garrett very well.
Detective Murphy: Did you like him?
Erin Markham: No, I didn't care for him.
Detective Armstrong: Why not?
Erin Markham: I thought Mr. Garrett was a small-town, small-minded tyrant. He acted like he owned the neighborhood and if he'd had any vision ‒ any true business-sense ‒ I might have actually respected that. Instead, he was an ignorant man with an ego. Nothing more.
Detective Murphy: What do you mean by, "you might have respected him"?
Erin Markham: One of the things you learn in business is that nice guys truly do finish last. To be successful, one needs a healthy does of ambition, drive, and even arrogance. If Mr. Garrett was really serious about increasing the property values of the neighborhood, if his fanaticism about the rules was in order to build something, then he would have had my respect. But he had no plans. His tyranny over the neighborhood was nothing but stroking his ego. Simple as that.
Detective Armstrong: Do you think you could do a better job?
Erin Markham: Certainly.
Detective Murphy: Did you ever run for president of the homeowners association?
Erin Markham: No, I haven't. Maybe in the future, after I get my business a little more stable, I might campaign for the position.
Detective Murphy: Some people have said that Mr. Garrett was too tough on enforcing the rules. Do you agree with that?
Erin Markham: Actually, I think he wasn't tough enough.
Detective Armstrong: Really?
Erin Markham: A home is the biggest investment most people will ever make. How can someone pour that much into anything and not want to protect it or even improve it? Garrett wasn't strict enough. Someone was always growing their grass too high, painting their house some crazy color, or other nonsense which hurts the entire neighborhood.
Detective Murphy: But all we've heard is how strict Mr. Garrett was.
Erin Markham: He wasn't consistent. He could be incredibly strict one day and fine someone for literally letting their grass get one inch too long. But the very next day, he would ignore knee-high weeds in someone else's yard. Or if you were his friend, you could just do whatever you wanted, but other people couldn't do a thing. Consistency is key. Always, always be consistent. That's why I say Mr. Garrett was just feeding his ego. He wouldn't fine his friends, or even follow the rules himself, because he wasn't interested in property values. He only fined people when he wanted to show off and compensate for his sorry life.
Detective Armstrong: You didn't like him at all, did you?
Erin Markham: No. I told you that.
Detective Armstrong: Did you dislike him enough to hurt him?
Erin Markham: No, Detective. I had no part in all of this. Business is business. You don't like people, there's no point hiding it. But I wouldn't risk all my work for something stupid like murdering someone. Ambrose Garrett wasn't worth my time thinking about him, much less killing him.
Detective Murphy: Do you know of anyone else who might have wanted to hurt him?
Erin Markham: No, I don't.
Detective Murphy: Would you mind talking to us again, if we need you?
Erin Markham: No, not at all. I'm glad to help. Things like this reflect poorly on the neighborhood. I'd like to get this situation rectified as soon as possible.
Detective Murphy: Great. Thanks for your help.
Interview ends - 4:54 p.m.