Mary Wallace interview #2
Friday, March 10, 2023 – 2:00 p.m.
Mary Wallace lives in Ambrose Garrett's neighborhood and is secretary of the Whitehall HOA.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy talked to her again at her residence.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Mary Wallace
Detective Murphy: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us again.
Mary Wallace: Of course.
Detective Murphy: For the record, would you please state your name and address?
Mary Wallace: My name is Mary Wallace, and my address is 202 Ohara drive.
Detective Armstrong: Mrs. Wallace, we wanted to follow up with you a little bit more about the meeting on the night Ambrose Garrett passed away.
Mary Wallace: I'm sure I told you everything before. I don't know what else is left to say.
Detective Murphy: We'd like to focus on that night in a little more detail. Sometimes you'll remember something you didn't think of the first time we spoke.
Detective Armstrong: What time did the meeting begin that evening?
Mary Wallace: 5:00 p.m. That's our usual starting time. Sunday nights, so we try to get it over fairly early so people can get home and do whatever they need to do. Get ready for the work week.
Detective Murphy: Who got there first?
Mary Wallace: Oh, I don't know. I was one of the earliest people. Ambrose was there. Julie Arbuckle was there. Warren Edwards got there pretty early.
Detective Murphy: What was everyone doing?
Mary Wallace: I don't know for sure. I had dropped off my things in a seat near Ambrose's chair, and then I went to the restroom and to get some water. When I came back, Warren was talking to Ambrose, and you never know what those two are up to, so I didn't stop to join the chat. I went to my seat, and Julie was there. We said hello, and then she went to get a snack.
Detective Murphy: What was Julie doing?
Mary Wallace: Just standing there.
Detective Murphy: Did that strike you as unusual or weird?
Mary Wallace: No, not at all. Surely you've gone to a meeting and just stood around trying to kill time until your friends or co-workers show up. No one else was there, really.
Detective Armstrong: What did you talk about with Julie?
Mary Wallace: I asked her if she had a good weekend. She said it was pretty quiet, pretty lazy. I told her I had done some shopping in Tupelo. And then she went to get a snack. It was a short conversation.
Detective Murphy: Then what did you do?
Mary Wallace: I sat down and started getting ready for the meeting. I'm kind of particular, so I like to get all my pens and paper ready, make sure my laptop is powered-up, my note-taking template is open, and things like that. And then the meeting started.
Detective Armstrong: And what happened?
Mary Wallace: We went through the usual formalities. And then Ambrose brought up his idea about the website, and everyone started arguing.
Detective Murphy: Who was involved in the argument?
Mary Wallace: I don't really remember.
Detective Armstrong: Isn't it your job as secretary to record people's objections and what they say?
Mary Wallace: I take my role seriously, detective. I know what I'm supposed to do. But in this organization, arguments happen at every meeting. If I wrote down every time someone raised their voice and everything they said, our meeting minutes would be a novel.
Detective Murphy: Surely you must remember something about the argument.
Mary Wallace: Well, Shannon Bower was the most aggressive, which isn't anything new. From that point forward, the whole meeting just went downhill. I knew it was going to be one of those nights with a lot of controversy and not much worth recording.
Detective Armstrong: Did everyone arrive on time for the meeting?
Mary Wallace: No, Jamie Covington came in late. I think probably about 5:20 p.m.
Detective Murphy: Did anyone leave early? Maybe get out of there because of the argument?
Mary Wallace: Yes. Shannon finally got up and left around 6:30 p.m., I think it was.
Detective Murphy: What was her mood? How would you describe her exit?
Mary Wallace: She was pretty mad. She doesn't really try to hide her emotions. She stomped out of the room, and we continued with the meeting.
Detective Armstrong: So, how did the argument about the website end?
Mary Wallace: We just tabled it.
Detective Murphy: Did the meeting continue without interruption?
Mary Wallace: No, we usually take a break. This time, we stopped at about 5:45 p.m. for refreshments. We had coffee, tea, Cokes. I think there were some pretzels, cookies, brownies. Sometimes we get barbecue sandwiches from Handy Andy, but this time it was just snacks.
Detective Armstrong: What did Ambrose do during the break?
Mary Wallace: He got some snacks and a drink like everyone else.
Detective Murphy: What was he drinking?
Mary Wallace: I think it was Sprite. Maybe 7-Up. One of those.
Detective Murphy: Did you see him take a drink from his flask or add anything from his flask to his drink?
Mary Wallace: Yes.
Detective Armstrong: How many times did he spike his drink?
Mary Wallace: I saw him do it twice.
Detective Armstrong: Could he have done it more?
Mary Wallace: Sure. But I only saw him do it twice.
Detective Armstrong: Did anyone else bring their own refreshments?
Mary Wallace: We take turns bringing the snacks. Is that what you mean?
Detective Murphy: What about the beverages?
Mary Wallace: We keep a supply of Cokes and coffee and tea in the kitchen.
Detective Armstrong: Does anyone ever bring their own drinks from home?
Mary Wallace: Sure, if they want something we don't have.
Detective Armstrong: Did anyone bring their own drink that night?
Mary Wallace: Probably. I never really pay any attention to that.
Detective Murphy: Was anyone else drinking alcohol at the meeting other than Ambrose?
Mary Wallace: Not at the meeting, no.
Detective Murphy: Meaning?
Mary Wallace: There are a few people who sometimes like to indulge a little bit before the meeting.
Detective Armstrong: Anyone that night?
Mary Wallace: Well, Jamie Covington was having a party that night, and he may have had a drink or two before he got to the meeting.
Detective Armstrong: Was he drinking during the meeting?
Mary Wallace: Just water.
Detective Murphy: Did he bring the water with him or get it there?
Mary Wallace: I didn't notice.
Detective Armstrong: Anyone else drinking alcohol before or during the meeting that you know of?
Mary Wallace: I don't think so.
Detective Murphy: What time did the meeting get started again after the break?
Mary Wallace: Just a tad after 6:00 p.m., maybe five after or so.
Detective Murphy: How did the second half of the meeting go?
Mary Wallace: It was much quieter, but everyone was still in a bad mood.
Detective Murphy: How was Mr. Garrett?
Mary Wallace: He got really quiet. Started acting almost sleepy. I think everyone thought he was drunk.
Detective Murphy: Are you sure?
Mary Wallace: Yes, I think that's the case.
Detective Murphy: When we first spoke, Mrs. Wallace, you used the term "fired up" to describe Mr. Garrett. But now you're saying he seemed sleepy?
Mary Wallace: Well, what I meant was that he was fired up during the argument, but afterwards, he calmed way down. His moods were so up and down, it's hard to describe how he behaved.
Detective Murphy: So the second half of the meeting was uneventful?
Mary Wallace: For the most part. We just covered the rest of the items on the agenda, but none of them were hot-button issues like the website idea. There were some petty complaints and minor disagreements, but it was fairly quiet.
Detective Murphy: What time did the meeting end?
Mary Wallace: Jamie Covington suggested that we adjourn, and Ambrose agreed with the suggestion. That was right around 7:00 p.m.
Detective Armstrong: You told us you stayed after the meeting to talk with Ambrose. What did y'all talk about?
Mary Wallace: Nothing, really. It's just a procedure we fell into. I hang around after the meeting ends in case there's anything for the officers to discuss, any action items, or whatever. But this meeting was such a dreary affair, I think we all just wanted to go home. So there wasn't much to talk about.
Detective Murphy: Is there a phone in the community center?
Mary Wallace: Yes.
Detective Murphy: Where is it?
Mary Wallace: It's in the office.
Detective Armstrong: Can you hear it ringing if you're in the meeting room?
Mary Wallace: No. It's too far away, and with the office door shut and the meeting room door shut, you really can't hear it.
Detective Murphy: Have you remembered anything since the last time we talked that you think we should know?
Mary Wallace: I'm sorry, no.
Detective Armstrong: Who do you think killed Ambrose Garrett?
Mary Wallace: I don't know. I can't believe anyone I know would do something so terrible.
Detective Murphy: Okay, I think that'll do it for now. Thanks for your time. If you think of anything else, please give us a call.
Interview ended – 2:22 p.m.