SMITH: This is Ronnie Smith, LRPD. Todayís date is 5-8-93, the time is 1803 hours. Iím at the Little Rock Police Department with a Ken Govar, W/M, lives at [marked-out], Little Rock, telephone number [marked-out] work number [marked-out]. Okay, Mr. Govar, the reason weíre here this afternoon is to take a taped statement in reference to a possible murder suspect, on a homicide that occurred in W. Memphis a couple of days ago where I believe three 8 year old boys were found murdered.
GOVAR: Uh huh.
SMITH: And I believe you may have picked up a hitch hiker that fits that possible description and when did you pick him up?
GOVAR: I left Little Rock about 1:30 Wednesday afternoon and uh I picked this hitch hiker up Ė I was in a blue Dodge Ram Charger pick-up and I picked him up on the freeway somewhere in the Carlisle/Hazen area but he was not at an exit. He was out in the middle of nowhere on the freeway.
SMITH: That was on I-40 now?
GOVAR: I-40, yeah. He made the statement to me Ė I asked him what he was doing out there. He said that he had, he was riding with some other people and he got out, made them let him out of the car because they had stole some gas at the last exit and he ws afraid they was all gonna get busted cause these guys were messing with drugs and they were drunk too. And uh so he said he had enough and he wanted out of the car and he was extremely angry when he got in the car with me and told me that Ė I asked him where he was from and where was he going and he said he was from Knoxville, Tennessee and that he was attempting to get back to Knoxville. He had gone broke in Little Rock trying to get tree trimming work.
SMITH: Did he say where he had worked here in Little Rock?
GOVAR: Uh he said he couldnít find any work. He had tried Ė I asked him did he try West Tree Service and some of those cause theyíre always hiring tree trimmers and he said that he had called but he couldnít Ė didnít get a job and uh so he had gone broke and he was gonna hitch hike back to
[NOTE: M. Allen Received by Mail 5/14/93 is written in margin.]
Knoxville and uh I mentioned to him that I had worked at Knoxville not long ago. I had worked at the Toyota plant. He said yeah thatís there in Knoxville but itís not in Knoxville, the Camry plant is Lexington, Kentucky. So I didnít think at that time he was really from Knoxville, you know, was my impression. Uh he told me though he was a tree trimmer. Uh he didnít give the appearance of being an outdoor worker though. You know he wasnít real darkly tanned or anything. He was light complected, he was thin, about 6í8Ē to 6í10Ē Ė uh 5í8Ē to 5í10Ē excuse me, he wasnít quite 6í, he was very thin, he had reddish blonde hair.
SMITH: How much more red?
MARTIN: How much you say he weighed?
GOVAR: Iíd say probably Ė I couldnít guess weight, but he was very thin, letís put it that way. He was really thin and wirey. Uh check bones protruding and chin bones you know, he was on the thin side of thin.
SMITH: About how old was he?
GOVAR: Uh Iíd say 26-28 years old, white male, light complected, some freckles. He had long hair in the back that came down about half way down his neck and he had bushy eyebrows Ė bushy side burns that came down well below his ears and uh I noticed a lot about the length of side burns. They were real bushy and they were red. Uh
SMITH: But his hair was blonde?
GOVAR: His hair was blondish red, it wasnít a dark red, kinda a carrot red. Uh and his eyebrows were red too and he had a stubble beard growth uh of a couple days maybe. He was carrying a uh pillow case, stuffed about three quarters full and it just had it wound up like a nap sack and he was uh it was obviously a pillow case. It was white and it had the pattern, you know little colored flowers and two bands on it.
SMITH: The pillow case itself was white though?
SMITH: What color were the designs?
GOVAR: The designs were green and yellow and red, you know they had little flowers in two rows like a cheap pillow case would look. Uh
SMITH: Could you tell what he had in it?
GOVAR: I couldnít tell what he had in it no. He had some stuff that was pretty heavy in it but I couldnít tell what it was.
SMITH: Let me ask you Ė getting back to his hair, was his hair lighter or darker than his sideburns.
GOVAR: Had on a baseball cap.
SMITH: Were his sideburns little bit darker?
GOVAR: His hair was a little bit darker than the side burns. Side burns were a little darker I mean than the hair. Uh he had a baseball cap on.
SMITH: What color was his baseball cap?
GOVAR: I think it was blue.
SMITH: Blue, do you know if it had a design on it?
GOVAR: I think it was a Cubs cap Ė I think it had a C on it but I couldnít swear to that. I didnít notice the cap. I noticed these damn tattoos that he had.
SMITH: Okay, describe those tattoos to me.
GOVAR: Well, on the right inside forearm, he had a 2Ē X 2Ē of a bone, just a bone and it was flesh colored and it had red blood in the background, like splattered blood and it was a square tattoo like but this was not black and white or gray like you see a tattoo, this was red, the red stood out Ė bright red.
GOVAR: It wasnít a blood red, it was a bright red and the bone was flesh colored, just a single bone at an angle.
SMITH: And that was on his right inside forearm?
GOVAR: Yeah, now ainít that a weird tattoo? Thatís what I thought.
SMITH: Yeah, sounds weird.
GOVAR: Itís kinda sick. Then on the other arm, on the forearm of his left arm, he had a 6Ē to 8Ē tattoo of a devil sitting on itís haunches with three claws up on his hands and the face, looked like kinda dinosaur sitting there on his haunches, with these claws up like this but he had the face of a traditional devil, like you would draw a devil with a pointed chin and you know the horns and everything. Thatís what the face of the thing Ė but it was a terribly terrifying tattoo, I mean you looked at it you were terrified. It was horrible.
SMITH: And you described that to the sketch artist while ago?
GOVAR: We didnít quite get in the sketch, the horrifying attitude of the tattoo but it terrified you just to see the tattoo.
SMITH: And that was on the left?
GOVAR: On the left forearm. It was big.
SMITH: Did he have any other tattoos on him?
GOVAR: He had some other markings on his hands
SMITH: Right hand?
GOVAR: smaller stuff but I couldnít tell what those were.
SMITH: On both hands or just
GOVAR: I couldnít tell. I know he had something on his right hand. There was some other marks there but I couldnít tell what they were.
SMITH: Uh was he wearing glasses or anything?
GOVAR: Nope, no glasses.
SMITH: What about jewelry? Earrings?
GOVAR: I didnít notice any Ė no earrings, no necklace, I didnít see a watch. He had on short sleeves, he had on black tennis shoes uh
SMITH: What about his uh tee shirt? What color was it?
GOVAR: I canít recall his shirt or his pants.
SMITH: But you said that you thought the shirt was a tee shirt?
GOVAR: Uh, Iím trying to remember what he had on . It was short sleeve shirt. I do remember that cause I could see his arms. I could see his arms and he didnít have the sleeves rolled up or anything. Uh he uh
SMITH: I mean did he give Ė did he have a dirty appearance about him?
GOVAR: Nope, he didnít really have a dirty, stringy, sleeping on the road all the time appearance. He told me that he had spent the night out, slept in a field on the freeway on the other side of the I-30 Ė uh I-40 dirt track there at Benton and uh he said he got way off the freeway so nobody would see him and he spent the night out there but uh he didnít ask for money or food or anything, you know, normally hitch hiker that needs money heíll say hey, how about buying me lunch or something but and I offered to take him you know across the freeway there but he didnít want to go over there, he wanted to go specifically to the south side of the freeway and he wanted off right in this Ė at this one place.
SMITH: Where did you let him off at?
GOVAR: Uh, you got a buzz there, does that mean the tape needs to be turned or something?
SMITH: No, I think that may have been a phone or something.
GOVAR: Okay. He uh Ė thereís a truck stop as you come into West Memphis. Itís a convenience store/gas station is what it is.
GOVAR: And that convenience store has got new gas pumps Ė instead of being parallel to the freeway, you know how you would drive off the freeway and drive into a pump parallel?
SMITH: Uh huh.
GOVAR: These are different, they are perpendicular and there must be 7 or 8 of them in a line there, perpendicular right up next to the edge of the freeway so when come off you barely got room to make the turn and youíre pointing at the convenient store when you pull in these pumps. Itís a weird set up.
SMITH: Letís see, thatís right as you go into West Memphis?
GOVAR: Yes and I donít remember if it was after the Y or before the Y but I could show you the place if I was over there. But you can tell where it is by those gas pumps. The gas pumps were perpendicular to the freeway rather than being parallel. Itís right on the right side of the freeway.
SMITH: Is there anything else around there Ė around the truck stop?
GOVAR: Uh yeah, the dog track is on the other side.
SMITH: Okay, so itís right there in front of the dog track?
GOVAR: Uh huh, right in that area.
SMITH: About what time was that Wednesday when you (inaud) him off?
GOVAR: I must of let him off about Ė well it takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to Memphis and I know I left about 1:00 or 1:30 so uh Iíd say about 3:30, somewhere right in there.
SMITH: Did he say how long heíd been in Little Rock?
GOVAR: Uh couple of days- several days Ė see first he told me he had only been here a few days and then we started talking and I was asking him did he like to fish and stuff like that, had he ever been trout fishing and you know shooting the breeze and he said no I donít like to fish but I drive hot cars a lot. I said well you know, Iím working on a Z-28 now, you know, working on the motor, and itís got a 350 and all that bull shit, and he said well I drive down at Benton all the time. And that didnít make any sense cause he supposed to just been here a couple of days looking for a job and uh but he knew the Benton Speed Bowl and he said he drives down there, like heís you know, heís familiar with the track and the automobiles, heís in the automobile business of some kind, cause he understands cars and he talked a lot about hot motors and working on motors and stuff like that so this guy is probably in some sort of automobile or repair, body shop or something like that.
MARTIN: So he sounded pretty knowledgeable about
GOVAR: Uh huh, sounded pretty knowledgeable about cars. I mean he knew cam durations and stuff like that, that most people donít normally know if youíre a damn tree trimmer. You know what I mean.
MARTIN: Sounds like to me heíd be more less a mechanic (inaud)
GOVAR: Heís a mechanic or repair guy or something, body shop or something. Uh most tree trimmers donít have that kind of knowledge or ability. You know theyíre, theyíre, theyíre a tree trimmer, you know.
SMITH: Did he tell you where heíd been before he arrived in Little Rock?
GOVAR: Yeah, he said heíd been in Knoxville, Tennessee. Thatís where his folks lived or where he lived and he was going back home cause he was broke.
SMITH: Did he say how he got down here?
GOVAR: Didnít say how he got down here, he didnít tell me his name. I kept asking him whatís your name anyway and he would change the subject. He wouldnít tell me his name.
SMITH: Did he say who he was with? When he was going back?
GOVAR: No, he just said the people he was with. Wasnít like he caught a ride, he said the people I was with was the statement he made and he said they were just too crazy and he was getting out of the car.
SMITH: And they stole some gas somewhere?
GOVAR: Stole some gas at an exit but he did say they were drunk and they were using drugs too and he didnít want to get busted along with them for stealing gas.
SMITH: Why did you let him out at Hazen, I mean West Memphis? Is that where you took another exit or
GOVAR: No, no, I told him that Iím going on around I-55, the loop on Memphis, and taking 78 south to Tupelo to go to Columbus. I said I can get you on the other side of Memphis at a truck stop and youíll have a straight shot on into Knoxville. And he said but I need to get off right here. I need to
get off up here. He showed me exactly where he wanted to get off.
SMITH: He didnít say why?
GOVAR: No he didnít say why. I got the impression he was gonna meet someone or something but he was going there and I said well Iíve got to get some oil but Iím gonna swing over to the other side to get Ė you want me to go over here where you can get something to eat at one of these McDonaldís or this big truck stop on the north side. He said no I want to go over there to that place right down there on the right.
SMITH: What was he pointing at?
GOVAR: He was pointing at this particular convenience store.
GOVAR: I mean he was going to this place there.
SMITH: Thatís the one you described earlier?
GOVAR: Yes and I got off the exit and drove a while down the exit ramp and he said yeah thereís a place right up here on the right that I want to go to. Thatís where he was going. But they didnít have a Western Union or nothing like that there, you know, and they did over at the truck stop on the north side but he wanted to go to the south side of the freeway.
SMITH: Did you just drop him off there and then leave?
GOVAR: Just dropped him off and left and I asked him you know, uh you sure you donít want to go over here where you can get something to eat and he said no this right here is where I want to go up here so - but the tone of his conversation from the time he got in the truck Ė this guy was wired. He was angry. He was angry. I mean
SMITH: You know what he was angry at or
GOVAR: He was just angry. You know some people are just Ė the anger is just flowing out of them Ė this guy was angry. Heís fully capable of doing something like that.
SMITH: Did you ever notice a knife on him or anything or any type of weapon?
GOVAR: I didnít see any weapons but he couldnít set still in the chair, you know in the truck, you know he was just uh Ė I guess a good way to describe him was uh uh hell he was just angry. I mean and I donít Ė he was that way when he got in the truck. He was on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and when he got in the truck he was just Ė I said well you know howíd you get way the hell out here you know and he said you know he was just cussing these people he was with and uh he was just angry. He didnít give you the normal hitch hiker destitute.
SMITH: He didnít appear to be a transient.
GOVAR: Huh uh, didnít appear to be a transient.
SMITH: or somebody that had been sleeping out?
GOVAR: He did have this pillow case full of stuff but uh he did not either smell or act like a transient you know, I mean he had a little bit of odor from being out he road but not like you would uh Ė some transients you got to roll the window down if theyíve been sleeping out 2 or 3 nights.
SMITH: Did he say he actually lived in Knoxville?
SMITH: Where he was from?
GOVAR: But thatís not where his Ė he wanted to go. If he had of he would have wanted to go on around Memphis and get out at another truck stop on the other side of town where he had a straight shot in. That would have been the logical thing for him to do.
SMITH: Thatís where he said he was trying to get back to was Knoxville?
GOVAR: Knoxville, yeah.
SMITH: Did he say he had family there or?
GOVAR: Said he had family there. Yeah, sure did.
SMITH: Did he say what Ė what he did there? I guess tree trimmer there too?
GOVAR: Tree trimmer there too. Yeah he said he was Ė he was a tree trimmer and like Isay the things that Ė the only reason that I thought he was suspicious
was these hideous tattoos of this devil worshipping crap that he had on his arms and his attitude of anger and this uh Ė I mean he didnít say anything that would lead me to believe he was gonna commit some sort of crime like that but this anger was there. He did have this uh Ė you know he was visibly
SMITH: Let me go back just briefly about his face Ė you said his cheek bones were protruding?
GOVAR: Yeah, his Ė he was very thin and you could see the lines of his uh uh bottoms of his chin and his sunken jaw you know? I mean he was, he was very thin, his mouth was real tight and he kept playing with his mouth like he was tight lipped, (inaud) where these drawings are, real tight lipped like he had his tongue Ė he was sucking on a sunflower seed or something like that but he was just, it was the way he held his mouth, you know, like that. Like that all time.
SMITH: What about his face? Did he have any scars or any marks or, acne or
GOVAR: No he had fairly good Ė hell of a lot better complexion than Iíve got. Heís uh Ė he had freckles, you know, he was typical uh light, light
SMITH: How many freckles did he have?
GOVAR: No, not heavy, just light, uh, he was very light complected, but he did not have a dark tan like youíd think of a tree trimmer should have, you know. I didnít get a real good look at his hands, you know, but you know he was in good physical condition, you know he was thin Ė real good physical condition.
SMITH: And today you contacted someone here at the Police Department?
GOVAR: Yeah. Well what I did I contacted West Memphis Sheriffís, you know Crittenden County Sheriffís Office and they told me to call this city guy in West Memphis that was coordinating and so I called him and I just told him I picked up a hitch hiker and gave the general description you know and all that and then these guys, he called these guys and told them he wanted a drawing of him, sketches, uh so thatís when I came down here. They asked me to come down and do the artist thing and thatís when I
GOVAR: Thatís about it, I mean I donít know anything else about him but uh I could pick his face out in a million, I mean I remember it distinctly. Uh the only things that that I think were significant about it was his conversation didnít leave me to believe that he lived in Knoxville, Tennessee. He led me to believe, because he said he drove at the Speed Bowl, that he lives in Southwest Little Rock. That was the conversation I got. Uh I donít think he was tree trimmer.
GOVAR: Heís Ė You know Iíve been around tree trimmers, I know tree trimmers. They donít Ė these guys Ė they donít Ė IQ of 20 and they have cauliflowers hands. I mean their hands may feel like a foot when you shake hands with them and he didnít Ė he was not that kind of tree trimmer you know, he was real knowledgeable about cars uh uh he Ė I donít know what this problem with his personality was but this anger was obvious as soon as he got in the vehicle. He was angry you know and thatís why I kept looking at him, just to keep an eye on him cause these tattoos really catch your attention. But thatís all I can really tell you about him. If heís the one that did it you ought to be able to figure it out real quick if thereís any hair samples Ė if heís got red or blonde hair, I mean, at the scene, thatís your boy cause heís Ė if he did go back to the park over there somewhere to clean up where these kids went to that convenience store, when he followed them over there, uh he could have done it just because of this anger that he had but heís uh uh, he was definitely you know hitch hiking, he was on the road.
GOVAR: Unless he was meeting somebody else and this was a planned deal and I would hate to think that they would plan to do something like this deliberately. A bunch of devil worshippers but it is unusual, the tattoos he had are not normal and theyíre not something you see on people, even people that wear tattoos, those kind of blood of bones Ė Iíve never seen a blood and bones tattoo that I remember. Iíve seen some cross bones and skulls and things like that you know on motor cycle riders. Iíve never seen anything like a single bone with blood on the background Ė Iíve never seen a tattoo like that and Iíve seen devil tattoos but never one as
hideous as the one that he had with the devil up and his claws and his haunches Iíve never seen one like that on anybody. Thatís what caught my attention. Uh but other than that he, you know, he was not drunk, he had not been drinking you know like most transients you pick up, they smell like wine or theyíve been drinking for three days or something. He Ė no smell of alcohol at all. He was sober. Uh thatís all I Ė best I can tell you about him.
SMITH: You have anything else Lieutenant?
MARTIN: No (inaud)
SMITH: Okay, this concludes the interview at 1824.