A possible murder witness is talking.
The question is whether anyone should listen.
His name is “Bud,” and he’s an African gray parrot in Ensley Township, Michigan, with a loud mouth, according to NBC affiliate WOODTV.
His latest phrase – the one he won’t stop shouting at the top of his lungs mimicking his owner’s voice – is a chilling one: “Don’t…shoot!”
The bird’s antics might be laughed off, were it not for the fact that Bud’s owner, 45-year-old Martin Duram, was fatally shot at his home in May 2015, according to ABC affiliate WABC. His body was found near his wife, Glenna, who had suffered a gunshot wound to her head but is alive. Though police initially assumed Glenna Duram was a victim of the shooting, police reports obtained by WOODTV reveal that she is now a suspect in the slaying.
Relatives told the station that they believe Martin Duram’s final moments were imprinted in the bird’s memory and that he continues to relive the slaying. They noted that Bud mimicked both Durham and his wife.
“That bird picks up everything and anything…,” Duram’s mom, Lillian Duram, told WOODTV.
“I personally think he was there and he remembers it and he was saying it,” Duram’s father, Charles Duram, added.
Bud’s new owner, Martin’s ex-wife, Christina Keller, agrees, telling the station that the bird has a habit of replaying voices of a man and a woman locked in a fierce disagreement.
“I’m hearing two people in an intense argument,” Keller, who believes “Don’t…shoot!” were Duram’s final words. “Two people that I know, voices that I recognize.”
“It’s intense,” she added. “When it happens, my house turns cold.”
Police reports reveal that investigators have been asked whether the bird could be used as evidence, according to WOODTV, but they don’t show how police responded.
Newaygo County Prosecutor Robert Springstead told that station that he has heard about the talking parrot but hasn’t reviewed any footage of the animal. He said he’s waiting for Michigan State Police to finish their investigation before deciding whether to file charges, noting that “there’s some evidence to support” the idea that Glenna Duram killed her husband.
“Although the law allows charging on probable cause, I don’t like to do that, especially when you have a very serious case,” Springstead told the station. “When the investigation is done, I like to be satisfied there’s proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Duram told police that she remembers nothing of the shooting and regained her memory only once she was in the hospital. She left three suicide notes for relatives before the shooting that she claims she doesn’t remember writing, police records reveal.
“I know for a fact I didn’t kill my husband,” police quoted her as saying.
Doreen Plotkowski, the owner of Casa La Parrot in Grand Rapids, told WABC that African gray parrots typically vocalize phrases they’ve heard many times, but the birds also are capable of using words they’ve heard only on a few occasions. Presented with video evidence of the bird using the violent language, Plotkowski told the station that she “definitely” heard the bird mimicking an argument between a man and a woman.
She told the station that she also heard the bird say, “Don’t…shoot.”
“In my mind, it’s something that he’s heard, definitely heard before,” she said. “And if it’s fresh in his mind, he might even say it more now.”
Martin Duram’s father told WOODTV that he’s not ready to weigh in on his daughter-in-law’s guilt or innocence.
“I got hope that maybe there’s something out there that we don’t know about that can change this whole situation,” he said.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Peter Holley