Tomas explained how he happened to find the young man's body

Tomas Robards interview (1987)

Sunday, December 13, 1987 - 1:00 PM

Tomas Robards is a 46-year-old Hispanic male. The interview was conducted at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department and was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness’s knowledge and consent.


  • Detective Terry Nelson
  • Tomas Robards

Detective Nelson: Please state your name and address for the record.

Tomas Robards: My name is Tomas Robards. My address is 921 Whirlpool Drive, Oxford..

Detective Nelson: Thanks for hanging around until I was free to talk to you. Been a busy day.

Tomas Robards: I can see that.

Detective Nelson: Why don't you tell me in your own words what happened this morning?

Tomas Robards: I woke up early, got ready for work, and made myself some lunch. My wife ran off a couple months ago with some boy from the university. I've been taking care of myself since then. Working as many shifts as I can to make the time pass quicker.

Detective Nelson: The time?

Tomas Robards: Until she comes home. She's done this before. Usually she's back by now, but it's winter and maybe that makes a difference. So this morning I made myself some lunch and drove in to work. That's when I saw the body by the side of the road.

Detective Nelson: You knew it was a body?

Tomas Robards: No, not when I saw it. I was driving in to work, and I saw something strange over in the grass. I wasn't sure what it was, but I stopped to see. Pulled to the side of the road and climbed down out of my truck to check it out.

Detective Nelson: When did you realize it was a body?

Tomas Robards: Only after I got next to it. A man like me, I don't see dead bodies every day of the week. Never, in fact. So it wasn't until I was right on the body that I realized what I was seeing. And even then I didn't think he was dead.

Detective Nelson: Did you touch him?

Tomas Robards: I crouched down and I shook him a little. I thought he was sleeping, or sick or drunk. Maybe he'd been hit by a car or something. I didn't shake him hard, just enough to wake him. But he didn't wake up.

Detective Nelson: What did you do then?

Tomas Robards: I stood up and looked around to see if he was with anybody else. I didn't see a car or a bike or anything. I always drive this way to work, and I've never seen anybody out walking alone, especially early in the morning. Then I went back to my truck and used the walkie to report what I found.

Detective Nelson: Where did you get the walkie-talkie?

Tomas Robards: It was issued by the university. Everybody in the department has one. The place is big enough you could easily get lost.

Detective Nelson: You always take your walkie-talkie home?

Tomas Robards: We all do. It's the best way to hear about extra shifts.

Detective Nelson: So you called in what you found. Then what?

Tomas Robards: I sat in my truck and waited for someone to come.

Detective Nelson: Did anyone approach the body before the first officer arrived?

Tomas Robards: No.

Detective Nelson: Let's back up a minute. What was your day like yesterday?

Tomas Robards: Yesterday? I drove down to my mother's house in Greenville. I spent the day there with her and my uncle. Got back around maybe eleven.

Detective Nelson: Did you know you were working today?

Tomas Robards: Yes, I took the shift on Friday, but I don't usually go to bed too early. I'd just lie there. After I got home last night, I called my brother in California. Talked with him until maybe three in the morning.

Detective Nelson: That's kind of a long conversation.

Tomas Robards: My brother and I, we can talk the pink off a pig. Even then, it's like we don't really say anything, or at least that's what my wife says. We just talk.

Detective Nelson: Do you know where your wife is?

Tomas Robards: If I did, I would drive there and ask when she's coming home.

Detective Nelson: What if she said she wasn't?

Tomas Robards: I'd go home and keep waiting.

Detective Nelson: You mentioned some boy from the university. You got a name?

Tomas Robards: No. I came home from work one day, and she was gone. There are things she's packed when she'd done this before, and they were gone too. She's always going off with some boy from the university.

Detective Nelson: Did you recognize the boy you found this morning?

Tomas Robards: Not that I remember.

Detective Nelson: You said you didn't see a car or a bike. Did you see anything that seemed out of place?

Tomas Robards: Just the body. That's part of what made the whole thing so strange. Everything else was so normal. It seems like if you discover a body that a car should be wrecked against a tree or something.

Detective Nelson: Close your eyes for a moment. Think back to this morning. You leave the house and start to drive towards work. Remember what you saw. What you heard. Fast forward to just before you sight the body. What do you see? What do you hear?

Tomas Robards: Just the usual.

Detective Nelson: How's traffic? What vehicles do you pass?

Tomas Robards: I'm sorry, but I don't remember anything that stands out.

Detective Nelson: That's quite all right. I don't want you to make things up. If you think of something, you think of something.


Detective Nelson: So you like working at the school?

Tomas Robards: It's a good job. They treat me well.

Detective Nelson: Sounds like there's a lot of temptation there for your wife.

Tomas Robards: My wife is how she is. Nothing's going to change that.

Detective Nelson: Some husbands would be angry. Hurt. Bitter. It would be quite understandable, given the circumstances.

Tomas Robards: I love my wife. Even with her faults.

Detective Nelson: That's refreshing to hear. Most people we talk to, there's a certain level of frustration.

Tomas Robards: Do you have any other questions about this morning?

Detective Nelson: Do you recognize this key?

Tomas Robards: I don't know. Let me see. Can I take it out of the bag?

Detective Nelson: No, it's evidence.

Tomas Robards: Oh, OK. Well, it looks like one of the university storage keys. A lot of us have them.

Detective Nelson: A lot of who?

Tomas Robards: Physical Plant employees. It takes too long to go get the key every time you need to go in there, so they made a bunch and issued them to us.

Detective Nelson: Looks like there's some kind of number on here. What's that for?

Tomas Robards: That tells them what the key goes to. They got some kind of crazy system. Don't ask me to explain it.

Detective Nelson: Do they know who gets a specific key?

Tomas Robards: I don't think so, but I don't know.

Detective Nelson: Did they issue one to you?

Tomas Robards: Yeah.

Detective Nelson: Do you have it on you?

Tomas Robards: Yeah. It's in my pocket here. Hold on. I'll find it.

Detective Nelson: You've got a lot of keys there. Are you sure it isn't one of those?

Tomas Robards: No. All the keys to the university storage area have one of those washers on them.

Detective Nelson: Why?

Tomas Robards: I don't know. I guess so we don't lose it?

Detective Nelson: Doesn't look like that plan is working out. Did you find yours yet?

Tomas Robards: No, I can't--I don't know--I must've left it in my truck.

Detective Nelson: You're sure this one isn't yours?

Tomas Robards: I'm pretty sure. I usually keep it in my pocket or in the truck. Where did you find that one?

Detective Nelson: Why don't we go take a look in your truck, see if we can find that key?

Tomas Robards: OK, if you think that'll help.

Interview ended: 1:43 PM


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