Private investigator and former YCSD detective David Anderson was a friend of Monica Drum's and volunteered to help track down the former Eagle employees who have moved out of Oxford. He located one of those employees, David Ledford, in New Sarpy, Louisiana.
PI Anderson emailed Det. Armstrong to let him know what he found out.
From: David Anderson [OxfordPI@[redacted].com]
Date: July 19, 2019, 2:48 PM
Subject: David Ledford
You are never going to believe this! I wouldn't if I hadn't been there myself. Last night, I came in from another day of driving all over creation looking for David Ledford. I pull into the filling station to get gas. While I'm pumping the gas, I'm looking around to see what's going on. Across the street and down a ways, I spot this huge red pickup. I think, no way. It couldn't be. I've spent days looking all over the parish for this guy and suddenly he's right here in front of me?
Then I see this kid come slinking out of the Po'Boy Snack Shack and ease on into the liquor store next door. I knew it was the luckiest goddamn day I ever had. Well, I wrap up my business at the filling station in a hurry and hustle down to the liquor store.
To cut to the chase, when Ledford goes to pay for his booze, he's a couple bucks short. So I grab my stuff, head up to the counter and offer to make up the difference for him, in a neighborly kind of way. I don't think he normally would have taken it, but he was tapped out and hard up for a drink, so he did. We end up walking out together.
Maybe it was guilt or gratitude over the money I gave him or maybe he'd spent so much time alone he just wanted company of any kind, but he invited me back to his "campsite" (his words) to hang out for a while. Obviously, I couldn't have planned it better if I'd tried, so of course, I agreed.
I followed him way back into the woods, past where even the dirt road ran out, to a cabin on the edge of a small clearing. Well, calling it a cabin is a little generous. It's really more like a glorified lean-to, and I never would have found it if he hadn't led me there. In fact, I was a little worried that I might not be able to find my way back.
Anyway, I managed to record most of our conversation, but we hung out for several hours, so I'm only including the relevant parts here. We can always make a full transcript later if you think we should after you hear the tapes.
Ledford was drinking the whole time we were together, so it's a little hard to judge how much of what he said was true and how much was alcohol-influenced embellishment. His mannerisms, facial expressions, body language, etc. told me he was pretty skittish on some topics, so I didn't push him too much because I didn't want to spook him.
I did sort of exaggerate some of my own experiences to draw him out. But I think, if you got him in an interview room, he might let loose with some useful information.
PI Anderson: That is some kind of truck you got, my friend.
David Ledford: You know it. This is the truck I've always wanted. I just got it, and I love it. Can't believe I never got one before.
PI Anderson: It's a beauty. Must've cost you a pretty penny.
David Ledford: Not too bad. Made a trade with a friend. Gave him my old truck and some cash for it.
PI Anderson: Not a bad deal. What kind of truck did you have before?
David Ledford: Nothin' special. A Silverado. That's why I had to give him some cash on top of it.
PI Anderson: Still sounds like a pretty good deal to me. How come your friend wanted to get rid of such a great ride?
David Ledford: Oh, he's getting married and his girl thought it was too big and too red.
PI Anderson: Just like a woman. Your old truck wasn't red, I guess?
David Ledford: Naw. It was just plain old blue with some white and chrome trim. But, his girl thought it was more "mature" than the truck he had, so I guess it worked out for us both.
PI Anderson: Looks to me like you got the best end of the deal.
David Ledford: You know that's right!
PI Anderson: So, you from around here?
David Ledford: Yeah, I guess so.
PI Anderson: I used to live around here myself. Moved up to Mississippi awhile back, but I still keep a place here. It's still home, I guess.
David Ledford: I spent some time in Mississippi awhile ago. Thought I'd like it, but it didn't work out and I came back down here.
PI Anderson: Oh yeah? Where in Mississippi were you?
David Ledford: Oxford.
PI Anderson: I hear that's a nice town.
David Ledford: I guess you never been there. It's one of those places that seems friendly, but it's got a lot of dark secrets and cold-hearted people.
PI Anderson: That why you moved back to Louisiana?
David Ledford: Basically.
PI Anderson: I've been thinking about coming back down this way myself. I kinda miss it, y'know? How long you been back?
David Ledford: Oh, a couple months maybe. But truth is, it really isn't that much better here.
- - - - - - - - - -
PI Anderson: Hey man, this is a great setup you got here. You live here?
David Ledford: Sort of. I mostly stay here when I go fishing or hunting.
PI Anderson: You must come by yourself 'cause no woman I ever knew would stay here.
David Ledford: Yeah, well, my wife doesn't much like sleeping anywhere without indoor plumbing.
PI Anderson: You're married?
David Ledford: For now. I don't know if she'll ever let me come back after this.
PI Anderson: After what?
David Ledford: Well, I been out here about a week. I was only supposed to be gone for a weekend. She's probably pretty mad at me by now.
PI Anderson: Why don't you go home?
David Ledford: I just can't.
PI Anderson: Y'all aren't getting along?
David Ledford: Naw, that ain't it. We get along great most of the time, in spite of everything. I just got some things on my mind, y'know?
PI Anderson: Hey, sometimes you just need a break from the little woman. No one can blame you for that. You must have a pretty good job that they let you take off for so long.
David Ledford: Don't I wish! I got this back injury a few years back, and I can't find a job that don't make it hurt even worse than normal.
PI Anderson: That sucks, buddy. Back pain is the worst.
David Ledford: You got back trouble?
PI Anderson: Comes and goes. I got hurt on the job about five years ago. Haven't been the same since.
David Ledford: Hurts like hell, don't it? My buddy Jack is about the only thing that helps anymore, y'know what I mean?
PI Anderson: Hell yes, I know what you mean. But Jack ain't never been my friend, I'm sad to say. I gotta stick with his clear brothers if I don't want to hate myself in the morning. I'm partial to Bombay myself.
David Ledford: I hear ya man. But, Jack and me been real tight for a long time now. Couldn't be disloyal to him.
PI Anderson: Gotta appreciate a man who's true to his loyalties. That's hard to come by these days.
David Ledford: Don't I know it. People make you think they only want the best for you. Suck you in and make you trust them. Then they turn around and stab you in the back when you least expect it.
PI Anderson: You sound like a man who's been there.
David Ledford: You saying you haven't?
PI Anderson: No way. More people have betrayed me than I like to think about.
David Ledford: Yeah? Like who?
PI Anderson: Women mostly, like any man. I had some trouble with my wife several years ago. She cheated on me, the bitch. With a preacher of all people. Of course, she came back crying pretty soon, but by then it was too late.
David Ledford: Y'all still together, you and your wife?
PI Anderson: No. She's dead now.
David Ledford: Yeah, well, women always try to make up after it's too late. They don't understand they have to pay the price.
PI Anderson: That happen to you too?
David Ledford: Well, it wasn't my wife, but she was a bitch just the same. 'Course, she's dead now too, like your wife.
PI Anderson: She cheat on you?
David Ledford: Not the way you mean. She made promises to me and didn't keep them. She thought I was just some dumb hick and I'd never know the difference. Guess she found out the truth.
PI Anderson: Did she? You found a way to get her back?
David Ledford: You could say that. She learned her lesson, that's for sure.
PI Anderson: Well, all right, man. What'd you do to her?
David Ledford: You ask a lot of questions. Why is that?
PI Anderson: Just the curious type I guess.
David Ledford: Oh yeah? Well, you know what curiosity did to the cat.
PI Anderson: Lucky for me I'm not a cat.
David Ledford: Are you a pig?
PI Anderson: What?
David Ledford: A pig. Y'know, a cop.
PI Anderson: Me? Hell no. Why would you think that?
David Ledford: I told you. You ask a lot of questions. Like cops do.
PI Anderson: Hey, man, sorry. I'm just interested in people, like to know what makes them tick. And you just happen to be the one I'm talking to now.
- - - - - - - - - -
David Ledford: What kind of work do you do?
PI Anderson: I'm a freelancer. I pick up jobs where I can.
David Ledford: Like a jack of all trades, huh?
PI Anderson: Yeah. Kinda like that.
David Ledford: Why?
PI Anderson: Why what?
David Ledford: Why do you work like that?
PI Anderson: Just like it, I guess. Don't like to be tied down in any one place too long. Don't like working for the man. Wanna be my own boss.
David Ledford: How can you be your own boss when you have to work for other people?
PI Anderson: Well, everybody has to work for somebody else, from factory workers to CEOs. Unless you got a big pile of money all to yourself, you gotta work for somebody else. But working like I do, I never have a job long enough for whoever hires me to get any real power over me. Y'know what I mean?
David Ledford: Man, that's the kind of job I'd like to have, being my own boss. You can't trust bosses anymore. They just use you 'til they got no use for you anymore and then they cut you off. No respect for a hard day's work or months of loyalty. Just, "sorry, we're gonna have to let you go." Definitely better to be your own boss.
PI Anderson: You sound like a man with some issues, my friend.
David Ledford: What the hell is that supposed to mean?
PI Anderson: Take it easy. It's just an expression. I mean that it sounds like somebody treated you pretty bad, and you're still mad about it.
David Ledford: Well, you got that right. Some people don't deserve to be forgiven, no matter what happens.
PI Anderson: Must eat at you, carrying all that anger around.
David Ledford: You some kind of shrink now? That one of your freelance jobs?
PI Anderson: Look, man. It was just an observation. You kinda remind me of how I used to be. I was mad at my wife for a long time after she betrayed me like that. I was drinking all the time, yelling at people for no reason, getting into trouble at work. One night I got so drunk and so pissed off that I was waving my gun around, threatening to kill somebody. If one of my buddies hadn't been there to stop me, I'd be sitting on death row now instead of here talking to you.
David Ledford: How do you know?
PI Anderson: How do I know what?
David Ledford: How do you know you'd be sitting on death row?
PI Anderson: Well, the guy I wanted to kill, it wouldn't have been too hard for them to figure out it was me who did it.
David Ledford: You don't know. Sometimes it seems like that, but it turns out the person has more enemies than you thought. They might not ever even think it was you.
PI Anderson: Maybe so, but I've visited people at Parchman, and I'm not really interested in living there.
David Ledford: I'm just saying you might not have to. Just think what it would have been like if you'd killed him like you wanted and then never got caught. That would have been some sweet revenge, man.
PI Anderson: Maybe you're right, but it doesn't matter now. I don't even know whatever happened to that old boy. And after my wife died, it just didn't seem to matter anymore.
David Ledford: I'm just saying, some people deserve what they get. Maybe that guy deserved it, but now you'll never know.
PI Anderson: I guess I won't, but it's something to think about. Listen, bud, it's getting late, and I got a dog at home that's gonna crap all over the place if I don't go let him out. So it's been fun, but I gotta take off. You gonna be here tomorrow night? Maybe we could hang out again.
David Ledford: Yeah, I'll probably be here tomorrow and the next day and I don't know how long. I still got some things to think about, and I gotta figure out how to get back in good with my wife before I can go home.
PI Anderson: All right, man. You stay out of trouble out here, and maybe I'll see you tomorrow.
David Ledford: Okay. See you later. And thanks for spotting me the cash back at the store.
PI Anderson: No problem.
So that's basically it, Ted. He's a squirrelly guy, no doubt about it. And he's not as tough as he'd like people to think. Hard to say for sure, my gut says he knows something about what went down.
I haven't seen him in town since I left him, and we'd better hope he doesn't come back in. If he runs into any of his buddies, they're likely to tell him I was looking for him and asking questions about him. If he finds out, we might never see him again. He could go Eric Robert Rudolph on us. You better get a move on if you want to talk to him.
In the meantime, I'll just keep on keeping on until you let me know what you want me to do. You know how to reach me.