Sgt Spearman interview
Tuesday, April 18, 2023 – 8:15 a.m.
Sergeant Steve Spearman was Detective Tatum's supervisor.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him in his office at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Sergeant S. Spearman
Detective Murphy: We appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today, Sergeant.
Sergeant Spearman: Certainly. Anything I can do to help.
Detective Murphy: Would you please state your name and address?
Sergeant Spearman: My name is Steven Spearman, and I live at— God, this weird. I live at 2424 Eagle Springs.
Detective Murphy: And can you tell us your relationship with Charles Tatum?
Sergeant Spearman: On a professional level, I worked with Charlie since we graduated from the academy. We worked together for our whole careers. Most recently, I had been serving as his supervisor in the department.
Detective Murphy: Did you know Detective Tatum outside of work?
Sergeant Spearman: Of course. We were good friends. I can't believe he's gone… But, like I said, we met in the academy. After we started on the force here, we just became closer and closer. We hunted together and fished together. You name it.
Detective Murphy: When did you suspect that something might have happened to Charlie?
Sergeant Spearman: When he didn't show up for work. That right there was the biggest tip-off. Charlie took his job real seriously, and when he didn't come in and didn't call, I figured something was wrong.
Detective Armstrong: Did you do anything about it?
Sergeant Spearman: I called him several times and left a few messages.
Detective Murphy: What did you say in the messages?
Sergeant Spearman: I don't really remember exactly. But some of the time, I felt like I was wearing the supervisor hat. Other times, I felt like I was just being a buddy. I remember one message I said that the boss was going to be pissed—that kind of thing. In one of the messages, I told him to get his lazy ass out of bed.
Detective Murphy: Did you do anything else besides try to call him?
Sergeant Spearman: Oh yeah. When he didn't call back, I sent a couple of uniforms by to knock on his door. I sent them a few times, actually. I even went by myself once, on Friday before shift. But Charlie didn't answer when I knocked on his door, and no one ever answered when the uniforms knocked either. Of course, now we know why, but at the time, there was nothing we could do since we didn't have P.C. to go in. There was no smell at that point, no signs of foul play. From the outside, everything looked fine. I just wish everything had been fine on the inside. I wish— well, I wish a lot of things had happened differently.
Detective Murphy: So you were concerned about Charlie?
Sergeant Spearman: God, I just wish I hadn't been so busy! I was concerned, but at the same time, I never imagined something like this would happen. I kept meaning to go back by his place after he didn't come in on Friday either, but I've been balls to the wall supervising a couple of undercover narcotics investigations, and I just never got around to it. Now, I can't even look at myself in the mirror. I can't believe that I let him lay there for days….
Detective Armstrong: You can't blame yourself, Sarge. We're all feeling that way. You did everything you could.
Sergeant Spearman: I know. Still, I feel like I should've done something more. Unfortunately, all we can do for Charlie now is catch the bastard who killed him.
Detective Murphy: Tell us more about Charlie's personality.
Sergeant Spearman: He was just plain nice. Cared about people, was real serious about his job and career, tried to treat people right—just an all-around nice guy.
Detective Murphy: Did he date much?
Sergeant Spearman: He had been seeing Marion Sanders from over at the bank. They'd been going out for a while, but he kind of wanted to break it off.
Detective Armstrong: Were they fighting?
Sergeant Spearman: She was kind of hard on him for being a cop. She didn't like the low pay and the long hours. Charlie was pretty much married to his job and had been for a long time. I don't think she liked that.
Detective Murphy: How bad was the relationship?
Sergeant Spearman: I know what you're getting at, Murph. I've thought a lot about it myself lately, but I don't think the relationship was that bad. Not homicidal. It was just one of those things. Not every relationship ends up in marriage. I know Charlie sure felt bad about possibly ending it, but I can't imagine that it was anything out of the ordinary.
Detective Armstrong: Who else knew about his intentions to break it off with Marion?
Sergeant Spearman: I don't know. Charlie wasn't going to run his mouth by any means, but at the same time, he valued the advice of his friends. I know we talked about it because he wasn't a hundred percent sure, but I don't know if he talked to anyone else.
Detective Murphy: Did you tell anyone about his intentions?
Sergeant Spearman: I believe I mentioned it to my wife, but that's it.
Detective Murphy: What else was going on in Charlie's life lately?
Sergeant Spearman: That was about it. There's not much more to his life than work and Marion. We would sometimes go to a football game on the weekend or maybe fish a little out to Sardis. Damn, that makes me think of the last time we went fishing.
Detective Murphy: Did something happen?
Sergeant Spearman: No, nothing like that. Just every time he went fishing with me, we had to rearrange the whole boat so he could cast and not get caught up in my lines. Damn southpaw. Anyway, that's pretty much it as far as Charlie's day-to-day. He just worked a lot.
Detective Murphy: Any cases that were particularly unusual?
Sergeant Spearman: I've thought about that as well. I've been going through his open cases, reassigning them, and so forth. I can't say he was working anything that seemed out of the ordinary or especially dangerous. He was mostly prepping cases for court, making sure all the witnesses were lined up, and things like that.
Detective Armstrong: Steve, you know how it works. Most cops have stuff they're checking out on the side. Was Charlie into anything like that?
Sergeant Spearman: Not too much. He didn't freelance very much. He was interested in this bar out on Highway 6, The Rebel Yell. He thought something was going on there.
Detective Murphy: What did he suspect?
Sergeant Spearman: He thought they were into all kinds of stuff—drugs, prostitution, gambling, you name it. He and Huckabee in Narcotics were trying to put a case together, but they never were able to get any hard evidence that let them lock anyone up that I know about. But Charlie was pretty sure something was happening, and he felt like he'd be able to nail them eventually.
Detective Murphy: Who did he think was behind it all?
Sergeant Spearman: He was eyeballin' the owner pretty hard. Guy named Hank Peterson. I don't know whether Charlie thought he was involved or if he just felt like the guy should have known what was going on and should be helping them clean up the place.
Detective Armstrong: Guess we'll have to talk to this Hank.
Sergeant Spearman: Yeah, do that. Don't let that down-home, good ol' boy routine fool you. He may say "aw shucks, ma'am" a lot, but don't buy it. He talks a good game, but Charlie always felt like he wasn't playing it completely straight with him. He just couldn't prove whether the guy was dirty himself or was covering for someone else who was.
Detective Murphy: Anything else you can think of that might help us?
Sergeant Spearman: No, I can't, and I've been racking my damn brain trying to come up with something. Like everybody else, I want to get this guy. Any help you need, you got it. Just say the word.
Detective Murphy: Thanks, Sarge. We'll keep you posted.
Interview ended – 8:43 a.m.