Lt. Montoya interview
Tuesday, April 18, 2023 – 9:00 a.m
Lieutenant Geroge Montoya was Detective Tatum's upper-level supervisor.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him in his office at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Lieutenant G. Montoya
Detective Murphy: Thank you for your time, Lieutenant.
Lieutenant Montoya: Of course. Anything to help. I wish I could do more, but I'm sure you two are doing a fantastic job.
Detective Murphy: Thanks for the confidence. Would you please state your name and address?
Lieutenant Montoya: I'm George Montoya, and I live at 1274 Quail Creek Drive.
Detective Murphy: And can you state your relationship to Charles Tatum?
Lieutenant Montoya: I was his boss. Steve Spearman was his direct supervisor; I'm the next level up. But you know how the command structure works.
Detective Murphy: So, how involved were you with Charles? On a day-to-day basis, I mean.
Lieutenant Montoya: Not terribly involved. Of course, I knew what he was doing, and we all were well aware of his excellent job performance, but I usually deal more with the sarge than I did directly with Charles.
Detective Murphy: So you didn't really know him personally?
Lieutenant Montoya: No, I'm afraid not, which is something I greatly regret. I knew of Charles mainly through his excellent record. He had received numerous citations without ever getting any complaints or other black marks in his files. Although I didn't know him personally, his record and his reputation certainly indicate that he was a good man in addition to being a good cop.
Detective Murphy: When did you know something was wrong concerning Detective Tatum?
Lieutenant Montoya: Well, I knew immediately when he didn't show up for daily roll call, but I didn't think much about it. Usually, Sgt. Spearman handles things like that, at least until they become a real problem. So it wasn't until the second day he was "absent–no call" that I got involved.
Detective Murphy: What did you do?
Lieutenant Montoya: I called his house. I left some messages letting him know how unexplained absences could hurt his record. God, I can't believe I said those things. I was just doing my job. I never even gave him the benefit of the doubt.
Detective Armstrong: Lieu, there was no right way to handle this. You did the best you could with what you had.
Lieutenant Montoya: But maybe I could have been more concerned or something, considered there were other possibilities than he was just out goofing off somewhere. But everyone's so busy, and we never dreamed he could've been murdered. That was simply never even part of the equation.
Detective Armstrong: You can only work with the information you have.
Lieutenant Montoya: We're already looking into how we can change our policies to handle this kind of thing differently if it ever happens again. But, unfortunately, that doesn't do any good for Charlie. It's a tricky situation. There's only so much we can do because we have to work within the bounds of the law.
Detective Armstrong: No one understands that better than we do, George.
Lieutenant Montoya: Of course, we care about our officers, but sometimes the law works against us. We can't just kick in a door because a guy doesn't show up for work. This is a case that's going to haunt me for the rest of my life, but I don't know that we could have done anything differently.
Detective Armstrong: I know, man. It sucks. But like you say, what can you do?
Lieutenant Montoya: Doesn't make it any easier to live with.
Detective Murphy: Sarge didn't think there was much in Detective Tatum's casework that would immediately show someone who wanted to kill him.
Lieutenant Montoya: No, that's my understanding as well. As far as I know, he was just conducting follow-up interviews subsequent to indictments, verifying witness statements prior to trial. I am unaware of any immediately apparent leads.
Detective Murphy: Did Detective Tatum or Sgt. Spearman talk to you about The Rebel Yell?
Lieutenant Montoya: Sure. Everybody ends up talking about The Rebel Yell eventually, it seems like. We all know about that place. Every cop around feels like there's some hinky stuff going on over there, but we haven't been able to nail them for anything yet. They're pretty slick, but we'll get them eventually. I know Charlie had a real thing about the place, wanted to clean it up. I don't know if he'd made any progress with that, though. I don't know any of the details or specifics of what he had on them, if anything.
Detective Murphy: Okay, Lieutenant. I think that takes care of things for now.
Lieutenant Montoya: I'm sure you know this, but I feel like I need to say it anyway. If you need anything from me or my people, you come directly to me. But get this S.O.B.
Detective Murphy: Thank you, sir. We will.
Interview ended – 9:18 a.m.