Others have their opinions about what happened
that night when the alleged victim said a Morgan County Jail inmate danced with a skeleton and the party was on. Four inmates were helping at the haunted house.
Police Chief Chris Free remembers Oct. 29-30. His officer awakened him at home. "He said there was a confrontation at the haunted house and that I needed to get up there."
Free assessed the situation this way: "I'd say they had a little too much to drink and the party got out of control."
The party began after the haunted house fundraiser, sponsored by Falkville Volunteer Fire Department at 457 East Pike Road, closed for the night. Two days later firefighter Holly Maxwell filed a deposition accusing Fire Chief Eric Sawyer of choking her. She named firefighters Jeff and Nikkie Wilson as witnesses.
Sawyer said he did not choke her and he, too, has witnesses who were there.
The haunted house was to continue through Halloween, but did not reopen after officials agreed to shut it down.
Free arrested Sawyer on a Falkville misdemeanor warrant Nov. 2. The warrant was for harassment, a misdemeanor. Sawyer posted $300 bond. Municipal Judge Wesley Lavender granted two continuances and set the case for Feb. 5.
Back to the party as Maxwell saw it in her handwritten deposition: She and firefighter William Riley arrived about 1 a.m. and followed the music to the "mansion part" of the haunted house. "I went towards Nikkie Wilson, who was sitting on a cooler and had some wine."
Maxwell said an inmate brought out the skeleton and was dancing and joking.
"Eric Sawyer and (utility employee) J.L. Pike stripped to their boxer shorts, and William Riley stripped his shirt off and were dancing," she wrote. "I kept falling to the floor laughing because they were funny, and Nikkie helped me up a few times."
Maxwell wrote that "they were trying to get us girls to take our shirts off, and we would not." She said firefighter Ty Klocek and Sawyer poured beer on her top shirt and she took it off.
"But I was wearing a white T-shirt underneath," she said. "About that time, we heard what sounded like a crash and me and Nikkie went out front to see if someone was hurt or something broke. When we got outside, J.L. was pulling his truck out of the left side of the door at the haunted house."
In her deposition, she details what happened next this way:
J.L. Pike was driving the town utility truck. Nikkie Wilson went to get Sawyer, who is also the town's field supervisor for the utility department. Both Pikes work for him.
About this time Riley came outside to "help stop Pike from driving off. He backed up the truck on (Morgan County) 55 East and went towards the tracks and turned left on Railroad Street. And we had no clue where he went afterwards."
Sawyer arrived and called another utility employee, Jeff Pike, on his mobile phone. He told him to find his dad before he does because, " 'I am going to beat his (expletive) a—.' "
"About this time Sam Frost (a former Falkville patrolman) and a female came pulling up and were talking to Eric about the door. Me and Nikkie were talking about how (Pike) could of hit her new car. So she decides to move it to the fire hall. I go to the Fire Department to go to the rest room and come back to the haunted house."
She said when she returned that Sawyer was upset.
"Nikkie suggested we pick up our mess in the mansion and go home. So I went in to pick up beer cans and Nikkie went to get her and Jeff Wilson's stuff."
Maxwell said they came back outside and talked. She said she didn't know if someone said something to Sawyer "or what," but that the next thing she knew, he had her jacket tight around her neck and she couldn't breathe.
"Jeff Wilson tells Eric to let me go, and (Sawyer) starts yelling about his keys ... When Jeff finally gets him to let go, he tries to get passed Jeff again. Jeff goes to the ground on top of Eric and tells him to get cooled down."
Maxwell said Jeff Wilson and Sawyer are "going at it" when Frost "jumped in on them and Jeff's glasses were knocked off. Nikkie was screaming at them to stop and get off Jeff's glasses." Maxwell said that when they finally broke it up, she and the Wilsons went to their car and Nikkie Wilson drove her to the apartment, and her husband drove his sport utility vehicle.
Other side of story
Now the other side.
On Sunday, Sawyer said, "I'm denying part of it (Maxwell's deposition). I did not choke her. Several witnesses were there to see that I didn't."
The fire chief said as he was breaking up the party and getting everyone cleared out that Maxwell mouthed off to him.
"I reached across to grab her because she kept running her mouth and she slapped at me," he said. "I ended up grabbing her coat."
Sawyer said Maxwell attempted to drop the harassment charge Dec. 4, but prosecutor Larry Madison would not let her. Madison declined comment. Maxwell did not return calls.
J.L. Pike said he was at the haunted house working the scenes. He denied drinking. He said he bumped the door with his pickup, breaking the glass in the door.
"I pulled up to pick my wife up," he said. "I started to back out. I forgot to put it in reverse, went forward instead and bumped the door. There was no damage to the pickup."
Pike also denied dancing in his boxer shorts.
"I don't think it was me," he said. "She misidentified me. Why would I do something like that?"
Inmates at haunted house
Free said to the best of his knowledge, the four inmates who were there that night to assist at the haunted house were not drinking.
"Falkville police drove them back to the Morgan County Jail," he said. "That's normal procedure. All municipalities get inmates from work-release. They got special permission to be out late because the haunted house ran late."
Free said Pike was gone when he arrived and he never saw him that night.
"I don't have any idea about what happened with the door. He was driving a work truck, and I do know there was only minor damage to the front of it," Free said.
Firefighters had planned to run the haunted house for 11 nights, Oct. 13-31.
"We boarded it off that night (Oct. 29)," Free said. "I met with the mayor (Jimmie Walker) the next morning to bring him up to speed on what had happened, when Eric came in. We all came to the conclusion that the haunted house needed to be shut down."