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|Witness Interview: Frank Tuttle, victim's ex-boyfriend and Oxtales member|
Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 3:30 p.m.
This witness, identified as victim's coworker and former boyfriend by previous witnesses, 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: Hello, Frank. Thanks for coming in.
FT: Hi, Ted. Long time no see.
TA: Yeah, we don't get out much these days. Too damn tired to do much of anything on the weekends. Anyhow, you know why you're here we need to talk with you about Andrea Stover and her death. I know it'll be hard, but any information you can give will help us out a lot.
FT: I got it.
TA: First things first. For the record, can you state your name and address?
FT: Sure. Frank Tuttle, 202 North 14th, Oxford .
TA: Thank you. Let's start with Oxtales Theatre. You work there?
FT: That's right. I'm the stage manager and I do some acting too.
SM: How long have you been there?
FT: Um, it's been a while now, six, seven years. Let's see, I started in '95, so that would be almost seven years.
TA: How did you first get involved?
FT: I just heard through the grapevine, I really don't remember. There was a job opening and I applied for it. I was looking to support myself through the arts, so any kind of paying job I went for.
SM: This was the stage manager job?
FT: That's right.
TA: And you've been stage manager ever since?
SM: Is that a full-time job?
FT: Nah. I wish! I'd love to be just working creatively all the time.
SM: So is it, what, 20 hours a week?
FT: Yeah, it is now. It started at 15 and went up to 20 a while ago, maybe since '99. But I pretty much spend all my time doing that when I'm not at the day job.
SM: The day job is what?
FT: At the college. At the blues archive, that's 15 hours a week.
TA: What about music? Any gigs lately?
FT: Nah. Not enough time. I definitely miss it though, I've been talking with Tate, you know, the guy from Kudzu Kings, about maybe jamming with them sometimes.
SM: All right. So is Oxtales where you met Ms. Stover?
FT: That's right. I guess you could say that. I mean, I'd seen her around. I'm sure we'd been at the same parties and what have you before then. I didn't talk with her or anything. You know once you're part of the community here, working in the arts, you kind of start to see the same faces, maybe you don't know them but you know who they are.
SM: Okay. So the first time you talked with her was at Oxtales?
FT: Yeah. I guess it was the year I started there, she was in a show, acting, and then she was appointed director.
TA: How did you get along?
FT: You mean at first?
TA: Sure, start at the beginning.
FT: Um, I guess we got along fine. I really respected her vision right from the beginning, you know? She had a vision and went for it, and I really like that.
TA: So you supported her controversial works?
FT: Totally. For me, the only way to get to the heart of these issues is to subvert the theatrical paradigm, you know, using the shock value of violence and depravity to reinforce broader themes.
TA: Gotcha. You had no problem with nudity?
FT: Uh-uh. I was totally into it, the freedom to just be in the moment with nothing between me and the audience, it was total bodily expression. Really liberating.
SM: Okay. So would you say Ms. Stover was easy to work with?
FT: Yeah. I mean, I had no problem with, you know, being part of her vision. I was in service of her vision and I realized that, you definitely knew that was your role when you worked with her.
TA: So she kept a pretty tight rein on things?
FT: Uh, I wouldn't say that. I mean, she had ideas about everything the costumes, the lighting, what have you. To my mind, that's great, you want a director with, like, an all-encompassing idea of how the production should be presented. I would say she pushed us all to a higher plane.
TA: All right, sure. What about personally, then would you say you were friends?
FT: That's right. It's a pretty small group in terms of staff there's just me, Dale, Sheila, Ethan and now Henry the last couple years. And Andrea of course. So we're all pretty much friends in one way or another, hang out together.
TA: Specifically about Andrea, how would you describe your relationship?
FT: Um, I don't know. She and I got along from the start, and I think I helped her relax. You know, I tend to clown around and joke and I think she liked that.
SM: Were you romantically involved?
FT: Yeah, at one point. I guess it was a few years ago, we dated for a couple of years. It was pretty casual in terms of commitment.
TA: What do you mean by casual?
FT: What, like did we sleep together?
TA: For starts.
FT: Well, yeah.
TA: And so was this exclusive? Were you thinking about getting serious?
FT: No. Andrea's a very liberated person, she likes freedom and so it wasn't her top priority. She wasn't like some other women who want a ring after six months, like, want you to settle down and get a 9-to-5 job. No way. That suited me fine, I mean, what else could a guy ask for a lot of sex and no commitment, right? Um, I guess I would say we were monogamous but we didn't talk about it, it was just that we were seeing so much of each other there wasn't time for anyone else. But we weren't living together or anything.
SM: How did you get along when you were dating in terms of work?
FT: Fine. No problems.
SM: Did it cause problems with the group?
FT: Uh-uh. It wasn't like she played favorites.
SM: Was she dating anyone else in the group at the time?
FT: Uh, no. Not that she told me and I believed her. She was like that honest. She didn't sneak around in terms of other men, she told me whatever I asked. I always knew where I stood... I... ah... I'm sorry, it's tough, you know?
SM: Of course. Just take your time... You ready?... All right. So did you ever break up or were you seeing each other until Ms. Stover died?
FT: No, I wouldn't say that. We tailed off a few years ago, '99 it must have been. We didn't break up or anything, but Andrea was ready for a change. She wanted to spend time with other people. I mean, we didn't have a big relationship discussion or any of that crap, you know? She just told me she didn't want to be too serious, she wanted some space, so that's how it happened. It was natural.
TA: What about you? How did you feel about that?
FT: Um, well, like I said, that suited me fine. We still got together off and on, pretty regularly in fact.
SM: What about when she was incarcerated and after her release? Were you involved romantically at that time?
FT: Um, well, obviously when she was locked up we weren't seeing each other. I mean I visited her maybe once a month, but it wasn't dating. We were mainly just catching up.
TA: What about after she got out?
FT: After she got out... right, I guess I'd say we were back to the casual thing. We got together once, it was a nice weekend, we were getting back in touch spiritually and sexually. We had some beautiful moments, really exquisite.
TA: So you were seeing each other.
FT: Right, I guess you could say that. But we got together just that one time.
SM: So excuse me for being contradictory, but it sounds like you were pretty invested in her work, you gave her your full support, you were in a relationship and she was the one backing off. Isn't it fair to say you were in love with her and maybe she wasn't returning the feeling?
FT: No. Not at all, I wouldn't say that. Like I said, I was a happy man. The sex was great. What more can you ask for?
SM: But wouldn't you say you were more serious than she was?
FT: No. You know, I've been seeing other people, so it's not like anything was a one-way street. It was a balance.
TA: Who were you seeing?
FT: Sheila and I got together. She and I are seeing each other.
SM: Sheila is who?
FT: Sheila Love, she's an actress, really the main actress. She and I got involved, I don't know, maybe in late 2000.
SM: She's with Oxtales?
FT: That's right.
SM: So you said late 2000 that would have been after Ms. Stover was sentenced and in prison?
FT: I guess so, uh huh.
SM: And you're still dating?
TA: What about when Andrea was released how did she feel about you and Sheila?
FT: Uh, like I said, she didn't care.
TA: She knew about it?
FT: Yeah, I told her.
TA: And she didn't care.
SM: And do you care that she didn't care?
FT: What do you mean by that? Because I already said, I was completely fine with our situation.
SM: And what about Ms. Love? Did she know you'd dated Ms. Stover?
FT: Yeah. Everyone knew. It's a small group.
SM: So how did she feel about Ms. Stover coming back?
FT: She didn't say anything to me about it. She's not the jealous type anyway.
SM: Did you tell Ms. Love you were seeing Ms. Stover?
FT: Yeah, it was all above board, I told her we just had to see where it was going, I wanted to be open to whatever experiences lay ahead. Live in the moment.
SM: Right. So since Ms. Stover's release you've been dating both of them?
FT: That's right, you could say that.
TA: What about Andrea did she mention seeing anyone else romantically since her return?
FT: No. She didn't mention anything.
TA: All right then. Let's talk a little about "Snopes." What was it about?
FT: It was a multimedia piece about Faulkner, the local author. He had an affair with a black girl, his nanny's daughter. So the piece was about interracial relationships and the social taboos against that. It was radical, deeply radical.
TA: Well, a lot of people thought it was radical for the sex scenes.
FT: Right. So, like, that's what I was talking about in terms of using shock value to make a bigger point. The dance choreography was suggestive, for sure. That was meant to shock the audience and make them question their reaction and whether the shock was about blacks and whites being together sexually or just the sex itself of what.
TA: Right. And you supported staging this?
SM: What was your involvement with the three minors involved?
FT: Minors? Oh, the kids, right. Well, I don't know exactly how they came to be involved, but they wanted to volunteer and doing backstage work was where we needed the help. The acting was all taken care of at that point. So I worked with all of them, showing them the ropes. Mark was really into it, the others I think tagged along more for fun.
SM: Mark being Mark Gable?
FT: Right, he's still around. Not on staff, but he's done some acting a couple of times and I sometimes get him to do the sound.
SM: How old is he now?
FT: Uh, he graduated last year, he's at the college now, so he must be 19, 20. I haven't asked, but he's on his own, got a place and all that.
TA: All right. So they were under your direction backstage?
FT: Yeah. Look, I want to be helpful here, but we've kind of been over all this, right? I mean that case is closed.
TA: We aren't looking to prosecute further in that case, no. You don't need to worry about that. We just need to ask a couple of more questions about that.
FT: Okay, got it. Hey, like I said, I'm trying to help, but, you know, I don't want to stir up trouble.
SM: Right. So you were supervising the boys, and did you encourage them to get involved in terms of the sex acts?
FT: Well, they weren't sex acts. It was a choreographed dance routine. But no, they weren't involved. They were really just learning the tech stuff.
TA: All right. When you were arrested, you pleaded guilty and were assigned community service work. Why did you go that route?
FT: You mean rather than fighting it? Um, I guess for me I wanted to get it behind me. I was so sick of the publicity and all that, I thought it would be good to get it over with and move on, get back to work. I remember doing the I-Ching and came up with "Retreat." Quote, it is of great importance that you do not confront or struggle with opposing forces and become involved in a futile situation. So it seemed better to get back to making art than fighting in court. I wanted to turn the negative energy pointed at us and deflect it right back into creating more art.
SM: And Ms. Stover? She fought the charges.
TA: How did you feel about that?
FT: Well, um, I was worried about how it would all turn out. I just felt like the forces against us were pretty dark and powerful, and sometimes the thing to do is to let the darkness win and wait for morning.
SM: So you didn't support her fighting the charges?
FT: I told her, I'm your friend, I'm here for you, whatever you want to do I'll be here for you. But I also told her I didn't think she could win.
SM: Did you argue about that?
FT: Nah, I wouldn't say that. We were trying to decide what to do is all, and we took separate paths. She was under more pressure, there was more coverage, so I can understand she felt duty for her art to make a stand. I just didn't think it would turn out well. I guess maybe it was fate.
TA: Did she talk about the media coverage from the trial?
FT: Sure, we all did. It was awful. Like I said, the forces of darkness.
TA: What do you mean by that?
FT: Well, like, for example, Penelope Young you definitely feel she stood to benefit from others' misfortune. She thrives on negative energy. And the group from Oxford concerned parents or whatever. They were on our case for pornography, but their hatred was more evil than anything we could have staged. How can people hate art so much, be so threatened? I don't get it, you know? It's a play, it's ideas, this is a free society and that's what it's about creating ideas, exploring ideas, asking questions.
SM: What about since Ms. Stover returned?
FT: Well, she mentioned the flyer, of course. It was being handed around all over town. Otherwise we didn't talk about it.
TA: She didn't mention any threats?
FT: No. Maybe she wanted to shut them out and move on, I don't know, but we really didn't talk about it much.
TA: She didn't talk about her sex offender registration or probation?
FT: Um, no, never mentioned it.
TA: Didn't talk about her probation officer?
FT: Uh-uh. Nothing. She really wanted to move on and get back to the art, I think.
SM: All right then, let's talk about Oxtales and what that was like when Ms. Stover returned. What happened exactly? She came back and got her old job back?
FT: Pretty much. There wasn't any question about that as far as I can tell. She just brings so much energy and creativity to the group, it was great to have her back.
SM: You're saying the group suffered while she was away?
FT: Yeah, of course, we all missed her and worried about her.
SM: But artistically speaking? Was there a drop in quality?
FT: I wouldn't say that, no. It was different, is all. Dale's vision is on a different track, in terms of being more political than Andrea's. To me, it's like they each bring something to the table and their creative forces combined are really powerful.
TA: You got some pretty good reviews last year.
FT: Yeah, "Black Boy in the Closet." Like I said, it's not, like, about quality. It's a different style is all.
TA: All right. So, um, seeing as how Dale's, uh, vision was different from Andrea's, did he seem upset about having her back?
FT: No, totally not at all.
TA: You didn't notice any change in his attitude?
FT: He didn't say anything; he's a pretty quiet guy. Um, no, he keeps to himself in terms of emotions. I guess he was a little moody, but he gets that way sometimes, just seems to give off like a negative vibe. But he and Andrea were right back to working together like always.
TA: What was that like exactly? How did they work together?
FT: Well, like for example, Andrea would make decisions about the blocking for a scene and then he would maybe suggest a couple of changes, and they would talk those out and come up with a synthesis.
SM: So they argued?
FT: I wouldn't say that, no. I guess to me, he was coming from a different tangent, but the goal was the same, and they ended up with a creative solution that was better than where they started. It's like they were on a journey together.
SM: Did Ms. Stover ever mention being angry with Mr. King? In your words, she had an all-encompassing idea of how things should be.
FT: Right, but like, that didn't mean she wouldn't listen to anyone else. She could work with suggestion. Um, I mean, sure, every once in a while we would talk about him, about his ideas, but it wasn't about anger. It was more like a discussion of abstract ideas, his theory of art and hers and how, like, they could come together. I mean, sometimes I thought his ideas were pretty good and I would say so, and we'd talk about it. I guess sometimes she was frustrated at first but it would always end up being productive, discussing where to go next, and so to me that's positive energy.
SM: Wasn't there some conflict about nudity? Maybe taking it down a notch in terms of controversy?
FT: Um, no, I wouldn't say that. I guess, to me, I'd say it was an ongoing discussion about the direction the group would take, where we wanted to be artistically. But it wasn't conflict, like people were shouting or throwing things. It was all positive, to my mind.
SM: Did Ms. Stover have much contact with Mr. King outside the group? Did they see each other socially?
FT: No. Not that I know of. I'm pretty sure they saw enough of each other at work, you know?
SM: Sure. What about Mr. King are you and he friends?
FT: I wouldn't say friends. We do hang out together, but I don't know him too personally. Like I said, he's a quiet guy.
SM: What about the other members of the group? Ms. Love? How did she and Ms. Stover get along?
FT: Um, as far as I could tell, everything was fine.
SM: Ms. Love wasn't angry?
FT: No. She got along fine with Andrea, she really appreciated the opportunity to be part of a high-profile group.
TA: She didn't say anything to you in private about being angry or upset with Andrea?
SM: She wasn't jealous of Ms. Stover given your history with her?
FT: Um, like I said, no. She didn't say anything to me.
SM: All right. What about the other members of the group you mentioned Ethan? Who's that?
FT: Ethan, he's the playwright. Ethan Lewiston.
TA: How did he and Andrea get along?
FT: Um, fine as far as I know.
TA: He didn't have any problems with Andrea's management style?
FT: No. I mean, she'd want him to rewrite scenes every so often, but she totally respected his work and he knew that. They had a really positive relationship in that way, kind of like Andrea and Dale.
TA: Was there conflict?
FT: There were artistic differences, sure. But I see that as all positive.
TA: Ethan never mentioned being angry with her?
FT: No way. Look, we're all professionals, you know, it's not like we're going to beat each other up over a scene. Art is about ideas and tolerating and nurturing ideas, not tearing them down. We could have artistic differences and still be friends.
SM: Were Mr. Lewiston and Ms. Stover friends?
FT: Sure. Um, I mean, we'd go out after rehearsals, go for drinks, that kind of thing. I don't know if they were friends outside that context, but they got along.
SM: Okay. And what about Henry? Is that Henry Jackson?
FT: That's right. He's the lead actor. Young guy.
SM: How did he get along with Ms. Stover?
SM: No artistic differences as you call them?
FT: No. He's pretty serious, he liked the material it's challenging to really bring out all the facets of Andrea's work. He's a little cocky sometimes, but he really liked working for her.
TA: Cocky in what way?
FT: Um, just that he's definitely and up-and-comer. You know? He wants to make it in terms of acting, being a star. And so he loved being in the spotlight. That's all.
SM: Was Owen Norris around at all after Ms. Stover returned?
FT: No. Um, I think he stopped by once just to say hello. But he didn't stay or watch rehearsals or anything.
TA: Anything unusual you noticed about him?
FT: You mean unusual by normal standards or unusual for Owen? He's a pretty unusual guy already.
TA: Unusual for Owen.
FT: No. Not at all. I think he was just, you know, thrilled to have Andrea back.
TA: Tell us about the play you were working on.
FT: Um, sure. It's called "The Trees," it's a really political work about the incestuous nature of local politics, big business and corporate interests in bed with the politicians.
TA: Was it sexually explicit?
FT: Uh, well, that was still up in the air. We definitely wanted to give it an edge, for sure.
TA: Are you still working on it?
FT: Um, no, not now. We haven't been back to rehearse yet. It's been a little hard for everyone. Dale hasn't called rehearsals yet.
TA: Will it still be produced?
FT: Yeah, I guess so. It's just going to be hard... uh... without Andrea. She was... such a creative force... God, this is really hard to talk about.
SM: So Mr. King is in charge of the production now?
FT: That's right.
TA: How will that work out?
FT: Um, I guess it will be fine. He definitely has ideas, a vision of how to move forward... so... I would say we're still planning to go for it. It just won't be the same.
SM: Is Mr. King going to be the director from here on out?
FT: I imagine so, yeah.
SM: How do you feel about that?
FT: Well, um, I guess it will be... a change in direction... I'm sorry, I just miss her vitality... it's kind of tough.
TA: I know. Take your time.
FT: Yeah, thanks. So, yeah, I think we'll definitely be fine with Dale, like I said, it's just a different vision. A different way of looking at things, at the material. But he and Ethan get along fine, we all do, so we'll be able to move on.
TA: All right. I know it's going to be hard, but we need to talk about the night Ms. Stover died. What happened? You were all at rehearsal, I gather. When was that?
FT: Right, rehearsal started around one. It takes a while for everyone to get there and get started, but we worked pretty much straight through until 5:30 or so. We brought potluck so we didn't, you know, have to go out and we could just keep the focus going. Plus, you know, it's kind of a nice way to be together, coming together over a meal.
TA: What did you eat?
FT: Um, I don't know, I hardly remember. Dale's a terrific cook, he brought dessert, and Sheila made her big Caesar salad. Andrea brought a casserole, which I'm sure her mom made since Andrea's not really the casserole type. I did a vegetarian Madras curry and, um, there was soup and home-made bread.
SM: Did you drink alcohol?
FT: No, we still needed to keep working, we just had water or I guess some people had Cokes from the machine.
TA: How was the rehearsal going?
FT: Well, uh, I guess it was fine. We were just trying to work through the third scene and talking about the direction to take.
TA: And over dinner what did you talk about?
FT: Oh, nothing much, I guess. We talked about the food and recipes, and, um, that new restaurant that's opened up The Mansion, on Lamar. But we didn't talk much. Ethan went outside to smoke a cigarette. We all just had some down time.
TA: What happened after dinner?
FT: Um, we just picked up where we left off, but we didn't make it too far, we weren't seeing the path toward resolution of the scene. So after a few hours of back and forth Andrea just decided to call it a night.
TA: What kind of back and forth?
FT: Um, you know, between her and Dale and Ethan, about the staging and dialogue. They were all bringing different viewpoints to the table and it just seemed like they were stuck in a rut, so there wasn't much point.
SM: Did this kind of thing happen often?
FT: Sure, sometimes. It wasn't a constant thing, but it's part of the process. It's part of the nature of collaborative work.
SM: So what time did rehearsal break up?
FT: Um, I guess it was around 9:30.
TA: Did you go directly home?
FT: No. Dale and Sheila and I went to Murf's Tavern .
TA: Andrea didn't come with you?
FT: No, she wanted to spend some time on her own. I'd, um, actually been hoping we'd go home together, but she didn't want that.
TA: Were you angry about that?
FT: No, totally not at all... Of course, now, looking back, I'm thinking if she had... this wouldn't have happened... you know?
TA: Meaning what?
FT: Well, just that... whatever happened to her... wouldn't have, because she wouldn't have been there in that place... God, this is hard.
TA: I know. We're nearly done, just a few more questions. Did she leave with the rest of you?
FT: Um, no. When we left, she was still there. Everyone else was gone.
SM: Did she mention she was going to Oxford Centre?
FT: Um, no, not at all. She didn't say where she was going.
SM: Do you know why she might have gone there?
FT: Not really, no. Um, she was thinking it would be a good space for "The Trees," maybe she wanted to check it out, but otherwise no. She didn't really like heights. I don't know what she was doing up there.
SM: How did you know she was afraid of heights?
FT: Um, oh, years ago when we first got together, she showed me some poetry she'd written once, about vertigo and falling and said she couldn't stand skyscrapers. That's why she didn't ever want to go to New York. It wasn't awful or anything. It's not like she couldn't walk up a flight of stairs, you know. It just wasn't something she did every day. But I guess she would have done it if it was for work, for her vision, you know?
SM: Right. So the last time you saw her was at rehearsal?
FT: Yeah. That's right. I still can't believe it... Go ahead, I want to finish this.
SM: Okay. Thanks for your patience. You've talked a lot about the theatre group and the staff. Was there anyone else in Ms. Stover's life, other friends or family, who you knew?
FT: Um, sure. There's Gretchen, of course, and Andrea's parents. I only met Andrea's parents once or twice.
SM: Do you know Gretchen's last name?
FT: Sure, it's Doyle.
SM: And what about her? How did you know her?
FT: Oh, um, I met her a few times, a couple of times the three of us went out. She's Andrea's best friend, not a theatre person at all.
SM: Was she connected with Oxtales in any way?
FT: No, not at all. She's not a theatre type, like I said. Pretty quiet. I don't think she even came to any cast parties or anything. She wasn't into the social scene here. Her energy was definitely introverted, like, she wasn't self-centered or anything, but she didn't, you know, need to be at the center of attention. She didn't need anything from you praise, anything. Self-sufficient is, I guess, what I'd call it.
SM: What was her relationship with Ms. Stover like?
FT: Well, um, I only met her a few times, but it seemed like she was a good balance for Andrea. You know? Like she seemed like a good listener and Andrea liked that, I guess, liked having someone who didn't have their own bull**** to bring to the conversation. Um, what else? I mean, Gretchen's smart and she appreciated Andrea's art, I could tell that. She really admired Andrea for the work she did. Andrea talked about her a lot, just in terms of mentioning what she was up to, like if she won an award for her design work or whatever. She didn't really go into what they talked about together or anything; it was like their sacred private circle. They were totally in touch.
SM: Were they lovers?
FT: No, not since I've known Andrea. She mentioned once they'd experimented in college, but that was it as far as I know.
TA: Any other friends of Andrea's you know of?
FT: Not really, no. We were so closely tied in with the group. I mean, there were acquaintances we'd see at social events, other shows, what have you. But it wasn't like there was anyone else she hung out with regularly, that I can tell.
SM: All right. One final question is there anyone out there who might have wanted to do Ms. Stover harm? Any enemies?
FT: Um, no, not really. I mean, like I said, there are some pretty dark forces at work in terms of the COP people. I feel like they have a lot of hate. But no, I don't see that. I can't see how anyone would kill over that... over art. Art is about love... opening communication and sharing other visions, other worlds. It's not an act of hate. I just... don't understand it.
SM: Do you have any theories as to who killed her?
FT: No. I try not to think about it... it's just so... awful. I try to find some kind of message in it, some way to accept what's happened and move forward, I don't know... right now, though... I can't, I just... look, can we stop for now? I'm feeling pretty beat.
TA: Sure, Frank. Thanks for taking the time. If you think of anything else, will you call us?
End interview 5:31 p.m.