|Witness Interview: Kevin Travers, victim's neighbor|
Wednesday, February 7, 2001, 12:00 p.m.
The witness, identified as a friend and neighbor of the deceased, was interviewed in his home at 110 Hickory Street. At approximately 10:30 a.m. on February 7, 2001, Kevin Travers telephoned Detective Armstrong and stated he had a letter written to him by Missy Hammond that he believed the detectives should see. The detectives, who were already planning to visit Travers for a second interview, scheduled an appointment to meet with him at his home later that day to obtain the letter. The interview was conducted by Detectives Murphy and Armstrong, and was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness's knowledge and consent.
SM: Once again, for the record, would you please state your name and address?
KT: Kevin Travers and I live at 110 Hickory.
TA: Thanks for talking to us again, Kevin.
KT: Sure. I told you that I'd be glad to do whatever I can to help your investigation.
SM: A lot of our questions revolve around some of the information that your neighbors gave us. So we're just going to go down a list of questions that may appear unrelated.
SM: A number of people noticed a delivery van in the neighborhood on January 26th, the day before Ms. Hammond's body was found. Do you remember anything like that?
KT: No. I don't believe I did notice that.
TA: You're sure? Quite a few of your neighbors saw it. An Airborne Express van?
KT: No. Pretty much all I was concerned with that day was that argument between Missy and JP. That and getting my film developed.
SM: Okay, Kevin. Can you tell us what Missy was wearing that afternoon? During this argument?
KT: I was so upset that I don't really recall.
TA: A Mrs. Simmons said that Missy was out in the yard, running around in her underwear.
KT: Oh, that's just Mrs. Simmons. She's pretty old and conservative. She's always complaining about the young people in the neighborhood. Young people being everyone under sixty or so. Missy definitely wasn't in her underwear. But mentioning that does remind me that she was wearing a robe or nightgown or something. I mean, it's not like she was dressed to go to work, but she wasn't in her underwear either. Mrs. Simmons is just old fashioned. She gets mad when I get my paper off the porch wearing flannel boxers and a t-shirt when she's passing my house on her morning patrol of the neighborhood.
KT: She'd probably call it her morning constitutional or something, but I think she's just walking around the neighborhood so she can check everything out.
SM: I see. Moving on, do you happen to know whether Missy's porch light was on or off that afternoon?
KT: Oh, it was off.
TA: I'm sorry, Kevin. But you're saying you didn't notice a big delivery van and that you don't remember what Missy was wearing exactly, but you know the porch light was off?
KT: Yeah. Her porch light is falling apart. The cover on it, what do you call that thing? Anyway, the plastic thing that goes over the bulb falls off if you so much as close the door real hard. If you touch it, it usually falls off in your hand and then it takes a while to get it back on there so it doesn't fall right back off again. Well, when Missy and JP were arguing, she kept throwing her hands up in the air. Like she was just fed up. And I remember distinctly thinking at one point that she was going to hit the light. So I was kind of focused on it. It was definitely off.
SM: In our first discussion, you said that you were developing film until roughly 11 p.m. After you've had a chance to think about it, can you be more specific about the time you finished your work?
KT: Wow, uh, no. I hadn't thought anymore about it. I'm sure it was between 11 and 12. No later than 12:30.
TA: Think hard, Kevin. You sure you can't be more specific?
KT: No, why? Do you remember what time you went to bed last night? Or what time you got up this morning?
TA: Actually, I do. I went to bed at 11:15 and got up at six this morning.
KT: Well, that's you. I don't pay attention to those things. I don't even wear a watch. I work for myself, so I keep whatever schedule I want to keep. Maybe if I had to be at work at a certain time, I'd be more specific.
SM: Okay, it's not that big of a deal. In our talk, you also said that you saw the lights and TV on at Missy's around midnight. How did you see that?
KT: I can see her house from my back porch. I finished developing my film and went to the kitchen and got a glass of Coke. It was kind of stuffy, so I stepped out on the porch to relax for a bit. And I saw her lights.
TA: But what about the TV? Seems to me you'd have to be in her yard to notice the TV was on.
KT: Why would I be in her yard?
TA: That's why I'm asking.
KT: I told you, I saw from my porch. I could see flickers that looked like the TV. You know how you can see the light from the TV on the wall or something like that?
TA: That's a long way to see a reflection, Kevin.
KT: I wasn't in her yard!
SM: Earlier, you mentioned that the children across the street, the Williams' kids, were out in the yard when the argument was going on. How many babysitters did you see?
KT: There were two.
TA: You're sure of that?
KT: Yeah, definitely two. I guess, maybe both of them weren't technically babysitters. There were two teenagers out there with the children, a girl and a guy. Maybe the babysitter had a friend over or something. But there were definitely two older kids there.
TA: Do you know the names of the babysitters?
KT: The girl is Brenda. She's the one who's there every afternoon. I don't know the guy's name.
SM: All right. Kevin, did you ever have a key to Missy's house?
KT: No. Why would I have a key?
SM: I was just asking because you mentioned helping her out with Liddie and all. I wondered if she had ever given you a key in case she couldn't get home or something.
SM: Did you ever photograph Missy and Liddie? Maybe the picture that the media used when they ran the television story on the murder?
KT: Not really. I snapped a few pictures of them, but nothing that was professional in any way. I never took any portraits of them.
TA: Nothing special in any way?
KT: I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at. But, no, just snapshots of friends.
TA: Would you mind anyone looking at these snapshots?
KT: Of course not. Some of them are in there on my refrigerator. I'll be glad to show you whatever you'd like. What are you getting at?
TA: You got any zoom lenses, Kevin?
KT: Sure. Several. I really don't understand these questions.
TA: Just wondering, is all. I mean, you live next door to a pretty woman with a cute little girl. You really seem taken with the two of them. Then, you talk about seeing her lights on, views of her house from your porch, noticing things in her windows and stuff. You know when the lights at Missy's come on and go off. And here you sit, Mr. Photographer, with zoom lenses and all kinds of camera equipment. I'm just wondering if you didn't snap a few, uh, naughty pictures.
KT: That's absolute bull----. I would never do that. That's just crazy.
TA: Is it?
KT: Yes, it is. I told you, I'll show you every photograph and every negative in this house if you'd like.
SM: We might have to take you up on that at some point, but right now, I'd like to know why you came out and confronted JP when he came back after his argument with Missy.
KT: Because I always tried to keep an eye out for her. She's got horrible taste in men, but that doesn't make her a bad person. She just needs someone to take care of her.
TA: And you saw yourself in that role, huh?
KT: To a degree. I told you that I tried to help out.
SM: Why so concerned? You're clearly a good neighbor, but still. To confront a man that many people think is a drug dealer, that's pretty serious. You sure there wasn't something going on between you two?
KT: I've told you. We were just friends.
TA: But whose choice was that? I got a feeling that wasn't your decision.
KT: Look, I liked Missy. And I like her daughter. And yeah, if Missy had been interested in me, I would have certainly gone out with her. But she wasn't, so we just remained friends.
TA: Did that bother you? Seeing all these scumbags treat her like crap while you sit here, all nice and caring and concerned?
KT: Hell, yeah it bothered me! I don't know why she was so damned set on going out with these jerks. They didn't treat her right. All I wanted to do was take care of her! But, hey, what are you going to do? I mean, that's life, you know? That's just part of dating. It's no big thing really.
SM: So, this letter you called us about, the one you gave us when we got here? When did Missy give it to you?
KT: I think it was after the first time the police had to go to Missy's to break up a fight between her and JP. Right around the first of the year.
SM: Do you know how the police happened to show up that day?
KT: I called 911. I could hear Missy and JP screaming at each other. I thought I heard something break inside her house, like glass or something. I got worried and I called the cops. Maybe if I had called y'all that Friday instead of confronting JP myself, Missy would still be alive. I don't know.
TA: And Missy gave you this letter soon after that incident?
KT: That's right.
KT: I don't know.
TA: You've read the letter, haven't you?
TA: And you still don't know?
KT: I guess... I guess she just wanted someone she trusted to know what was what, if she couldn't tell you herself.
TA: Did she ever tell you she was afraid for her life?
TA: But in the letter, it sounds like she was. Why wouldn't she mention it to you?
KT: Maybe she didn't want to upset me or she thought she was being paranoid or something. I don't know. I guess I'll never know now.
SM: Why didn't you give us the letter when we first interviewed you?
KT: I don't know. I guess I just didn't think of it. I was pretty upset that day.
SM: Well, it's been ten days since then. Why didn't you bring it to us sooner?
KT: I just didn't know what to do with it. I mean, I never liked JP, but what if he really didn't do it? Missy's letter pretty much says she thought he was going to harm her. But how could she be sure?
TA: All you have done is talk about what a scumbag this guy is and how much you don't like him, but now you're saying you were afraid that we'd come down on him too hard?
KT: Well, uh, yeah. I mean, it's weird. But, yeah, I was worried about that.
TA: I don't buy it.
KT: But that's the truth.
TA: So you sat on this letter that implicates that scum for all this time, and all of a sudden, you call our office and hand it over and you want us to believe that you waited because you were worried about him?
KT: Yes! That's the truth. Really.
SM: Okay, Kevin. That's about all we have. But I'm sure we'll be talking to you again soon. You be sure to let us know if you just happen to remember anything else, okay? And if you should want to leave town for any reason, be sure to let us know first.
KT: Why are you asking me all of this? I promise I had nothing to do with Missy's murder! I would have done anything to protect her, if she'd just let me. Why would I harm her?
TA: I don't know, Kevin. Thanks for your time.
End interview 1:07 p.m.