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Witness Interview: Janet Hipps, Airborne Express delivery person

Tuesday, February 27, 2001 - 5:35 p.m.

At the detectives' request, Janet Hipps, the Airborne Express employee identified as the delivery person seen in the victim's neighborhood on the afternoon of January 26, 2001, agreed to be hypnotized to see whether she can remember any additional details about the person and car she saw on Sivley Street the day of the murder. The interview was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness's knowledge and consent.

The hypnotist, Sandy Smith, has worked with the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department on other cases and has agreed to conduct the session. Ms. Smith is a hypnotherapist from Jackson where she has had her practice for over six years. She's associated with the American Council of Hypnotherapists and National Guild of Therapists.

SM = Detective Sam Murphy
JH = Janet Hipps
SS = Sandy Smith

SM: Thank you for agreeing to be hypnotized today, Ms. Hipps.

JH: I'm glad to do any thing if it will help find who killed that poor young woman. Oh, that poor little girl! Do you really think I can help? I don't remember anything more than I told you last time.

SS: Yes, Ms. Hipps, sometimes we can unlock things in your subconscious that you saw or heard without realizing it. You may have some information that will help.

JH: I don't know. Do you think that person I saw might have something to do with the murder? It creeps me out to think I might have seen a murderer. Will he know I've talked to you? This is scary, you know?

SM: You don't need to worry about that, ma'am. We'll provide you with all the protection you need, but I don't think you'll need any in this case. I wouldn't worry about it.

JH: What about this hypnosis thing? The whole idea makes me kind of nervous.

SS: You don't need to be nervous. Hypnosis is just a heightened state of relaxation, and recalling events is like watching a movie. You're safe here and nothing you remember can hurt you and may be very helpful to the detectives.

JH: Well, okay then. Go ahead.

SS: Detective Murphy is going to sit in with us in case she has any questions, but you'll only respond to my voice. Okay, Ms. Hipps?

JH: Okay, but would you call me Janet? I feel like you're talking to my mother when you call me Ms. Hipps.

SS: Yes, that would be fine, Janet. I'm going to take you through the relaxation process. Close your eyes and put your hands on the arm of the chair. Spread your feet a little apart and relax. I want you to imagine the muscles in your feet going loose... limp... relaxed. Now the muscles in your ankles and calves. Loose... limp... like a handful of loose rubber bands. So relaxed. Around your knees and the long thigh muscles. Loose... limp... so relaxed. The muscles in your hips and lower back. Loose... limp... and so relaxed. The muscles in your abdomen. Loose and limp. The chest muscles and upper back, so relaxed. So relaxed you can't move even if you wanted to.

Now, the muscles in the shoulders and neck. Loose... limp and so relaxed. The muscles in your face, even around your eyes. Loose... limp... so relaxed. The muscles in your scalp and forehead... so relaxed. Now, Janet, you are so relaxed. All your cares and worries are far away. Nothing can bother you here. It is your time to just relax. Relax and feel calm, serene... so peaceful.

I am going to ask you in a moment to open your eyes. Even with your eyes open, you will stay relaxed. On the count of three, open your eyes and stay relaxed. One, two, three, open. Now, Janet, I would like for you to focus your eyes for just a moment on the ring on my hand. Take a deep breath and exhale. That's good. Now take another deep breath. Good... and exhale. Just relax. Now take another deep breath... and exhale. Feel your body just letting go. With each deep breath, you are more relaxed. It feels so good to just let go and... relax. Follow my words and there is nothing to prevent you from going into a deep state of hypnosis.

Okay, Janet, now I am going to count from five to one and on the count of one you will be in a very peaceful state of hypnosis with your eyes closed.

5 - Eyes are getting very tired and droopy.

4 - Those tired eyes are wanting to close now. Lazy, droopy, and relaxed.

3 - Every blink is a sign that those eyes are wanting to just close down and relax. Lazy... droopy... so relaxed.

2 - Closing... closing... closing... closed.

1 - Sleep deeply now and relax. Just relax.

Okay Janet, I'm going to ask you a few questions and you will respond with a verbal answer. What is your name?

JH: Janet Hipps.

SS: What is your address, Janet?

JH: 1648 Garfield.

SS: Okay, Janet, as you relax and go deeper with each sound you hear, I want you to imagine yourself sitting in a soft comfortable chair in front of a movie screen. In your hand, you have a remote control. On that remote, you have the ability to fast-forward, stop the picture and zoom in. I want you to now picture the afternoon of Friday, January 26th, and the delivery you made at 223 Sivley Street. Do you see yourself on the movie screen?

JH: Yes.

SS: When you arrive at the house, do you stop on the street or in the driveway?

JH: I pull in the driveway.

SS: Okay, you've pulled into the driveway at 223 Sively to make a delivery. Do you see yourself?

JH: Yes, I do.

SS: What are you doing?

JH: I have the package and I get out of the van and go to the door. I ring the bell. Uh oh!

SS: What is it, Janet?

JH: A dog, barking like crazy. Where is it? I don't want to get bit!

SS: Don't worry, Janet. You're completely safe and the dog can't get you. Press Pause on the remote and look around. Can you see the dog or tell where the barking is coming from?

JH: No, I don't see it, but the barking's coming from over there.

SS: Over where, Janet? Where are you looking?

JH: I'm standing at the door waiting for it to open and I'm looking to my left. Oh, there it is. It's one of those yappy little dogs jumping around at the window. Boy, what a yappy dog! But at least he's inside.

SS: Push Play on your remote, and go on with the movie.

JH: The lady answers the door. I give her the package, she signs for it and I go back to my van.

SS: Then what do you do?

JH: I'm sitting in the van, checking my log for the address of the next delivery. Good grief, there goes that stupid dog again. I wonder what set him off this time. I look over at the house. I want to be sure he hasn't gotten out and isn't coming after me. Oh look, there's someone walking out between the houses.

SS: Okay Janet, push Pause on your remote and concentrate on the figure. Can you tell where it came from?

JH: No, he's just there, walking fast.

SS: You say "he." Is there a reason you think it's a man and not a woman?

JH: Yeah. It's a man. He moves like a guy, you know? Sorta clunky, you know? It's just the way men move. I don't know what it is. He's got his hands in his pockets and is kinda hunched over with his head down.

SS: Stay on Pause and really look at him. Can you tell what he looks like or what color his hair is?

JH: I can't see his hair cause the hood on his sweat jacket is over his head and partly covers face. Anyway, I can only see the back of his head. He's turned his head away from me. He's looking to see where the barking's coming from.

SS: Can you tell what else he's wearing?

JH: Yeah. He has on gray pants.

SM: Ask her what color gray?

SS: What color gray are his pants, Janet? Dark gray? Light gray?

JH: Kind of medium gray.

SM: Shoes?

SS: What kind of shoes is he wearing, Janet?

JH: Black shoes. I can't tell what kind. Not sneakers, nicer than that.

SM: Ask her about height and weight.

SS: Janet, how tall is the man?

JH: I don't know. He doesn't seem really tall or really short. Medium height, I guess.

SS: How much does he weigh? Does he seem fat or thin?

JH: He doesn't look like he's either one. It's kind of hard to tell because of what he's wearing.

SS: Okay, Janet. You're doing great. Start your movie again and tell me what's happening.

JH: He's going to his car and getting in.

SS: Use your remote to pause the movie, and focus on the car. Can you tell what color it is?

JH: Let's see. I'm getting ready to back out, so I'm not paying too much attention to it. It's dark. I think it's dark blue, but it might be black.

SS: Can you see if there is anybody else in the car? Anyone other than the man you saw get in?

JH: No, there is a glare on the back window and I can't see in. Anyway, I'm in a hurry to make my last delivery. I have a date tonight.

SS: Focus on what you notice about the car. Can you tell how big it is?

JH: It's a four-door, not small but not huge either.

SS: What about the make?

JH: I don't know one car from another. As long as it gets me where I'm going.

SS: Start up your movie again, Janet, and tell me what else you see or hear.

JH: I'm looking out my side mirrors to back into the street, so I'm not looking at the car anymore. I start down the street. Oh! There he is, about a block ahead of me.

SS: Is he driving too or is he still parked?

JH: He's driving. He's going kind of fast.

SS: Stop your movie again, Janet, and look hard at the back of the car. Start at the top and work your way down. Are there any stickers in the rear window?

JH: No, I don't see anything like that.

SS: Now work your way down the back of the car. Do you see anything?

JH: That's funny.

SS: What is it, Janet?

JH: My Grampa Ted just jumped into my mind. I wonder what made me think of him? And that funny little jingle he would sing. Every time he'd pile us kids in his car he'd say, "Everybody here?" Then he'd sing that funny little song: "See the USA in a Chevrolet." I wonder why I thought of that?

SM: Ask her if she got any numbers off the license plate.

SS: Janet, look at the license plate. Do you see any letters or numbers?

JH: Um... it's kind of far away. And it's kind of weird. It doesn't look like a regular tag.

SM: Weird how?

SS: How is it weird, Janet?

JH: I don't know. It just doesn't look familiar to me.

SM: A specialty license plate? Personalized? College or university? Military? Something like that?

SS: Janet, is it a specialty tag? One that's personalized or that's got a college name on it or anything like that?

JH: I don't know. It could be.

SM: What about a dealer tag or a temporary tag?

SS: Janet, could it be a dealer tag or a temporary tag?

JH: Yes, it could be.

SM: Out-of-state tag?

SS: Do you think it could be from another state, Janet?

JH: I don't know. Maybe. I don't think so, but maybe.

SM: Can she make out any of the letters or numbers?

SS: Janet, can you see what any of the letters or numbers on the tag are? Use the remote to zoom in on the license plate.

JH: I... it's just too far away. I can't see it that well. I'm zooming in, but it's fuzzy.

SS: That's fine, Janet. You're doing great. Start your movie again. Now what's happening? Can you still see the car?

JH: No, I'm turning right on Hickory and the blue car goes on down Sivley around the curve, out of my sight.

SM: That's it.

SS: Okay, Janet, you've done great. In a moment I am going to count from one to five and bring you to full awareness, feeling wonderfully refreshed.

1 - Slowly now. Gently begin returning to full awareness once again.

2 -You feel perfect in every way. Physically perfect, mentally perfect, emotionally calm. Serene and confident.

3 -You feel a stirring surge of energy becoming more aware of your physical body and all your senses are alive and responsive.

4 -Your eyes begin to feel sparkling clear and your entire body refreshed and relaxed. You feel wonderfully good.

5 - Fully aware. Take a deep breath and stretch. You are fully aware.

SM: Thank you, Janet. You did just fine.

JH: If you say so. I told you I couldn't remember any more. Didn't I?

End interview 6:26 p.m.

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