Officer Wilkins interview
Monday, July 16, 2014 - 8:10 a.m.
On the morning of Friday, July 18, 2003, Officer Joe Wilkins contacted Detectives Armstrong and Murphy at the end of his shift to say he believed he had information that could be relevant to their investigation of the severed hand.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy talked with him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Officer J. Wilkins
Detective Armstrong: Thank you for reaching out to us, Officer Wilkins. We're going to record this interview, so will you state your name and position for the record please?
Officer Wilkins: Glad to, Detective. My name is Joe Wilkins. I'm an officer with the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.
Detective Armstrong: You said on the phone you felt you had some information about Andy Fine. Is that right?
Officer Wilkins: Yes, sir. I'm sure I saw Andy Fine early on the morning of July 4.
Detective Armstrong: Well, just tell us in your own words, Joe. You know the drill — circumstances of the sighting, time, date, etc.
Officer Wilkins: Yes, sir. At 1:16 a.m. on July 4, 2014, I observed a purple Geo Metro driving erratically on Jackson Avenue West. I suspected the driver was operating his vehicle under the influence, so I lit him up and pulled him over in the Papa John's parking lot. That's in the 1600 block of Jackson Avenue West.
Detective Armstrong: Understood. Go on.
Officer Wilkins: I obtained driver's license and registration from the driver — one Harold Pugh — then requested he exit the vehicle, at which time I administered the Standardized Field Sobriety Test. While I was administering the test, I observed a white male sort of staggering across the parking lot.
Detective Armstrong: Did you know him?
Officer Wilkins: I recognized him at the time as Andrew Fine. It looked like he had traveled on foot east on Jackson Avenue West and was cutting through the Papa John's parking lot to Hathorn Road.
Detective Murphy: Was he doing something that made you take note of him?
Officer Wilkins: He caught my attention because he appeared intoxicated and seemed to be cussing somebody out, but there was nobody else around.
Detective Murphy: Did you talk to him?
Officer Wilkins: No, I didn't attempt to detain him because I was busy with the subject I was already testing. Pugh failed the test, and I took him into custody on a DUI charge. By the time I had Pugh in the cruiser, Fine was gone.
Detective Murphy: What time was this?
Officer Wilkins: It must have been close to 1:30 a.m. by the time I had the subject in custody. That couldn't have been more than five minutes after I first saw Fine.
Detective Murphy: And how did you happen to be able to identify Andrew Fine?
Officer Wilkins: I'd stopped him a couple of days before to give him a warning because his tail light was not operational. I'm positive that the guy I saw walking through that parking lot on the morning of July 4 was the same guy I had stopped.
Detective Murphy: Did you see where he went?
Officer Wilkins: No. When I looked again, he was gone. But as I was putting Pugh in the cruiser, I did catch a glimpse of a dark, late model SUV just pulling into the Hathorn Road side of the parking lot. After I got Pugh in the cruiser, I looked back and the SUV was pulling out of the parking lot and Fine was nowhere to be seen.
Detective Armstrong: Was it your impression that those two events were related?
Officer Wilkins: I figured someone Fine knew stopped, picked him up, and took him home. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but when I heard about that hand being identified as Fine's and that body being found, I thought I'd better contact you.
Detective Armstrong: Thanks, Joe. We appreciate your help. I don't suppose you got a license number on the SUV?
Officer Wilkins: No, sir. As I said, I just figured it was a friend giving a guy a ride home. I had no reason to be suspicious.
Detective Murphy: Thanks again, Joe. We'll let you know if we need anything else.
End interview - 8:27 a.m.