Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - 11:22 a.m.
Mason York is an adult friend and mentor of RJ Brandt. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness' knowledge and consent.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Mason York
Detective Armstrong: Could you please state your name and address for the record?
Mason York: I'm Mason York. I live at 814 Lincoln Avenue.
Detective Murphy: How well do you know RJ Brandt?
Mason York: I think it's safe to say that we're friends.
Detective Murphy: Why do you use the word "safe"?
Mason York: It's hard to tell with RJ. I started working with him through the church a couple years ago and, even after all this time, I'm not sure if I've managed to reach him.
Detective Murphy: Do you feel that you're friends?
Mason York: I've tried to be there for him, but RJ has put up some walls that might be impossible to scale. For example, just last month I took him to a wrestling match. You might think he'd be thrilled. What kid wouldn't? But RJ, he never said a word.
Detective Murphy: Maybe he doesn't like wrestling.
Mason York: Believe me when I say that RJ loves wrestling.
Detective Armstrong: Could be that RJ isn't particularly comfortable around you.
Mason York: He didn't have to accept the invitation. He's not in any way obligated to take part in the activities and opportunities I've tried to provide him. Yet, he always comes, and he never says anything. Not before, during, or afterwards.
Detective Armstrong: Maybe his parents make him go.
Mason York: I'd be happy if that were true. At least then I'd see a sign that they were interested in the boy.
Detective Murphy: How would you describe Ronny and Heather?
Mason York: Self-absorbed. And then at other times, over-protective.
Detective Murphy: Can you give us an example of that?
Mason York: It's hard to explain. They just‒ they're not very loving, at least that I've seen. I think they try their best, but not everybody instinctively knows how to be a good parent. And RJ, he doesn't really bring out warm and fuzzy feelings in people most of the time. So maybe that's it. But I've seen people show more affection to their dogs.
Detective Murphy: You said over-protective.
Mason York: But it doesn't seem like it comes from a place of love. It's almost more of an ownership thing, the way people can be so uptight about their lawn or their car.
Detective Armstrong: Has RJ ever come to you for help?
Mason York: No. I'm always the one who initiates contact, comes up with the plans. It's a lot of work, but if I didn't do it, he'd probably just drift away.
Detective Murphy: I'm surprised you have the time, what with being a foster parent.
Mason York: One troubled teen is twice the work of sixteen preschoolers. But it's important, so I make time.
Detective Armstrong: What happens to the foster kids you take in?
Mason York: We take care of them until something better comes through: a parent is located or released from prison, a family member steps forward, a couple decides to adopt, things like that.
Detective Armstrong: Do you ever see the kids again?
Mason York: Once or twice something has gone wrong and a child has been returned to us until something else can be arranged.
Detective Armstrong: Kids ever fall through the cracks?
Mason York: What do you mean?
Detective Armstrong: Like paperwork getting lost. Like the agencies forget you have a kid and never place her in a permanent situation. That sort of thing.
Mason York: The system is bad enough as it is. I mean, these children, all they want is to be loved.
Detective Murphy: Did you know RJ had a skull?
Mason York: I couldn't believe it when I heard the news.
Detective Armstrong: So he didn't get it from you?
Mason York: Me? Why would you think that?
Detective Armstrong: We're just asking questions. If we research the children you've fostered during the last two years, are we going to find any surprises?
Mason York: Loving parents. And that would be a surprise worth celebrating.
Detective Murphy: OK, Mr. York. Thank you for your time
Mason York: My pleasure.
Detective Armstrong: Just one more thing. You took RJ to a wrestling match. When was that?
Mason York: Let me check my calendar. Here it is. March 10.
Detective Armstrong: Wasn't that the Saturday before he brought the skull to school?
Mason York: Yes, as my wife was quick to point out. She doesn't much care for RJ.
Detective Murphy: Why not?
Mason York: He rubs her the wrong way, I guess.
Detective Murphy: Thanks again for coming in.
Interview ends: 11:39 a.m.