Tuesday, April 23, 2019 – 3:30 p.m.
Gideon Horner is the senior pastor at Trinity Church and was a close friend of the victim, Wendell Martinson.
Detectives Murphy and Parker interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
- Detective S. Murphy
- Detective E. Parker
- Gideon Horner
Detective Parker: Thank you for coming in today, Reverend Horner. Please state your name and address for the record.
Gideon Horner: You're welcome. Gideon Horner. 752 Nottingham Drive here in Oxford.
Detective Parker: How were you acquainted with the victim?
Gideon Horner: He was a close friend and colleague.
Detective Murphy: Where are you employed, Reverend?
Gideon Horner: Trinity Church.
Detective Murphy: Was there any friction between you and Pastor Martinson?
Gideon Horner: None.
Detective Parker: When did you last speak with him?
Gideon Horner: Saturday afternoon. We both had been busy preparing for Easter weekend, and he called me to see how it was going and to invite us over for dinner sometime the following week.
Detective Murphy: Was he concerned or anxious when you spoke with him?
Gideon Horner: No. Wendell loved his job, and he loved his flock. He was looking forward to the Easter services.
Detective Parker: Was there anyone in his flock he loved a little less than others?
Gideon Horner: No, Detective. He loved them all. But to answer the question you're not asking, yes, he had moments of frustration with people, as we all do.
Detective Murphy: Would you have specific information regarding these moments of frustration?
Gideon Horner: Yes, ma'am, some.
Detective Murphy: Would he share details of his marriage?
Gideon Horner: Well, he might have if there were any issues, but Wendell and Lynette were deeply in love and had an amazing partnership.
Detective Murphy: Was Pastor Martinson concerned about church finances?
Gideon Horner: No. He asked me to review the church's books periodically, and other than simple mathematical errors, the books were an accurate reflection of the church's finances, and the church was doing well.
Detective Parker: Why would he share that information with you?
Gideon Horner: I have a degree in accounting, and he trusted me. And I trusted him. He suspected a discrepancy somewhere, and we were working to find it.
Detective Murphy: Did you discover anything?
Gideon Horner: Well, one of his members made large donations, and the amounts she claimed to have donated and the amounts recorded in the books didn't match. Wendell suspected that someone was siphoning off bits of money and writing the lesser amount in the books. The donor complained, of course, because this affected the amount of her tax write-off.
Detective Parker: Did Pastor Martinson suspect who was siphoning?
Gideon Horner: Yes. The donor's cousin. Joey, I think is his name. We were in the process of figuring the exact amount so that Wendell could decide how to pursue it.
Detective Murphy: Pursue what?
Gideon Horner: Whether it was a personal matter between the donor and her cousin, or whether it would be considered a criminal offense.
Detective Murphy: Over the past year, did he share any concerns regarding any members of his congregation?
Gideon Horner: Yes. There were very few, so they're easy to remember. He was very upset about a marriage that broke up. I guess the couple attended only one or two sessions, then quit. He was hoping to lead them through the process, but they ended the counseling and stopped coming to church.
Detective Murphy: Divorce isn't uncommon these days. Was there something in particular about this couple that upset him?
Gideon Horner: Apparently, both spouses were quite upset, and he was troubled that he hadn't been able to help either of them find peace.
Detective Parker: Do you know the name of this couple?
Gideon Horner: No. We sometimes discussed intimate details of our respective church members, but we never used their names.
Detective Parker: Did he discuss his staff with you?
Gideon Horner: Of course. He was happy with his staff.
Detective Parker: Do you know Pastor Ingram?
Gideon Horner: Leo? Sure. Great guy. Good pastor. He and I think more alike. Actually, I tried to recruit him over to my church, but he wants his own church.
Detective Murphy: How badly?
Gideon Horner: Well, you'd have to ask Leo, but I never felt that Wendell was in danger from Leo.
Detective Murphy: Would you say that Pastor Ingram is driven?
Gideon Horner: Yes. Very.
Detective Parker: Reverend, who would you want to question if you were conducting this investigation?
Gideon Horner: Well, I wouldn't know where to begin. I can't see that anyone would have reason to be so angry with Wendell. He was the best.
Detective Murphy: Thank you for coming in, Reverend. If we have any further questions, we'll contact you.
Interview ended – 4:01 p.m.