|Witness Interview: Selena Crosscroft, victim's ex-husband's girlfriend|
Wednesday, February 14, 2001 - 11:00 a.m.
The witness, identified as the girlfriend of Roger Hammond, was interviewed in her office at the North Mississippi Regional Center. The interview was conducted by Det. Sam Murphy and Det. Ted Armstrong, and was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness's knowledge and consent.
SM: We appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. Would you please state your name and address?
SC: I'm Selena Crosscroft and I live at 408 Choctaw Drive..
SM: And your occupation?
SC: I'm a social worker here at the Center.
SM: As I'm sure you are aware, we're investigating the murder of Missy Hammond. Did you know her?
SC: I saw her around town a few times. I've been in a relationship with her ex-husband for some time now, so of course I knew who she was.
TA: Did you ever talk to her?
SM: Have you ever been to the Southern Beauty hair salon?
SC: No. I was aware that she worked there and, given my relationship with Roger, I just felt it would be too... uncomfortable for everyone involved. I go to La Bohéme.
TA: Can you tell us about your understanding of Roger and Missy's relationship?
SC: When? Before or after the divorce? I guess it doesn't matter. She left him, took his daughter away from him, and now won't let him see her. Or rather, she wouldn't let him see Liddie before her death.
TA: Surely, as a social worker, you understand the seriousness of an Order of Protection. Are you implying that Missy was keeping Roger away just to be cruel?
SC: It always sounds so clear-cut. But, in real life, it's rarely so one-sided.
TA: What do you mean? The guy busts into their house, coked out of his mind, terrifies the woman and child, and you're saying that we're not seeing the whole picture.
SC: Detective, you must realize that in divorce, one partner often alleges that the other did some sort of wrong doing in an effort to win child custody, more money, or just to hurt someone. Are you aware that in a 1985 study by an expert at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, it was determined that in contested divorce cases with child custody issues, almost 80% of child abuse allegations are false? And a 1993 study by the Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse found that 42% of reported cases of abuse in Ontario are false. So, clearly, hysterical allegations by a mother are not always the actual truth. Sadly enough, they're often treated as such, even though they aren't.
SM: So I take it you weren't a big admirer of Missy Hammond?
SC: Clearly not. What happened to her was a tragedy, but it still doesn't change the pain that she caused for Roger. He loves Liddie more than anything else in the world. And she kept him from her for no good reason.
TA: What about Roger's drug abuse? You don't think that's a good reason to keep the girl away from him?
SC: First of all, Roger's drug problems are in the past. And secondly, the loss of his daughter was one of the contributing factors to escalating Roger's drug use, before he developed the tools to fight his addiction. When they first got divorced and he could only see Liddie for a weekend every now and then, the pain was such that he sought out chemicals to numb himself. He hit bottom right after that and got himself into rehab. Now he's clean and healthy and should be able to see his little girl.
SM: So, to hear you tell the story, everything was Missy's fault.
SC: Of course not. But she certainly contributed immensely.
TA: Why are you so upset about this whole thing?
SC: First of all, because I love Roger. That should be obvious and I've seen the pain that losing his daughter has caused him. And then, I'm upset in general at the way divorced dads are treated in this country. When a divorce is granted, the father is automatically viewed as the bad guy. I've seen it happen too many times. As a case in point, you just have to scan through the 1989 Gender Bias Study of the Court System in Massachusetts and you'll see the statistic where the mother receives primary custody of the child 90% of the time. Are you telling me that 90% of divorced men out there are unfit?
TA: Whoa. Okay, look, I can see that this is a major issue for you, but we should concentrate on this particular situation with Roger and his ex-wife, not focus on national statistics.
SM: Yes, let's get back to your relationship with Roger. You've mentioned several times your love for him. Are you two serious?
SC: I don't see how that's any of your business, but yes, we are very serious.
TA: Getting married?
SC: Well, we'd like to. Someday.
TA: Why wait? You keep talking about how much you care for him. I assume he feels the same. What's the problem?
SC: It's just not, uh, that simple. We just have to get the timing right.
SM: How does this whole custody thing play into your timing?
SC: It's an obstacle. Roger would like to get things worked out with his daughter first before he moves into another marriage. Which I can completely understand. Really, I can see exactly how he feels.
TA: So, if Roger had Liddie in his life, he'd marry you?
SC: I didn't say it that way.
SM: Seemed to me like you did. You said he wanted the custody situation resolved before he got married.
SC: He did want to get that cleared up, but I never meant to insinuate that one would sequentially follow the other. Certainly you know that relationships are difficult and encompass many factors. It's not that simple to just say that once one thing is handled--
TA: Forget it. Let me ask you a simple question. What kind of car do you drive?
SC: A Ford Contour.
TA: What color is it?
SC: Sort of a wine color. Maybe you'd call it burgundy.
SM: And where were you between four and six in the afternoon on January 26?
SC: Well, I was right here, of course. I can check my schedule and give you more specifics if you'd like, but I'm here virtually every Friday afternoon. We have a regular staff meeting at that time to review the events of the week.
TA: Did you see Roger at all that afternoon?
SC: No, he was at work then too. I didn't see him until that evening after work.
SM: Let me ask you this. Do you have any reason to suspect that maybe Roger isn't Liddie's biological father?
SC: Certainly not! He loves that child completely.
TA: We didn't ask you if he cared for her. We asked if he was the father.
SC: I'm sure he is.
SM: Would it change any of your opinions if, just for the sake of argument, Roger weren't Liddie's father?
SC: No. He raised the girl and I don't see why biology would matter.
TA: How would that affect him getting custody of Liddie?
SC: It depends. Some judges might rule that he has no rights to custody. But I'm sure that wouldn't happen. That's just ridiculous! Some states even have laws that say a man has to pay child support after divorce even if DNA tests determine he is not the biological father. So, I'm sure that any judge with half a brain would still grant Roger custody even if Missy had some sort of paternity test done.
TA: Would you be willing to bet on your chances of getting a judge with half a brain? That a chance you would be willing to take?
SC: Well, uh, I'm not sure what you mean.
TA: Never mind. I think we've got all we need for now.
SM: Thanks for your time. We'll be in touch if we need to speak with you again.
End interview 11:28 a.m.