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Haley Smith interview

Saturday, May 12, 2012 – 9:24 a.m.

Haley Smith is Veronica Smith’s 10-year-old daughter. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. Because Haley is a minor, her stepfather George O’Connor was also present. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.

Participants:

  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Haley Smith
  • George O’Connor

Detective Armstrong: Hello again, George. We’d like to ask you to let Haley answer the questions herself without help from you whenever possible during this interview. You’re here so Haley feels comfortable and because she’s under the age of 18. Understood?

George O’Connor: Yes.

Detective Murphy: Hi, Haley. How are you today honey?

Haley Smith: OK.

Detective Murphy: Can we get you a drink or a doughnut? We have chocolate-covered long johns.

Haley Smith: No, thank you.

Detective Murphy: My name is Detective Sam, and this is Detective Ted. We’re going to be asking you some questions today.

Haley Smith: Hi. I know. Daddy told me.

Detective Murphy: We need you to tell us your name and your address, and then we’ll get started, OK?

Haley Smith: OK. My name is Haley Smith and I live at 142 Colonial Road.

Detective Armstrong: All right, kiddo, here we go. How did you get along with your mom?

Haley Smith: We got along great. She really, really loved me, and I loved her. We had so much fun together. She’s the best mom in the whole world, and I miss her so much. I keep praying that she can come back because I need to hug her.

Detective Armstrong: Don’t cry, sweetheart. I’m sorry we have to do this, but it’s something that just has to be done.

Haley Smith: I know. Daddy told me I needed to tell the truth and do my best to answer your questions. I promised to try.

Detective Murphy: Can you tell us about your Girl Scout dance last night?

Haley Smith: Yes. When I got home from school, Momma was there and we talked about my day.

Detective Armstrong: What did you do next?

Haley Smith: I took a bath and washed my hair, and then Momma dried it and put a bow in it for the dance. It looked so pretty. She’s real good at making hair look awesome.

Detective Murphy: I bet she was. Tell us what happened next.

Haley Smith: Momma had been helping me with some dance steps for a few nights, and she said we needed to fine tune them a bit. She turned the radio on, and then we danced. It was funny. I kept stepping on her toes and messing up. She never got mad at me though. She’d tell me to keep my elbows bent a little and to stop looking down. It was fun, and I finally did it right.

Detective Armstrong: Where was your dad during this?

Haley Smith: Daddy came in right after that, and he told me to go upstairs and put my dress on because he had something for me. When I came back down, he had some pretty flowers that Momma helped me put on my wrist. They matched my dress and daddy’s tie. They were perfect.

Detective Murphy: How were your mom and dad before you left for the dance?

Haley Smith: Fine. When me and Daddy were leaving, Momma hugged me and told me it would be a special night that I’d never forget. She told me she loved me, and I said it back. Then I said goodbye, and she said, “Never say goodbye. Say see you later.” She said she’d be here waiting to hear all about my night when we got home. Then she whispered something to Daddy, and we left.

Detective Murphy: Tell us about the dance.

Haley Smith: It was a lot of fun but sometimes, it was kinda boring. Daddy and me were voted King & Princess of the dance! We got to dance under the big spotlight with our crowns on while everyone watched. It was pretty neat. There was a big ball that made a bunch of colors all over us and the room while we danced. I felt like a princess. After that, it was boring.

Detective Murphy: Why was it boring, Haley?

Haley Smith: We got some punch and then sat down to listen to some people talk. Daddy had to leave the room for a bit, and it seemed like forever, and I was just bored out of my skull.

Detective Armstrong: Where did your dad go?

Haley Smith: He said he’d be right back. I didn’t ask.

Detective Armstrong: What happened when he came back?

Haley Smith: Well we had some cookies and punch, and then Daddy said we needed to “mingle.” We talked with some of the other daddies and girls and then we went home.

Detective Armstrong: How did he seem when he came back?

Haley Smith: He said he didn’t feel too good and the front of his shirt was all wet. Momma always makes fun of how clumsy he is. He’s always spilling stuff. We call him Mr. Messy Man all the time.

Detective Murphy: Tell us about the ride home.

Haley Smith: We wanted to get there and tell Momma about the dance and show her the pictures we took on Daddy’s phone. We talked about what she would say and how happy she would be that we got the crowns.

Detective Armstrong: Tell us about when you got home, Haley.

Haley Smith: Daddy went in the kitchen to get an aspirin for his headache, and I raced up the stairs. I don’t want to talk about it. Please don’t make me.

Detective Armstrong: We can take a break if you’d like.

Haley Smith: Yes, please.

INTERVIEW SUSPENDED – 9:37 a.m.

INTERVIEW CONTINUED – 9:44 a.m.

Detective Murphy: Are you ready, honey?

Haley Smith: I think so. This is so hard.

Detective Armstrong: You were telling us that you ran upstairs to tell your mom about the dance.

Haley Smith: I was so excited. I thought she was resting. I jumped on the bed and then I saw… I saw… the plastic. I screamed, and that’s all I remember.

Detective Murphy: You did very well, honey. The worst is over now. Tell us about what you remember after that.

Haley Smith: I remember me and Daddy crying on my bed. He said he called the police, and they would be here soon. They made us go downstairs when they got here. I just remember Daddy saying over and over, “We’ll be OK. We’ll be OK.”

Detective Armstrong: Did anything else happen that night?

Haley Smith: I fell asleep in the family room. I was so tired. Daddy woke me up and said we had to go stay at a hotel for the night. I don’t know why, but I was afraid to go back to sleep, so Daddy said he would stay awake until I fell asleep.

Detective Armstrong: We won’t ask you any more questions about that night. We just want to talk to you a little about some of the people you know. Will that be all right with you?

Haley Smith: Uh-huh.

Detective Murphy: Let’s start with your father, Wallace. How did he get along with your mom?

Haley Smith: They didn’t like each other much. Momma said he was a “chonic” liar.

Detective Murphy: Do you mean chronic liar?

Haley Smith: Yes, that’s it. Sorry.

Detective Armstrong: Did she tell you why she thought he was a chronic liar?

Haley Smith: No, she didn’t tell me. Sometimes at night, I sit at the top of the stairs and listen to Momma and Daddy talk when they think I’m asleep. One night they were talking about child support and that momma had to take Wallace to the judge and how the judge made Dad get his check tarnished so the money would come.

George O’Connor: She means garnished. Yes, we did discuss that.

Detective Armstrong: Thanks, George, but believe it or not, we figured that.

Detective Murphy: Haley, how do you feel about Wallace?

Haley Smith: He’s OK. I never told this to anyone, but I wished he was just an uncle like Uncle Mike. I only want one daddy, and it’s not Wallace. Me and Momma wanted me to be adopted, but Wallace wouldn’t sign the papers. That makes me sad.

Detective Armstrong: Do you always call him “Wallace?”

Haley Smith: No, I call him “Dad” when I’m with him or on the phone. I call George “Daddy.” George is my daddy.

Detective Murphy: How did Wallace feel about your mom?

Haley Smith: I don’t know. He doesn’t talk to me about her.

Detective Murphy: You said they didn’t like each other. Why do you say that?

Haley Smith: It’s just what I think. He doesn’t even look at her when he picks me up.

Detective Armstrong: When was the last time you saw Wallace?

Haley Smith: It was the Easter weekend. Momma, Dad and me had plans to go to Lookout Mountain in Tennessee for the weekend, but he called and wanted to see me.

Detective Murphy: You didn’t want to see him?

Haley Smith: I wanted to see the mountain. Momma thought I should see him though, so I did. He got in town late Friday night, so I had to go with him Saturday morning. We went to McDonald’s and then to the park. He treats me like a baby, and I hate it.

Detective Murphy: What does he do?

Haley Smith: He wanted to push me in the swings and hold my hand when I went down the slide. Ugh. I told him I needed to go home after a little while, and he took me. He said he really misses me and he loves me very much and he wished there was some way he could see me more. I said, “Me too.” I didn’t want to make him feel bad, you know?

Detective Armstrong: Why were you in such a hurry to get home?

Haley Smith: Daddy said when I got home we could go to Silver Ash Ranch. I love it there. We got to ride the horses and go on a hike.

Detective Murphy: You mentioned an Uncle Mike. How often did you see him?

Haley Smith: Thanksgiving, Christmas, July 4th, and maybe once or twice in the summer.

Detective Armstrong: How do you feel about him?

Haley Smith: He’s OK. Momma and Daddy act funny around him.

Detective Armstrong: Funny how?

Haley Smith: I don’t know, just not normal.

Detective Murphy: How did your mom get along with your Aunt Elizabeth?

Haley Smith: Most of the time they were like friends, but sometimes they argued.

Detective Murphy: What did they argue about?

Haley Smith: Silly stuff. I would always hear Momma tell her to stop being so childish all the time. Aunt Liz said Momma was too competitive, and it wasn’t always about winning. I never understood what they were upset about.

Detective Armstrong: Did your mom get along well with Dr. Burns and Dr. Mendoza?

Haley Smith: I don’t really see them very much. I know that Dr. Burns doesn’t like me.

Detective Armstrong: Why do you say that?

Haley Smith: One day I was sick, and Momma took me in to the office with her. Dr. Burns told her that he didn’t want me there, and she needed to take me home. He was really loud.

Detective Murphy: What happened?

Haley Smith: We went home. Momma said he had no right to tell her what to do, and she would talk with him the next day and set him straight.

Detective Murphy: Is there anything else you'd like us to know about your mom, honey?

Haley Smith: Yes. We had plans to plant flowers today and to bake cookies. She promised. She never broke promises... never.

Detective Armstrong: Thank you very much, Haley, for talking with us.

Haley Smith: You’re welcome.

Detective Murphy: You did a fine job. You’re very grown up for your age.

Haley Smith: Momma told me that all the time. Can we go now?

Detective Murphy: Yes you can.

Haley Smith: Let’s go, Daddy. Bye, you two.

Interview ends: 9:59 a.m.

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