There are many examples of detectives from the Christian County Sherrif’s office making mistakes in the investigation of the Pembroke murders. From contaminated evidence to false testimony to mistakes made at the crime scene. Detective Noisworthy testified that they had canvassed the neighborhood the day after the murders. Neighbor Billy Watkins, who lived next door to Kit, wasn’t questioned by police until almost six months after the murders. Had police questioned Billy the day after the murders, the entire investigation may have gone in an entirely different direction. It’s quite possible that Billy Watkins saw the person or persons who killed Calvin Phillips, or at least he saw the car they were driving.
Even before he started testifying, Billy said he wasn’t good with dates. There was one important date, however, that he got wrong. Olivia Adams conducted the direct examination. She had a document in her hands that referenced November 17, 2015, the day before the murders. It’s not clear if Olivia was referencing a recent statement from Billy or one taken closer to the murders. She asked Billy what he observed on November 17, 2015. Billy told a story about seeing an SUV come down the street in front of Calvin’s house. Behind the SUV was a white box truck. Billy said it was raining heavily. He said the white box truck backed into Calvin’s driveway. The SUV then backed into Kit’s driveway and then drove off. Billy said that it looked like the SUV had been showing the truck the address they were looking for and once they pointed out the house to the box truck driver they left.
There are a couple of things about Billy’s account that might have been extremely important had anyone taken the time to question him further. For one, he had the date wrong. The scene he described was actually the day of the murders and not the day before the murders. It rained heavily on the morning of the 18th, not the 17th. The box truck was the delivery van that had the new washing machine. It is quite possible that what he actually observed was the murderer or murderers leaving the scene. Instead of the SUV showing the truck the address, it’s possible that the SUV was backing out of Calvin’s driveway at the exact same time that the truck arrived. The truck then backed up to let the SUV back out. That’s when Billy walked out onto his porch. He saw the SUV moving forward and then stopping in front of Ed’s house. The white box truck backed into Calvin’s driveway. The SUV backed into Kit’s driveway in order to change directions.
Billy’s house was a few houses down from Calvin’s driveway. In the spring and summer months, he would not have been able to see down the street because of the trees. But by mid-November, most of the leaves had fallen and he had a clear view of the street. What he didn’t say was which direction the SUV and box truck were traveling, but based on his description the car and truck would have been traveling southwest towards Billy’s house. The SUV after turning around would have been headed northeast toward Highway 41, which led out of town.
It’s not known if the police ever questioned the drivers of the delivery truck. If they didn’t, it quite possibly could have been the lead that would have led them directly to the person or persons responsible for the murder of Calvin Phillips and possibly Pam Phillips and Ed Dansereau.
Barbara Whaley in her cross-examination read from a police report dated May 11, 2016, where Billy gave the correct date of November 18, 2015. There was also one other detail in the report. The SUV was burgundy or maroon in color. (Note: An update to this post can be found here.)