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The detectives asked Donna about the stranger seen sneaking around the church

Sunday, April 30, 2017 – 3:45 p.m.

Donna Palmer is the secretary at Faith and Glory Community Church.

Detectives Armstrong and Murphy asked her to stop by the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Office so they could talk to her about the man Hubert Jacobs reported seeing sneaking around the church on the day Frederick Miller was killed.

Participants:

  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Donna Palmer

Detective Murphy: We appreciate you speaking with us again, Ms. Palmer. Would you please state your name and address for the record?

Donna Palmer: Donna Palmer, 508 Webb Street.

Detective Murphy: Thank you. Ms. Palmer, in your first interview with us, you said that April 20th was a typical day.

Donna Palmer: It was, yes.

Detective Murphy: So, nothing out of the ordinary was going on?

Donna Palmer: Not at all, detective, why do you ask?

Detective Armstrong: Ms. Palmer, did you notice anyone sneaking around the church campus that day?

Donna Palmer: No, not that I saw.

Detective Armstrong: Are visitors supposed to check in with you or someone in the office?

Donna Palmer: Well, they usually do unless they’ve just stopped by to enjoy the meditation garden.

Detective Armstrong: Hubert Jacobs told us that he saw a man who looked as if he was sneaking around, taking notes on a clipboard. This man appeared to duck behind the building when Mr. Jacobs noticed him.

Donna Palmer: Oh, gosh. Bless his heart. Poor Hubert. Yes, now I know who you’re talking about. Sorry that I neglected to mention him before. He was supposed to be there.

Detective Murphy: Who is this person?

Donna Palmer: He’s a contractor named Jim Cooper. He was gathering information for an estimate on some repair work.

Detective Murphy: Mr. Jacobs said that he does all of the repair work and that the church wouldn’t hire anyone else because there was no job too big.

Donna Palmer: Well, Hubert is sweet but mistaken. And territorial. So Mr. Cooper was sneaking around so as not to get Hubert all riled up.

Detective Armstrong: What work was this contractor giving an estimate for?

Donna Palmer: We need some repairs on the exterior walls, and we need to know if it’s structural or cosmetic. Either way, we’re fixing the walls, and either way, Hubert won’t be doing the work.

Detective Murphy: Do you remember what time Mr. Cooper left?

Donna Palmer: Not exactly, but I’d guess that around 4:30 he poked his head in the office and waved and said he’d be in touch, then I assume he left.

Detective Murphy: But you’re not sure?

Donna Palmer: No, but I didn’t notice his car in the lot when I left at 5:00.

Detective Murphy: Where were you parked?

Donna Palmer: In the staff lot.

Detective Murphy: Do you know where Mr. Cooper was parked?

Donna Palmer: I assume the main lot, which was empty.

Detective Armstrong: How was the relationship between Hubert Jacobs and Frederick Miller?

Donna Palmer: It was remarkably uneventful.

Detective Murphy: Why remarkably?

Donna Palmer: Frederick was not very tolerant of — well, I was going to try to sugarcoat it, but what’s the point? Frederick hated stupid people. Those are his words, not mine. And Hubert is well-meaning but not too bright. But Frederick left him alone.

Detective Armstrong: And that surprised you?

Donna Palmer: Yes, very much so. Hubert can be clumsy and is sometimes forgetful. But Frederick never said anything harsh or mean to him that I know of.

Detective Armstrong: Do you think Hubert is capable of murder?

Donna Palmer: Oh, heavens no, detective. Hubert is incapable of killing the rodents that sometimes find their way onto the property. He has to trap them and release them in the woods. There is absolutely no way that Hubert could kill anyone.

Detective Armstrong: Could he be convinced to help someone else commit murder?

Donna Palmer: No. Absolutely not. It’s a ludicrous thought.

Detective Murphy: Okay. Thank you, Ms. Palmer.

Detective Armstrong: Before we wrap up here, maybe you can shed some light on something.

Donna Palmer: I’ll do my best.

Detective Armstrong: We've heard the people at the sewing event were looking for a cake knife that night. Do you know how that kind of thing is usually handled when someone needs something from the kitchen after hours?

Donna Palmer: Yes, someone with a key opens the kitchen.

Detective Murphy: Would Stephanie have a key?

Donna Palmer: No, no. Only certain staff members. Stephanie’s a volunteer.

Detective Murphy: So, the kitchen was locked, and no one at the sewing event had a key?

Donna Palmer: Correct. But no one needed a key. The Fellowship Hall was set up for the event, and everything was out.

Detective Armstrong: Except a cake knife.

Donna Palmer: No, the cake knife was out. I set it out earlier in the day. Oh, dang that Margie!

Detective Armstrong: Why do you say that?

Donna Palmer: She gets all twitterpated and can’t see what’s right in front of her face. I’ll bet she was a royal pain for Stephanie. I set everything up that I could, so Stephanie’s evening could be all about the sewing and socializing. She’d worked like mad to make sure it would be a success.

Detective Murphy: How long had she been preparing, do you know?

Donna Palmer: Many months, detective. This event is a big deal, and it’s a badge of honor to host it. So when the church was chosen, we were all so proud, and we knew Stephanie had to be involved.

Detective Murphy: Why?

Donna Palmer: Well, she has impeccable taste. Plus she’s extremely organized and a real go-getter. She went around making contacts with local businesses to get supplies donated to the cause.

Detective Armstrong: What kind of supplies?

Donna Palmer: Sewing supplies. Fabric, trim, needles, thread, thimbles, that kind of thing. My goodness, by the week of the 20th, that sewing supplies closet was nearly bursting at the seams. Pardon the pun. There toward the last, she was getting two or three packages a week delivered to her. Amazing!

Detective Armstrong: Did you open these packages?

Donna Palmer: Oh, sometimes, but not too often, and sometimes she’d open up the packages at my desk. I think she liked to hear me squeal over the stuff she got donated. My word, there were some beautiful things.

Detective Armstrong: All right, Ms. Palmer, thank you. I think that’s all the questions we have for now.

Donna Palmer: Happy to help.

Interview ends – 4:08 p.m.

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