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Witness Interview: Gretchen Doyle, victim's friend

Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 12:30 p.m.

This witness, identified as Andrea Stover's best friend by Stover's parents, was interviewed at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Office. The interview was conducted by Det. Sam Murphy and Det. Ted Armstrong, and was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness's knowledge and consent.

TA = Detective T. Armstrong
SM = Detective S. Murphy
GD = Gretchen Doyle

SM: For the record, could you please state your name and address?

GD: My name is Gretchen Marie Doyle, and I live at 404 Sisk, in Oxford.

TA: Thank you for coming in. I know it's tough to do this so soon. Here – we keep these tissues handy for a reason.

GD: Thank you. I'm sorry – I can't seem to hold myself together. I apologize.

TA: That's okay. Just take your time and if you want to take a break just say so. We're not in any rush.

GD: Okay. Thank you. I think I'm okay.

SM: Ms. Doyle, what is your relationship with the victim?

GD: The victim. God. I never thought Andrea would be a victim. We were best friends. It's been, what, almost 10 years.

SM: How did you meet?

GD: We were in college. I was majoring in art and she was in theatre –

SM: That was at Ole Miss?

GD: Sorry. Yes. Right here in town. I volunteered to do some set painting for the department and ended up working on one of her plays. Not acting, just the sets.

TA: Which play was this?

GD: Um, it was "Six Actors in Search of an Author," by Pirandello. I'm not sure, it was so long ago. I can check if you want.

SM: That's okay. And so you became friends?

GD: Lovers. We had a romantic relationship. She was my first girlfriend, I mean romantic girlfriend. Before then it was just boys.

SM: How long were you... involved?

GD: You mean romantically?

SM: Right.

GD: Just a few months. I think the play was in February and by summer we stopped sleeping together.

SM: Why did you break up?

GD: I can't even remember now. I don't know, probably she was just ready to move on. She wasn't really bi or lesbian. She was just exploring. And we do have – did have – oh God, I'm sorry... We did have this amazing connection. We were soul mates, but not romantically. It's like it's something deeper than romance or sex, you know? Friends are somehow stronger than that. Beyond hormones, you know?

SM: So you didn't want to end the affair?

GD: What?

SM: She broke up with you, not vice versa.

GD: Oh. No, that's not what I meant. I mean, I don't really remember the exact details, but no, it wasn't like I was mad or obsessed. I didn't want her back. It was a mutual thing. I was just thankful it happened because it made me realize who I am. You know?

SM: And so you were still friends?

GD: Right. Absolutely. I guess I worked on two, maybe three more plays for her. I did acting too but not for her, just some summer stuff. Anyway I worked on her plays and we just stayed friends through everything.

SM: Did you have problems ever when she was seeing other people?

GD: No. It wasn't like that. When it was over, it became something else and we never looked back.

SM: And she never had problems with you seeing other people?

GD: No... Love is more complicated than that. Just because two people have sex doesn't mean they're obsessed like that with each other forever from then on out.

TA: All right. So you were in touch when she went to prison?

GD: In touch. Yes, of course. I was there when she was arraigned, sentenced, everything. You can check your records – I must have seen her in jail 40 times at least. We wrote letters practically every day.

TA: And how about after she got out?

GD: It was like we picked up right where we left off. It was that kind of friendship, you know? I was just so relieved she was okay. And I could see her whenever, wherever. It was so great to have her back... I'm sorry.

TA: That's okay. We'll give you a few minutes to collect yourself.

GD: No, go on. I'll just have to keep going somehow.

TA: All right. Let's go back. You said you worked on two or three of Ms. Stover's plays. Those were Oxtales plays, or in college?

GD: In college. I never worked with Oxtales.

SM: You never did any work for them?

GD: No.

SM: No programs, no design work?

GD: No. I guess Owen, the guy who funds everything, sends all the promotional stuff to a shop in Jackson.

SM: Did you know anyone she worked with there?

GD: I met a couple of the people, but I didn't really know them. I'm not like Andrea – I guess I'm kind of asocial. I don't like to schmooze. I never went to any of their cast parties or anything.

SM: Do you remember the names of people you met?

GD: Frank, of course, and then there was some other guy, Dale maybe? The assistant director. And I met Owen a couple of times, I know him from the arts council. I really don't know, otherwise. I really didn't run with that crowd at all. I mean, she would talk about them all, but I didn't know them personally. I think maybe that's why we were close – I was an escape from all that.

SM: Who is Frank?

GD: Frank Tuttle. He's the stage manager. They dated for a while. On again, off again, you know? She did a lot of on again, off again.

SM: Was this recently?

GD: I'm not sure. Sorry. I really don't know. A couple of times she said she spent the night, who knows what that means? They could have just been talking.

SM: This was after she was released?

GD: Yes.

SM: And what about before, were they dating before she was arrested?

GD: I guess it was a couple of years ago that they dated seriously for a while. Maybe '97 to '99. They were pretty exclusive, but then she ended it for a while. She didn't want to get committed in that way. Andrea liked to keep her options open. He accepted her terms eventually. What else could he do? So they were just on again, off again until she went to jail.

SM: Were there other boyfriends back then?

GD: Oh sure. She dated a couple of actors, who are gone now. Moved on. I don't remember their names. Artists. She dated that guy from Kudzu Kings, Tate Moore. And I set her up with someone at Blaze but they didn't hit it off – Steve Markell. She had a lot of lovers. I don't remember them all.

SM: Did that include other women?

GD: No. I told you.

SM: And you didn't get back together, um, romantically, when she got out?

GD: No. I told you, it wasn't like that. And I'm in a relationship already, it's exclusive. You guys read way too many Penthouse letters. It's not like that. We're not sluts who will sleep with anything that moves no matter what.

TA: All right. I apologize, Ms. Doyle. Let's go back to Oxtales. Was Ms. Stover working for Oxtales after being released from jail?

GD: Yes. She was working on a new production. I didn't know much about it except that she had high hopes.

TA: And how was it going?

GD: Well, I only know what she told me, so it's kind of hearsay.

SM: Right. That's okay. Did she mention anything about it?

GD: Well yeah, she talked about it a lot. Like I said, she was pretty excited and thought it would be a good show. But it was kind of rough coming back, with everything that's going on.

SM: What do you mean exactly?

GD: Oh, you know. The COP people beating down the doors and handing out flyers and all the publicity. They say there's no such thing as bad publicity but it was tough. I guess some people thought maybe she should tone it down a little until the ruckus died down.

TA: So there was some infighting in Oxtales?

GD: I don't know if I'd call it that. But yes, things could get kind of tense. But the creative process can be that way, when you're working in a group. Everyone has ideas and they don't always run along the same lines. But Owen really wanted to give her free rein, and he pays the bills, so that's really the bottom line.

TA: All right. I want to talk about what happened the night of Ms. Stover's death. I know this will be hard, but it's really important.

GD: I understand.

TA: Did you see Ms. Stover Sunday night?

GD: Yes. She called me at home and said she got out of rehearsal and wanted to talk. So I met her at the Jubilee.

TA: You didn't invite her over?

GD: No. Ursula was there –

SM: Ursula is who?

GD: Ursula, Ursula Raines. My girlfriend.

TA: Okay. She was at your house?

GD: Right. Ursula was there, she was going to stay and I didn't want to keep her up or keep her from sleeping. So I went out. I met Andrea at the Jubilee.

SM: About what time was that?

GD: It was about 10:30 when I met her. I guess she called just after 10.

SM: And when you met her, was she upset?

GD: No. Not really. I mean, she definitely wanted to talk, but I wouldn't say she was traumatized. She wasn't any different from any other time we've met up.

SM: So you do this regularly? Meeting up?

GD: No. I didn't mean that. I mean, either of us can call and say, "I need to talk" and we'll do it. We talk on the phone, or go to each other's house, whatever. We talk a lot, at least every day... Or talked... It's what friends do.

TA: All right. And so when you got to the bar, did you get there first?

GD: No. She was there already.

SM: And where did you sit? At the bar?

GD: No. We have a table in the back, it's kind of like our assigned table. One of those circular booths. We had gin and tonics.

SM: What did you talk about?

GD: I guess she needed to let off steam. She was frustrated about rehearsal, things not going smoothly. I guess Dale didn't want to have nudity. And then Ethan, he's the playwright? He was upset about something she wanted to cut from the script. It all sounds a little … histrionic. From an outsider's perspective, you know? So she was telling me how rehearsal wasn't very productive and ended early, it was supposed to go 'til 11. And otherwise, I don't know. We talked about the COP stuff and how stupid that is, stupid and stressful. I guess she's worried about her parents having to put up with all this too. Did you know that hack Penelope Young has a crew camped out on the lawn? Anyway. I guess she was worried about a lot of stuff, feeling kind of low. Wondering if maybe Dale was right and maybe she should lay off. But I told her what I always tell her, that she's breaking new ground and she has to follow her instinct. She's brave like that, it's something I admire about her. She has integrity.

SM: What else did she talk about?

GD: Um, there's the whole convict thing. Being a registered sex offender and the COP people, all the hate mail. And she told me about Vincent. Vincent Fisher.

TA: Officer Fisher?

GD: Right. Her probation officer. He made a pass at her and she wanted to report him. She did all the paperwork. But she didn't want more trouble and was feeling like maybe she wouldn't do it, but I told her, screw Penelope Young and do the right thing, you know? I just think she was having one of those days where it was all too much.

SM: She wasn't romantically involved with Officer Fisher?

GD: No. She wasn't involved. She wasn't asking for it. He just out of the blue grabbed her and put his hand on her ass and said "I'll be in your play if you want." That kind of thing. Wouldn't let go. I guess someone came in and that was the end of it but she was ticked. So she wanted to report him, and she didn't, because of everything that's going on.

SM: Did you talk about Frank?

GD: Yes, a little. She just mentioned he'd wanted to see her this past weekend but she said no. Just the usual on again, off again thing.

SM: What about Tate Moore?

GD: Who? Oh. No. She hasn't seen him for ages, I think.

TA: All right, Ms. Doyle. Let's go back to Ms. Stover's parents. Were they angry about all the publicity?

GD: They didn't say anything as far as I know. But Andrea could tell. It was hard for her, it's always been hard for them. She's living with them so it's all coming at them, the hate mail and the cameras and all that. I imagine they're all a little fed up, she's come over to stay a couple of times just to give them a break.

SM: She's stayed at your place?

GD: Yes. Friends do that.

SM: And your girlfriend doesn't mind?

GD: No. Why would she? I told you. Andrea and I aren't romantically interested in each other.

TA: Did Ms. Stover know your girlfriend?

GD: They met. Yes. They weren't friends or anything. Not that they were enemies, they just didn't know each other well.

SM: All right, Ms. Doyle. All told how long were you at the bar?

GD: Until closing time, longer I guess. I know Jennifer, she works behind the bar. She let us stay while they finished closing up. I guess we left around 12:15.

SM: And how much did you and Ms. Stover drink?

GD: We each had two G&Ts. Pretty strong.

SM: What happened when you left?

GD: I went home. I asked Andrea if she wanted to come with me, but she didn't want to. I had to work Monday and she didn't want me to have to worry about breakfast or anything. She was feeling kind of zonked too, probably from the stress, and didn't know if she was getting sick or what. She just wanted to go straight home. That's what she said.

SM: She didn't mention going to Oxford Centre?

GD: No.

SM: Do you know why she would have gone over there?

GD: Not really. She mentioned once she thought it would be a great staging area. But she didn't say anything Sunday about it. Otherwise, I don't know.

SM: So you left alone?

GD: Yes, around 12:15. I went straight home. I was in bed by one.

TA: And your girlfriend was there?

GD: What? No, she left. She decided to go home and sleep, she left a note. She needed to be at work extra early Monday.

TA: So you were alone when you got home?

GD: Right.

SM: And what about the next morning?

GD: I woke up as usual. I didn't hear anything until I got to the office and saw the police tape. Steve told me. That's really all I remember after that, I'm sorry. I pretty much went home and stayed there.

SM: That's all right. What time did you arrive at work?

GD: I didn't look at the clock. Usually I'm there at 9, it was around then. I left home by a quarter 'til.

TA: So between leaving the bar and coming to work the next morning, you didn't see anyone?

GD: No. I mean, I passed other cars on the road, but I didn't talk with anyone.

TA: All right, Ms. Doyle. I think that covers it. Is there anything else you want to add?

GD: No. I'm sorry I'm such a wreck.

TA: That's all right. If you think of anything else, anything at all, will you give us a call?

GD: Of course.

TA: All right. Thank you.

GD: Good bye.

End interview 1:43 p.m.

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