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Witness Interview: Chuck Ward, saw the victim the afternoon before the body was found

Monday, February 12, 2001 - 4:00 p.m.

Chuck Ward has been identified as the second teenager seen with Brenda Marsh, who was babysitting at the Williams residence across the street from Missy Hammond's residence, on Friday afternoon, January 26th. Ward's mother, Vivian Ward, brought him into the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Office for an interview with Detectives Armstrong and Murphy. The interview was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness and his mother's knowledge and consent.

TA = Detective Ted Armstrong
SM = Detective Sam Murphy
CW = Chuck Ward, witness
VW = Vivian Ward, witness's mother

SM: Thanks for coming in to talk with us. Could you state your name and address for the record?

CW: Chuck Ward. I live at 906 VanBuren.

SM: And how old are you?

CW: Fourteen.

SM: We understand you were present at 312 Elm Street on the afternoon of January 26th. Is that correct?

CW: Yes.

SM: How did you happen to be there?

CW: My friend, Brenda, was babysitting over there and I went by to hang out with her for a little while.

SM: Why?

CW: Why?

SM: Yes. Why?

CW: I dunno. Just 'cause, I guess.

VW: That's not much of an answer, Chuck. Why were you there?

CW: I like Brenda. I thought it would be fun to hang out with her for awhile.

SM: How would you characterize your relationship with Brenda?

CW: What do you mean?

TA: Is she your girlfriend or is she just a friend?

CW: I don't know. Sort of both, I guess.

SM: What time did you arrive at the Williams residence?

CW: I don't know. Around 3:30 maybe.

SM: So where were you between 3:00 PM, when school got out, and the time you arrived at the Williams?

CW: I went As Seen On TV and played some pinball.

SM: Did you have permission to go to the Williams'?

CW: What do you mean?

TA: Did your parents say it was okay?

CW: I didn't ask them.

TA: Did Mr. or Mrs. Williams say it was okay?

CW: No.

TA: Did Brenda say it was okay?

CW: Well... yeah.

SM: Who was at the Williams residence when you arrived?

CW: Just me and Brenda and Rick and Teddy and Jenny

SM: You're sure?

CW: Yeah.

TA: Did you notice anything unusual in the neighborhood that day?

CW: Well, you know, there was that whole thing that happened across the street.

TA: What was that?

CW: This guy came over to that lady's house and a little while later they had this big argument.

SM: Did you know the guy or the lady?

CW: No. Brenda said the lady was named Missy and the guy was her boyfriend.

SM: Can you describe them?

CW: I don't know. The lady had long dark hair and she was kind of pretty. The guy had kind of dark hair too. I don't know.

SM: Did you notice what either of them was wearing?

CW: I don't know. The guy was just wearing regular clothes. The lady was wearing some kind of... I don't know, nightgown or something, I guess.

TA: You said you saw them arguing. Could you tell us about that?

CW: We were outside in the yard and they came out of the lady's house all yelling at each other.

TA: Did you hear what they were saying?

CW: No. We were kind of trying to distract the kids, you know, that Brenda was babysitting? So they wouldn't think it was a big deal.

SM: Why were you trying to distract them?

CW: I don't know. It just seemed bad, you know what I'm saying? Like they might get scared if they really paid attention to them arguing.

TA: Did you think the argument was scary?

CW: No. Not scary. Just... not good. You know what I'm saying? Like I didn't think they oughta be yelling at each other like that. It just seemed like it might turn into something bad.

TA: Did it turn into something bad?

CW: No. The guy took off, peeled out in his truck. The lady went back in her house after that.

SM: Do you remember what time that was? When the guy left?

CW: Not really. Maybe four or a little later? I don't know. It wasn't too long after I got there.

TA: Did you notice anything else happening at the lady's house that afternoon?

CW: You mean when the guy came back?

TA: He came back?

CW: Oh yeah, just a few minutes later.

SM: How many minutes later?

CW: I don't know. Ten? Fifteen? About that.

TA: What did he do when he came back?

CW: He went up to the lady's front door and banged on it.

TA: What happened?

CW: That other guy who lives next door to the lady, he came out of his house and walked up to the other guy.

SM: Do you know that man's name?

CW: No. Brenda probably knows.

SM: Did you actually see him walk out of his house?

CW: Yes.

SM: He didn't come from some other place near his house? He actually came from inside his house?

CW: Yeah. That's what I said, right? He came from inside his house.

TA: What did he do then?

CW: The first guy, the lady's boyfriend? He saw this other guy walking toward him and he went over to him and got all up on him, like he wanted to fight him.

TA: Did he? Fight him?

CW: No. The one guy was sort of shoving the other guy and yelling at him, but the other guy didn't do anything. I guess he was kind of a wimp.

TA: Could you hear anything they said?

CW: No. The one guy was yelling and you couldn't really understand him and the other guy wasn't talking very loud. I told Brenda, I said, "I should go over there," but she wouldn't let me.

TA: So how did it end?

CW: The one guy finally pushed the other guy kinda hard and gave him the finger. Then he took off again.

TA: He left? The lady's boyfriend?

CW: Yeah. And then the other guy just went back in his house. What a wuss!

SM: What do you mean? You thought he should have done something else?

CW: I don't know. Just that one guy was kind of challenging him to a fight, you know what I'm saying? And the other guy just didn't do anything at all. He shoulda done something.

TA: Did you see anyone else in the neighborhood that afternoon?

CW: No... I don't think so.

SM: Are you sure?

CW: Yeah, I think so. I don't remember anybody else.

SM: What time did you leave the Williams residence that day?

CW: About five, I guess. I wanted to get home before my parents.

SM: Really? Why?

CW: Um...

VW: Tell us, Chuck. Why?

CW: Because they get mad if I'm not home when they get home.

SM: Is that the only reason?

CW: Yeah. What other reason is there?

SM: I don't know. Is there any other possible reason?

CW: No.

TA: Okay. Thanks for talking to us, Chuck. If you remember anything else that happened that day, you be sure to let us know, okay?

CW: Okay.

SM: Mrs. Ward, we appreciate your cooperation. If we need to talk to your son again, we'll be in touch.

VW: That'll be fine. Just let us know.

TA: Y'all have a good evening.

End interview 4:27 p.m.

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