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Witness Interview: Charles Flaherty, MD

Monday, February 5, 2001, 11:40 a.m.

The witness is a 48 year-old male identified as Liddie Hammond's pediatrician. The Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department interviewed him at his office on South Lamar Boulevard. The interview was conducted by Det. Murphy and Det. Armstrong and was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness's knowledge and consent.

TA = Detective Ted Armstrong
SM = Detective Sam Murphy
CF = Charles Flaherty, M.D.

SM: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

CF: Certainly. I had a patient cancel their appointment, so this worked out perfectly.

SM: Can you state your name and address please?

CF: Dr. Charles Flaherty. I live at 612 North Lamar Boulevard in Oxford.

SM: And what kind of doctor are you?

CF: I'm a pediatrician.

SM: We wanted to talk to you because phone records show that there was a call placed from this office to the home of Melissa Hammond on the afternoon of January 26, 2001.

CF: Yes. What a terrible tragedy. I didn't know Ms. Hammond that well, but she always seemed like such a nice woman and a caring mother.

SM: Do you know why that phone call was made, Doctor?

CF: Oh sure. Ms. Hammond had an appointment to bring in her daughter on the following Monday afternoon. We always call our patients to remind them of their appointments.

SM: Do you know exactly who placed that call?

CF: I could find out. Any of the office staff out front could have made the call. I could ask.

SM: That would be helpful. Was Ms. Hammond's daughter sick?

CF: Ah, no. I don't believe there was any specific illness.

SM: Then, why the appointment?

CF: Well, of course you know that people visit their doctor for very routine reasons. It's not always an illness.

SM: Yes, and that reminds me that I need to make an appointment for a check-up myself. But still, there must have been some reason why Ms. Hammond was going to take off work and bring the little girl in?

CF: Ms. Hammond had talked to me briefly. We were going to follow up on it more when she came in. However, I'm not sure how much I can tell you regarding anything Ms. Hammond told me about her daughter's personal medical background or her own. I'm sure you understand that anything Ms. Hammond told me concerning herself or her daughter is strictly confidential.

SM: I realize that. But, I'm sure you understand as well that Ms. Hammond was murdered and now that little girl has no mother. And we're doing all we can to solve the crime. So any information you can give us is only going to help.

CF: Yes, I know. But I do have a responsibility to my patients. Not just to Ms. Hammond, but to all of my patients to protect their privacy.

TA: Look, we could go down to the courthouse, get a subpoena, and then force you to hand over Ms. Hammond and her daughter's records. So why don't you just save us some time?

CF: Okay, but I'm not sure that I really know very much. Ms. Hammond called up and was asking some questions. Very general questions and quite frankly, just sort of babbling. She wanted to know about paternity tests. Did it hurt the child to have the tests done? How long would it take to get the results? Things like that.

TA: She wanted to have a paternity test performed on Liddie?

CF: I don't know that. For all I know, she could have been asking these questions out of curiosity. Or asking them for a friend. She never said specifically that she wanted this work done on her child. I was extremely busy and I told Ms. Hammond to make an appointment and we could talk at greater length. I put her on hold, had my receptionist pick up the phone and make an appointment. But I want to repeat that Ms. Hammond never said that she wanted to go through with the testing nor that it in any way concerned her own daughter.

SM: So you have not performed such a test on Lydia Hammond or made plans to do so?

CF: No, I have not.

SM: I see. Is there anything else that you think could be of help?

CF: No. I'm afraid that's all. I will appeal to you to keep that information as quiet as possible. Even the mention of paternity tests in a town this small can cause quite a scandal. And since I don't even know that was what Ms. Hammond was after, I'd hate to cause any more discomfort for her family.

SM: We understand. And we appreciate your candor. Thanks for your time.

End interview 11:57 a.m.

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