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Witness Interview: Irene and Jerry Stover, victim's parents

Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 10:00 a.m.

The witnesses, who were identified as the victim's parents, were interviewed at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was conducted by Det. Sam Murphy and Det. Ted Armstrong, and was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witnesses' knowledge and consent.

TA = Detective T. Armstrong
SM = Detective S. Murphy
IS = Irene Stover
JS = Jerry Stover

SM: Thank you both so much for coming to the station this morning! Our deepest sympathy for your loss. We realize this will be difficult for you, but as we told you on the phone, the more information we have about your daughter, the sooner we can find who did this.

IS: You are welcome, Detective, but I must tell you my husband has not been well since hearing the news and we have a doctor appointment as soon as we leave here. So we would appreciate it if you can make this as short as possible.

SM: Of course. Before we get too far, we just need you to state your names and address for the record.

IS: Irene Stover. 121 Main, Abbeville, Mississippi.

JS: Jerry Stover. Same address.

SM: Thank you. Now, Mr. and Mrs. Stover, we'll ask you some questions but feel free to add any information you feel is pertinent and remember we are addressing both of you, so feel free to interrupt.

TA: How do you feel Andrea was adjusting since she was released from prison? In fact, how were y'all adjusting? I understand Andrea had moved back home with you.

IS: Yes, when Andrea was to be released from jail, we offered to let her stay with us until she could get back on her feet financially. She accepted, but made it clear this was a temporary arrangement. She hoped to move out as soon as she had a job and could get a place of her own. In fact, she'd been looking for a place the last couple of weeks.

SM: How did having her with you work out? I know it must be difficult to have an adult child move back home, when she'd been gone for a while.

IS: It was okay. We tried to give her "her space," as she called it. And she really wasn't around all that much.

JS: Maybe if she'd been home more, this never would have happened!

TA: What do you mean, Mr. Stover?

JS: She was always at that confounded theatre or with the people who were involved with it, and her no-good so-called friends. It was almost as though she purposely stayed away from home.

IS: Now, dear, she was a grown woman and didn't want to hang around her parents.

SM: Mr. Stover, is there someone specific you are thinking of who was a threat to Andrea?

JS: Well, what about that crazy so-called benefactor, Owen Norris? If he hadn't been so quick to give her the job back at Oxtales, she might have moved on, or even away from Oxford and all the crazies here. And she might still be alive. What does a man like that want with Andrea anyway? He was up to no good.

TA: Do you think her death had something to do with her association with Oxtales, Mr. Stover?

JS: Well, I sure as hell think it might. Look at all the grief and aggravation that last play caused. And now she's planning another stupid play. That COP group was handing out flyers about her and Oxtales and all the garbage about her was being dredged up again. Did you know she'd had a death threat?

SM: When was that, sir?

JS: Oh, sometime since she got home. We got phone calls all times of the day and night, but no one was there, then one night someone told her to quit with the pornography or she'd be sorry.

TA: Did you report it, sir?

JS: Irene wanted to call the Sheriff, but Andrea wouldn't have it. She said y'all had caused her enough trouble and she could handle it. She didn't take it seriously. Said it was just some nut harassing her and she'd rather deal with them than have y'all harassing her.

SM: I'll make a note of that, sir. We may need to look into that more thoroughly.

TA: Mrs. Stover, do you know what she was doing at the Oxford Centre Sunday Night?

IS: I know she was thinking of that as a site for a presentation. Something she called guerrilla theatre.

SM: Do you know what she meant by guerrilla theatre?

IS: No, I'm sorry. You'd have to ask someone at Oxtales about that.

TA: Speaking of Oxtales, did she get along with every one there?

IS: Yes, she seemed to. Although she did mention that Dale King had been acting a bit cool since she returned. He performed her job while she was in jail. Then when she got home, Mr. Norris offered her the job back. That meant Dale was demoted, I guess. You'd have to talk to him. He'll probably take over now that she...

SM: Are you all right? Would you like a minute?

IS: Could I have a glass of water, please? It's just so hard to realize she's really gone... Oh dear, I'm sorry. I swore I wouldn't fall apart.

JS: How long you going to put us through this? Can't we go now?

TA: I'm sorry you have to go through this, Mr. Stover, but you want to catch whoever did this don't you? We really need your help.

IS: Of course, Detective. I understand. It's all right, Jerry. I'm okay now. Did you have more questions?

TA: Do you know any one else at Oxtales?

IS: Yes, there was Frank Tuttle. She dated him quite a lot before her incarceration, and he called here a couple of times after she was home. She didn't seem too interested in him romantically, I don't think, but she saw him all the time at Oxtales. He's one of the performers and the stage manager, you know. He could probably tell you of other people at the theatre that Andrea knew.

SM: What about her other friends outside the theatre?

IS: Well, there is Gretchen. Gretchen Doyle. She and Andrea have been friends since college. They were very close for a while, and have remained best friends over the years. When Andrea's out late and doesn't want to disturb us, she stays at Gretchen's house.

TA: Anybody else you can think of who would know people she'd been seeing since her release from prison?

IS: No, I can't think of anybody else right off hand. She was pretty busy what with working all day then working at the theatre weekends and in the evening.

SM: Where did she work?

IS: She worked at the Occasions Store. The owner there was supportive of Andrea and the theatre. Andrea had worked there since her graduation from the University. The owner was very flexible about her hours, and paid her quite well.

TA: Can you tell us her name?

IS: Yes, it's Gloria Blackwell.

SM: When was the last time you saw Andrea?

IS: Oh, dear. This is so difficult. We talked to her at breakfast Sunday morning. We often sat down and visited on Sunday. It was one time we could get together without someone rushing in and out. She seemed very happy with the way the new play was going, but was concerned about the commotion COP had been causing. She was afraid it would affect their ability t o get the new play on stage. My, she was a determined young lady! I know she wasn't perfect, but I miss her sooo... Oh dear there I go again.

TA: Mr. Stover, do you know where Andrea was Sunday afternoon and evening?

JS: How would I know? She didn't talk to me about her comings and goings. I was just her father. I didn't rate.

IS: Now, dear. Don't go on about it. You know how much she loved you.

JS: And how do I know that? Did she ever tell me? Did she ever spend time with me? Did she... Oh God... she's gone. I can't believe she's gone.

IS: She had a rehearsal with the theatre group. Then they were going to have a potluck dinner so they wouldn't have to break long to go out to eat. They usually rehearsed until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. You'd have to ask someone at the theatre, I guess.

TA: Can you tell us where you were Sunday afternoon and evening, Mr. and Mrs. Stover?

JS: Are you out of your mind? How dare you ask us that as though we are suspects? I'm going to see that you lose your badge!

SM: It's routine, Mr. Stover. Knowing where every one was helps us know what went on that evening.

IS: Oh, for heaven's sake, Jerry. Get yourself together. It's not the detectives' fault she's dead -- or yours either. Just calm down and answer the questions so we can get out of here and go home. This isn't going away so deal with it! Detectives, we were home all day. We had dinner at our next-door neighbors', the Langguths, and then we played cards for a while. We were home in bed by 10:00 p.m. Jerry had to go in to work early the next morning. I wasn't scheduled to go in until noon. I'm sorry, Detective, but I suddenly feel exhausted. We want to help, but if you have more questions could we put it off until another time? We really need to get to the doctor.

SM: Of course. I think that's all for now. If it would be all right with you, we would like to stop by your house and take a look around Andrea's bedroom. We might be able to find something that would help us identify her killer.

IS: Of course. Just call us when you'd like to come.

SM: Thank you, Mrs. Stover. We'll do that. In the meantime, if you think of anything else, would you please call us? And we'll be in touch soon. Thank you so much for your cooperation at this difficult time.

End interview 10:41 a.m.

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