Rebel Yell canvass
YOKNAPATAWPHA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT
Investigating Officer(s): Det. T. Armstrong, Det. S. Murphy
Incident No.: 001905-16D-2023
Case Description: Charles Tatum homicide investigation
On April 24 and 25, 2023, Detectives Armstrong and Murphy went to The Rebel Yell to talk to the employees and patrons regarding anything they may have witnessed involving Detective Charles Tatum, particularly on the evening of Wednesday, April 12, 2023.
The witnesses were also asked for any observations regarding Hank Peterson and/or Jolene Wright. Interviews were conducted confidentially, out of earshot and eyeshot of proprietor Hank Peterson.
The following interview descriptions, provided in summary and not verbatim, are some of the most typical or relevant to the investigation and are representative of all interviews conducted.
28054 MS-6, Unit #21
Ms. Ballinger said she wasn't acquainted with Charles Tatum but knew that Hank Peterson didn't have any use for him because when Peterson was drinking, he sometimes let everyone in the bar know how he felt about Tatum.
Ballinger added that several of the bar patrons also didn't like Tatum, and they would join in with Hank in the bad-mouthing, including one such loudmouth who went by the name of JP.
Ballinger didn't know Jolene Wright by name but recognized her from a photograph. She said she felt sorry for Wright and characterized Wright as the kind of person who'd been beaten down by life and probably men too, which had made her numb to the world. When asked, Ballinger said Wright had never said anything to confirm her perception, but she could just tell what Wright's life was like.
Ballinger said she didn't come into the Rebel Yell often because it was a dirty, disgusting place, but her boyfriend sometimes forced her to go with him. She said she didn't know what kind of shenanigans went on in the back room, and she didn't want to know, but it was a busy place.
924 Williams Street
Mr. Houghlin said he was acquainted with Charles Tatum and wasn't surprised to see him at The Rebel Yell sometimes, but he wasn't aware of Tatum being at the bar on April 12, 2023.
He said he never had a conversation with Charles Tatum at the Rebel Yell, explaining that on the few occasions when he and Charles Tatum were there at the same time, Tatum was either sitting at a table with Hank Peterson or walking around the bar, observing the goings-on. He said he never approached Charles Tatum because Tatum always appeared to be casing the place.
Houghlin described Jolene Wright as a pretty girl and a fair waitress whose friendliness made up for her shortcomings as a server.
487 Lincoln Road
Mr. Mason said he was not acquainted with Charles Tatum but knew who he was. He said he thought Charles Tatum was drawn to the Rebel Yell but felt like he was too good for it, so he came in just to check up on the customers and staff. That way, he could arrest them later, if he had a chance, and prove to himself that he really was superior to the kind of people who enjoy the Rebel Yell.
Mason described Jolene Wright as a total airhead who thought Hank was going to marry her, but Mason said Hank was just using her like he did all the waitresses.
Mason said if Tatum was in the Rebel Yell on the night of April 12, 2023, he didn't see him. Mason added that as far as he was concerned, Charles Tatum was an uptight troublemaker who got what he deserved and good riddance to another stinking cop.
386 Forest Ave. Apt #10
Mr. Wallace said he knew who Charles Tatum was but wouldn't call him a friend.
Wallace claimed that the whole YCSD was out to get him, and when he saw Tatum at the bar, he suspected Tatum was watching him. He repeated that all the cops were out to get him, and they were a bunch of dirty scumbags.
Wallace said Charles Tatum kept an eye on The Rebel Yell back room all the time like he thought something was going on back there that he should know about. However, Wallace claimed he never saw anything illegal going down at The Rebel Yell though he declined to say whether he'd ever been in the back room.
Wallace said Hank Peterson and Jolene Wright's relationship wasn't intimate because Hank only saw Jolene as an easy piece, but Jolene was too clueless to see that. He described Wright as attractive, but like all women, she was too stupid to recognize a snake in the grass, which he knew because he fooled women all the time.
Wallace claimed he didn't see Tatum on April 12, 2023, and said the world was better off with cops like Tatum dead and buried.
616 Telegraph Road
Ms. Willis said she was acquainted with Charles Tatum but didn't know him well. She said she saw Tatum several times at The Rebel Yell talking with Hank Peterson, and sometimes they seemed to be having a heated discussion.
She said Charles Tatum always appeared to be checking out the bar and everyone who walked in or out, and Hank Peterson always seemed on edge when Tatum was there.
Willis said she never saw Charles Tatum with a woman, and she didn't see him at all on April 12, 2018.
Willis said that even though bartender Mack Mason claimed that Hank was playing Jolene for a fool and didn't care one whit about her, Willis believes that Hank truly loves Jolene and fully intends on marrying her. Willis believes that Hank sends Jolene flowers, candy, and poems he's written himself, though she could provide no independent proof.