She also alleged that Randy had lied to another prospective employer about graduating from the University of Oregon; he had never received a degree. Randy, she said, told her that his sister was in the Peace Corps, although, as it turned out, he didn’t have a sister.
Sherrie said she’d beseeched Randy again and again about his chronic lying, begging him to see a counselor. “He admitted it was a problem, and it has been a problem. He told me he could stop it any time. I felt differently and asked him to seek professional help.”
Citing yet another instance of untruthfulness, Sherrie said that in November 1977 Randy lied when he quit his job with the sheriff. “The letter of resignation I read stated that he was resigning from the Sheriff’s Office to return to Oregon to finish school,” she testified. That, Sherrie said, was not true. “We did return to Oregon, but we only stayed two months. Neither one of us — or my husband — did not get back in school at that time.
“I took work in a hospital washing dishes,” she recalled. “Randy took work as — in the — it’s not a supermarket. It’s a small, like, 7-Eleven. I don’t know the name of it, and he worked there for a while, and then he got a job working, stocking, a stock boy at a larger supermarket, after just a few weeks.”
A few months later, she said, they returned to Carson City. Randy got his sheriff’s job back. By then, she and Randy, though still married, were no longer living together, and he had rented an apartment with a roommate.
Sherrie and Randy took turns caring for their young son. Then one day in February 1978 Randy and Nathan vanished. She testified: “He left a letter of resignation on his roommate’s coffee table, stating that due to personal problems he was resigning, effective immediately.”
She soon tracked her husband and their son to a coastal town in Northern California. “My brother helped me locate him by — I had an idea that they were in Eureka, and he [her brother] contacted Eureka Police, and they sent back a teletype stating that Randy was in Eureka at a certain address.”
After Sherrie had finished testifying, it was Randy’s turn to give his version of their troubled marriage.
Randy denied most of what his ex-wife had charged. He had not lied to her about his age, he said, and, since he was never asked about his glass eye, he never had had an occasion to lie about it.
“Sheriff Rasner was aware of it,” said Randy. “He never personally asked me.” He added, “I do not feel a police officer needs two good eyes. I would submit my evaluation and record as deputy, in the course of dealing with people and handling their problems, that two good eyes are not a requisite for the position.”
Asked about his ex-wife’s charge that he had gone to Oregon not to return to college — as he told the sheriff’s office — but had instead taken a job there, Randy explained that “because to go back to school in our financial condition, I needed a year of residency prior to taking the final units, which you have to take them, at the University of Oregon, you can’t take them in a community college there. It was expensive to be a nonresident paying that tuition.”
Asked whether he had furnished a résumé to the California city of Tracy that, as Sherrie had charged, falsely claimed he had a college degree, Randy replied: “On their application, they do not specify B.A. They said four years of college. Now, the employment application which was turned in to the city reflected four years of college. The University of Oregon requires 186 quarter hours for graduation. I have 175.”
Asked how he got along with young Nathan, Randy said, “I would describe the relationship as better than most father/son relationships, and it’s a very good relationship, considering his age and the experience he has had in the past. I’m proud of the relationship we have.”
Recalling his return to Carson City after retrieving Nathan from Sherrie in Smackover, he continued: “The first two or three weeks back in Nevada with him, I was not employed. I just — we became reacquainted and did a lot of things together that we had not had time to do.”
Randy went on to defend his parents, Verlyn and Madeline Fletcher, from Sherrie’s allegations that his father was a dangerously violent diabetic and his mother a drunk.
“My father is not a violent individual. He is a controlled diabetic and a patient of Dr. Soong’s,” he testified. “My mother is not a drunk. She does not drink, consume alcohol. She is a religious woman.”
Randy added that if Sherrie “had taken the time to possibly get to know [my mother], she would have realized she has hypoglycemia, which caused her to, at times, stumble.”
Then, describing an unannounced evening visit he had paid to Sherrie’s apartment in February 1978, Randy told the court of an encounter he had had with his wife and Duane Axt, Randy’s fellow deputy sheriff, with whom she was having a relationship.
“She at that time was in bed with Mr. Axt,” Randy testified. “Mr. Axt is not a suitable individual for Nathan to be around. He has in his background been arrested, and [from] the rap sheet we have, [he’d] been arrested three times for indecent exposure, and loitering near the school from the state of California.
“Mr. Axt and I used to be friends. When we had a friendship, he had stated [that] children got in his way. He really didn’t care about children, things of that nature.
“I very seriously felt that Nathan was in jeopardy.”
Shortly after the nighttime encounter with Sherrie and Axt, Randy took Nathan without his mother’s knowledge and took him to Eureka.
Sherrie arrived within a few days.