Emmett Sanford interview

Emmett Sanford left the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit church in the wake of his divorce.

Detective Armstrong interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024 – 10:30 a.m.


  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Emmett Sanford

Detective Armstrong: Good morning, Mr. Sanford. Thanks for coming in. Can you please state your name and address for the record?

Emmett Sanford: Emmett Sanford, 493 Sisk Avenue.

Detective Armstrong: By now, I'm sure you've heard the news of the murder of Pastor Martinson. Terrible, isn't it? How are you holding up?

Emmett Sanford: As well as I can, given the circumstances.

Detective Armstrong: And what circumstances would those be?

Emmett Stanford: Detective, you just told me that Pastor Martinson was murdered in the most terrible way possible. He was a good man, a good man of God. I respected him tremendously.

Detective Armstrong: Mr. Sanford, it's been brought to our attention that you're a former member of Pastor Martinson's congregation at the church of the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit. How well did you know him?

Emmett Sanford: Not too well, I'm afraid. Our relationship never really progressed beyond pastor and churchgoer. I went to a couple of his adult Sunday school classes, but it really wasn't my thing. Faith in God, you know, is more than just sitting around talking about it.

Detective Armstrong: So what made you decide to leave the church?

Emmett Sanford: Personal reasons, detective.

Detective Armstrong: Mr. Sanford, I'm afraid you're going to have to elaborate.

Emmett Sanford: We were going through a tough divorce. I cheated. I messed up. I knew it then. I know it now. I guess I was just tired of being judged by everyone for that one mistake.

Detective Armstrong: By everyone, did that include Pastor Martinson?

Emmett Sanford: No, he was probably more the exception. He tried to help, you know. He offered my wife and I counseling. But Deirdre … just could not get over worrying about what everybody thought in that church. She was more concerned with what they thought than what was best for our family.

Detective Armstrong: Can you be more specific? Who do you mean by "they"?

Emmett Sanford: In a church community, especially a small one, word gets around. Leo Ingram, the associate pastor, he knew all about my divorce. I remember I went to pick up my son, Liam, one day after Sunday school, and Leo sees me as I'm walking up and gives me this just dirty look, and then just turns around and walks away. Doesn't even say anything.

Detective Armstrong: How did Mr. Ingram know about your divorce?

Emmett Sanford: Probably Liam, my son. He went to his youth Sunday school classes, and of course, Leo's a member of the church committee, so therefore the entire committee knew—Joey Kemp, Fay Nutt, hell, even the pastor's wife.

Detective Armstrong: So you blame the church for the fallout of your divorce?

Emmett Sanford: How could I not? Those self-righteous bastards—not exactly righteous, if you know what I mean. They're so concerned with their gossip, they don't care what effect it's having on the person's family.

Detective Armstrong: But you must blame Pastor Martinson to some extent, don't you, Mr. Sanford? I mean, after all, he was the one that convinced you to admit your affair to your wife.

Emmett Sanford: What, did Deirdre tell you that?

Detective Armstrong: We're not obligated to discuss that.

Emmett Sanford: It's a simple question. Yes or no, detective? But you know what? Forget it. I know. She's been out to get me since our divorce.

Detective Armstrong: I'll repeat the question, Mr. Sanford. Despite your respect for the pastor, do you blame him for the fallout from your divorce?

Emmett Sanford: Sure, in the beginning, yes, I did. But I'm not one to hold grudges. He did his best. It just wasn't good enough.

Detective Armstrong: Do you think your life would be better if Pastor Martinson hadn't meddled in your marriage?

Emmett Sanford: No, I just told you. I don't hold grudges. I mean, the man's dead, for God's sakes.

Detective Armstrong: Well, that's not the question, Mr. Sanford. I asked you if you thought your life would be better off if the pastor hadn't— if you hadn't taken the pastor's advice about the affair.

Emmett Sanford: I think, had I not gone to Pastor Martinson, I wouldn't have told Deirdre, and maybe my family would still be together. Hell, I'd have taken that to the grave, even if it killed me. If I could go back, there's nothing I wouldn't do to keep my family together.

Detective Armstrong: Mr. Sanford, you're a man of faith. Or at least, you were at one point. Doesn't the Bible tell us that he who conceals his sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds faith?

Emmett Sanford: I didn't take you for a Bible-quoting man, detective. But no, I suppose that plan doesn't align with Proverbs. Then again, the Bible is open to interpretation. Some of us try to live by some of it, and some of it just doesn't work.

Detective Armstrong: Apparently. Out of the Ten Commandments, you've managed to break at least three.

Emmett Sanford: Excuse me?

Detective Armstrong: Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain. Thou shalt not kill.

Emmett Sanford: I hate to burst your bubble there, detective, but I didn't kill Pastor Martinson.

Detective Armstrong: Then I'm sure you won't mind if we go over a few logistics. Can you tell me where you were between the hours of Saturday night and early Sunday morning?

Emmett Sanford: Got off of work at Kroger. Got home by 9:30 p.m. I stopped off at Coop De Ville for a couple beers. Passed out. Woke up at 9:00 a.m. Stayed home all day.

Detective Armstrong: Any witnesses who saw you come home that night?

Emmett Sanford: You are welcome to ask my neighbors, detective, but I live alone.

Detective Armstrong: We'll be sure and do that. One more question: if you were investigating this case, who would you talk to?

Emmett Sanford: Well, apparently, you already spoke to Deirdre, and she had no problem offering me up as a suspect. Seems a little fishy if you ask me, but I don't know. Talk to the busybodies in the Church Committee. They have their noses up in everybody's business. They're bound to know something.

Detective Armstrong: Thank you for all your help, Mr. Sanford. We'll be sure and get in touch with you.

Interview ended – 10:58 a.m.



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