Statement of Donna Stevens, taken at 78 Sherman Drive, 10:30 pm, Tuesday, October 17.
Ms. Stevens, could you tell us a little about the kind of relationship you had with your fiancé Samuel Herrick?
"Well, it wasn't the best, of course. Sam got upset very easily and sometimes he'd take his anger out on me physically. That was why I moved out last week -- he threatened me with a gun! and I just couldn't stay any more. I still loved him, and he loved me, I'm sure, but I told him that we had to go to counseling and get him, and us, straightened out. Meanwhile I was going to stay with my mother. I didn't want to break our engagement, and I tried to make him understand that, but I don't think he was thinking all that clearly. He took it pretty hard. I mean, he never came 'round to my mom's house and threatened me, but he called me a lot and he sounded really depressed. I would call him, too, because I was worried about him. He never said anything about suicide, but I just had this feeling . . . . But I didn't go back to him, so this really could be all my fault . . . I'd just gotten my cast off my arm, though, and I didn't want to go back to be hurt again. He really scared me, that night with the gun. But if I'd gone back he'd still be alive . . . .
The gun found with Mr. Herrick's body is registered in your name -- could you explain that, please?
"Oh. Well, it's really his gun. Um, Sam was convicted of possession of an illegal substance a few years ago, and that's a felony. That meant that he wasn't legally allowed to purchase a handgun, even for protection. I mean, his apartment isn't in a real bad neighborhood or anything, but Sam came into contact with some pretty rough characters sometimes, and a lot of them knew where we lived. When I moved in with him he got real worried that one of them would come and hurt me. So he told me the best thing to do was to get a handgun registered in my name. I wouldn't ever have to use it, but we'd get it so that he could protect me. Protect me! It was the same gun he threatened me with the night I left. But he gave me the money and we went and picked out this gun for "me," even though it was really for him. I left it with him when I moved out."
When was your last contact with your fiancé?
"Well, it would have been a phone call since I haven't been to see him since I left. I think the last time I talked to him was yesterday afternoon -- I called him up to talk about counseling. That was one of the times he sounded really down."
One of your former neighbors said that she saw you yesterday evening at the apartment building. Didn't you see Sam then?
"Oh, no. Sam always goes out Monday nights to play poker with some guys. I went over to get the last of my things while he was gone. I saw Camilla on my way out."
Mrs. Berry said that she noticed you didn't seem to be carrying anything.
"That's right. I was trying to get a box that was in a little crawl space in the apartment. I couldn't get it out by myself, so I had to leave it there after all."
What was in the box?
"I think old clothes, mostly. I haven't looked in it for a while."
Where were you between the hours of five and ten o'clock this evening?
"I left work at five (I work during the day at the community college library) and drove straight home. I got here at 5:20 or so; my mother was home cooking dinner. We ate almost exactly at six. I did the dishes right after dinner as my mother got ready for a landscaping appointment--she had a plan to present to a client at eight. She left at seven for her meeting, and I just read until she got home at 9:30. No, I forgot I started some laundry around nine. It was going when my mother came home. Her client was not home, and didn't show up even though she waited half an hour. She was annoyed. I made her some tea and just listened to her for a while; then we started talking about other things. She was getting calmed down and decided she wanted some chocolate pudding. There was a minor catastrophe when the pot broke; Mom sure wasn't happy about that! And then you came."
Which of the cars in the driveway is yours?
"Mine's the old Tercel." Officer notes that a light-gray1989 Toyota Tercel and a white 1997 Ford Taurus are parked in the driveway at 78 Sherman.