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Sunday, May 4, 2014 - 10:45 a.m.

Bobby Wannamaker, landlord and music impressario

After learning that Bobby Wannamaker, who rented a home to Forrest Burgess in March 2014, was in Oxford, Detectives Armstrong and Murphy arranged to interview him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.

Participants:

  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Bobby Wannamaker

Detective Armstrong: Would you please state your name, age, address and occupation for the record?

Bobby Wannamaker: You bet. Name, Bobby Wannamaker. Age, 51. Address, 4411 West Summit in Nashville, Tennessee. Occupation, music producer.

Detective Armstrong: Mr. Wannamaker, is it correct that you also own a home at 1313 Coles Point Road near Sardis?

Bobby Wannamaker: Yes, that is correct.

Detective Armstrong: And did you rent this house to Forrest Burgess, and if so, when?

Bobby Wannamaker: Yes, that's correct. Let's see, I've got the information here. Burgess stayed at my Coles Point home from March 15-31. He was evicted right after I arrived at my home on March 31.

Detective Armstrong: Why evict him so soon after he moved in? Did something happen?

Bobby Wannamaker: Yeah, something happened. I was in Memphis that weekend, and I came down to collect the rent and just check up on the place. I found it abandoned and in a state of severe disarray. That's when I gave the boy his walking papers and kept his deposit. I should've had him arrested, but I couldn't ever find him. If you could've seen what that boy did to my home.

Detective Murphy: Would you describe the damages?

Bobby Wannamaker: Darn right, I will. First of all, I get there and the front door is standing wide open. There's a smell that caught my nose as soon as I walked in the door. It smelled like some strange incense mixed with feces. That's right.

Detective Murphy: Anything else amiss or out of place?

Bobby Wannamaker: Oh, yeah. There were liquor bottles laying all over, many of them smashed. There were broken dishes. A leg of my coffee table was busted. There were marijuana seeds all in my carpet, not to mention mud and melted wax.

Detective Murphy: That must've been quite a sight. Was anything else damaged?

Bobby Wannamaker: He took one of my guitars off the wall and broke a string on that—something that could be fixed, but still, it's the principle. And the wall in one corner of the room had strange markings all over it. I never should've let the kid in, but I took it on good faith from his references.

Detective Armstrong: Who were these references?

Bobby Wannamaker: Callie Shivers, a pretty little rock-n-roller in town, she put in a good word for him. And Michael Turnage up at the record store. He plays in a local band and has done some studio work. Those cats gave me the go-ahead, and I've since let them know what I think about their friend.

Detective Armstrong: Were there any other damages you recall or any other expenses he incurred?

Bobby Wannamaker: So many little things. Burned spot on my couch. The screen on my screen door kicked out from the inside. The little creep didn't even offer to pay for the damages, and I haven't been able to locate him since. Oh yeah, he made a few long distance calls, if that helps. I could get you a copy of the bill.

Detective Armstrong: That'd be great, Mr. Wannamaker. Have you rented your home in the past?

Bobby Wannamaker: Nope. This was a first-time deal, and I tell you, I'll never do it again.

Detective Armstrong: What made you decide to rent it?

Bobby Wannamaker: Well, to be frank, I need the money. I was aiming to turn that place into a studio anyway, so I figured I'd earn the cash to do that by renting it for a while. I got another place in Oxford and, of course, my permanent residence in Nashville, but I just wanted a little country studio on the lake.

Detective Armstrong: Did you interview Burgess before he moved in?

Bobby Wannamaker: Sure. He seemed harmless, kind of quiet and polite. Told me he wanted to hole up and write. I even told him he could throw parties out there as long as he respected my furniture and whatnot, but he said, "Naw, I ain't got too many friends, and the ones I got don't want to party with me anyhow." So I thought, well this guy will make the perfect tenant. Apparently, I thought wrong.

Detective Murphy: Have you cleaned up the mess since then?

Bobby Wannamaker: To be honest, I hired someone to come in and clean it. I was so mad, and I had to get back to Nashville. So any evidence y'all might be able to use is destroyed, I'm afraid. The guy came in and did a thorough job. We got the place looking good again. Even got that smell out of there. I'm telling you, that boy is sick. And when I find him…

Detective Armstrong: We can probably help you with that. Thanks so much for coming in and talking to us, Mr. Wannamaker.

Bobby Wannamaker: You bet, man.

Interview ends - 11:08 a.m.

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