Man with close-cropped dark hair and facial hair, wearing a crucifix

Pastor Ingram interview

Thursday, March 18, 2021 – 3:30 p.m.

The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit church held a prayer service for Daniel Collier.

After the service was over, Detectives Beckwith and Magee met up with Pastor Leo Ingram. Their conversation was recorded with his permission.

Participants

  • Detective P. Beckwith
  • Detective J. Magee
  • Pastor Leo Ingram

Detective Beckwith: Moving service, Pastor Ingram.

Pastor Ingram: Yes, it was my honor, but I wish I didn't have to do these services for people so young.

Detective Beckwith: Yeah, we know what you mean. Our job's the same way.

Pastor Ingram: What can I do for the both of you today?

Detective Magee: We were wondering if you could talk to us about Daniel.

Pastor Ingram: I don't know how much I could tell you.

Detective Magee: We understand and respect clergy confidentiality.

Pastor Ingram: It's not that. It's because Daniel had left the church months before his death.

Detective Beckwith: Specifically, or did he just stop showing up?

Pastor Ingram: He just stopped showing up around late last September.

Detective Magee: Do you know why?

Pastor Ingram: I have a guess. I ran into him by happenstance in October at Lamar Park. I was at a church picnic and saw him talking with a friend. The friend left, and I walked over to say hi. You know, to guide a lost sheep back to the flock.

Detective Beckwith: Did you know the friend?

Pastor Ingram: No.

Detective Magee: Boy or girl?

Pastor Ingram: Girl. I didn't know her. It's been so long. I don't think I'd be able to identify her if I wanted to.

Detective Magee: What was his reaction to your greeting?

Pastor Ingram: He was cordial, but I had the sense that he wanted to leave … or wanted me to leave. I said to him something like, "Hey, haven't seen you in church lately."

Detective Beckwith: What did he say?

Pastor Ingram: He said, "And you're not gonna."

Detective Beckwith: Did he say why?

Pastor Ingram: He said he was done with organized religion. His life has been hard, and he hadn't felt that God cared one little bit about whether he lived or died.

Detective Beckwith: Okay.

Pastor Ingram: I told him God loves all of his children, especially during the times we're struggling. I offered to pray with him if he wanted.

Detective Magee: Did he accept?

Pastor Ingram: No, he said he had questions instead.

Detective Magee: What questions?

Pastor Ingram: He asked if gay people were accepted at the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit. I told him everyone is welcome at our church.

Detective Beckwith: How did he react?

Pastor Ingram: He said he doubted it. I told him that having homosexual feelings isn't sinful. Just acting on them is. He recoiled at that, saying his uncle was gay and a good man, no matter what the church says. I asked him if his uncle was thinking about joining the church.

Detective Beckwith: What did he say?

Pastor Ingram: He said maybe he was, but his uncle is openly gay and is afraid the church members might be bigots. I told him it was okay because we're all sinners, and the best place for sinners is church.

Detective Magee: Then what did he say, if anything?

Pastor Ingram: He asked whether or not my opinion would change if his uncle was HIV positive. I told him no.

Detective Beckwith: Did Daniel have any more questions?

Pastor Ingram: No. He just said that if his uncle planned on joining the church, he would come back. Otherwise, not to expect to see him—Daniel—around much.

Detective Magee: Why are you only telling us this now?

Pastor Ingram: I'm sorry. The first time we spoke, I thought you were only looking for information about the one night you mentioned—the bible study night. At that time, I was under the assumption—a naive one, I guess—that Daniel was very much alive.

Detective Magee: Meaning?

Pastor Ingram: While our conversation wasn't pastor-to-parishioner or private per se, it was very personal. So if Daniel was alive, I didn't want to spread rumors about him and his family if it was unnecessary.

Detective Beckwith: So now it's necessary?

Pastor Ingram: Yes, because Daniel is dead. Bigotry has been the cause of many murders in the past. I figured you should know.

Detective Magee: Did Daniel tell you how he found out his uncle had HIV?

Pastor Ingram: He has an uncle?

Detective Magee: Didn't you just say Daniel told you about his uncle?

Pastor Ingram: Oh, see, this is why I didn't say anything at first. I figured Daniel didn't even have a gay uncle. I thought he was speaking about himself the whole time. He actually has a gay uncle with HIV?

Detective Magee: Yes.

Pastor Ingram: My goodness. God sure challenges us with a complicated world, doesn't He?

Detective Beckwith: You could say that.

Pastor Ingram: Well, I guess it goes without saying that I've never had the good fortune to meet his uncle.

Detective Magee: So his uncle never approached you regarding this prayer service?

Pastor Ingram: No. And, as far as I know, he wasn't here today.

Detective Beckwith: No, we haven't seen either.

Pastor Ingram: I would imagine from what Daniel said that his uncle would be apprehensive about coming to a church service with people he didn't know well enough to trust.

Detective Magee: Was this conversation at Lamar Park the last time you spoke to Daniel?

Pastor Ingram: I'm afraid it was.

Detective Beckwith: Did Daniel ever come back to church?

Pastor Ingram: Sadly, no.

Detective Magee: Do you have anything else you'd like to add about Daniel or his family?

Pastor Ingram: Not that I can think of.

Detective Magee: How did Vincent feel about Dan not coming back to church?

Pastor Ingram: I didn't talk to him specifically about it, but given that Vince is a God-fearing man, I would guess that he'd be pretty upset.

Detective Beckwith: Did Vincent or Sharon ever tell you about any arguments he might have had with Daniel?

Pastor Ingram: I think that question is too close to the line, Detective Beckwith.

Detective Beckwith: Did Vincent suspect that Daniel was gay?

Pastor Ingram: I couldn't answer that if I even knew.

Detective Magee: How have Vincent and Sharon been coping since they found Daniel had died?

Pastor Ingram: As well as someone can after their boy was murdered. You probably should ask them personally.

Detective Magee: Understood.

Pastor Ingram: I believe I have said as much as I can, detectives. I sincerely hope you find the person or people that did this to Daniel.

Detective Magee: So do we. Thank you for your help, Pastor Ingram.

Interview ended – 3:53 p.m.

 


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