Thursday, October 28, 2021 – 1:25 a.m.
Martin Vargas is the actor representative on the Yoknapatawpha Players' board and a lead actor in the "Zombie Escape" production.
He was transported from the scene to the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department, where Detectives Magee and Beckwith talked to him.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Martin Vargas
Detective Beckwith: Mr. Vargas, I'm Detective Paul Beckwith, and this is Detective Jo Magee of the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. Could we talk with you for a bit?
Martin Vargas: That's why we're all stuck here, right? Waiting for you to talk with us?
Detective Beckwith: It's just a few questions, and then we can let you head home.
Martin Vargas: Then ask the questions.
Detective Magee: We'll need your name and address for the record.
Martin Vargas: My name is Martin Emilio Vargas. I live at 1001 Inverness Lane, Apartment #2, Oxford.
Detective Magee: What was your role in the production?
Martin Vargas: I'm the lead actor of the Yoknapatawpha Players. I'm also the actors' representative on the theater's board of directors.
Detective Beckwith: A voting member or non-voting member?
Martin Vargas: Voting member. There's five members on the board: me, Neal Caine, Cherie Atkinson, Heath Rushing, and Erv Cyr. We were all there today for a rehearsal of the new play, which was going to open soon. With what happened to Scott, now who knows?
Detective Magee: What time did you arrive for rehearsal today?
Martin Vargas: I don't need much prep time to do my thing. I'd say 5:00 p.m. or so.
Detective Beckwith: What role did you play in the show?
Martin Vargas: I was playing the role of Sergeant Cruz, a hard-boiled military man who was determined to save as many people as he could from a zombie infestation.
Detective Beckwith: All right, take us through today's show from your perspective. Start from the beginning of the show, if you would.
Martin Vargas: To start off with, this play is the kind of show where the audience is involved in the action, specifically to survive a zombie invasion within a U.S. army camp in Mississippi. The board of directors, aside from me, was the audience today because this was a dress rehearsal for this new kind of show. We started them out with a briefing of the zombie situation when they first entered the camp and then split them into two groups.
Detective Magee: For what reason?
Martin Vargas: So that they, as audience members, would have different experiences.
Detective Magee: Okay, what were the groups?
Martin Vargas: I took two audience members, Erv Cyr and Cherie Atkinson, to the armory to select weapons to defend the medical crew.
Detective Beckwith: Why?
Martin Vargas: To buy the medical crew time to find a cure for the zombie sickness. The actor Kyler Birdsall was also with us. He was playing a soldier role like me.
Detective Beckwith: Who was in the "medical crew"?
Martin Vargas: Audience members Heath Rushing and Neal Caine and actresses Anna Kessler and Janet Weber. That's all.
Detective Beckwith: So, both groups left for separate locations in the camp, with each group consisting of four individuals?
Martin Vargas: Yeah, four each.
Detective Magee: Did the play proceed as scripted in the armory?
Martin Vargas: Yeah, we outfitted Erv and Cherie with body armor and weapons.
Detective Beckwith: What kind of weapons?
Martin Vargas: Prop guns mostly. Erv, I think, grabbed a sword from somewhere. We literally gave Cherie her weapons, which she never even bothered to use. Erv was really doing his best to play along, but Cherie was half-assing it the whole way.
Detective Magee: Why?
Martin Vargas: If you knew Cherie, you'd know why. Let's just say she'd be the first one to die in any apocalypse.
Detective Beckwith: Okay, so after you had your weapons, then what did you do?
Martin Vargas: Kyler and I led Erv and Cherie to the outside of the mobile hospital lab. The other group was already inside. That was the cue for the zombies to start invading the camp, so we fought off the first wave and then went into the lab as scripted.
Detective Magee: So the two groups reunited in the lab?
Martin Vargas: That's right. I sent everyone out the back lab door to the open area of the camp.
Detective Magee: Still as scripted?
Martin Vargas: Yeah. Everyone ran out. With all the zombies attacking and the sound effects, I didn't know or notice that Heath was still in the lab's quarantine room, so we just went on without him.
Detective Beckwith: When did you find out that Heath was left behind?
Martin Vargas: Not until the show was over.
Detective Magee: Okay, so once everyone but Heath was in the open area of the camp, then what happened?
Martin Vargas: I told everyone to hide somewhere. Zombies started coming through the lab's back door as planned, and Kyler and I were fighting them off. My character runs out of bullets at that point, and I have to retrieve a hand-to-hand weapon.
Detective Beckwith: From where?
Martin Vargas: From backstage.
Detective Magee: Was this scripted?
Martin Vargas: Yeah. I think it was written in to heighten tension in the audience. It was a "the best fighter we have has left us" sort of thing.
Detective Magee: What weapon did you pick up from backstage?
Martin Vargas: It was like a club wrapped in concertina wire. You know, something out of a horror flick.
Detective Beckwith: Did you return to the main stage?
Martin Vargas: Yeah, came out to fight the zombies again and for my death scene.
Detective Magee: Death scene?
Martin Vargas: I was supposed to slow up the zombies until all the audience was able to get into the maze at the back of the theater. I "die" in the process.
Detective Magee: What did you do after you "died"?
Martin Vargas: I waited on the "battlefield" for a little bit, then I followed the last of the zombies into the maze, knowing that by the time I got to the east lobby, the play would be over.
Detective Magee: Did anyone wait on the battlefield with you?
Martin Vargas: No.
Detective Beckwith: Was the play over by the time you got to the east lobby?
Martin Vargas: Yes. But just as I was getting to the end of the maze, there was a loud commotion. I heard people yelling and running but couldn't make out any words. When I finally got to the east lobby, only Janet Weber, one of our actresses, and Heath were there. I asked Janet what happened. She said Scott was in an accident. I asked where, and she said somewhere backstage.
Detective Magee: What did you do then?
Martin Vargas: I went backstage and walked up to the midpoint of the warehouse behind the mobile hospital lab.
Detective Beckwith: What did you see?
Martin Vargas: Erv was doing CPR on Scott, and Neal was calling for help. Just after that, the cops came and corralled us all in the east lobby.
Detective Beckwith: Okay, Mr. Vargas. We have what we need for now. Would you have a problem with answering additional questions in the future?
Martin Vargas: I don't see why you'd have to ask anything else. This thing that happened to Scott was an accident, right? You don't need to be making mountains out of molehills.
Detective Magee: We're just doing our jobs, Mr. Vargas.
Interview ended – 1:46 a.m.