Woman with short red hair and glasses standing in front of a red brick wall with birdhouses and other decorations nearby

Martha Brinkman interview

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 – 11:30 a.m.

Martha Brinkman is Dudley Brinkman's mother and roommate.

Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department.


  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Martha Brinkman

Detective Murphy: Thank you for coming in to talk with us, Mrs. Brinkman.

Martha Brinkman: Oh my! I've never been in a police station before. Am I going to be interrogated? Are you going to play bad cop-good cop like they do on TV? I'm so nervous. I don't know why you want me here. I really don't know anything about poor Andy's murder.

Detective Armstrong: That's all right, Mrs. Brinkman. It's not an interrogation. We are just talking to people who knew Cindy and Andy to see if we can shed some more light on this situation. Before we get started though, would you please state your name and address for the record?

Martha Brinkman: I'm Martha Brinkman, and I live at 634 North Lamar here in Oxford. Don't you have to read me my rights?

Detective Murphy: That isn't necessary, Mrs. Brinkman. You're not under arrest or even a suspect. We're just gathering information about Andy and Cindy and the night of the murder.

Martha Brinkman: I don't see how I can be of any help. I didn't even see either of them the night of the… of that awful thing happening.

Detective Murphy: How well did you know Andy and Cindy Fine, Mrs. Brinkman?

Martha Brinkman: I've known Cindy and her family, the Campbells, for many years. Cindy and Dudley went to school together, and Michael Campbell was Dudley's piano teacher for many years. I didn't really know Andy that well, just from hearing Dudley talk about him, mostly.

Detective Armstrong: What did your son have to say about him?

Martha Brinkman: Well, Andy used to pick on Dudley when they were boys. Andy would call him names and make fun of him. You know how cruel young people can be to each other sometimes. Poor Dudley hated the kids making fun of his name.

Detective Armstrong: Did that happen a lot?

Martha Brinkman: They used to call him Dudley Do-Right because he was such a good student. And then when he got older, they would tease him about preferring to practice Chopin to playing baseball. Poor Dudley. I sometimes wish we'd chosen another name for him.

Detective Murphy: That must've been hard for him.

Martha Brinkman: The worst was when they'd call him a dud, and Andy was one who'd always do that. And, of course, if he thought it bothered Dudley, he would just do it more. That Andy… he had a mean streak in him. He never seemed to grow up or outgrow being mean to Dudley.

Detective Murphy: Did you ever see Andy taunting Dudley or bullying him in any way?

Martha Brinkman: No. I was never around Andy that much. Mostly just saw him with Cindy. He was always polite enough to me, but I didn't trust him, and I didn't like him because of the way he treated my Dudley. That's a mother's privilege, I guess, to dislike anyone who's mean to her family.

Detective Armstrong: Yet you went to his funeral?

Martha Brinkman: Of course! But that was for Cindy and her family. I may not have liked Andy, but we have known and liked Cindy and her parents and her sister for a long time. Besides, it is just common courtesy to offer your condolences to the family of the deceased, no matter what kind of a person he was. I'm glad I went with Dudley. There really weren't very many people there. I felt so sorry for Cindy. She seemed so devastated. Oh, dear, this whole thing is so distressing!

Detective Murphy: Yes, ma'am. Did Dudley ask you to go with him, or did you suggest going to the funeral?

Martha Brinkman: I don't remember exactly. We were just talking about the service, I think, and both agreed we would go to offer support and sympathy. So we just naturally went together.

Detective Murphy: I see. Can you remember back to the night and early morning Andy was last seen? That's July 3rd and July 4th.

Martha Brinkman: Yes, I think so. Nothing much happened around my house those days though.

Detective Murphy: Can you remember where Dudley was the evening of the 3rd and the morning of the 4th?

Martha Brinkman: Well, let's see. On the evening of the 3rd, we had dinner together. Then he said he was going down to Duffy's for a while to see what was going on. On the 4th, he slept real late. I was sort of surprised at that. He's usually up early, but he did have to go to work at the hospital in the afternoon, so I figured he was resting up for his double shift. He's so good about that, you know.

Detective Armstrong: What do you mean, Mrs. Brinkman?

Martha Brinkman: He volunteers for extra duty on holidays so the people with children can spend the time with their families. He does the same thing on Thanksgiving and Christmas. He's such a sweet boy, my Dudley. I'm sorry he hasn't married and had a family of his own. Hasn't found the right girl, I guess.

Detective Murphy: If he was tired, maybe he was out late the night before. Do you know what time he got home the night of the 3rd?

Martha Brinkman: Oh my, no. I don't keep track of Dudley's comings and goings. He's a grown man and entitled to his privacy. He doesn't have to account for every minute to me— nor I to him.

Detective Armstrong: Did you happen to hear him come in that night, though?

Martha Brinkman: No, detective. I retire by 11:00 p.m., or I'm a zombie the next day. Once I hit that pillow, I'm out, and I sleep like a log. The advantages of clean living, I guess. I never hear him if I'm asleep when he comes in. With the hours he keeps—his schedule at the hospital, you know—if I woke up every time he came in, I'd never get a full night's sleep.

Detective Murphy: Do you have any idea what time Dudley came home that night?

Martha Brinkman: No. I just told you, detective. I was asleep and didn't see hide nor hair of him until almost noon on the 4th.

Detective Murphy: Other than that night, are you generally familiar with the hours Dudley keeps? If he's not at home, do you typically know where he is: at work, out with friends and so forth?

Martha Brinkman: Well, as I said, I don't keep track of him every moment. He usually tries to let me know what his work schedule is, so I'll know whether to expect him for dinner. Other than that, sometimes he tells me where he'll be, and sometimes he doesn't. He is an adult, after all. I don't expect him to tell me everything he does and everywhere he goes.

Detective Murphy: So, for example, if he went out in the evening or at night, would he tell you where he was going or when he'd be back?

Martha Brinkman: Not necessarily.

Detective Armstrong: Does he do that kind of thing often? Go out in the evenings by himself?

Martha Brinkman: He does go out from time to time. I don't know whether you'd call it often or not.

Detective Armstrong: Does he go out by himself?

Martha Brinkman: He leaves here by himself, but I really can't say who he sees after he leaves. My son is entitled to his privacy, and I don't like to pry. If you want to know these things, you'd do better to ask him.

Detective Armstrong: Yes, ma'am. Let's go back to Cindy Fine. What is Dudley's relationship with her?

Martha Brinkman: They were childhood friends. Dudley's known Cindy more than half of their lives. They were friends and even dated briefly in high school.

Detective Armstrong: Are they still close now?

Martha Brinkman: Dudley mentions seeing Cindy at church occasionally, but since her marriage, they really didn't travel in the same circles. He told me he was worried about her sometimes after he'd talk to Robyn. That's Cindy's sister, you know. She sees Dudley at the hospital from time to time. I gather that Cindy and Andy's marriage was not made in heaven, and Robyn worried about her sister.

Detective Murphy: What kind of problems did they have in their marriage? Do you know?

Martha Brinkman: Well, now, I don't know … I don't have any firsthand knowledge, you understand. I'm not sure I feel comfortable telling you since I can't say for sure whether it's true.

Detective Murphy: We understand, but any information you have—no matter how you got it—could turn out to be helpful.

Martha Brinkman: Well, okay, if you say so. I… I gather that Andy could be cruel to poor Cindy. She's such a sweet girl. I can't understand what would make him want to be mean to her.

Detective Murphy: Do you know how he was cruel to her? What did he do?

Martha Brinkman: Well, remember, I can't promise any of these stories are true, you know?

Detective Murphy: Yes, ma'am. Go ahead.

Martha Brinkman: Apparently, sometimes Andy would… hit her or… drag her out of the house in the middle of the night or… yell at her and belittle her in front of other people… maybe he even… maybe he even forced himself on her. Terrible, terrible things! Believe me, I understand the importance of taking marriage vows seriously, but if even half the stories I've heard are true, I honestly don't know why she never left him.

Detective Murphy: Where did you hear these stories about Cindy and Andy?

Martha Brinkman: Oh, I don't know. The usual places. At the beauty parlor… at church…

Detective Armstrong: From your son?

Martha Brinkman: Yes, some from him. As I told you, Robyn sometimes talks to him about her worries about Cindy. Sometimes he would talk to me about what Robyn told him.

Detective Armstrong: Did Dudley ever do anything to try to help Cindy?

Martha Brinkman: Oh, no. I don't think so. He would never go sticking his nose into someone else's personal, private relationship. You're just asking for trouble when you go meddling in someone else's life.

Detective Armstrong: What was Dudley's relationship with Andy Fine like?

Martha Brinkman: I don't think they had much of a relationship, sir. They weren't friends, and Dudley tried to stay away from him because of the verbal abuse he suffered from Andy as a boy.

Detective Armstrong: That was a long time ago.

Martha Brinkman: Dudley is not a confrontational type of person. He just sort of closes down and walks away from unpleasantness. I sometimes wish he'd stand up and punch somebody in the nose when they give him a bad time, but Dudley would never do something like that. He doesn't have a violent bone in his body.

Detective Murphy: Is there a possibility Dudley might be confrontational if he thought he was protecting someone else? Like Cindy, for example?

Martha Brinkman: Oh my, no! I really wish Dudley had more of a backbone, but he's so sweet and gentle, he could never harm another person under any circumstances.

Detective Murphy: Does Dudley own a gun?

Martha Brinkman: Absolutely not! And if he did, I wouldn't allow it in the house. I hate guns. As far as I'm concerned, they can take them all and dump them in the ocean. Just look what happened to Andy as the result of some nut shooting a gun!

Detective Armstrong: Do you know if your son has ever handled a gun or shot one?

Martha Brinkman: Yes. When he was a youngster, Warren—that's my poor, dead husband—Warren taught him to shoot a gun. They used to go out and shoot at tin cans and things until Dudley was comfortable handling a gun. Then one time Warren took Dudley hunting. That was a disaster. After Dudley could see what shooting did to animals, he never went hunting again and swore he'd never touch a gun again. He hates them more than I do. When Warren died, I got rid of all his guns.

Detective Murphy: Tell me, Mrs. Brinkman. Do you do any work on Dudley's clothing? I mean do you launder his clothes for him or sew buttons on his shirts or darn his socks?

Martha Brinkman: I don't want you to think I baby him, Detective. Yes, I do some of those things for him in return for the things he does for me.

Detective Murphy: What things does he do for you?

Martha Brinkman: Well, for example, he orders and stacks the wood for the fireplace. Sometimes when he hears of a good deal, he'll go out and chop the wood himself. He takes care of my car for me. He isn't very mechanical, but he sees that it stays running well. And he does yard work for me and some of my widow friends when we need him to help us. I told you. He's a sweet, wonderful boy— ah… young man.

Detective Murphy: So you do some things that help him in exchange?

Martha Brinkman: Yes. In return, I sometimes do his laundry, and when I notice something needs mending, I do that. Not socks. I don't darn socks. Just throw them out and buy new ones, I say. I'm not a slave to drudgery, you know. I have a life too. Waste of time darning socks.

Detective Armstrong: That chopping and stacking wood can be hard on the hands. I know it is on mine. Does Dudley have a way to protect his hands?

Martha Brinkman: Certainly. He has a pair of work gloves he keeps in his car all the time. That way, they are right handy if he needs them.

Detective Armstrong: Are they some special kind of gloves?

Martha Brinkman: No, just those work gloves you can buy most anywhere.

Detective Armstrong: Did you by any chance recently replace a missing blue button on a shirt?

Martha Brinkman: You ask me the strangest questions—buttons, gloves. A blue button? No. I replaced a button on a blue shirt, but it was just a regular shirt button. Why would you ask me a thing like that?

Detective Murphy: Just routine, ma'am. Something we're asking everyone. Did Dudley say where he lost the button?

Martha Brinkman: Oh, I never mentioned it. I don't think he even knew he'd lost a button. But that shirt was certainly dirty. I can't imagine what he did to get it that soiled. He doesn't usually do dirty work in his good shirt. I figure he must have changed a tire or something. It would be just like him to change a flat tire in his good clothes for someone who needed help.

Detective Armstrong: Was that the shirt he wore the night he went out to Duffy's?

Martha Brinkman: Hmm… you know, I'm not sure. I hadn't thought of that before, but it could've been.

Detective Murphy: I know I hate to try to get stains out of clothes. Do you have any secrets that would make it easier?

Martha Brinkman: Oh, I have a little booklet that tells how to get certain things like blood or grass stains out of your clothes. I'm sure you know that you should always soak bloodstains in cold water before you launder them. The hot water will just set the stain. And then I have a pre-wash remover I use that works pretty well on spots. I can't think of the name right off, but I'd be glad to look it up if you'd like to call me sometime.

Detective Murphy: Thanks. I think I'll do that.

Detective Armstrong: Ahem. Excuse me, ladies, but could we get back to our subject here?

Detective Murphy: Sorry. You said Dudley's blue shirt was dirty. In what way was it dirty?

Martha Brinkman: It has dirt on it. You know, earth? And it smelled like he was sweating up a storm when he wore it. Whew! It was awful.

Detective Murphy: Were there any stains on it?

Martha Brinkman: Stains? Let me think… seems like there might have been a little oil or grease of some kind on it. Came right out with that pre-wash remover I was talking about.

Detective Murphy: Any bloodstains?

Martha Brinkman: Blood? No. He doesn't wear that shirt to work, so there wouldn't have been any blood on it.

Detective Murphy: Thank you, Mrs. Brinkman. You've been a big help.

Martha Brinkman: Oh, really? I didn't think I told you anything of importance at all, but I'll be real glad when you find out who did this terrible thing. Andy may not have been a very nice person, but he was a human being. Dudley's… we've all been so upset that this could happen to someone we know.

Detective Armstrong: We'll wind it up as soon as we can, Mrs. Brinkman. We're getting closer to finding the murderer all the time. Thank you for your help.

Martha Brinkman: All right, then. Good day.

Detective Murphy: Goodbye, Mrs. Brinkman, and thank you.

Interview ended – 12:17 p.m.



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