|Witness Interview: Thomas and Gloria Hammond, victim's ex-in-laws|
Tuesday, February 6, 2001, 9:30 a.m.
The witnesses are the parents of Roger Hammond, ex-husband of the deceased. Thomas Hammond is forty-nine years old and Gloria Hammond is also forty-nine years old. Together, they own Farrell Motors in Oxford. The interview was conducted by Det. Armstrong and Det. Murphy at Farrell Motors and was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness's knowledge and consent.
SM: Thank you both for taking the time to speak with us today. For the record please, could you both please state your name and address?
GH: Gloria Hammond. We live at 934 Hayes in Oxford.
TH: And I'm Thomas Hammond. Same address.
SM: And your relationship to Melissa Hammond?
GH: She used to be married to our son, Roger.
TA: Did you have any communications with Missy at the time of her death?
GH: Very little. If we talked at all, it was to make arrangements concerning Liddie. That was all.
TA: Was your relationship with her difficult? Did you get along?
GH: I have to admit that I wasn't all that fond of Melissa. From the very start, I just didn't feel like she was the type of woman Roger should marry. Even the circumstances regarding their marriage... what kind of girl gets herself pregnant in high school? I was always a little suspicious of that.
TH: Your son had something to do with that too, you know.
TA: I was fixin' to say the same thing.
GH: No one asked you, Thomas. And it's different for boys. They're expected to, well, sow their wild oats. But, even with our problems with Melissa, we decided it was best for Roger and Liddie if we made an effort to get along.
SM: Mr. Hammond, I take it that you don't share your wife's opinion of Missy?
TH: She seemed like a nice enough woman. She put up with quite a bit from Roger during their first few years -
GH: She did not put up with quite a bit from Roger. If anything, she deserted him when he needed her most. That is not what a wife does.
SM: And just when did Roger need her most, Mrs. Hammond?
GH: Well, during their first years of marriage, Roger was having a very difficult time. The pressures of working for the first time, being married, being a father, all of these things added up on him, and Roger never dealt with pressure very well. So he struggled with various things. And that's when Melissa chose to desert our son, her husband.
TA: When you say "struggled with various things," are you referring to Roger's drug addiction?
GH: It's an illness. He couldn't help it. And yes, that's precisely when Melissa deserted him.
TA: So the relationship between you and Missy was not a good one?
GH: To say the least.
TA: But she continued to let you see Liddie?
GH: Of course. Why wouldn't she? She knows how much we adore that beautiful little girl. And Liddie loves us. Plus, the way that Melissa chose to live her life, I have to say that I'm very glad we did continue to see Liddie. There's no telling how she would turn out if left entirely up to Melissa.
SM: Okay, let's leave that for now. Tell me about Roger. Anything at all we should know about him?
GH: He was a wonderful child. And he's always been successful. He played football in high school you know -
TH: When he bothered to go to practice.
GH: Now, that's not true and you know it. He was very important to the team. And they made it to the final round of the playoffs his senior year. After graduation, Roger came to work for us, here at the dealership.
SM: Was he really interested in selling cars or was that just an option that he happened to take?
TH: I can't say Roger ever really showed much interest in anything. But, it was a good deal for him. He would get to learn all about the dealership and work his way up. So, it's not like it was a terrible thing for him to do.
SM: And how is he performing in this job?
GH: Our Roger is great at his job. He was recently promoted to Sales Manager. He brings in quite a bit of business for the dealership. He is simply an amazing salesman. When no one else can close the deal, we send in Roger and he takes care of it.
TA: I apologize if this next question comes across as disrespectful, but how much did Roger's last name have to do with his promotion? Is he really that good, or is it just because he's your son?
GH: I can assure you, he is that good. If you'd like, I can show you the books and you can see for yourself just how many sales he creates.
TA: Thank you. We'll let you know on that. Now, concerning his job performance, had he been acting erratic lately?
GH: How do you mean?
TA: I don't know. Being late for work, sloppy clothes, disappearing during the day, anything like that?.
TH: That boy has been late every day of his -
GH: Of course not. Roger sets a very good example for the rest of the staff.
SM: Okay. Now, your relationship with your granddaughter. You saw her how often?
TH: We picked her up every Friday after school. Usually, we take her out to eat, maybe to the mall. Sometimes we see a movie.
TA: So how did you work out this deal, if you and Missy never got along? Mrs. Hammond mentioned earlier that she was glad that Missy allowed you to see Liddie, but how did this happen?
GH: It's very simple. I stopped by that so-called beauty shop where Melissa worked one day and asked her to come over to our house after work. She seemed hesitant, but she did, in fact, come. I explained to her how much we wanted to see Liddie and how I thought it was important to keep the two families together, as much as was possible. And she agreed.
TA: That seems awfully nice of her.
GH: Nice has nothing to it. She knew I was right. But more importantly, it gave her ample opportunity to entertain men at her house. She was just happy to get a chance to do whatever it is she does with the trash she dates.
SM: And on these Fridays, you took Liddie home at what time?
TH: Usually we had her home by 8:30 or so.
SM: What did you discuss with her mother when you took her home?
TH: We didn't usually see her. We just let Liddie out and watched her go in the house.
SM: You didn't walk her to the door or anything?
GH: Why should we? I wasn't about to walk into that house and face whatever was in there. Everyone knew that Melissa used our visits with Liddie as an opportunity to have men over. I'm not going to go in there and face whatever hoodlum she was cavorting with on that particular day.
TH: We always watched to make sure that Liddie made it to the door, that she got inside and everything was okay. When she was inside, she would flash the porch light at us three times to let us know everything was fine.
TA: Okay. So, on the Friday before Missy's body was found, what did you do with Liddie while y'all were together that day?
TH: We took her to The Skate Place. She's just learning how to roller skate and we would watch her go around the rink. After that, we went to Danvers for dinner and Baskin-Robbins for some ice cream, and then we took her home.
SM: Where was your son while you were with Liddie?
GH: He was at the dealership, of course. Where else would he be?
SM: I'm sure I don't know, ma'am. I thought you could tell us.
GH: Well, he was at work. He's very busy there, you know.
TA: When you dropped Liddie off that night, did she blink the porch lights at you?
GH: Yes, the same as always. Nothing was any different.
TA: What was your reaction when you heard the news about Missy's death?
TH: It was just terrible. I couldn't stop thinking of her and how -
GH: Terrible it was for Liddie. As if the poor girl didn't already have it tough enough. Such a tragedy that an innocent little girl has to go through something like that. We haven't even been able to see her since this happened. Melissa's family said Liddie was too upset, though I notice that doesn't stop them from spending time with her. Have you seen Liddie? How is she?
TA: We haven't interviewed her yet, but we're planning to do that later today.
GH: Well, you tell her that Mama Gloria and Papa Thomas love her and miss her. Tell her we'll see her soon.
SM: All right, just a couple more things and then I think we're done here. You recently bought a computer for Liddie?
GH: Yes, she's just started school and we thought it was important for her education. There was no way that Melissa was going to be able to get anything like that. So, we gave Liddie a computer for her birthday in December.
SM: Do you remember where you bought it?
TH: We bought it off the internet from the Gateway website. One of the guys at the dealership, Todd, is really good with computers. He helped us choose which one to get and he placed the order for us. Gloria and I aren't too good with computers unfortunately.
SM: Do you remember anything about a digital camera?
TH: I think some sort of camera came with the computer. Todd said that she would have fun with it. And I don't think it cost very much extra, maybe a couple 100 dollars.
SM: But the camera definitely came from you?
TH: Yes, I believe so. I can check my records, but I'm almost positive that it's something we ordered. I don't know if it usually came with the computer, or if Todd added that on, but we definitely bought it.
SM: I see. Before we finish up here, do either of you have any idea who might have killed Missy Hammond?
GH: Probably one of those hoodlums she liked so much.
TA: Think your son could've killed her?
GH: Certainly not! Roger is simply not the kind of person who would do something like that.
TA: Mr. Hammond? What do you think?
TH: He's got some flaws to be sure, but I don't think he would kill anyone.
SM: What about the two of you? Did you either of you have any reason to want to see Missy Hammond killed?
GH: That is outrageous! What kind of people do you think we are? We have been respected members of this community for years. I resent you even asking such a thing!
SM: I didn't mean to offend you, ma'am. You understand we do have to ask.
TH: Of course you have to ask. We understand.
GH: We certainly do not understand, Thomas. The very idea is ludicrous!
SM: All right. I think that does it for now. We appreciate your time. If you think of anything that might be helpful to us in this investigation, please give us a call. We'll contact you if we have any more questions.
End interview 10:23 a.m.