David Anderson investigated the 1987 case with Det. Nelson

David Anderson interview

Thursday, July 19, 2011 - 10:02 AM

David Anderson, a 60-year-old white male, is a former YCSD detective. 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 Ted Armstrong
  • Detective Samantha Murphy
  • David Anderson

Detective Armstrong: Hey, Dave. How you doing?

David Anderson: Ted. It’s been a while. Sam, how’s it going?

Detective Murphy: You know how it is.

David Anderson: Yes, I do. There’s a reason I switched to the private sector. A lot less stress, and I almost never have to get up close and personal with a dead body anymore.

Detective Murphy: Almost never?

David Anderson: Well, you know, never say never. That’s just asking for trouble.

Detective Armstrong: Good point. Well, even after all these years, you probably still know the drill, unless you’re getting senile in your old age. Please state your name and address for the record.

David Anderson: You’re hilarious. And I’m not that much older than you, so laugh it up, smart guy. You’ll be where I am soon enough. At any rate, for the record, my name is David Anderson and I live at 321 Christman Drive in Oxford. Man, it’s strange being on this side of the table.

Detective Armstrong: Well, let’s just get this out of the way right now. You didn’t kill Kevin Gilmore, did you?

David Anderson: Of course not. Never even met the kid while he was alive.

Detective Armstrong: So how well do you remember the Gilmore case?

David Anderson: I never forget a body, especially when the case was never resolved. Kevin Gilmore. Found December 13, 1987 in a grassy area along Hathorn Road, not too far from Ewok Village. Kid was discovered by an Ole Miss employee, name of Thomas Robards. No, Tomas.

Detective Armstrong: Did you talk to this Robards guy?

David Anderson: I talked to him informally at the scene, but Nelson did the official interview. In fact, Terry did all the primary interviews, if I recall.

Detective Armstrong: Why was that?

David Anderson: Cards on the table?

Detective Armstrong: You bet.

David Anderson: The whole case was kind of a dog from the get-go. Yeah, the kid was beat up and the body had obviously been moved, but technically, he died from diabetes complications, if I recall. Add to that, there wasn’t any good evidence at the scene to go on, and I was never really sure we’d be able to close the case.

Detective Murphy: So you dumped it on Nelson?

David Anderson: No, it wasn’t like that. He had just come over from the Crime Lab and hadn’t really done many witness interviews at that point. It seemed like as good a case as any for him to get a little experience talking to potential suspects. So I let him take the interviews solo, and I watched from the observation room. Gave him pointers before and after.

Detective Armstrong: What was your take on Robards?

David Anderson: At first, I liked him for it. A man whose wife has affairs with college students? It wasn’t a big leap. But after we talked to people who actually knew Gilmore, Robards looked less and less like the guy. He was just a sad sack with a crappy wife.

Detective Murphy: Did Detective Nelson agree?

David Anderson: Yeah, eventually. It’s easy to think the one who found the body is the killer, but it’s not always like that. Sometimes bad stuff happens to good people who were just minding their own business and got caught up in something.

Detective Armstrong: So who did y’all like for it then?

Detective Anderson: I’m sorry to say that we never really had a solid suspect. That’s why we never could make an arrest. I sure hated to let Don and Judy down like that. They were really devastated.

Detective Murphy: Don and Judy?

David Anderson: Gilmore’s parents. They stayed in touch with me over the years, especially back when I was still with the Department. He was their only kid, and they just wanted to know what happened to him.

Detective Armstrong: After you moved on from Robards, was there anyone else you thought might be good for it?

David Anderson: Hard to say. A lot of people talked about this one kid who didn’t get along with Gilmore. Another kid on the basketball team. James? Jason? Jake? Sorry, I don’t remember his name, but I’m sure it’s in the case file. We talked to him a couple of times

Detective Armstrong: But you didn’t think he did it?

David Anderson: Not back then. Oh, he definitely didn’t like Gilmore at all, but I never got that hit off him. He was just a kid with a chip on his shoulder, seemed like to me.

Detective Armstrong: What did Terry think?

David Anderson: With so many people talking bad about the kid, he was leaning towards him for a while. But you know how Terry was. He was an evidence guy, and there just wasn’t any evidence against the kid. Jason? Maybe it was Jason. Anyway, in the end, Terry couldn’t convince himself Jason was definitely involved, so he knew he couldn’t convince the DA or a jury.

Detective Murphy: Was there anyone else you considered?

David Anderson: There were a lot of possibles, but nobody we could hang anything on. Gilmore had a friend and a girlfriend, and those two? Well, sometimes it takes time to see the big picture. In hindsight, those two may have been closer than we knew back then.

Detective Murphy: What do you mean?

David Anderson: It would just be speculation. Y’all are going to talk to them, right? Do that, and see what you think. I don’t want to influence your opinion before you even meet them. You might get a different read than me.

Detective Armstrong: Fair enough. Was there anyone else you thought might be involved?

David Anderson: Let me think. Seems like there was something with the roommate. I don’t recall his name, but I remember thinking he wasn’t telling us everything. And of course, there was The Juke Joint.

Detective Murphy: What do you mean?

David Anderson: The kid worked there, and you know that place ain’t never been right since day one. Sure, on the surface, it’s different today than it was back then, but if you ask me? The same dirty stuff is still going on now that was then. I don’t have any proof, but that’s my read on it -- now and back in ‘87.

Detective Murphy: You heard about what they found over in the Shops and Stores building on campus?

David Anderson: Hard not to with the local news so excited about it. I can’t believe there might be something new in the case after all this time.

Detective Murphy: Did you ever have any reason to think there might have been a connection between Kevin Gilmore and the Shops and Stores building?

David Anderson: We knew where we found him was the secondary crime scene. It was obvious he had died somewhere else, but we were never able to find out where. It was like he went to work that last night, and no one ever saw him again.

Detective Murphy: Did you ever develop a theory about how Kevin Gilmore got from The Juke Joint over to Hathorn Road?

David Anderson: No. No one ever could give us an explanation for how the kid got all the way over to the opposite side of the campus. He didn’t have a car, and that’s a long walk. What is it? A couple of miles?

Detective Armstrong: His body was found not too far from the pot farm. You think there was a connection?

David Anderson: Since the day that place started up, there’ve been rumors and innuendos linking it to at least half the crimes in town. Their security back in ‘87 was decent, but not as good as it is now. I’m sure y’all have heard the rumors, same as I have over the years, about people making big bucks off pot they stole from the farm. But everyone we talked to said the kid had nothing to do with drugs, and we could never make a connection.

Detective Murphy: Did you think Kevin Gilmore might have been involved in drug trafficking? Even if you couldn’t prove it?

David Anderson: Hard to say. Everyone said no, but the kid was hard up for money, so who knows what he might have gotten mixed up in.

Detective Armstrong: You heard we found some new evidence in that room over in the Shops and Stores building?

David Armstrong: That’s what they say on the news.

Detective Armstrong: If I said we can definitively put Kevin Gilmore in that room, who do you think we should talk to?

David Anderson: I tell you what. I don’t know. We were looking at the kid’s friends and The Juke Joint. I don’t know how the Ole Miss Physical Plant figures into it.

Detective Armstrong: Is there anybody you now wish you'd looked at more closely?

David Anderson: Although come to think of it, there was a key that we found with Gilmore’s body that we connected to the Physical Plant folks. Robards said it wasn’t his, but we weren’t 100% sold on that.

Detective Murphy: What do you remember about that key?

David Anderson: I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it in years. It was one that only employees had though. I think that’s right. That’s why we thought it was Robards’.

Detective Murphy: But you never actually confirmed it was his?

David Anderson: Not that I remember. Once we moved off Robards as a suspect, I guess we didn’t keep pushing on that. Like I said, we thought it belonged to Robards. That’s on me.

Detective Murphy: Y’all never pursued it after that?

David Anderson: Don’t go blaming Terry for that, especially since he’s not here to defend himself. I was senior. It was on me to follow up on that. I guess maybe I dropped the ball. If that turns out to be the key, so to speak, I don’t know if I can forgive myself.

Detective Armstrong: Don’t beat yourself up, Dave. We’re only human. We can’t always tell in the moment what’s important. And the key may turn out to be nothing. We don’t know.

David Anderson: I appreciate you saying that, Ted, but we both know that not everyone will see it that way.

Detective Murphy: Well, whatever the key means or doesn’t mean, who do you think we should focus on now?

David Anderson: Eye on the ball, as always, eh, Sam? Well, I wish we'd looked at everybody more closely. The case turned out to be more complicated than we first imagined, but I still think the answer will come from either the kid’s friends or from The Juke Joint or maybe both.

Detective Armstrong: In the years after the case went cold, did you and Terry ever have any regrets about how you handled the investigation?

David Anderson: No. I mean, we regretted that we didn’t close it, but I think we did the best we could with what we knew at the time. Everyone we talked to acted like they were telling us everything, but I think most of them were holding things back. Most people do. We just didn’t have any leverage to get any of them to tell us more.

Detective Murphy: So there’s no one in particular you think we should focus on now?

David Anderson: If it were me, I’d talk to all those folks again. Maybe they’ll tell you more now than they told us back then. Sometimes time makes secrets seem like less of a big deal.

Detective Murphy: You think they had secrets they were keeping from you?

David Anderson: Everyone has secrets, Samantha. You know that. But sometimes what seems like a big secret when you’re 20 doesn’t matter anymore when you’re 45.

Detective Murphy: That’s for sure. Before we let you go, is there anything from back then that didn't make it into the official case file that we should know about?

David Anderson: I don’t think so. Nothing that I haven’t already told you. Everyone in the Department--hell, everyone in town--knows the rumors about The Juke Joint, but we didn’t have any evidence, so that’s not in the file. Does that have anything to do with what happened to the Gilmore kid? I can’t say. Maybe, but I’ve got nothing but gut instinct to base that on.

Detective Murphy: You said there was something about Kevin Gilmore’s girlfriend and a friend of his that we should look out for?

David Anderson: You talk to them. If you don’t see what I mean, come back to me and I’ll tell you. But I don’t think you’ll have any trouble figuring out what makes me wonder about them.

Detective Armstrong: Thanks for coming in and sharing your insight on this case with us, Dave. We may come back to you later to compare notes. Will you be around?

David Anderson: I’ll be in town. And I want to help if I can, so just give me a call. This is one of those cases that haunts you, you know?

Detective Armstrong: I hear you. We’ll be in touch. Take care.

David Anderson: You do the same. Who knows what a killer who might get exposed after getting away with it for so long might do. Y’all watch your backs.

Interview ended: 10:53 AM


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