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Interview: Follow-up with Tristan Lowell

Monday, April 23, 2012 - 4:03 p.m.

Tristan Lowell was reportedly seen vandalizing a grave in St. Peter's Cemetery on Sunday night. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. Because Mr. Lowell is a minor, his grandmother and legal guardian, Mrs. Mabel Specter, was also in attendance. The interview was recorded with the witnesses' knowledge and consent.

Participants:

  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Tristan Lowell
  • Mabel Specter

Detective Armstrong: Tristan, have you been advised of your rights?

Tristan Lowell: Yes.

Detective Armstrong: And you're waiving your right to remain silent. Is that correct?

Mabel Specter: It is.

Detective Armstrong: Ma'am. Tristan needs to answer.

Tristan Lowell: Yes.

Detective Armstrong: Please state your name and address for the record.

Tristan Lowell: Tristan Lowell, 238 Brittany Drive.

Detective Armstrong: Thank you. Now, Tristan, what you were doing out in St. Peter's Cemetery at 10:00 at night?

Tristan Lowell: Nothing. Just hanging around.

Detective Armstrong: Let me just review my notes. "Section 97-17-39, Regarding penalties for injuring, destroying, or defacing certain cemetery property," blah, blah, blah. Here's the good part. "If the damage caused has a value of less than $300, any person who is convicted of such offense shall be‒" oh, but that's not the part that applies to you. Here's where you want to pay attention. "If the damage caused has a value equal to or exceeding $300, any person who is convicted of such offense shall be fined no more than $5,000 or be imprisoned in the state penitentiary for up to five years, or both."

Detective Murphy: I wonder how they'll set the value of the remains of one of the country's greatest writers. William Faulkner has to be worth more than $300.

Tristan Lowell: Why? He's just a dead guy. And I didn't do nothing.

Detective Armstrong: Tristan, we have a witness that saw you out there. According to the report here, Deputy Willits found you standing at the grave, shovel in your hand, actively digging with a pile of dirt next to you.

Tristan Lowell: I swear it wasn't me. I didn't do anything.

Mabel Specter: Tristan.

Tristan Lowell: Sorry, Granny.

Detective Murphy: Tristan, do I need to bring Deputy Willits in? Or I can get the evidence bag with your dirt-covered shoes. You're in plenty of trouble already. It's in your best interest to talk with us.

Tristan Lowell: I didn't‒

Detective Armstrong: If we walk out that door, I can guarantee this is going to go much worse for you. So do you want to talk to us or not?

Mabel Specter: Tristan, stop playing now. You need to talk to the Detective. Go ahead. Tell him.

Tristan Lowell: I can't tell you.

Detective Armstrong: Can't or won't? Tristan, you're testing my patience.

Tristan Lowell: I can't. He‒ he'll‒

Detective Armstrong: Who? Did someone tell you to go out there and do that? You need to say it out loud for the record, son. Answer the question. Who told you to go out there?

Tristan Lowell: I don't know his name.

Detective Armstrong: Tristan, we better not start this again. Now who told you to go out to the cemetery?

Tristan Lowell: I'm telling the truth. I don't know.

Detective Murphy: All right, then tell us how you met him.

Tristan Lowell: I was at Square Books, checking out the books and stuff. This guy came up to me, asked if I was RJ's friend. Said it was too bad about him.

Detective Armstrong: What'd you say?

Tristan Lowell: I said, "Yeah, and what's it to you?" He shrugged, and then he asked if I wanted to make some dough. I said, "How much?" He said $100. I said, "Yeah, sure. For what?" Then he told me all I had to do was go dig up that grave.

Detective Murphy: Did he say why?

Tristan Lowell: He wasn't the kind of guy you asked stuff like that, you know?

Detective Armstrong: Did you think he was serious?

Tristan Lowell: At first, I thought he was fooling and was going to leave, but after he told me about the cemetery, he made sure I got a look at the big knife he had. He pulls it from his pocket, opens it, starts cleaning his nails. Then he puts it away. He gave me a look that I figured better do what he said. Said there'd be an envelope in my mailbox with half when I got home. I'd get the other half when I was done.

Detective Armstrong: Was it there?

Tristan Lowell: Yeah, I got it.

Detective Armstrong: Did you save the envelope?

Tristan Lowell: Nah, tore it up. Threw it away.

Detective Armstrong: OK, we can send an officer out to find that envelope and‒

Mabel Specter: The trash was already picked up.

Detective Murphy: Well, then we can get a sketch. See if anybody recognizes this guy. Did he tell you why he wanted you to do this?

Tristan Lowell: He didn't say anything else. And for 100 bucks, I wasn't going to ask.

Detective Murphy: Are you in the habit of letting random strangers hire you to commit crimes?

Tristan Lowell: I don't know.

Detective Murphy: But this time you did.

Tristan Lowell: I guess.

Detective Murphy: Are you sure you want to stick with this story? Because I've got to be honest. It sounds a little crazy to me.

Tristan Lowell: Life is weird sometimes, I guess.

Detective Murphy: OK, if that's the way you want to play it.

Mabel Specter: Is he free to go?

Detective Armstrong: I'm afraid not.

Interview ends: 4:24 p.m.

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