William & Virginia Harker interview
Thursday, March 3, 2016 – 7:44 a.m.
William and Virginia Harker are Rick Gill's employers. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed them at their place of business, Harker Landscaping Service, 2500 University Avenue. The interview was recorded with the witnesses' knowledge and consent.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- William Harker
- Virginia "Ginny" Harker
Detective Murphy: Thank you very much for talking to us today, Mr. and Mrs. Harker.
William Harker: No problem, Detectives. Glad to help.
Detective Murphy: For the record, would each of you please state your name and your place of residence?
Virginia Harker: Virginia Harker. We live at 319 Country Club Road, here in Oxford.
William Harker: William H. Harker. Same address.
Detective Armstrong: And your profession?
Virginia Harker: I'm the office manager here at Harker Landscaping. I'm also the accountant, receptionist, secretary, dispatcher, and customer service representative.
William Harker: She's a one-woman staff. Ginny runs the shop and the paperwork. I run the crews.
Virginia Harker: Is this about that lawyer, Mr. Pruitt, and the other man who got killed?
Detective Armstrong: Should we be talking to you about that?
Virginia Harker: No. I mean, we don't know anything about that.
Detective Armstrong: Then why would you think we were here about that case?
Virginia Harker: It's the only one we've heard of. It's been in the news a lot.
Detective Murphy: Is Rick Gill employed here?
William Harker: Yes. Is he in trouble?
Detective Armstrong: So you've both had occasion to work with Rick Gill?
Virginia Harker: Is he involved? What did he do?
Detective Murphy: Just routine questions, Mrs. Harker.
William Harker: Rick's a good man, Detectives. I don't think he could kill anybody, no matter how much he might have wanted to.
Detective Murphy: What makes you say he might have wanted to kill someone?
William Harker: Figure of speech. I've worked with Rick and been out supervising crews or inspecting jobs he's been on. I've heard him talk about what his ex-wife and her lawyer did to him. Nothing right about it at all. I've been there, Detectives, but my situation wasn't nearly as bad as Rick's. His would make me want to shoot someone.
Detective Armstrong: So he spoke about his ex-wife and Robert Pruitt often?
William Harker: Often enough, but it was just talk.
Virginia Harker: Rick is one of our most trusted employees, Detective.
Detective Murphy: How so?
Virginia Harker: We send him on important assignments unsupervised. If anything goes wrong on another job, we'll send Rick out there to fix it and we know it'll get fixed.
Detective Armstrong: So Rick often goes out alone?
Virginia Harker: Yes, I just tell him where to go and he gets there and gets the jobs done. He's a very hard worker and very trustworthy.
Detective Armstrong: Did he work on the 19th of February?
Virginia Harker: Let me get my book — yes, yes he did. He was working all day.
Detective Murphy: Do y'all typically work on Fridays?
Virginia Harker: We have quite a few residential customers who prefer to have their service on Fridays, so the lawn will look nice over the weekend.
Detective Armstrong: Do you log your employees in and out?
Virginia Harker: I do, but I don't have to for Rick. He gets here early and works extra hours. We even have an extra key for him to get or put away the equipment when he comes early or works late.
Detective Armstrong: A key to the equipment area?
William Harker: A key to the whole building, Detective. We trust Rick to get what he needs and put things back after he's done with them. Besides, it's good to have him check the place when he works late.
Detective Murphy: Why is that?
William Harker: You people should talk to each other. I've had two break-ins. Oxford's not as safe as it used to be. I worry about Ginny being alone here during the day.
Detective Murphy: Sounds like you know Rick pretty well.
William Harker: Well enough to know he wouldn't risk losing his kids by being mixed up in something like this.
Detective Armstrong: What jobs did Rick work on that day?
Virginia Harker: Let me look. OK, he did five jobs that day. Our other workers can only do three or four.
Detective Murphy: Was Robert Pruitt a client of yours, Mr. Harker?
Virginia Harker: He wouldn't know. I'll look. … No.
Detective Armstrong: Where did Rick work that day?
Virginia Harker: He had jobs at 616 Lamar Avenue, 620 Lamar Avenue, 1122 Old Taylor Road, a regular monthly mowing at 814 Tyler Avenue, and he installed a sprinkler system at 10 Highland Place.
Detective Armstrong: What time did he arrive at work and what time did he leave?
Virginia Harker: He was already on the job before I got in, and I got in at 6:45 that morning. He came back in at 4:00 and put away his things. I know because I was getting ready to leave, and he comes in early and leaves early on the weekends he has his kids so he can pick them up on time.
Detective Armstrong: Did you ever hear Rick threaten his ex-wife or Mr. Pruitt?
William Harker: Detective, sometimes men get angry. It's just letting off steam.
Detective Murphy: Exactly what did he say, Mr. Harker?
William Harker: It's not important—
Detective Armstrong: Mr. Harker, you tell us what he said. We'll decide if it's important.
Detective Murphy: Besides, if Mr. Gill hasn't done anything, he's got nothing to be worried about.
Virginia Harker: Just tell them, Bill.
William Harker: Just talk, nothing more. It was just after school started. Rick went to his kids' school and gave a presentation on plants — how to plant flowers, how to fertilize them, and so on. He was so proud that his kids were going to see their dad in front of the whole school giving this presentation. Came in the next day real dark — Stella had deliberately kept the kids home from school that day so they wouldn't see him and so he wouldn't see them. I don't blame him for being mad.
Detective Armstrong: What did he say, Mr. Harker?
William Harker: He said he'd like to blow Stella's and her lawyer's brains out and plant them both six feet under. But it was just talk. I'd talk that way too, if I had done to me what Rick had done to him.
Detective Murphy: Did he say anything else?
William Harker: After the story made the papers, he said that Pruitt's killer should have gotten a medal.
Detective Armstrong: What's your affiliation with Fisher Pest Control?
Virginia Harker: We don't have one.
Detective Murphy: Ever recommend them to customers? Maybe point some business their way?
William Harker: Absolutely not.
Detective Armstrong: Sounds pretty hard.
William Harker: When your customers complain about another business, a smart businessman makes it a point to steer clear of them.
Detective Armstrong: Your customers complain to you about Fisher Pest Control, but you have no relationship with them?
William Harker: That's right.
Detective Armstrong: Why would they do that?
William Harker: A lot of times, people get bent out of shape about something, they complain about it to anyone they come across. That's the only reason I can think of. Not like there was anything we could do about it.
Detective Murphy: What exactly were they complaining about?
William Harker: Just generally bad business — bad customer service, double billing, late or missed appointments, misplaced items, personality conflicts, things like that.
Detective Murphy: Ever get any referrals from Fisher Pest Control?
William Harker: No, and I never talked to anyone at Fisher either.
Detective Murphy: Does Rick know anyone at Fisher Pest Control?
William Harker: I doubt it, but I don't know for sure.
Detective Armstrong: Does Rick own a gun?
Virginia Harker: Heavens no, not with those kids around!
Detective Murphy: How do you know he doesn't?
Virginia Harker: It— he— that just wouldn't be smart or safe, and Rick is a good father, so I'm sure.
William Harker: We have a business to run, Detectives. What else do you have?
Detective Murphy: Nothing more. Thank you both.
Detective Armstrong: We may need to talk to you again.
William Harker: Fine.
Interview ends – 8:19 a.m.