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Billy Lee follow-up interview

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 – 10:00 a.m.

Billy Lee worked on Veronica Smith's vehicle after her tires were slashed. After investigators learned that some of the anonymous text messages sent to Dr. Smith originated near Mr. Lee’s shop and in light of revelations from Danielle Lemmons obituary, Detectives Armstrong and Murphy re-interviewed Billy Lee at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.

Participants:

  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Billy Lee

Detective Armstrong: Would you please state your name and address for the record?

Billy Lee: My name is Billy Lee. My address is 2222 Lee Loop.

Detective Murphy: Thank you for coming in today.

Billy Lee: I aim to help however I can.

Detective Armstrong: Are you familiar with the phrase "a lie of omission"?

Billy Lee: I am.

Detective Armstrong: The last time we spoke, you neglected to mention some facts, facts that any reasonable person would have considered relevant to our investigation.

Billy Lee: I was focused on answering to the questions you asked.

Detective Murphy: We appreciate your efforts to answer our questions.

Detective Armstrong: We do. But I have to wonder why you withheld certain details.

Detective Murphy: Perhaps you'd like to correct that now.

Billy Lee: Do you mean my sister?

Detective Armstrong: Your sister would be a good place to start.

Billy Lee: Danielle was always a funny kid. Funny funny, not funny strange. The girl could make you laugh.

Detective Murphy: How did the two of you get along?

Billy Lee: We had our differences from time to time, as siblings do, but we never lost the bond. We were always there for each other, Danielle quick with a joke.

Detective Murphy: We're sorry for your loss.

Billy Lee: Thank you, ma'am. I sure do miss her.

Detective Armstrong: Some people claim that Dr. Smith's negligence killed Danielle. Where do you come down on that issue?

Billy Lee: I know cars. I fix 'em. And if you've ever spent any time in a garage, you've heard some strong language. Cars fight you. Things go wrong. I expect medicine is much the same.

Detective Armstrong: Do you blame Dr. Smith for your sister's death?

Billy Lee: I want my sister back. Even if Dr. Smith was responsible – or anybody else, for that matter – and even if justice was served, that wouldn't give me back Danielle.

Detective Murphy: When you worked on Dr. Smith’s car, did she give you a way to contact her?

Billy Lee: She gave me her number so I could let her know when the car was ready.

Detective Murphy: At her office?

Billy Lee: I don’t think so, unless she has a direct line. When I called, she answered herself.

Detective Murphy: So her home?

Billy Lee: Sure. Either that or her cell phone. Seems like everyone has one these days.

Detective Murphy: In any of your conversations, did you ever say anything to her about Danielle?

Billy Lee: No.

Detective Armstrong: Why not?

Billy Lee: No point in it. She didn’t know who I was anyway.

Detective Armstrong: And you never felt the need to tell her?

Billy Lee: Nope.

Detective Murphy: You said most people have cell phones these days. Do you have one?

Billy Lee: Yeah. That’s how they get in touch with me when I’m on call.

Detective Murphy: Do you have it with you? Can we see it?

Billy Lee: Why?

Detective Murphy: I’m just curious. I’m thinking about a new phone, so I’m always interested in what people have. You don’t even have to let me touch it. I’d just like to see it.

Billy Lee: Fine. Here.

Detective Murphy: What is that? An iPhone?

Billy Lee: Yeah.

Detective Murphy: Nice.

Billy Lee: It’s an older model. I got it for free when a newer one came out.

Detective Murphy: You like it?

Billy Lee: It gets the job done.

Detective Murphy: Is that your only cell phone?

Billy Lee: Well, yeah. Who can afford more than one cell phone?

Detective Murphy: Some people like to have, say, one phone for business and one for personal.

Billy Lee: People who make more money than me.

Detective Armstrong: Did you ever send any text messages to Dr. Smith?

Billy Lee: What? No. Why would I?

Detective Armstrong: We know someone was sending her anonymous text messages, and we know some of those were sent from the vicinity of your shop. Are you saying you didn’t send them?

Billy Lee: No! I already told you. No.

Detective Armstrong: Any idea who did?

Billy Lee: I’m supposed to know who was sending text messages near my shop?

Detective Armstrong: Do you?

Billy Lee: Probably a lot of people. My employees are always texting, and customers too.

Detective Murphy: Would any of your employees have a reason to text Dr. Smith?

Billy Lee: You’d have to ask them.

Detective Murphy: Our colleagues are doing that right now.

Billy Lee: What? My customers better not suffer because y’all were distracting my employees. I got people waiting for their cars.

Detective Armstrong: Tell us again how you happened to be the one who towed Dr. Smith’s car.

Billy Lee: What do you mean? I was on call. They called me. I went.

Detective Armstrong: You just happened to be the person on call when her tires were slashed?

Billy Lee: Yeah.

Detective Armstrong: Dr. Smith killed your sister. Her car just happens to be vandalized on a day when her vehicle would be towed to your garage.

Billy Lee: That’s right.

Detective Armstrong: Did she give you her keys when you brought her car in?

Billy Lee: Of course. All my customers do.

Detective Armstrong: Did you, by any chance, make a copy of her house keys while you had them?

Billy Lee: Of course not.

Detective Armstrong: There's no "of course" about it. Seems to me, things couldn't have worked out better if you'd planned them yourself. Did you send Dr. Smith to the scrap yard in the sky?

Billy Lee: I most certainly did not.

Detective Murphy: Please sit down, Mr. Lee. We're just asking a question. No one's accusing you of anything.

Detective Armstrong: Yet.

Detective Murphy: You have to admit that you withheld information related to our investigation, that you have reason to harbor ill will against Dr. Smith, and that her vehicle conveniently appeared in your shop less than a month before she was killed.

Billy Lee: I didn't kill her.

Detective Murphy: Do you have any theories about who might have done exactly that?

Billy Lee: I'm no detective.

Detective Murphy: Let's suppose for a moment that you were. How would you proceed, given what you know?

Billy Lee: Well, when I'm trying to figure out what's going on with a car, I look for connectors. Mileage is down and something is running hot and something else is making a new sound.  The more connectors you add, ironically, the more you narrow down possible causes.

Detective Murphy: For instance, Dr. Smith was murdered and her tires were slashed.

Billy Lee: Exactly.

Detective Murphy: And what does that tell you?

Billy Lee: Tell me? Nothing. I'm no detective.

Detective Armstrong: Maybe what it means is that you – knowing her car would end up at your shop – slashed her tires with the intention of then sabotaging her vehicle. When that failed for whatever reason, you went to her house.

Billy Lee: Not me. I think you need more connectors.

Detective Armstrong: How about we add the connector that Dr. Smith killed your sister?

Billy Lee: I didn't kill Dr. Smith. I changed the tires on her car, and that's the only interaction I ever had with the lady.

Detective Armstrong: And you’re sure she didn’t know who you were?

Billy Lee: Didn't say anything or act any way other than angry at the inconvenience of having her tires slashed, but I don't know. I guess she could have.

Detective Murphy: Are you still in touch with your brother-in-law?

Billy Lee: Ken? Sure. He’s family.

Detective Murphy: What did he say when he found out?

Billy Lee: Found out what?

Detective Armstrong: That you worked on Dr. Smith's car.

Billy Lee: You think he knows?

Detective Armstrong: Doesn’t he?

Billy Lee: Knowing that would only add to his misery.

Detective Murphy: How so?

Billy Lee: He never has recovered from Danielle’s death, and he wasn't too steady on his feet before that. He’s been a mess for a long time.

Detective Armstrong: He ever come by your shop?

Billy Lee: Sometimes. He doesn’t have much to occupy his time these days.

Detective Armstrong: Was he there during the period when Dr. Smith's car was in your shop?

Billy Lee: Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t keep track of when he drops by.

Detective Murphy: Does Kenneth truly believe Dr. Smith was responsible for his wife’s death? Or does he simply appreciate the opportunity to receive some financial relief?

Billy Lee: He considers Dr. Smith a cold-blooded killer.

Detective Murphy: Do you think Kenneth is capable of murdering Dr. Smith?

Billy Lee: I don't know. He might have blamed her, but with his back the way it is, I don’t see how he could have done anything like that. Besides, he was really interested in that money. And he wanted to hurt the doctor, hurt her so she hurt the way he did. Murdering her, that would be too quick.

Detective Armstrong: Would you look at the time? Sorry, but we're going to have to cut you short. Got a meeting with a judge about some search warrants. We'll be in touch.

Billy Lee: Um, good.

Detective Murphy: Thanks for coming down.

Interview ends: 10:26 a.m.

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