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Tara Copeland follow-up interview

Monday, October 15, 2012 – 2:30 p.m.

Tara Copeland is the receptionist and office manager at Pearce Brokers. Detectives Murphy and Parker re-interviewed her at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff’s Department. The interview was recorded with witness’s knowledge and consent.

Participants:

  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Detective E. Parker
  • Tara Copeland

Detective Parker: Good afternoon, Ms. Copeland. Please have a seat, and thanks for meeting with us again.

Tara Copeland: No problem, detectives. Will this take long? I have to pick up my daughter from school in about an hour.

Detective Parker: We’ll try not to keep you. Just wanted to follow up on some new leads that we received in the Annette Wyatt case. Would you just state your name and address for the record?

Tara Copeland: Yeah. Tara Copeland, 220 Elm Street, Apartment 5B.

Detective Murphy: Do you remember the names Hankins and Sanders? You mentioned in the last interview that they’re two of Pearce Brokers' recent clients.

Tara Copeland: That’s right.

Detective Murphy: How would you react if we told you that those clients had been referred to Pearce Brokers by Annette Wyatt?

Tara Copeland: I… Well, I’d be shocked, to say the least. Business is hard to come by these days, especially in real estate. Why would Annette intentionally referher own clients to a rival company?

Detective Parker: That’s what we’re hoping you’ll tell us. Can you think of any motives she might have to do such a thing?

Tara Copeland: Not really. Rita mentioned a few times that she would make Annette a partner at Pearce if she ever came on boardwith us, unlike Jeff Harte. Maybe Annette finally got fed up with getting nowhere, in terms of Harte Agency and Harte himself.

Detective Murphy: And the condition for becoming Ms. Pearce’s business partner was to, essentially, leakinformation on Harte Agency clients to Pearce?

Tara Copeland: What? No way. I’ve never heard Rita ask Annette to steal information on Harte’s clients. That’s the kind of underhanded tactic that Jeff Harte might resort to.

Detective Parker: Did you ever hear or see anything that might implicate Ms. Wyatt?

Tara Copeland: No. Like I said, I rarely came into contact with Annette.

Detective Murphy: So how else would you account for the other clients that switched over to Pearce Brokers right before signing contracts with Harte Agency? There were at least two or three instances of that happening in the last two months.

Tara Copeland: I don’t know. Maybe somebody from Harte – and I’m not saying it’s Annette – was giving confidential client information to Pearce. Even if that were the case, Rita would never coerce anyone to do such a thing.

Detective Murphy: So whoever was providing this information was doing it of their own free will, without anything to gain.

Tara Copeland: I know Rita very well after working with her for all these years, and she’s a woman with a lot of integrity. Our company is doing fine even without extra help.

Detective Parker: But Ms. Pearce did offer Ms. Wyatt a position at Pearce Brokers.

Tara Copeland: Well, yes, Rita offered. Meaning Annette had a choice. And she always chose Jeff Harte.

Detective Parker: What if we told you that Ms. Wyatt chose to accept the position at Pearce?

Tara Copeland: That would be the first I ever heard of it.

Detective Murphy: Ms. Pearce didn’t mention anything about hiring Ms. Wyatt as a partner? Not even to her own receptionist?

Tara Copeland: Come to think of it, Rita and Annette had been meeting a lot more this past month. I just chalked it up to regular business, but they could have been talking about something else. Rita could have given Annette an offer that she couldn’t refuse. Of course, all that’s just speculation.

Detective Parker: Could anyone else have known about the nature of these talks?

Tara Copeland: If Rita’s own office managerdidn’t know about it, then I don’t know who could. Rita’s lips were sealed, but it’s possible that Annette let something slip.

Detective Parker: Let’s say that Ms. Wyatt did in fact agree to work for Pearce Brokers. Who would she tell?

Tara Copeland: She would probably give notice at work. Jeff Harte would be furious. I’d like to see the look on his face.

Detective Murphy: Furious enough to, say, murder Ms. Wyatt?

Tara Copeland: It’s certainly a possibility. I’d look into it if I were you.

Detective Murphy: And what if the tables were turned? What if Ms. Wyatt had turned down yet another one of Ms. Pearce’s job offers?

Tara Copeland: I hope you’re not suggesting that Rita would be angry enough to kill Annette over that.

Detective Murphy: Why not?

Tara Copeland: Annette’s turned down many offers from Rita before. It’s almost become an inside joke between the two of them. After all that, Rita still had nothing but respect for Annette. Rita would never do such a horrible thing.

Detective Parker: One last question, Ms. Copeland. Do you believe that Ms. Wyatt was giving Pearce Brokers information about Harte’s clients?

Tara Copeland: Really, I haven’t the faintest idea. Where did you hear this from? Is this true?

Detective Parker: We’re still trying to confirm that. Thank you for your help today, Ms. Copeland. You can go pick up your daughter now.

Tara Copeland: You’re welcome, detectives. Good luck with the investigation.

Interview ends - 2:52 p.m.

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