On July 14, 2011, the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff’s Department conducted a canvass of people who worked in and around the Shops and Stores building. The interviews summarized are some of the most typical or relevant to the investigation and are representative of all interviews conducted.
Name: Gerald Olson
Position: Director of UM Physical Plant Department
Address: 1702 Johnson Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655
The witness said he was informed by Cindy Tucker that something strange was going on in the part of the building that was being renovated. He went to investigate and found Carl Wills blocking what looked like a doorway in a section of disturbed wall. After being told what had occurred, Olson called Drew Smith and the University President's office and waited for the police to arrive. When asked about the hidden room, the witness said that he had been at the university for ten years and had no knowledge of the room, but suggested officers talked to Butch Weaver who recently retired after thirty years and knew a lot more about the history of the building.
Name: Cindy Tucker
Position: Assistant Director of Construction and Renovations, UM Physical Plant Department
Address: 234 Elm Street, Apt. 3, Oxford, MS 38655
The witness said that she was supervising another section of the renovation when she heard the commotion. When she reached the scene, she spoke with Carl Wills, stuck her head into the room, called Gerald Olson, and then went off in search of Charley Jacobs and Jack Reed. Finding the two of them outside of the building, she separated the two men and questioned them independently. She said she is satisfied that there was no wrongdoing. When asked about the hidden room, the witness said that the university and particularly the Physical Plant facilities were in a constant state of renovation and that multiple sets of blueprints exist with varying degrees of accuracy for any particular section of the Shops and Stores building. She said she did not recall seeing the room on any of the blueprints but could not be sure. Tucker added that the one place that never received attention was the office where she managed all these changes.
Name: Drew Smith
Position: Health and Safety Officer, UM Physical Plant Department
Address: 542 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Oxford, MS 38655
The witness said he was called to the scene by Cindy Tucker. Nobody appeared hurt, structural integrity did not seem compromised, and conditions were judged adequate for work to resume. Smith said he was satisfied all safety SOPs had been followed. When asked about the hidden room, the witness said that he was more of a people person.
Name: Carl Wills
Position: Utility Worker, UM Physical Plant Department
Address: 127 CR 122, Oxford, MS
The witness said that he heard Charley Jacobs yelling. When Wills approached the area where Jacobs was, Jacobs came out of a hole in the wall, white as a sheet and saying he needed to call the police. Wills poked his head in the hole and saw it led to a hidden room. He said he had seen enough of those crime shows to know he shouldn't let anybody into the room, so he guarded the entrance. He told his story to Ms. Tucker and then Mr. Olson when they approached the area. When asked about the hidden room, the witness said he wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be some old fraternity prank. He also related strange sounds he'd heard when he was alone in that area over the years.
Name: Jack Reed
Position: Laborer, Grantham Construction
Address: 805 College Hill Road, Oxford, MS
The witness said he heard Charley Jacobs scream and came running. When he saw the breached wall, Reed told Jacobs he'd accompany him outside while he called the police. Reed seemed concerned that everyone who went near the hidden room would eventually die just like those archaeologists who entered that Egyptian tomb. When asked about the hidden room, the witness said that he didn't know anything about anything.