Timm Heisey Interview
Basically my mom was an elementary school principal in the town of McFarland which is just 30 minutes north of Bakersfield, and she had a vice principal working for her and at one point she decided that it was in the best interest of all the staff and the children that he was no longer going to work there. She told him that she was writing a bad evaluation on him and when she presented it to him he flipped out and basically said, "if you submit that, that'll be the last thing you ever do." And then he said a curse word at the end.
She came home just hysterical and several days later? she was stabbed to death in her own home.
So yeah - it's frustrating to me that she was so worried to the point where me, I was home on leave, went to the neighbors and described the guy that had threatened her, before she was killed.
Katey: I know that was a tough time. How old were you?
Timm: I was 21.
Katey: You were 21. When you heard about it what was your initial thought?
Timm: So I was at Quantico at a Marine Corps base and it was 1 a.m. and the door was kicked open. Well, probably not kicked open, but it felt like that. And the commanding officer walked in and asked, "Who is Heisey?" And I stood and he said, "Okay grab your stuff and come with me." And he wouldn't say why we're leaving at 1 a.m.
I just figured it was because I had been screwing off earlier in the gas chamber and had grabbed someone's gas mask and tossed it, and I thought, "Wow, they're really strict about discipline here." And we get to the general's office and I'm like, "Oh, dear, I'm going all the way." And so I was in combat boots and PT clothes. So we get to the commanding general and there was a rabbi with him, and so I realized okay someone died.
The general said to me, "Son, your mom's been killed."
And I knew as soon as he said it, the first words out of my mouth were the person's name and that he did it.
Timm: Even the investigating police would tell me later on, man this guy, he's out to lunch, he has knives all over his house and he has a history of violence - and she was stabbed to death and stabbed so many times that it was quite clear this wasn't just a simple murder, this was done with a lot of vengeance and pent up rage.
Timm: Extremely frustrating, and every time I've met with six of the detectives, every time I ask how are we doing on this case. And of course they're gonna tell the son of the victim, "Hey, we're doing everything we can into this case. We really wanna get this solved. In fact this is the number two highest priority case in Bakersfield, second to the murder of a Supreme Court justice's son back in the 1950s."
But it's not going anywhere and I put myself in the detective's shoes and he's probably got all these new cases coming across his desk and he has to focus on those, and it's like the mail system.
It never ends, and there's not a lot of incentive for them to get this solved.
Timm: I've tried my best to be on the side of the police force.
I don't want to go to war with them. I realize they're one of my only real hopes in getting this solved, so it doesn't … For years I've battled with this frustration of their mishandling of the case and thought oh I should just be quiet they're going to get this solved.
But the individual who killed my mom is now 62 years old, and he's getting older and so, I fear, I don't want to let up on him. I've continually made clear to people who live around him and to him that this case isn't forgotten about, but I do fear that. I don't want to let up on him.
Timm: Because it was such a horrific case, the word went on the radio, hey major homicide at this location, and firefighters, first responders, and police officers, bored on a Monday night, went to come traipse through the little murder show and say, "Oh, this is probably the most horrific event I'm going to see in my career as a police officer."
And so there was a lot of compromising of the crime scene. Also she was stabbed well above a dozen times, around 50 times, dragged around the house, there was blood everywhere, hand prints everywhere - the crime scene took a long time to process.
And during this time, in my opinion, and hindsight 20/20 - I apologize to any detectives who are gonna say, "well, you weren't there" - but the neighbors were not interviewed until days after this. And that was something that we learned from the OJ Simpson trial, that, hey, you need to interview witnesses right away before their memories get morphed.
Timm: I don't support vigilante justice, but with a police department that has a murder solve rate of 40 percent, I find it hard to tell people to just sit tight when something catastrophic happens to their family and say just trust the police and the court system, they'll take care of it.
Timm: I do want to make it clear to anyone in a situation like mine, don't just wait on a police department and hope that they're gonna be able to solve it. You need to be doing something yourself and you need to be doing it fast because if a murder case isn't solved within six months, there's a 90 percent chance that it isn't going to be solved, ever.
Katey: Are you doing this in part for your mom, if she's looking down on you?
Timm: I, I'm not giving up the fight for her.
Katey: You loved her very much, didn't you?
Katey: It shows, she'd be really proud. What would you say to her if you could say something to her?
Timm: I just wish this wasn't the way that people remembered her. She was so much more than this stupid event that ended her life.
And - I hate that someone else decided to pick up that pen to write the last chapter of her life. But she was a fantastic principal, and if you go to Browning Road School in McFarland there's a whole wall painted that's dedicated to her.
There's not a lot of principals that you see when you walk into a school where all the little children are running up and hugging the principal. She had dozens of kids from kindergarten to sixth grade doing that every single day.