Tuesday May 24, 2011 -- 7:44 AM
The witnesses, the employers of Rick Gill who reportedly threatened victim #1 Robert Pruitt, were interviewed at their place of business, Harker Landscaping Service, 2500 University Avenue. The interview was conducted by Detectives Armstrong and Murphy and was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witnesses' knowledge and consent.
- TA = Detective T. Armstrong
- SM = Detective S. Murphy
- WH = William Harker
- VH = Virginia "Ginny" Harker
SM: Thank you very much for talking to us today, Mr. and Mrs. Harker.
WH: No problem, Detectives. Glad to help.
SM: For the record, would each of you please state your name and your place of residence?
VH: Virginia Harker. We live at 319 Country Club Road, here in Oxford.
WH: William H. Harker. Same address.
TA: And your profession?
VH: I'm the office manager here at Harker Landscaping. I'm also the accountant, receptionist, secretary, dispatcher, and customer service representative.
WH: She's a one-woman staff. Ginny runs the shop and the paperwork. I run the crews.
VH: Is this about that lawyer, Mr. Pruitt, and the other man who got killed?
TA: Should we be talking to you about that?
VH: No. I mean, we don't know anything about that.
TA: Then why would you think we were here about that case?
VH: It's the only one we've heard of. It's been in the news a lot.
SM: Is Rick Gill employed here?
WH: Yes. Is he in trouble?
TA: So you've both had occasion to work with Rick Gill?
VH: Is he involved? What did he do?
SM: Just routine questions, Mrs. Harker.
WH: Rick's a good man, Detectives. I don't think he could kill anybody, no matter how much he might have wanted to.
SM: What makes you say he might have wanted to kill someone?
WH: 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.
TA: So he spoke about his ex-wife and Robert Pruitt often?
WH: Often enough, but it was just talk.
VH: Rick is one of our most trusted employees, Detective.
SM: How so?
VH: 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 will get fixed.
TA: So Rick often goes out alone?
VH: 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.
TA: Did he work on the 15th of April?
VH: Let me get my book -- yes, yes he did. He was working all day.
SM: Do y'all typically work on Fridays?
VH: We have quite a few residential customers who prefer to have their service on Fridays, so the lawn will look nice over the weekend.
TA: Do you log your employees in and out?
VH: 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.
TA: A key to the equipment area?
WH: 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.
SM: Why is that?
WH: 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.
SM: Sounds like you know Rick pretty well.
WH: Well enough to know he wouldn't risk losing his kids by being mixed up in something like this.
TA: What jobs did Rick work on that day?
VH: Let me look. Okay, he did five jobs that day. Our other workers can only do three or four.
SM: Was Robert Pruitt a client of yours, Mr. Harker?
VH: He wouldn't know. I'll look. No.
TA: Where did Rick work that day?
VH: 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.
TA: What time did he arrive at work and what time did he leave?
VH: 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.
TA: Did you ever hear Rick threaten his ex-wife or Mr. Pruitt?
WH: Detective, sometimes men get angry. It's just letting off steam.
SM: Exactly what did he say, Mr. Harker?
WH: It's not important--
TA: Mr. Harker, you tell us what he said. We'll decide if it's important.
SM: Besides, if Mr. Gill hasn't done anything, he's got nothing to be worried about.
VH: Just tell them, Bill.
WH: 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.
TA: What did he say, Mr. Harker?
WH: 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.
SM: Did he say anything else?
WH: After the story made the papers, he said that Pruitt's killer should have gotten a medal.
TA: What's your affiliation with Fisher Pest Control?
VH: We don't have one.
SM: Ever recommend them to customers? Maybe point some business their way?
WH: Absolutely not.
TA: Sounds pretty hard.
WH: When your customers complain about another business, a smart businessman makes it a point to steer clear of them.
TA: Your customers complain to you about Fisher Pest Control, but you have no relationship with them?
WH: That's right.
TA: Why would they do that?
WH: 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.
SM: What exactly were they complaining about?
WH: Just generally bad business -- bad customer service, double billing, late or missed appointments, misplaced items, personality conflicts, things like that.
SM: Ever get any referrals from Fisher Pest Control?
WH: No, and I never talked to anyone at Fisher either.
SM: Does Rick know anyone at Fisher Pest Control?
WH: I doubt it, but I don't know for sure.
TA: Does Rick own a gun?
VH: Heavens no, not with those kids around!
SM: How do you know he doesn't?
VH: It-- he-- that just wouldn't be smart or safe, and Rick is a good father, so I'm sure.
WH: We have a business to run, Detectives. What else do you have?
SM: Nothing more. Thank you both.
TA: We may need to talk to you again.
Interview ends -- 8:19 AM