Tuesday, September 6, 2011 – 11:30 AM

The witness was a co-worker of the victim at The Juke Joint in 1987. The interview was conducted by Detectives Armstrong and Murphy and was recorded with the witness' knowledge and consent.


  • Detective Ted Armstrong
  • Detective Samantha Murphy
  • Rhonda Pendergrass

Detective Murphy: Thanks for coming in again, Rhonda.

Rhonda Pendergrass: I hope this is important.

Detective Armstrong: We won’t be wasting your time.

Detective Murphy: We wanted to ask you a few more questions about Kevin.

Rhonda Pendergrass: Why? I thought we beat that horse to death.

Detective Murphy: We’ve uncovered some new information we need to ask you about.

Rhonda Pendergrass: Okay. Fine. Ask away.

Detective Murphy: Before we get started, can you state your name and address again for the record?

Rhonda Pendergrass: Okay. Rhonda Jo Pendergrass, 396 Ridgewood Manor Drive.

Detective Murphy: Thanks, Rhonda. We wanted to review again what happened the night you last saw Kevin.

Rhonda Pendergrass: Okay, I’m sorry, but this is wasting my time. I told you this, what, twice already? And probably back in '87, too.

Detective Murphy: Please just take us through it again.

Rhonda Pendergrass: This had better be the last time.

Detective Armstrong: We’ll be the judge of that.

Rhonda Pendergrass: Okay. Geez, don’t get uptight. It was Thursday night, I saw Kevin at work. He was upset about money problems, told me he had to take on an extra job, get some extra cash. That's it.

Detective Murphy: What happened after you left The Juke Joint?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I told you that before too. I went straight home.

Detective Murphy: Did you see your mom?

Rhonda Pendergrass: Yeah. Pretty sure.

Detective Murphy: What time did you get home?

Rhonda Pendergrass: Why is this important?

Detective Murphy: Did you stop anywhere on the way back?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I don’t remember. What is this about?

Detective Armstrong: Rhonda, were you with Kevin again that night after leaving The Juke Joint?

Rhonda Pendergrass: No. Absolutely not.

Detective Armstrong: What about Butch Weaver?

Rhonda Pendergrass: Sorry. Should I recognize that name?

Detective Murphy: He works for you, Rhonda.

Rhonda Pendergrass: No. Not to my knowledge. Who is he – some college kid? So many come through, I can’t keep track.

Detective Armstrong: Come on, Rhonda. We’re told you and he are friends.

Rhonda Pendergrass: Who said that?

Detective Murphy: Do you know him, or not?

Rhonda Pendergrass: No. He’s not on the payroll.

Detective Murphy: So you do know who he is.

Rhonda Pendergrass: I didn’t say that.

Detective Murphy: But you know him enough to be sure he’s not working for you.

Rhonda Pendergrass: I’m not getting your point.

Detective Armstrong: Butch works for you under the table. You and he are friends.

Rhonda Pendergrass: I … No.

Detective Murphy: Cat got your tongue, Rhonda?

Rhonda Pendergrass: This is entrapment. You said you wanted to talk about Kevin. What you really want is to know about Butch.

Detective Armstrong: Why would it be entrapment? Are you and Butch doing something illegal?

Rhonda Pendergrass: Okay, I know him. He worked for Jim before I owned The Juke Joint. Odd jobs. He was a maintenance man or something and he helped keep the place running. If we need something fixed, I’ll sometimes call him. That’s it. But I’m tired of you guys beating around the bush. If you want to accuse me of something, accuse me. I’ll deny it, because that’s the truth.

Detective Armstrong: No one’s accusing you of anything, Rhonda. It all seems perfectly harmless – in which case, why did you lie about it?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I didn’t lie. When did we ever talk about Butch before? He doesn’t have anything to do with Kevin, which is supposedly why I’m here.

Detective Murphy: That’s why we’re all here, Rhonda. So let’s go back to the night you last saw Kevin at work. Thursday. Was Butch at the restaurant that night?

Rhonda Pendergrass: No, not to my knowledge.

Detective Murphy: Did he and Kevin know each other?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I don’t know.

Detective Murphy: Did you see Butch at any time that weekend, before Kevin was found dead?

Rhonda Pendergrass: No.

Detective Murphy: What was your schedule like exactly?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I worked Friday and Saturday. JT got home late Friday night. We were home all weekend. During the day Friday, I don’t remember – I guess I did mom things. Shopping. Cleaned the apartment. Paid the bills. Nothing special. Saturday was with JT. That’s it.

Detective Murphy: What time did you get home Friday night, after work?

Rhonda Pendergrass: Same as always. 11:30, maybe 12:00. We stopped serving food a couple hours before closing, at the time. Before the last movie started.

Detective Murphy: What about Saturday?

Rhonda Pendergrass: The same.

Detective Armstrong: Rhonda, we need you to be straight with us.

Rhonda Pendergrass: I am.

Detective Armstrong: Well then, can you explain what you and Butch were up to Saturday night?

Rhonda Pendergrass: Saturday? Nothing. I told you. I was at home.

Detective Armstrong: That’s not what we heard.

Rhonda Pendergrass: From who?

Detective Armstrong: Just tell us the truth.

Rhonda Pendergrass: Did you talk to JT? Is that what this is about? Because whatever he says, you can’t trust him. He’s a controlling, jealous son of a bitch. If he knew you and I were talking right now, he would accuse me of giving you a blow job right here in this room. He screwed his way across the USA in his truck, but it wasn’t okay for me to be friendly to guys at a bar, to get more tips, which by the way helped feed our kids. That’s why I got out.

Detective Murphy: When did you and he divorce?

Rhonda Pendergrass: June 12, 1990. A red letter day.

Detective Murphy: And you say you initiated the separation?

Rhonda Pendergrass: That’s right.

Detective Armstrong: We heard it was him.

Rhonda Pendergrass: He’s lying.

Detective Armstrong: He came home one weekend and you were gone on some tryst.

Rhonda Pendergrass: That’s bullshit. He’s just jealous I had money to take a trip. Still is. I got smart and started saving up. Bought the Juke Joint – he was mad about that. He wanted a piece of it, when we split. He’s been mad about making alimony payments. I bet he’s still living in some garbage apartment. A bitter, screwed up son of a bitch. You can’t seriously believe him.

Detective Armstrong: It’s not really a matter of belief. It’s that we can check the court records, and see he was the plaintiff in the divorce. The facts are on his side.

Rhonda Pendergrass: That’s one stupid detail. He’s still a grade-A asshole.

Detective Armstrong: So when JT says you came home from work that Saturday, the night before Kevin’s body was found, and then went out again and you probably went to meet Butch – well, he has a track record of being right.

Rhonda Pendergrass: He’s lying.

Detective Armstrong: Here’s the problem. We learned a few things about Butch, and one is that he bought himself a nice boat in 1988.

Rhonda Pendergrass: So what?

Detective Armstrong: Well, that was about the same time you bought The Juke Joint from Jim Mason.

Detective Murphy: Tell us again how you got the money.

Rhonda Pendergrass: What does this have to do with Kevin? I asked you that before, and you gave me some bullshit answer. You’re probably not even trying to find out who killed him. It’s just a front to attack me and my business.

Detective Armstrong: Why would we want to do that?

Rhonda Pendergrass: You’re asking about my money. You’re asking about Butch. You think we were dealing drugs.

Detective Armstrong: That sounds a little paranoid, Rhonda.

Rhonda Pendergrass: Screw you. You’re a fascist.

Detective Murphy: Okay, let’s calm down. Both of you. Rhonda, you need to be up front with us.

Rhonda Pendergrass: Why should I, when you’ve been lying to me trying to get me to admit – to talk about these topics that have nothing to do with Kevin?

Detective Murphy: Because if you’re holding anything back that could help us find who killed him, you could face charges. That would put your business at risk. So you need to start talking.

Rhonda Pendergrass: Now you’re blackmailing me.

Detective Murphy: Come on, Rhonda. You’re making this harder than it has to be.

Rhonda Pendergrass:  I want to file a complaint when this is over.

Detective Murphy: Sure. Just tell us how you got the money for The Juke Joint.

Rhonda Pendergrass: No. Because you know what? I get what you're doing. You talked to JT, and he probably told you something about Uncle Orv being poor or some bullshit like that. And you’re just trying to get me to contradict him now, so you can accuse me of lying again. Well, no way. I’m tired of you being all passive-aggressive. I don’t have time for it.

Detective Armstrong: Okay, Rhonda, how’s this. What if we tell you straight up we know Uncle Orv was poor and he didn’t have fifty dollars to his name, much less fifty thousand, when he died?

Detective Murphy: You didn’t get that money for The Juke Joint from him. It’s not just JT – we know that for a fact.

Detective Armstrong: Tell us where that money came from.

Rhonda Pendergrass: Screw you. Okay, you’re right. This is ridiculous. I don’t know why I’m trying to hide everything when what I do shouldn’t be illegal. I’m going to tell you, but if you try to come after me I’m going to deny it all and say I was coerced. You won’t find any records. Marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol – I’m sure you know that for a fact, but there’s too much money in the beer and liquor lobby to outlaw it, so you go after pot. You have to fund your precious war on drugs and all the other fascist activities. Of course, it doesn’t work, and too bad about Mexico going down the tubes, right? If you legalized it there wouldn’t be an issue.

Detective Armstrong: We'll make a note.

Rhonda Pendergrass: So yeah, I sell pot. I sell it to all the yuppie rich kids who come into the restaurant pretending they've got street cred, asking for quote-unquote killer weed. Give me a break. They have no idea how much I’m marking the shit up. They’ve never worked a day in their life. By the time I was their age, I’d actually lived. They’re like toddlers with bank accounts. It’s disgusting.

Detective Murphy: How long have you been doing this?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I inherited the whole operation from Jim. He started it.

Detective Murphy: So were you dealing with Kevin when he worked at The Juke Joint?

Rhonda Pendergrass: Yeah. But Kevin didn't have anything to do with it. It was never the kids. Just me and Butch.

Detective Murphy: Where did you get your drugs?

Rhonda Pendergrass: Butch knew the local scene. I still have friends, in California. If you think I’m going to name them, you’re crazy.

Detective Murphy: We’re not interested in that. We just want to know about Kevin.

Detective Armstrong: Did he know you and Butch sold drugs?

Rhonda Pendergrass: No. Well, I don’t know. We didn't talk about it.

Detective Armstrong: He was looking for extra money – he could have gotten some quick cash that way.

Rhonda Pendergrass: No.

Detective Murphy: He never asked you about helping out?

Rhonda Pendergrass: No.

Detective Murphy: Was he a drug user?

Rhonda Pendergrass: Absolutely not. He was a diabetic. He had diabetes. He couldn’t. He was on the team.

Detective Murphy: Did he ask Butch for work?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I don’t know.

Detective Armstrong: Does Butch ever talk about his local sources?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I told you I’m not naming names.

Detective Armstrong: Did Butch ever try stealing from the pot farm on campus?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I don’t know.

Detective Murphy: Was he planning to steal pot the week Kevin disappeared?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I said I don’t know. Now I see what you’re doing. Kevin would never try to get involved with something like this.

Detective Armstrong: Like what?

Rhonda Pendergrass: It was too risky. That’s what I told Butch.

Detective Armstrong: So he did try it.

Rhonda Pendergrass: No. Now, look. That’s not what I said. We talked about it, all right? Who wouldn’t? I mean, it's a government-run installation right there, kill two birds with two – with one stone. I mean, steal from the feds, score some good product. But I said no. I mean, they got armed guards. That's what I heard.

Detective Murphy: So you’re working at The Juke Joint and dealing drugs on the side with Butch. When Kevin came to you talking about taking on extra work, was he planning to do a job with Butch?

Rhonda Pendergrass: No.

Detective Murphy: And his money trouble wasn’t related to using drugs you supplied him?

Rhonda Pendergrass: Absolutely not.

Detective Murphy: You’re sure of that?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I told you. He was a diabetic. He was sick. He couldn’t get high.

Detective Armstrong: How did you know about his diabetes?

Rhonda Pendergrass: Because he told me. It was one of the first things we all knew about him. He had to do tests at work, sometimes even inject himself. He wore a bracelet.

Detective Armstrong: It hasn’t come up until now.

Rhonda Pendergrass: So what?

Detective Armstrong: So you knew if he was cut off from food or medication, he could die.

Rhonda Pendergrass: The topic never came up. I just went on what he told me.

Detective Murphy: Well, you know the room on campus they just found? Kevin’s bracelet was there.

Rhonda Pendergrass: What has that got to do with all these questions you just been asking me? Why are you just asking me all this stuff about drugs? This is entrapment.

Detective Murphy: You said that before.

Detective Armstrong: We also found some fingerprints in that room.

Rhonda Pendergrass: That’s impossible.

Detective Murphy: Why do you say that?

Rhonda Pendergrass: Because I read – you know what, no. I don’t know.

Detective Armstrong: You were researching the subject? Why?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I don’t have to say.

Detective Armstrong: The prints we found match you and Butch.

Rhonda Pendergrass: That’s a lie.

Detective Murphy: A nice clean print for you. It matches the set you gave the state for your liquor license perfectly.

Rhonda Pendergrass: I didn’t have anything to do with it.

Detective Armstrong: Look, Rhonda. We’ve been perfectly willing to sit here and listen to you accuse us, but you’re the one who’s been lying. You lied about knowing Butch, you lied about where you got the money for The Juke Joint, and earlier you lied about knowing Kevin’s medical condition. I’m sick and tired of it. Either you tell us what happened or we arrest you right now.

Rhonda Pendergrass: For what?

Detective Murphy: Just answer the question, Rhonda. What happened to Kevin?

Rhonda Pendergrass: You goddamn fascists. Why should I answer, when you’re going to arrest me anyway?

Detective Armstrong: Let me get someone to take you to detention.

Detective Murphy: Ted, no. Rhonda, if you answer the question, you can make this better for yourself. We can potentially overlook the drugs, if you help us find Kevin’s killer.

Rhonda Pendergrass: Bullshit, you snaky bitch. Screw you both. It was all Butch’s fault. I said don’t get the kid involved, and then he does and gets into trouble. I got a call Saturday night, saying I had to come meet him. We went into that room and I saw Kevin. I started screaming at Butch, and he just begged me to help him. I didn’t want any part of it. It was all his idea. I would never have gone after the pot farm.

Detective Murphy: So you were there in the room Saturday night?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I don’t know how Kevin got there. I told Butch never to fucking tell me. I didn’t want to know.

Detective Murphy: Butch didn’t tell you his plan?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I told you, I didn’t want to know. I told him the pot farm was a bad idea and leave me out of it.

Detective Armstrong: Is that your final answer?

Rhonda Pendergrass: I want to see a lawyer.

Detective Armstrong: He can visit you in jail. You’re under arrest.

Interview ended 12:08 PM

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