Monday, March 15, 2021 – 10:00 a.m.
Will Sands is the longtime bartender at The Roadhouse Bar & Grill.
Detectives Beckwith and Magee talked to him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective J. Magee
- Will Sands
Detective Beckwith: Will Sands. How's life treating you?
Will Sands: Not bad, cuz. Looks like you've been takin' care of yourself.
Detective Magee: Y'all related?
Will Sands: Yes, ma'am. Paul and I are cousins. He got the brains. I got the looks. And you are?
Detective Magee: Detective Jo Allyn Magee. Good to meet you.
Will Sands: And you. How in the world, Paul, did you manage to give the shove to old Detective Armstrong and be so fortunate to partner up with Detective Magee here?
Detective Beckwith: Sometimes the stars just align, I guess.
Will Sands: Heh, yeah, I guess that's right. Say, the two of you should come on down to The Roadhouse after this and have one on me. Celebrate these promotions.
Detective Magee: We'll see, Mr. Sands.
Will Sands: Oh, you're gonna hafta call me Will, or this whole question-answer thing is gonna be awful awkward.
Detective Magee: Okay, Will. First, we need your full—
Will Sands: Name and address for the record, right?
Detective Magee: That's right.
Will Sands: Yeah, I got this interviewing down to a T. Y'all have called me in for information so much, the door to this room should have a plaque with my name on it.
Detective Beckwith: The Will Sands Interrogation Room?
Will Sands: It has a ring to it.
Detective Magee: Are you through, gentlemen? No one's going to get back to The Roadhouse at this rate.
Will Sands: All right, Detective, I can take a hint. My name is Will Sands, and I live at 1002 College Hill Road, Oxford. What questions you got for me?
Detective Magee: Do you know Daniel Collier?
Will Sands: Sure, he used to come in for a burger now and then.
Detective Beckwith: Did Daniel come in with Chas Laughlin's crew?
Will Sands: Nah, he was never in there with them.
Detective Beckwith: He was working for Laughlin most of last year.
Will Sands: What can I tell you? He never came in with those guys.
Detective Magee: Okay, who did he come in with, if anyone?
Will Sands: Some kid his age. It was always the same kid.
Detective Magee: Do any of these pictures help?
Will Sands: Ah, yes, this kid. Heber, or Ebert, something like that.
Detective Magee: Brandon Ebner?
Will Sands: Yep, that's it. If Danny didn't come in with Vincent Gayle, he'd be here with that Ebner kid.
Detective Beckwith: You know Vincent Gayle?
Will Sands: Sure, he'll come in with HVAC guys at happy hour. He'd come in for a burger with Danny now and again.
Detective Beckwith: How often did they come in together?
Will Sands: Oh, I'd say once every few months or so.
Detective Magee: Did they seem friendly with each other?
Will Sands: Sure, as far as I could tell. They seemed like they were just typical family. ‘Course, I don't get up in people's business outside the bar if you catch my drift.
Detective Beckwith: You said Daniel and Brandon Ebner would come in together without Vincent, but did they come in with other friends?
Will Sands: Not that I ever saw. Danny and the Ebner kid always sat in the far back booths. They liked their secrets.
Detective Magee: Do you know what they talked about?
Will Sands: No, not really. Danny is a quiet sort usually. If people don't offer, I don't pry.
Detective Beckwith: Are you aware that Daniel has been missing for a couple of months?
Will Sands: You don't say! Well, that's a damn shame. I always thought Danny was a good kid. Hopefully, he'll turn up, but if y'all are the ones asking the questions, that's probably not likely in the cards, is it?
Detective Beckwith: We're still holding out hope that we'll find him.
Detective Magee: Let's talk a little about Laughlin and his guys. Does Chas Laughlin come into the bar?
Will Sands: Not much. I probably have seen him a couple of times. Only with his wife, not with the guys.
Detective Magee: How about Doug Jordan? Does he come to The Roadhouse frequently?
Will Sands: Does a one-legged duck swim in circles? Doug is always at The Roadhouse.
Detective Beckwith: Will, can you remember if Jordan was there the first week of January?
Will Sands: Well, I can't say for sure, but it would surprise me if he wasn't. He has come in almost every Friday since then and a good share of the Saturdays too.
Detective Beckwith: Have you had any problems with Jordan at the bar?
Will Sands: Nah, he drinks a lot of beer but holds it okay. He's loud and tends to get too crude with the ladies sometimes, but Doug's like the rest of them Laughlin guys, full o' catcalls and wolf-whistles, but none of them have the moxie to actually have a conversation with a woman. They're all hat, no cattle.
Detective Magee: Has Jordan ever come into The Roadhouse alone?
Will Sands: Oh, sure. If he comes up to the bar to sit, I know it's time for a sob story.
Detective Magee: What do you mean?
Will Sands: If Doug's alone, it means he's depressed about something like being 50 and having the dead-end job he has, or that he doesn't have a lady friend—go figure, right?—or that he doesn't have the money to even buy another cheap beer. Stuff like that.
Detective Magee: What do you say to him when he's in these moods?
Will Sands: I just smile and nod, smile and nod.
Detective Beckwith: Do you think Jordan would steal from Laughlin, being too poor to buy cheap beer and all?
Will Sands: Well, y'all got me on eggshells here. I don't know if talking about Laughlin's business is good for my business or my health.
Detective Magee: What do you mean by that?
Will Sands: No sooner than I hear someone crossed Laughlin, the next thing I hear is that someone's all busted up. If you ask 'em what happened, they all turn all abused spouse-like and give you the "I-accidentally-fell-down-the stairs" routine.
Detective Magee: Obviously, we're not going to say anything to Laughlin about you or any tips you may have.
Detective Beckwith: C'mon, Will. We're all family here.
Will Sands: All right, but you didn't hear it from ol' Will, but I did hear that Laughlin believed that someone was stealing parts from his shop in December of last year.
Detective Magee: Who did you hear this from? Jordan?
Will Sands: No, from Laughlin's body man, Buck Buchanan.
Detective Beckwith: What is the context here?
Will Sands: Well, old Buck had been at the bar at The Roadhouse sometime in early January, probably around the time you asked about Doug earlier. And, so, Buck is drinking like I never saw him drink. I mean two-fisting Lone Stars here. So I go over to him and ask if everything's okay. He blows me off. Two hours later, Buck's still at the bar, same stool, still trying to drink Texas out of Lone Star. So I go over and check on him again. I say, "What's eating you, Buck?" He looks over his shoulder to nowhere in particular and then says to me, "I could go to jail, Will."
Detective Magee: For what?
Will Sands: For GPSing another one of Laughlin's guys to see if he's stealing parts and reselling them up north.
Detective Beckwith: Tracking your company vehicles isn't illegal.
Will Sands: Yeah, but putting a GPS secretly in someone's private vehicle is, am I right?
Detective Beckwith: Can be. Is that what Buchanan told you he did?
Will Sands: Yeah. He said Laughlin told him to put it in the guy's trunk, and then get it back out in a couple of weeks to see if the guy was up to no good.
Detective Magee: Okay, so why was Buchanan so worried?
Will Sands: Cuz the guy up and quit. So now Buck had no easy way to retrieve the GPS unit.
Detective Beckwith: Plus, the likelihood of this guy finding it in his vehicle goes up about 100 fold.
Will Sands: Yeah, that's about the size of it. But remember you didn't hear it from me.
Detective Beckwith: So who was the guy?
Will Sands: Buck didn't say, but I'd venture that you can find out who all quit on Laughlin at the end of last year. There can't be that many.
Detective Magee: You might be surprised.
Detective Beckwith: Well, Will, I think you pointed us in the right direction.
Will Sands: Good to hear. Just keep my name out of it because I'm looking to expand the business over in Tupelo.
Detective Beckwith: You leaving us, Will?
Will Sands: Either way, I'll be around. If we're done here, I expect to see you and Magee for happy hour. No rainchecks.
Interview ended – 10:29 a.m.