Tucker Baines interview
Sunday, January 12, 2014 - 1:45 p.m.
Tucker Baines, an assistant professor at the University of Mississippi, called 911 to report that he had found a bag containing what appeared to be ice skates on Highway 7 north of Oxford. Investigators searching the area eventually found more pieces of luggage. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed Dr. Baines at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Tucker Baines
Detective Murphy: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Dr. Baines.
Tucker Baines: Just Mr. Baines, please. Or Tucker.
Detective Murphy: Mr. Baines. For the record, would you please state your full name and address?
Tucker Baines: Tucker Hewitt Baines, 436 Sisk Avenue, Oxford.
Detective Murphy: Thanks. Now, how did you find the bag you called 911 about this morning?
Tucker Baines: I was out running this morning, and my dog found it.
Detective Murphy: Do you run every morning?
Tucker Baines: Five mornings a week. Outside when the weather allows. It's been awful the past few weeks, so I grab every chance I get. You have no idea how boring it gets, trying to do distance running in the Turner Center. Distracting, too.
Detective Murphy: Distracting?
Tucker Baines: Mm. Ponytails. Need I say more?
Detective Murphy: No. And this morning?
Tucker Baines: Absolutely gorgeous. Not too chilly and beautiful blue skies, so I grabbed the chance since it's supposed to rain tomorrow. Again.
Detective Murphy: What time did you go out to run?
Tucker Baines: I couldn't say precisely. Around 10:30. It's Sunday, so I can run later than I would during the week when I have classes to teach.
Detective Murphy: Where do you run from?
Tucker Baines: Oh, from my house. I pick different routes and just run about 40 minutes away from the house then back. Generally, it comes out to about eight or ten miles, depending on how hard I push it.
Detective Armstrong: In an hour and 20 minutes?
Tucker Baines: More or less. That's what I shoot for anyway.
Detective Armstrong: What do you teach, Mr. Baines?
Tucker Baines: Journalism. Broadcast reporting. TV, online video, that kind of thing. It's a whole new world for journalism. Our students have been following the Maxwell case for NewsWatch. This'll be a big story.
Detective Armstrong: What will?
Tucker Baines: Finding the Maxwells' luggage. That is what I found, right? Did you find the rest of it?
Detective Armstrong: Some items were recovered, yes.
Tucker Baines: Was it the Maxwells' luggage?
Detective Armstrong: I can't comment on that, sir. If we could return to the questions?
Tucker Baines: Oh, right. Sure. Sure. Sorry. That old reporter instinct, you know. Grabs me sometimes.
Detective Armstrong: You were out running this morning, sometime after 10:30. Where?
Tucker Baines: OK, I left home, ran up Sisk to Highway 7, then decided to go north.
Detective Armstrong: Why north?
Tucker Baines: Why not?
Detective Armstrong: There was no particular reason why you chose north?
Tucker Baines: Nope. I generally just make decisions on the fly. I don't like being boxed in to a routine. Bad enough I have this running habit. I sure don't want to get stuck looking at the same scenery every day.
Detective Armstrong: And your dog was with you. Do you always run with your dog?
Tucker Baines: Well, not in Turner Center, that's for sure.
Detective Armstrong: But outside?
Tucker Baines: About half the time, I guess.
Detective Armstrong: Any particular reason why you took your dog this morning?
Tucker Baines: Nope. Just seemed like a good idea at the time. He likes the good weather as much as I do.
Detective Armstrong: What kind of dog do you have, Mr. Baines?
Tucker Baines: Heinz 57. Best kind. Got him at the shelter, four years ago. I'd guess he's mostly a Lab/Shepherd mix, but small. Looks like a miniature Lab with Shepherd coloring. You know, that black and tan look? Beautiful fella. Smart as a whip. Beaucoup.
Detective Armstrong: Beaucoup?
Tucker Baines: That's his name. Beaucoup. Bo, mostly.
Detective Armstrong: I see. And were you running with your dog loose?
Tucker Baines: Nah. I keep him on a long leash. You know that kind you can let out and reel back in one-handed? Bo's real reliable, but I don't like to test my luck out there on the highway. I'd hate to lose him.
Detective Armstrong: I can understand that. So you were running north on Highway 7 with your dog, and then what?
Tucker Baines: Well, I've run that way before, so I know it's about four miles from my house to that bridge over Hurricane Creek. That's where I usually do my turnaround and head back home.
Detective Armstrong: How often have you run that way?
Tucker Baines: I've been running five days a week in this town for four years. There's not a whole lot of places I haven't run.
Detective Armstrong: Before today, when was the last time you ran up Highway 7 to Hurricane Creek?
Tucker Baines: Hell, I don't remember. Maybe a few weeks. A month? Like I said, the weather's been wretched, so I've been doing a lot of running at the Turner lately.
Detective Murphy: What happened when you got to the bridge this morning?
Tucker Baines: I jogged down the shoulder some and let Bo go get a drink.
Detective Murphy: From the creek?
Tucker Baines: Right.
Detective Murphy: On the leash?
Tucker Baines: It's a long leash, but not that long. No, I let him loose. And he ran right down to the water, like I knew he would, and started drinking.
Detective Murphy: Then what happened?
Tucker Baines: Well, I was getting a drink myself–
Detective Armstrong: From the creek?
Tucker Baines: You must be kidding. From a water bottle, of course.
Detective Murphy: OK. Go on.
Tucker Baines: As I said, I was getting a drink and doing a few stretches to keep from cramping, and I called Bo, but he didn't come right away.
Detective Murphy: Was that unusual?
Tucker Baines: Moderately. He's generally real good, but if something interesting's caught his attention, I might have to call him a few times.
Detective Murphy: And then what happened?
Tucker Baines: I called. He didn't come. I called again, and started looking. I stepped down toward the creek a few steps and saw his tail wagging over by the water, almost under the bridge. I called him again and he raised his head and looked at me, then went back to whatever had his attention. I figured, good god, please don't let it be a skunk.
Detective Murphy: Go on.
Tucker Baines: So I got close enough that I could see he was worrying at some kind of bag, not an animal. That got me interested, so I went down to check it out. When I got there, he'd torn it a little and I saw a blade and couldn't believe what I was looking at.
Detective Armstrong: Which was?
Tucker Baines: Well, it was a skate, of course. An ice skate. Face it, detective, there's not a whole lot of ice skaters in Oxford, and the Maxwell case has been in the news.
Detective Armstrong: What did you do then?
Tucker Baines: What anybody would do. I got the bag away from Bo, then started looking around to see if I could find anything else.
Detective Armstrong: And did you?
Tucker Baines: Not on the banks. After a while, I thought I could make out a shape that could've been a suitcase hung on something against one of the bridge pilings. Was it?
Detective Armstrong: Was it what?
Tucker Baines: Was it a suitcase? You guys did go look, right?
Detective Armstrong: Yes, we did.
Tucker Baines: Damn. You're being awfully close-mouthed about this.
Detective Murphy: We just need to get the answers to a few more questions, Mr. Baines.
Tucker Baines: Yeah, yeah. Go ahead.
Detective Murphy: What did you do next?
Tucker Baines: When I saw I couldn't get at anything else easily – you know, if there was even anything else there and it wasn't all just my imagination – I clipped Bo and went back up to the road.
Detective Armstrong: With the skate bag?
Tucker Baines: No, I left it where I found it.
Detective Armstrong: And?
Tucker Baines: And I called 911 on my cell. Like any good citizen would.
Detective Armstrong: And a police unit came to your location?
Tucker Baines: Right. I told him what I'm telling you. Who do you suppose dumped the stuff in the creek?
Detective Armstrong: Why do you ask?
Tucker Baines: Hey, come on. Bags of ice skates don't just fly into creeks in the middle of nowhere all by themselves. Obviously, it's the Maxwells' skates. And you found other stuff. So somebody must have dumped it there.
Detective Armstrong: What makes you say that?
Tucker Baines: You know, this "just the facts" routine gets real tiresome.
Detective Murphy: I'm so sorry, Mr. Baines. Thank you for your time. It's possible we may need to ask you more questions later on.
Tucker Baines: Sure. Of course. You're not going to tell me anything, are you?
Detective Armstrong: Thanks for your help, Mr. Baines.
Tucker Baines: OK, fine. Can I go then?
Detective Armstrong: Of course, sir.
Interview ends: 2:17 p.m.