The detectives wanted to know what Mrs. Martinson knew about the things her husband was worried about

Lynette Martinson interview #2

Thursday, April 25, 2019 – 1:30 p.m.

Lynette Martinson had been married to the victim for more than 25 years.

Detectives Murphy and Parker re-interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff’s Department.


Detective Murphy: Thank you for coming back in to talk with us again, Mrs. Martinson. How are you and your sons holding up?

Lynette Martinson: We're doing the best we can. We know this is all part of God's plan, but it's hard to understand, especially for the boys. They really miss their father.

Detective Parker: Yes, ma'am. We spoke to Rev. Gideon Horner. Do you know him?

Lynette Martinson: Oh, yes. Gideon and his family have been such a great comfort to us through all of this. Gideon and Wendell were great friends, true brothers in Christ. Wendell's passing has been very difficult for all of us.

Detective Parker: Yes, ma'am. Rev. Horner told us about some of the things your husband was concerned about. He mentioned that Pastor Martinson had been troubled for some time about a marriage that had broken up. Do you know anything about that?

Lynette Martinson: Oh, yes. It really weighed on Wendell's heart that he wasn't able to help them save their marriage. After they separated—maybe Gideon already spoke with you about this—after Emmett and Deirdre separated, Wendell still tried to help Emmett cope with the end of the marriage.

Detective Murphy: And was he able to help Emmett with that?

Lynette Martinson: I'm not sure how much. It was obvious that it was very painful for Emmett. I know Emmett called Wendell a good bit at first, but after a while, the calls stopped. Wendell never spoke about the details, of course, but my impression was that stopping the calls wasn't his decision.

Detective Murphy: Pastor Martinson didn't also try to help Deirdre cope with the end of her marriage? Just Emmett?

Lynette Martinson: Deirdre was very upset back then, not just about the end of her marriage, but also that somehow all the church members had found out about it and were talking about it. She completely cut off all contact with the church, including Wendell.

Detective Parker: How did all the church members find out about it?

Lynette Martinson: I wondered the same thing myself. I know Wendell didn't tell anyone. Keeping the things people shared with him confidential was very important to him. Maybe Deirdre or Emmett confided in the wrong person.

Detective Parker: Could someone else on the church staff have revealed the details of the Sanfords' marital problems to anyone?

Lynette Martinson: Oh, I don't think so. Leo would never do anything like that.

Detective Murphy: Not even to add the Sanford family to the prayer list?

Lynette Martinson: No, no. He could put them on the prayer list without saying why. No one ever has to provide justification for a prayer request. But even if Leo knew the details of that situation, he would never break someone's confidence.

Detective Parker: What about Fay Nutt? Could she have told anyone about what the Sanfords were going through?

Lynette Martinson: Fay doesn't have access to that kind of private information. Why would she?

Detective Parker: Well, apparently Rev. Horner knew about it. Could he—?

Lynette Martinson: Gideon Horner is a man of God and the absolute soul of discretion. He would never, ever reveal something like that.

Detective Parker: He told us.

Lynette Martinson: I know Gideon, and I'd bet he didn't tell you any specifics. It's public knowledge that Emmett and Deirdre divorced. That's not confidential. I don't believe for one moment that Gideon told you anything you couldn't find out from anyone else.

Detective Murphy: What about Joey Kemp? Would he disclose any personal details to anyone?

Lynette Martinson: Joey? No. He wouldn't be involved in anyone's private personal information like that, so he couldn't tell anyone.

Detective Murphy: He's on the church committee, isn't he?

Lynette Martinson: Well, yes, but we don't discuss things like that. We plan and organize the church's activities. We never talk about anyone's personal issues.

Detective Parker: But Joey is privy to the church's private financial information, isn't he?

Lynette Martinson: Of course. As the treasurer, he has to be.

Detective Parker: How is the church financially?

Lynette Martinson: Fine. There's never enough money to do as much for the congregation and the community as we'd like to, but we make the most of what we have. Our church members are very generous.

Detective Murphy: Members like Zina Jacinto?

Lynette Martinson: Yes. Zina always opens her heart to the church.

Detective Parker: And her wallet.

Lynette Martinson: Well, yes.

Detective Murphy: Has Zina ever had any complaints about how her donations were being spent?

Lynette Martinson: No, not really. Zina is strong-willed, but she accepts that we can't always pursue every project she'd like us to.

Detective Parker: She's never expressed any concerns about her financial relationship with the church?

Lynette Martinson: Of course not.

Detective Parker: She never mentioned any financial discrepancies?

Lynette Martinson: Discrepancies? Absolutely not. We're very careful to—wait. Is she accusing Wendell of mishandling her donations? Because that's outrageous! Wendell always took the congregation's contributions—financial and otherwise—very seriously. He knew all of the church's business had to be above reproach at all times. Like Caesar's wife.

Detective Murphy: Did everyone else on the church committee feel that way?

Lynette Martinson: Yes, of course. The congregation put their trust in us. We have a responsibility to live up to that trust.

Detective Parker: So everyone with access to the church's money was always completely above board?

Lynette Martinson: What are you trying to say? Yes, they are. If they weren't, they wouldn't have access to the money.

Detective Murphy: Even Fay Nutt?

Lynette Martinson: I wouldn't say Fay has access to church funds in any meaningful way, but what money she does deal with, she handles meticulously. She grew up in the church. Her father's ministry may be very different from ours, but she understands what's required of those chosen to lead.

Detective Murphy: We understand that Fay is very close with your family.

Lynette Martinson: That's true.

Detective Murphy: So you know that she hasn't always had the positive relationship with the church that she seems to have today.

Lynette Martinson: Everyone suffers a crisis of faith at least once in their faith journey. Yes, Fay had some difficulties with the church at one point in her life, but she overcame that and now she fully embraces the Lord's plan for her.

Detective Murphy: Is it possible she's suffering another crisis of faith now?

Lynette Martinson: No, I don't think so. She would've told us if she was.

Detective Parker: Is Fay's boyfriend equally committed to the church?

Lynette Martinson: Jason? I don't know him very well. I've only met him a few times. But I can't believe Fay would be involved with him if he wasn't a Christian.

Detective Murphy: How serious is their relationship?

Lynette Martinson: Something like that is hard to quantify for anyone not directly involved. I know Fay is very fond of him, but if you're asking if they're headed to the altar, I don't know.

Detective Murphy: Have you noticed any changes in Fay's behavior since she started seeing him?

Lynette Martinson: Everyone changes to some extent when they begin or end a close personal relationship like that, but I haven't noticed any negative changes in Fay since she started seeing Jason. If anything, she seems happier, more content, more at peace with her life.

Detective Parker: What about Joey Kemp? Does he feel that same sense of responsibility to live up to the congregation's trust that you talked about?

Lynette Martinson: I'm sure he does.

Detective Parker: You don't know for sure?

Lynette Martinson: Don't mistake my meaning. Joey is a good man, but he's a tough nut to crack in some ways. He's devoted to the church and to Zina, but he doesn't share a lot of himself. I've known him and served alongside him for years, but I'm not sure I really know him. Do you understand?

Detective Murphy: You mean Joey's not as … expressive as Zina?

Lynette Martinson: No one I ever met is as expressive as Zina, but yes. Joey tends to keep his own counsel.

Detective Parker: Your husband never mentioned any questions or concerns he might've had about the church's financials?

Lynette Martinson: No, but the Lord didn't see fit to bestow me with the gift for understanding the intricacies of budgets and accounting. If Wendell had any questions like that, he wouldn't have brought them to me. Gideon is blessed with that gift so Wendell might have gone to him if he had any questions. Did you ask him?

Detective Murphy: We asked you before about the quote: "Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy." Do you remember what you said?

Lynette Martinson: I think I said it sounded like scripture from the Old Testament.

Detective Murphy: And you were correct. That Bible verse was written on a card we found at the crime scene. Do you have any idea what it might have been doing there?

Lynette Martinson: Oh.

Detective Murphy: Mrs. Martinson? Are you all right? Do you want to take a break?

Lynette Martinson: No, no. I'm sorry. Sometimes it just hits me, you know?

Detective Murphy: We understand. Here are some tissues. Take as much time as you need.

Lynette Martinson: Thank you. I'm fine. I apologize. Wendell always wanted people to feel his support and the Lord's support, even when they weren't at church, so he would find scripture he believed spoke to a person's specific struggle and write it on the back of his business card. Then he would give that person the card—or slip it to them, if that was better—so they could refer to it whenever they were feeling low or uncertain. My Wendell was so thoughtful like that.

Detective Parker: Do you have any idea who that particular verse would've been appropriate for?

Lynette Martinson: I don't know any names, but I think he would've given that scripture to someone he felt needed to confess their wrongdoing so the person and whoever they'd wronged could move forward, free of any sin or untruth hanging over them.

Detective Parker: Do you know if he'd already given that particular Bible verse to someone or if it was something he was planning to give to someone on the day he was— the day he died?

Lynette Martinson: I don't know. I wish I did. But it has to mean something, doesn't it?

Detective Parker: If we're lucky, yes, it does.

Lynette Martinson: You don't have to rely on luck. The Lord will guide you. I have faith, and a lot of people are praying, asking God to send you down the right path. If that scripture has something to do with … what happened to Wendell, you'll know.

Detective Parker: Yes, ma'am. We hope you're right about that.

Detective Murphy: Thank you again for your time today. As soon as we have any information we can share with you, we'll be in touch. And if you have any questions or think of anything else we should know in the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Lynette Martinson: Thanks so much for everything you're doing for Wendell and for the church and my sons and me. We know you're doing your best, and we're praying that you'll be able to bring Wendell's killer to justice.

Detective Parker: Yes, ma'am. We're doing everything we can. Take care.

Interview ended – 2:02 p.m.