Walker family interview summaries
YOKNAPATAWPHA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT
Investigating Officer(s): Det. S. Murphy, Det. E. Parker
Incident No.: 006057-12L-2022
Case Description: Jackson Walker death investigation
When YCSD Investigators could not get in touch with Joshua Walker, the victim's brother and the one Walker family member who lives in Oxford, they left to canvass the other members of Jackson Walker's family who all live in other areas of north Mississippi. The YCSD Investigators will make another attempt to speak with Joshua Walker at a later date.
The interviews summarized are some of the most typical or relevant to the investigation and are representative of all the interviews conducted.
Craig Walker (59)
Jackson Walker's father
Craig Walker has been the street department supervisor for the public works division of New Albany, Mississippi, since 2010. After years of working in construction for himself, he was injured on a job site when he fell from some scaffolding, and doctors told him to avoid building houses in the future because of his persistent vertigo.
When asked about his son Jackson, Craig chastised himself for being a poor father. Craig recounted his divorce from Teresa Walker and said though it was amiable for the most part, it was difficult for the children.
Craig had come up with the idea to separate the four children into pairs and have them in alternate custody between his and Teresa's homes. Craig elected to have Jeffrey and Joshua during the weekdays while Jennifer and Jackson were with Teresa.
It seemed to work initially, but the lack of stability impacted the children, especially the younger boys, Jackson and Joshua. Inconsistent household rules and loss of significant contact between siblings took their toll. After the first year, Craig could see his children were suffering from the arrangement, but since it was court-ordered, he thought he couldn't do much to change it.
Craig described Jeffrey as the easygoing type even when he was a child but said Joshua was a handful growing up. Craig said Josh frequently bent or broke the rules, like staying out after curfew and trying drugs and alcohol early on in his teens. Craig admitted he wasn't much of a disciplinarian, so Jeffrey and Joshua ended up doing what they liked. Joshua liked trouble.
Now that his children are all grown, Craig wishes they would visit him more often than they do. None of them had come to see him in months. The last time he saw Jackson was in August when Jackson stopped in New Albany on his way to Corinth. Jackson didn't have much time to talk since he was busy preparing for the fall semester at Ole Miss.
Craig is devastated by Jackson's death, saying that Jackson was the most successful of his children and thus the one he lost touch with the most, now forever.
Teresa Meyer-Walker (56)
Jackson Walker's mother
Teresa "Teri" Walker, née Meyer, has been the Union County Heritage Museum director in New Albany, Mississippi, for the last 20 years. The museum has a small staff, but Teri is well-liked and respected by all.
She recently got engaged to the President of the Historical Society in town, Robert Howell, and the two plan to be married next year on Valentine's Day. Through tears, Teri lamented that Jackson wouldn't be in attendance.
When asked about her children's upbringing, Teri said she regretted splitting up the children but didn't regret divorcing Craig. Teri said Craig wasn't much of a family man, and beer played a larger role in his life than children.
Looking back, Teri believes it would have been better if she had raised all the children herself, but at the time, she didn't know if she could have handled it without going crazy. That's why she agreed to take Jennifer and Jackson on the weekdays and the other two boys on weekends.
Teri stressed that she was the authority in the family who dispensed correction when needed. Teri believes Joshua still resents her today because of her tough love when he was growing up, especially in contrast to Craig's lax discipline. Once, when he was in his teens, Joshua told Teri he thought she loved Jennifer and Jackson more than him, and Teri thinks Joshua believes that today.
Teri admits being very close to Jackson, not only because of their family ties but because she and Jackson shared so many interests. In his childhood, Jackson spent hours reading about William Faulkner, King Cotton, the BNSF Railway, and other local lore at the Heritage Museum while his mother was working. Teri credits his study at the museum for his success as a professor at Ole Miss.
Teri said she last saw Jackson at Thanksgiving when they shared a meal and talked about old times. She expressed regret that Jackson's other siblings weren't there to celebrate the holiday.
Teri mentioned that Jackson told her that a few weeks ago that he was attacked at his office at Ole Miss. When Teri asked if a student had attacked him, Jackson said it was another professor who punched him. Jackson told her not to worry, that the guy would be suspended and probably get himself fired at some point.
Teri said she offered Jackson one of her three handguns for protection, but Jackson refused them on the grounds that Ole Miss wouldn't take kindly to their professors packing heat. That was the last laugh the two of them shared.
Jeffrey Walker (35)
Jackson Walker's brother
Jeffrey "Jeff" Walker is the oldest son of the Walker family. He is a plumber for Morehouse Plumbing and Heating in Walnut, Mississippi. He likes living the rural lifestyle and cannot see himself in the hustle and bustle of a place like Oxford. He believes big city crime is likely the reason his younger brother is dead.
Jeff remembers Jackson as a real go-getter who wasn't ever happy unless they were pursuing some far-off dream. Jeff claimed New Albany wasn't big enough for Jackson, who had to become a college boy to impress everyone that he was so smart. Jeff said he saw right through Jackson and that underneath, Jackson was depressed and not as self-confident as his older brother.
Jeff said that his youngest brother, Josh, was a pain-in-the-ass tagalong when he was young, and Jeff did everything he could back then to ditch Josh so Jeff could hang with his friends down at the New Albany Pool Hall. Sometimes that meant giving 12-year-old Josh some beers or a bottle of Captain Morgan to get into trouble with.
At the time, Jeff didn't think anything of it. Dad didn't care, and Josh wasn't old enough to drive, so what did it matter? Jennifer told Jeff that Josh idolized him and Jeff was forcing Josh to grow up too fast, but Jeff believed that everyone has to grow up sometime and ignored Jennifer. When Jennifer inevitably told Teri what he'd done to Josh, Jeff blew her off too.
Jeff said he really didn't talk much to Jackson the last few years, given their lives are so different. Jackson had called him up weeks earlier to see if he would like to have Thanksgiving dinner at their mom's house. Jeff asked if the dinner was going to be vegetarian like the prior Thanksgiving. When Jackson said he had some delicious vegan recipes this year, Jeff told Jackson to count him out and said Jack could eat his share of tofu and carrot sticks.
Now Jeff regretted saying that a little, but he didn't know it would be the last time they talked. Jeff ended the thought by saying that since you can't change anything, there is no use dwelling on the past.
Jeff said that his mother, Teri, would have the hardest time with Jackson's death since it was obvious that Jackson was her favorite.
Jennifer Walker (33)
Jackson Walker's sister
Jennifer Walker is the second oldest child of the Walker family. Jennifer works as the manager of Lil' Yappers Boarding Kennel in Pumpkin Center, Mississippi. She is single and likes it that way. Her motto is: "If you don't get married, you can't get divorced." She notes that she has too many dogs in her life for a man anyway.
Jennifer said Jackson's death hasn't really sunk in yet. She hadn't spoken to him since summer, which was typical for them, so it didn't really feel like he's gone to her. In any case, she doubts Jackson met with any foul play since it's more likely in her mind that he accidentally overdosed on medicine or something, given he's so high-strung. Jennifer knew that Jackson had taken valium for anxiety in his late teens.
When asked about their childhood, Jennifer recounted that Jackson was her best friend growing up. She remembers she and Jackson missing their father and brothers, Jeff and Josh, but dreading when they'd have to go live with their father on the weekends.
Craig never was abusive to his children but didn't really acknowledge their presence. When Craig wasn't working, he was in a recliner, beer in hand, watching reruns on television or across the street at the local dive bar, throwing darts with the guys.
Jennifer said Jeff teased her relentlessly when he was around, and Jackson was afraid to intervene but would console Jennifer when Jeff left. Jennifer admits she didn't have much of a relationship with Josh since she rarely lived with him in their youth, and he is six years her junior.
Jennifer did say she remembered times when Josh would antagonize Jackson. There was an instance when Josh spat into Jackson's food, so Jackson told Teri, which earned Josh a spanking. Josh was so mad that he urinated onto Jackson's clean clothes, which Jackson had placed in his suitcase for a planned trip to Grandma's house.
Another time, when Josh was 11 years old, he and Jackson were playing outside Teri's home while Jennifer was babysitting them. One of Jackson's friends called to ask if Jackson could come over to play at his house. When Jackson agreed and began to pedal away on his bicycle, a jealous Josh jammed a stick in his brother's spokes. Jackson flew off his bike and chipped a tooth on the cement driveway.
Most of these stories, however, Jennifer discounted as typical sibling rivalry, and with their dysfunctional family, she believed things could have been much worse than they were.