Hank Peterson interview
Tuesday, May 22, 2018 – 10:15 a.m.
Hank Peterson is the owner of The Rebel Yell, a restaurant/bar located on Highway 6.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy talked to him at The Rebel Yell.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Hank Peterson
Detective Murphy: Thanks for talking to us today.
Hank Peterson: Sure thing, Detectives. We don't start to get busy until about 4:00 or so. Ain't no problem at all.
Detective Murphy: For our records, would you please give us your name and address?
Hank Peterson: I'm Hank Peterson, and I live at 410 County Road 11.
Detective Murphy: And your occupation?
Hank Peterson: I own this here humble establishment.
Detective Murphy: And since audio of this interview is being recorded, can you please name this establishment?
Hank Peterson: It's The Rebel Yell.
Detective Armstrong: Can you describe the type of business you run here?
Hank Peterson: We do a little bit of everything. We got a dining room, and we serve good ole country food, mainly catfish and the like. Lots of people are real partial to the barbecue as well. We also have a separate bar section. We got a pretty good bar stocked with just about everything you could want. Course, most of our business is just good cold beer, but we like to have other stuff on hand if anyone wants it.
Detective Murphy: So this is a simple restaurant and bar?
Hank Peterson: Yeah. Seems like most of the places round here are either one or the other. Several good places down to Oxford where you can get a good meal for a good price. But you can't enjoy a cold beverage with your meal. Then there's plenty of places in Yoknapatawpha and Marshall County where you can get a beer, but the only thing to eat is stale peanuts. So we tried to combine the two. Although, to tell you the truth, sometimes I think this place ain't nothing but a source of funds for my softball team. I swear, sometimes it seems like that damn team, The Rebel Yell Grays, is more important than this business.
Detective Murphy: Mr. Peterson, do you know why we're talking to you today?
Hank Peterson: Not particularly, but I'm always glad to see some of the local law enforcement stopping by. Can I get y'all anything?
Detective Armstrong: Do you know Charles Tatum?
Hank Peterson: Oh. That's what this is all about. Yeah, I knew Chuck. Right sorry to see the news about him Never would've thought he was the type.
Detective Armstrong: The type?
Hank Peterson: To take himself out like that. Why are you looking at me that way? The news said it was suicide, not me.
Detective Armstrong: It wasn't.
Hank Peterson: Is that right? What do you know.
Detective Murphy: Do you know anything that might help us solve this murder?
Hank Peterson: Jump right to you it, don't you?
Detective Murphy: Trust me on this one, Mr. Peterson. None of us are in any mood to play around. We're not wasting any time, and I hope you don't think you're going to waste mine.
Hank Peterson: Okay, okay. I understand y'all must be real tore up. I'd be the same way. But, to answer your question, nah, I don't know anything about his untimely death.
Detective Armstrong: Did Detective Tatum ever come in here?
Hank Peterson: Yeah, he came around fairly often.
Detective Murphy: Did he drink any?
Hank Peterson: Chuck? Hell no. Most of the time he came around, he was on duty. I always made it a point of offering him some refreshment, even just a cold co-cola, if he wanted it. But he never did take me up on it.
Detective Murphy: What did he do while he was here?
Hank Peterson: Just checked around the place. He'd check out the liquor license, check out for any health violations, that kind of stuff. Just look around. Why this one time, he even went back in the walk-in to check the temperature and the dates on the boxes of burgers. He was right thorough.
Detective Armstrong: How did you feel about all of his attention?
Hank Peterson: Didn't bother me none. He was just doing his job.
Detective Murphy: Seems to me that a bar owner might not like a cop coming around all the time. It could scare off your business.
Hank Peterson: Nah. I didn't figure it like that. In fact, I was right glad to have him around. I try to run a respectable business here, but sometimes them boys from out in the county can get a little rough. Many a night, I've caught some rednecks gambling in the parking lot or something like that. Plus the college kids are even worse.
Detective Armstrong: Ole Miss students?
Hank Peterson: Hell yeah, Detective. They might drive nicer cars, but I'd just as soon have a bar full of bumpkins from Hurricane Landing than a bar full of frat boys. They come up here and act like they own the place, just so sure that Daddy's money can get them out of anything.
Detective Murphy: So you're saying that you appreciated Detective Tatum's attention?
Hank Peterson: Yeah. Like I said, he put everyone on notice. One night, he caught a bunch of freshmen out in the parking lot. Most of 'em hadn't even started shaving, and they was planning on trying to get in the bar to drink. Chuck caught 'em before they could even try their fake IDs on the doorman. Saved me the hassle. You tell some of them kids they can't come in, and they start in on how their daddy is some lawyer down to Jackson or something like that. This other time, Chuck came in and caught this ole boy from Yocona selling marijuana in the bathroom. Ain't no way I can patrol every inch of this establishment every minute of the day and night. He helped keep the riff-raff out.
Detective Murphy: Did you ever call Detective Tatum? Ask for his help?
Hank Peterson: No, not specifically. But many a night, when he come up here, I told him how much I appreciated his help. You gotta understand, I'm a Christian man. I been going to the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church for years. Yeah, I run a bar because I don't think there's nothing wrong with a man taking a drink in moderation, but I want this to be a respectable place. I don't want to be embarrassed to walk down the street on the Square and have people whisper about me or the bar. I'll admit that I'm just a country boy. I ain't never had much interest in schooling or nothing like that, but I still try to make this community a better place.
Detective Murphy: Did Detective Tatum ever rub any of your patrons the wrong way?
Hank Peterson: How do you mean?
Detective Armstrong: Did he piss anyone off? Did he make any enemies up here?
Hank Peterson: Nah. He was right courteous to everyone. Now, the people that he arrested, obviously they ain't gonna be mailing him no Christmas cards or nothing, but I expect that's normal for the law. The good customers I have, they all liked him and had no problem with him coming around.
Detective Murphy: So you can't think of anyone who would like to see him dead?
Hank Peterson: No, I can't say I know of anyone like that. I reckon you could check his arrest records. Like I said, those people wouldn't much care for him, but ain't that kinda obvious? I can't think of no one other then those people he busted.
Detective Murphy: Okay, thanks for your time.
Hank Peterson: Certainly. Anything I can do to help. Y'all want a Coke or something for the road?
Interview ended – 10:49 a.m.