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Interview: Follow-up with Arthur Beck

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 10:00 a.m.

This witness, Arthur Beck, was identified as victim's next door neighbor. Detectives Sam Murphy and Ted Armstrong conducted this follow-up interview 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
  • Arthur Beck

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

Arthur Beck: Arthur Beck. 1590 Jackson Avenue.

Detective Armstrong: Mr. Beck, we're glad to see you come on back here. We're hoping maybe we can see you with a smile this time. What do you think?

Arthur Beck: Well, I don't see why you're wasting my time. I mean, I told you everything I knew last time you gave me the third degree.

Detective Murphy: Oh, now, Mr. Beck, you know we didn't give you the third degree. We're just trying to find Dr. Pace's killer. Some information has come up from other interviews that we just need to clarify. Aren't you interested in the cause of justice?

Arthur Beck: Well, as long as it isn't at my expense. All right. All right. Let's go. I mean, let's get with it. I've got other things that are important to do.

Detective Armstrong: When we talked to you last time, you thought that Dr. Pace had fallen down the stairs, and you expressed surprise that she'd been murdered.

Arthur Beck: Yeah, that's right.

Detective Armstrong: Can you tell us, sir, how you learned of her death and why you thought she'd fallen down the stairs?

Arthur Beck: How I learned of her death, you say? Let me think a minute. Oh, it was probably that nosy neighbor from across the street. You know, the one that's butting into everybody's business. I think I saw her out there Sunday morning spreading the news around.

Detective Murphy: Which neighbor would that be, Mr. Beck?

Arthur Beck: Oh, you know the one. The one that's always sticking her nose in where it doesn't belong. Yeah, she came over and told me.

Detective Armstrong: You don't remember her name?

Arthur Beck: It's Alden... yeah, Alden. She's a meddlesome woman, always butting in where she doesn't belong.

Detective Armstrong: Was she butting into your business?

Arthur Beck: Used to. Always coming over bothering my Frannie when she was sick and needed her rest.

Detective Armstrong: You mean Mrs. Alden came to visit your wife when she was sick and that was butting in?

Arthur Beck: She wasn't coming to see how Frannie was doing. She was coming to find out how bad off she was so she could run all over the city telling everyone. That's butting in.

Detective Armstrong: Kimberly Pace came to visit your wife when she was sick too, didn't she? Was she butting in too?

Arthur Beck: That woman as good as abandoned my Frannie after she got sick. She wasn't butting in. She wasn't doing a damn thing. And after my Frannie had been so good to her.

Detective Armstrong: So Kimberly didn't come to see your wife during her illness? Not ever?

Arthur Beck: She came a few times. Just enough to ease her guilty conscience, I guess.

Detective Armstrong: What did she have to feel guilty about?

Arthur Beck: About not spending enough time with my poor wife when she needed her.

Detective Armstrong: Do you know why Kimberly didn't visit your wife as often as you would have liked?

Arthur Beck: Too wrapped up in her own selfish life I would think.

Detective Armstrong: Were you aware that Kimberly's own mother was sick at the same time your wife was? Maybe that had something to do with why she couldn't visit your wife as much as you thought she should have.

Arthur Beck: Sounds like you're just trying to make excuses for her. She and my Frannie were friends before Frannie got sick, and then when times got tough, that woman just forgot all about my wife, who'd never been anything but an angel to her and everyone else. She was just a fair weather friend and not much of one at that.

Detective Armstrong: Sorry, but I don't buy it. That just doesn't match up with the description of Kimberly we've gotten from virtually everyone else we've talked to. No one paints her as a rude, selfish, spiteful person except for you. How do you explain that?

Arthur Beck: Maybe I was the only one she showed her true colors to.

Detective Armstrong: Or maybe your attitude just brought out the worst in her.

Detective Murphy: Gentlemen, please. Let's not sink into personal attacks. So you didn't know Kimberly Pace had been murdered until we talked to you? Up until then, you thought her death was an accident?

Arthur Beck: Yeah.

Detective Murphy: And the morning of the murder, you were out in your yard, and you saw Dr. Pace's sister and friends come out of the house to wait for the police. Is that right?

Arthur Beck: Yeah. So what?

Detective Murphy: Well, they were obviously upset, even crying. Why didn't you go and see if there was anything you could do?

Arthur Beck: Well, why would I do that? I could care less if they were upset. I know who her sister is. I've seen her around often enough, but I don't know her friends. I could care less if they're upset. They strike me as a hysterical bunch anyway.

Detective Murphy: Can you tell me something specific that gave you that impression?

Arthur Beck: Well, that Pace was a hysterical one, so I assume the rest of them are hysterical.

Detective Murphy: Can you tell us specifically what Dr. Pace was hysterical about and when that occurred?

Arthur Beck: Oh, anything to do with those damn dogs. Anytime you go over there and tell her that the dog was digging in my yard and to get ahold of it, she'd start ranting and raving and threatening me with all kinds of threats.

Detective Armstrong: Such as?

Arthur Beck: Such as what?

Detective Murphy: What kind of threats did she make?

Arthur Beck: Well, to call the police on me, for one. Call the police on me? That's funny. I mean, she's the one with the garbage can out all‒for days, dog's barking all day and night, cars in and out, motorcycles. Call the police on me? Come on.

Detective Armstrong: But aren't you the one who called the police on her back in July of 2010?

Arthur Beck: I didn't call them on her. I called them on the dog.

Detective Armstrong: Which dog was that ‒ Thoreau or Emerson?

Arthur Beck: How in the hell should I know? It was that damn mangy yellow one. Name doesn't matter.

Detective Murphy: What was the dog doing that made you call the police?

Arthur Beck: Well, it'd be shorter to tell you what he wasn't doing. He's always in my yard, digging stuff up. Barking all day and night. Thing was just a plain nuisance.

Detective Murphy: And after the police came, was the situation resolved?

Arthur Beck: No. Told me they couldn't do a thing. I'd have to resolve it with her. Don't know what they said to her. Probably nothing, just patted her and the dog on the head and went on their way.

Detective Murphy: Her?

Arthur Beck: Pace.

Detective Murphy: Did you resolve it with her?

Arthur Beck: No. Her dog was always out of control. You know, I wouldn't be surprised if she was teaching them to do that stuff just to get at me. The day you took that black dog out of there? The first day I've had any peace.

Detective Armstrong: The black dog we took away the day Kimberly Pace's body was found?

Arthur Beck: Yeah, that's the one.

Detective Armstrong: So that yellow dog you mentioned before, what ever happened to that?

Arthur Beck: Died.

Detective Armstrong: How do you know?

Arthur Beck: Well, it was there, and then it wasn't. She wouldn't have gotten rid of it, so it must've died.

Detective Armstrong: No one told you it was dead?

Arthur Beck: Well, why would anyone talk to me about that?

Detective Armstrong: Do you know how it died?

Arthur Beck: Don't know. Don't care.

Detective Armstrong: It was poisoned.

Arthur Beck: And?

Detective Armstrong: And witnesses have told us that Kimberly thought that you poisoned her dog.

Arthur Beck: Uh-huh.

Detective Armstrong: Did you know she thought you had killed her dog?

Arthur Beck: She might have said something about that.

Detective Armstrong: So you knew she thought you were responsible, but you say you don't know how the dog died? How is that possible?

Arthur Beck: Listen. I told you. The woman was irrational, hysterical. I can't be expected to listen to the garbage people say about me if they don't have the common decency to keep their dog under control, out of my yard, and from barking all night long.

Detective Murphy: Speaking of the dog barking, Mr. Beck, can you tell us if it was barking the evening of September 24th?

Arthur Beck: Well, probably. Barked every other night. I don't know why that'd be any different.

Detective Armstrong: That night was different. A woman was murdered. A dog barking that night could be significant. Now, would you think back when and if you heard a dog barking?

Arthur Beck: I don't remember.

Detective Armstrong: You don't even want to take a moment to think about it?

Arthur Beck: Listen, don't bully me, fella! I told you I don't remember and that's the end of it!

Detective Murphy: Calm down, Mr. Beck. Let's go on and clarify something else. A neighbor told us that they saw lights on in your yard and you were out working in your yard the night that Kimberly was murdered. But you told us you were in the house watching television that night.

Arthur Beck: Well, couldn't I have done both? I mean, I was outside working in the garden before I went in to watch TV. I must have forgotten and left the light on. At my age, you can't remember every little thing, you know. Sometimes I leave it on all night long. Keeps burglars away. Don't you ever go in and forget to turn the light off? Damn nosy neighbors anyway. Mind their own business.

Detective Murphy: So you were gardening after dark and then you went inside to watch TV. Is that right?

Arthur Beck: Yes.

Detective Murphy: And you did or did not see Kimberly's black dog out in the yard that night?

Arthur Beck: I don't remember.

Detective Murphy: Do you recall what time you went inside to watch television?

Arthur Beck: No.

Detective Murphy: Do you remember what you watched on TV that night?

Arthur Beck: Football.

Detective Murphy: Do you remember which game?

Arthur Beck: After all this time? I have no idea. Some college game.

Detective Murphy: When you were out in your yard that night, did you see anyone approach Dr. Pace's house or anything like that?

Arthur Beck: No.

Detective Armstrong: You don't even want to think about it for a moment?

Arthur Beck: No.

Detective Murphy: Did you see Dr. Pace arrive home that evening?

Arthur Beck: No.

Detective Armstrong: Are you sure?

Arthur Beck: Listen, I didn't care what she did, who she did it with, or where she did it. I just didn't pay that much attention to her. When I'm in my garden, I'm paying attention to my garden, not to what other people are doing.

Detective Armstrong: You know, you've expressed an awful lot of hostility towards Kimberly Pace today. Why shouldn't we think you killed her?

Arthur Beck: Well, you'd have to be crazy to think that. I mean, do you seriously think that I would put my life at risk over that woman? That I would risk going to jail for that woman? She wasn't worth that, not to me.

Detective Armstrong: But what would you really be risking? Your wife is dead. You don't have any kids or grandkids. You're not working. As far as I can tell, the only thing you get any pleasure out of is gardening and feuding with Kimberly Pace.

Arthur Beck: Listen, buddy, my life might not look like much to you, but it means something to me. You've got no right to judge me that way. I just assume your wife's alive or you wouldn't even be talking to me that way. Yes, I am interested in my gardening. But by your own description of me, if I killed her, I'd take the one thing that interests me out of my life. Why would I do that?

Detective Armstrong: Maybe you weren't getting the same level of pleasure out of it, and you decided to just take it to the next level?

Arthur Beck: Well, you are a sick man. That's all I can say for you. Now, I do have some gardening to do, so if you don't mind, I'll get back to it and get started.

Detective Murphy: From what I've seen, Mr. Beck, you have a lovely garden. You like to spend a lot of time in it, don't you?

Arthur Beck: Why, yes. I try to keep nice, the way Frannie liked it. You know, she was the real gardener. Always buying the right plants and putting them in the right place. I'm just trying to keep it up the way she had it, if I could just keep those damn dogs out of it.

Detective Murphy: Do you have a specialty? From what I've heard, gardeners like one specific thing they especially like to grow.

Arthur Beck: Yes, roses. They were Frannie's favorite too.

Detective Murphy: Do you think I could see your garden sometime, Mr. Beck? I'd really like to see your backyard.

Arthur Beck: Why, sure. Just give me a call, and I'll give you the tour. Just don't bring your sick friend here with you.

Detective Murphy: Thanks. I'd like that very much. I think we're through here. If you should remember anything about the dog barking the night of the murder or seeing someone around Dr. Pace's house that night, or anything else pertinent to our case, would you call us please?

Arthur Beck: Glad to. Good-bye.

End interview 10:26 a.m.

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