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Witness Interview: Roger Hammond, victim's ex-husband

Monday, January 29, 2001 - 11:00 a.m.

The witness, a 26 year-old male identified as the victim's ex-husband, was interviewed at Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Office by Det. Sam Murphy and Det. Ted Armstrong. The interview was recorded on a portable audio tape recorder and on videotape with the witness's knowledge and consent.

TA = Detective T. Armstrong
SM = Detective S. Murphy
RH = Roger Hammond

SM: We appreciate you coming down to speak with us today. For the record, would you please state your name and address?

RH: My name is Roger Hammond and I live at 4314 Mockingbird, here in Oxford.

SM: And your occupation?

RH: I'm the Sales Manager at Farrell Motors.

SM: Well, as I said, thanks for coming down today. I'm sure you must be very upset.

RH: Yes. Missy and I certainly had our differences, but you know, she was still the mother of my beautiful daughter. This is all just terrible.

SM: We'd like to start at the beginning of your relationship with your ex-wife. When did you first meet?

RH: Back in high school. Its a small enough town. The kids all know each other, even out in the county. I don't really remember how we first hooked up. It was sometime during our senior year.

SM: And how long did you date?

RH: Well, we started going out in February or March or so of our senior year. Class of '93. We did the usual things, riding around town, going to parties. Just the basic stuff kids do. Since my parents have the dealership, I always had pretty decent cars. Missy and I'd always go sit at Sonic or something. Just hang out. I guess we only dated for a few months before we got married.

TA: A few? You said you started dating in February or March. When did you get married?

RH: In June. So I guess that makes it four or five months.

TA: So you were married in June of 1993. Why so soon?

RH: What do you expect? Missy was pregnant.

TA: Okay. So then what happened?

RH: I started working at the dealership and we started getting ready for the baby.

TA: And your daughter was born when?

RH: December 12, 1993. Best thing that ever happened to me. I'll admit, when Missy first told me she was pregnant, I was nervous, scared, angry, everything. There were times I even thought about just running off somewhere. My dad pretty much forced me to marry Missy and take care of her and my child. And I thank God he did talk me into it because he was completely right. Now, I just can't imagine life without Liddie.

SM: When did you and Missy get divorced?

RH: Early 1997. We just weren't getting along. The usual stuff.

SM: We understand that the divorce was fairly nasty.

RH: You ever been divorced? Hell, any divorce is nasty. That's just part of the process.

SM: We've been told that during the divorce, Missy accused you of being a womanizer and that you accused her of being a drug addict. That doesn't sound like run of the mill stuff.

RH: Lady, I'm telling you. You go through a divorce; fight for your child, your home, your name in town. And things get dirty. Names are called, lies are spread. I wish it wasn't that way, and maybe I regret some of the stuff that went on then. I certainly wish Liddie didn't have to go through all that, but it happened.

TA: Speaking of your daughter, what was your visitation agreement?

RH: Well, it started out being Missy having custody. Fathers just get screwed in the whole divorce process. Everyone knows that. It doesn't matter how much you love your kid. If you're the dad, you're going to be doing weekend duty. So Missy got Liddie and I got every other weekend and holiday. I was the typical Sunday father.

TA: And was that arrangement still in place at the time of Missy's death?

RH: Hell no. I wasn't allowed to see Liddie at all. I'm technically still not, I guess. Missy did all that just to get at me.

SM: We understand that Missy obtained an Order of Protection against you and that, because of this order, all your visitation privileges were revoked. Is that correct?

RH: Damn right. There wasn't anything to all that. Missy was just trying to screw me, so she and her lawyer made more out of it than it was. Hell, it's bad enough that I only got to see Liddie on weekends and stuff, but that wasn't enough for Missy. She had to make it so I couldn't see her at all.

SM: What originally led Missy to seek this order?

RH: It was nothing. Really. Just a heated argument that got blown out of proportion.

TA: Nothing to it, huh?

RH: That's right. I'm planning on filing any day now to get custody or at least my visitation back.

TA: So, you haven't been allowed to see Liddie since... July of 2000. Right?

RH: Yes. My parents see her every week and they tell me things about how she's doing, what she was wearing, what her favorite subject at school is, things like that. It's a pretty sorry excuse for actually being able to see her, but at least it's something. My parents just adore Liddie and she really loves them as well. One thing that Missy did let us do was for my parents to take Liddie out to dinner and things. That meant a lot to them, meant a lot to me.

TA: Missy must have really liked your parents then. to extend that courtesy.

RH: No way. She doesn't like them and they don't like her, never did. But she recognizes that they love Liddie and how upset Liddie would be if she couldn't see them. So, she lets my mom and dad take Liddie out every week, which coincidentally gives Missy time alone with that lowlife she was seeing, not that it's any of my concern.

SM: And you're referring to whom?

RH: This guy, JP Wallace. He's just slime. If you want to talk to someone about what happened to Missy, you should talk to him.

SM: You can be sure we'll interview everyone who might have insight into this case.

RH: Good. That'd be the first person I'd talk to if I was you. Damn dope pusher.

SM: Mr. Wallace sells drugs?

RH: You better believe it!

SM: How do you know?

RH: It's no secret that I used to have a drug problem myself. I'm not proud of it by any stretch, but I am very proud that I was able to overcome it a few years ago.

SM: But how do you know that Mr. Wallace sells drugs?

RH: I'm not sure how to put this... let's say that once you've been a drug user, you can tell who the dealers are, even if you're not using anymore.

SM: How can you tell?

RH: I don't know how to explain it. Call it instinct.

SM: So you know Mr. Wallace?

RH: No, not really. I'd heard he was seeing Missy and, really, I couldn't believe it, what with the way she feels about drugs. But anyway, I knew they were seeing each other and someone pointed him out to me one night when Selena and I were at Murff's.

SM: Who pointed him out to you?

RH: You know, I really don't remember.

SM: Did you speak to him?

RH: No way. I had no reason to and I didn't want to risk the temptation, if you know what I mean.

SM: I understand. Can you tell me where you were on the afternoon before Missy's body was discovered? That was Friday, January 26th, if you don't remember the exact date?

RH: Why are you asking me that? Why don't you talk to that JP! He's the one you should be asking.

SM: Please just answer the question.

RH: Well, I would've been at work all day. That was a work day for me, so I'm sure I would've been at the dealership.

TA: Can anyone verify that?

RH: I'm sure everyone who was working that day can. Anyone there should be able to remember that.

TA: And what did you do that evening?

RH: I'm not sure. Let me think... oh, I met Selena that night for dinner. We met at the City Grocery and then we went to a movie after, I think.

SM: Selena?

RH: Selena Crosscroft, my girlfriend.

SM: What time did you meet her that night?

RH: Around 8:00 or so?

TA: And you were at work until then?

RH: I must've been.

SM: What movie did you see?

RH: Castaway. We went to the late showing, around 9:45. Good flick. Have you seen it?

SM: No, I haven't had the opportunity yet.

RH: You really should make time for it. I think you'd enjoy it.

SM: Thanks for the recommendation. I'll keep that in mind. What did you do after the movie?

RH: Selena and I went back to my house.

TA: Does your girlfriend live with you?

RH: No, but she stays over a lot.

TA: And did she stay over that night?

RH: Yes, I'm sure she did. It was the weekend.

TA: Did either of you go out again before morning?

RH: No, we both stayed in until I went to work the next day.

SM: Did Ms. Crosscroft remain at your home when you went to work?

RH: No, she went home when I left for work around 8:00 Saturday morning.

SM: How long were you at work Saturday?

RH: All day, until 6:00.

TA: When did you hear that your ex-wife had been killed?

RH: When I got home Saturday night. It was all over the news, as I'm sure you know.

TA: Yes, I do. What did you do when you found out?

RH: Well... I called Jonah to see if Liddie was all right. Maybe I shouldn't have because of the protection order and the custody situation and all that, but I had to know if she was okay. She is my daughter, after all.

SM: You're referring to Jonah Dale, Missy's father?

RH: Yes.

TA: How did he react when you called?

RH: I could tell he wasn't thrilled to talk to me and he sounded pretty upset, which is to be expected I guess. But he did tell me that Liddie was fine. I mean, he said she was upset and wasn't quite herself and so forth, but he said she didn't seem to be physically hurt. That's true, isn't it? He didn't lie to me about that?

TA: No, that's correct. She wasn't hurt. I spoke to Mr. Dale and he told me that Johnny McPhail - do you know Mr. McPhail?

RH: Missy's uncle? Yes, I know him.

TA: Well, he arranged for Liddie's pediatrician to take a look at her on Saturday afternoon, just to be sure. And the doctor confirmed that she hadn't been hurt in any way. So you can rest easy about that, Mr. Hammond.

RH: Good. I can't tell you how relieved I am to hear it! Not that I didn't believe Jonah when he told me she was okay. It's just nice to know a doctor checked her out. I'd hate to think that maniac did anything to my little girl.

SM: Maniac?

RH: Whoever killed Missy. Had to be some kind of maniac, right? Probably that JP guy like I said, but I guess it could have been anyone. You just never know...

SM: Can you think of anyone who might have wanted to kill Ms. Hammond?

RH: I really don't know. I hadn't even spoken to her in six months or so.

SM: We have to ask, Mr. Hammond. Did you kill your ex-wife?

RH: Of course not! I wouldn't murder my daughter's mother, no matter how much I, personally, didn't like her. That would be too devastating for Liddie and I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for putting her through that kind of pain.

TA: Okay, Mr. Hammond. We'll check out your story and we'll contact you if we have any more questions. I think that's about it for now. Thanks for your time.

RH: Wait. What do you mean, you'll check out my story?

SM: I'm sure you understand, sir, that we have to verify your alibi. It's standard procedure.

RH: Oh. Okay.

TA: Okay. We'll be in touch if we need to talk to you again. If you think of anything that might help us find Missy's killer in the meantime, be sure to give us a call.

RH: I'll do that. Thank you, Detectives.

TA: Have a good afternoon, Mr. Hammond.

End interview 11:39 a.m.

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