Interview of Deputy Tempe Crabtree of Kindred Spirits
Tempe: I’m Native American, the mother of one son by my first husband who was killed in the line-of-duty as a California Highway Patrol officer who is now going to college, the wife of Hutch Hutchinson, the pastor of the local church, and the resident deputy of Bear Creek and its surroundings.
Q. Where is Bear Creek and what’s it like?
Tempe: Bear Creek is a mountain community in the Southern Sierra of California. The actual town is small with a large outlying area. My patrol area goes higher into the mountains, south as far as the lake recreation area and borders on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation. The reservation has its own police force though I’ve often been called in a few times to help investigate crimes thanks to the Violent Crime Scene detectives’ erroneous thoughts.
Q. What do you mean by that?
Tempe: Detective Morrison and Richards think that because I’m an Indian that I’m better equipped to find out information from other Indians. That they will trust me more than they will a non-Indian. They’re wrong. The only Indians who will trust me are those that I know and that all depends upon whether or not they want to trust me. But I can’t seem to convince them of that.
Q. Can you give me an example?
Tempe: Sure. Recently we found a murdered woman in the aftermath of a forest fire. It turns out that she was a Tolowa, though I had no idea she was even Indian prior to her death, and the detectives decided I should be the one to go to Crescent City and talk to her relatives and friends. Because I’m an Indian they felt sure I could relate to whoever I talked to.
Q. Did you go?
Tempe: Yes, even though I explained to the detectives that I knew nothing about the Tolowa. Frankly, I’d never even heard of them before.
Q. What did your husband think about you making this trip?
Tempe: Hutch and I have been having some problems with our marriage. We don’t always see things in the same way. He didn’t say so, but he might have thought it would do us good to be separated for a few days.
Q. How would you describe your trip to Crescent City?
Tempe: Crescent City is in the north-west corner of California, bordered by the Pacific Ocean and Oregon. It’s a beautiful place with huge coastal redwoods. I met two dynamic women, the victim’s sister and best friend and learned a lot about the Tolowa people.
Q. It doesn’t sound like you found out what you were looking for.
Tempe: Let’s just say it was an interesting trip with a bit of excitement thrown in.
Q. Were the detectives disappointed?
Tempe: They didn’t think I did the job right and that was okay with me. But when I found the pig heart on my doorstep, things changed.
Q. A pig heart! How gruesome. What was that all about?
Tempe: It was a warning—but all it did was make the detectives all the more interested in finding the murderer.
Q. What happened next?
Tempe: I was sent to Santa Barbara—only this time, Hutch went with me.
Q. Oh. Were things better between you by then?
Tempe: To find out the answer to that, you should read my account of what happened in Kindred Spirits.
Q. Before we end this, at least let us know what happened in Santa Barbara.
Tempe: I can tell you this much, the spirit of the dead woman visited me and I nearly lost my life.
Q. Do you see yourself continuing as a Deputy in Bear Creek?
Tempe: I love being a deputy. Most of the time it’s a fairly easy job. I help find lost children and pets, arrest drunk drivers, give out traffic tickets, help rescue accident victims, and calm neighborhood disputes.
Q. You have been involved in the solving of several murder cases though. What’s the explanation for that?
Tempe: Too often the detectives decide on the most obvious person as the guilty party. When I think they’ve picked the wrong person, I can’t just watch an innocent person go to jail without seeing if I can find out something more.
Q. Nick Two John is a good friend of yours and a favorite of your fans. Does he have a part in this book?
Tempe: I always go to Nick for advice. His answers to me are often cryptic, but in the long run, he is usually right—once I can figure out what he means.
Q. Thank you for your time and we look forward to reading Kindred Spirits to learn about the Tolowa people, if you found the murderer, and how you and Hutch are getting along now.