Monday, May 4, 2015 - 1:40 p.m.
Bob Niwachee is a lounge bartender at the Yoknapatawpha County Conference Center and saw several of the Yoknapatawpha County Literature Festival pageant attendees the night of May 1, 2015.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Bob Niwachee
Detective Murphy: Thank you for coming in today.
Bob Niwachee: No problem. I don't have to work until this evening. I got time.
Detective Murphy: Can you tell us your name and address?
Bob Niwachee: I'm Bob Niwachee. I live at 710 South 19th Street here in Oxford.
Detective Murphy: And what is your occupation?
Bob Niwachee: At the moment, I'm a bartender at the lounge in the Yoknapatawpha County Conference Center. I'm working my way up through the ranks to management.
Detective Murphy: We're trying to gather some initial information in regards to our investigation of the murder of Barbara Dubois. Do you know who we're talking about?
Bob Niwachee: Sure. She's that beauty queen.
Detective Murphy: Did you know her?
Bob Niwachee: I wish! I mean, I don't want to sound disrespectful. But she was a beautiful girl. I passed her in the hotel a couple times. I'd seen her around. I would say hello, and she would say hello. But that was it. She probably didn't even know my name.
Detective Murphy: Where were you Friday night?
Bob Niwachee: I was at the bar. I was working that night. I had specifically requested that night be put on my schedule. I knew all the beauty pageant folks would be in the bar. I thought I might meet some interesting people.
Detective Armstrong: Interesting?
Bob Niwachee: Yeah, you got me. Some hot girls, to tell the truth. I figured the finalists probably wouldn't be partying that much, since they were still in the competition and all. But the girls that had already been cut, I thought they might want to cut loose a little. Blow off some steam.
Detective Murphy: What time does your shift start?
Bob Niwachee: I got there about 4:30 that afternoon. We get in there a little early on big nights. Make some extra appetizers for people that might want to order them at the bar. Stock up on all the drinks. Cut up lots of extra limes and garnishes. Just get ready for a busy night.
Detective Armstrong: Was it busy?
Bob Niwachee: Not at first. Most of the people were all getting ready for the gala. We had a few older men come in, bored and needing something to steel them for the party. Those are the guys that are always loosening their ties. They look all uncomfortable in a suit. Probably somebody's father. They sneak in while their wives are still doing their hair, and they throw back a scotch or something to stiffen 'em up for the rest of the night.
Detective Murphy: Did business pick up during the evening?
Bob Niwachee: Yeah, definitely. The kitchen staff told me the gala dinner was scheduled to end at 10:30. About 10:45 or so, people started slowly rolling in. By about 11:00, we were pretty busy.
Detective Armstrong: How busy?
Bob Niwachee: It's all relative. We're a lounge in a conference center. We aren't The Roadhouse or Proud Larry's or one of the big college hangouts. So a busy night for us would be a totally dead night for those places. But most of our tables were full. And there weren't many seats at the bar. That's a busy night. But it's not like everyone is jammed in there, body to body.
Detective Murphy: So you can wait on almost everyone yourself then?
Bob Niwachee: All the people at the bar, I definitely wait on them. We've got one or two waitresses that get the folks sitting at the tables.
Detective Murphy: Do you remember anyone acting unusual that night? Or anyone that seemed out of place?
Bob Niwachee: No, not at all. Pretty normal crowd, really.
Detective Murphy: We're going to give you some names. Could you tell us if they came into the bar that evening?
Bob Niwachee: Sure. I mean, I might not know the people's names. But if it was someone I knew, or if they signed a credit card or something, I might recognize their name.
Detective Murphy: How about Frank Margold? Do you know him?
Bob Niwachee: No, I don't know him. Who is he? Is there any way you can describe him?
Detective Armstrong: He's one of the pageant judges.
Bob Niwachee: No, I doubt he came in. It's possible, but everyone told me those guys usually stay out of the bar. They don't want to give the impression that they aren't taking their judging seriously. So he could have been there — like I said, I don't know him — but I doubt it.
Detective Murphy: What about Denny Buchanan?
Bob Niwachee: Yeah.
Detective Armstrong: You know him?
Bob Niwachee: He's a jerk. One of the girls said she was serving him, only he'd take his drinks and leave. No tip. He didn't order anything from me.
Detective Murphy: About what time was that?
Bob Niwachee: Before 11:00. I don't remember the girls saying anything after that. And they would have said something. Jerk. May have even stiffed a server.
Detective Murphy: What about Allie Lamar?
Bob Niwachee: No, I don't believe she came in. I've met her a couple of times, when she came in for something about the pageant, but if she came in the lounge that night, I didn't see her.
Detective Murphy: How about Bill Lamar?
Bob Niwachee: Yeah, he was definitely there. I remember him from the Platinum Card he was using to run a tab. We don't see a whole lot of those. Anyway, he was knocking 'em back pretty good that night.
Detective Armstrong: He drank a lot?
Bob Niwachee: Yeah, I guess you could say that. He came in around midnight, maybe a little after. He started drinking pretty hard. Had four or five beers and then switched to vodka. He said that you drink beer in Europe so much — they sell it at McDonald's over there, he said — that it didn't have any affect on him. He said he wanted something stronger.
Detective Murphy: How would you describe his mood?
Bob Niwachee: I don't really know the guy. He seemed quiet, didn't seem interested in talking to anyone. Just wanted to drink. And that's not unusual.
Detective Murphy: It's not?
Bob Niwachee: No, I see it a lot. Lots of folks just want to get tanked. Some do it to celebrate. Some do it to ease some sort of pain. It's none of my business. He's of the legal age and he told me he was staying in the hotel, so I didn't have to worry about him driving. I figured I'd let him get blasted as much as he wanted, and if I had to, I could always get a luggage cart from the front desk and carry him to his room.
Detective Murphy: Did he say anything to you about why he was drinking so much?
Bob Niwachee: Not really. I asked him if it was a woman, and he didn't say anything. Just looked at me. I think I made that old joke. You know, "can't live with 'em, can't—" well, you know the one.
Detective Murphy: Did he actually say it was a woman?
Bob Niwachee: Well, no. I guess I just assumed.
Detective Murphy: What time did he leave?
Bob Niwachee: He left the bar about 1:00. A little before.
Detective Armstrong: He didn't spend long at the bar. He came in around midnight and left around 1:00?
Bob Niwachee: Boy was doing work. Didn't take him long. He was serious about it.
Detective Murphy: How drunk was he when he left?
Bob Niwachee: Not quite puking drunk, but staggering. For sure. He didn't come back in the rest of the night.
Detective Murphy: Instead of us just throwing out names, why don't you tell us who you recognized?
Bob Niwachee: Lucille Ruffin-Moore came in, maybe around 11:00. She left shortly after, probably about 11:30, give or take.
Detective Murphy: You know her?
Bob Niwachee: She's a bit of a celebrity in Oxford. Or maybe notorious is a better way of putting it. Snotty, stuffy, old bag. Real stickler for everything. I've heard some of the locals make fun of her name, say that it really meant "rough and more." Anyway, she had a few glasses of wine, pretty quickly, and then left.
Detective Murphy: How did she seem to you? What kind of mood was she in?
Bob Niwachee: I don't know. Kind of spacey maybe?
Detective Murphy: Who else?
Bob Niwachee: Wendy Kullman was there for about half an hour. Right around midnight. Had a drink or two and then left.
Detective Murphy: You know her too?
Bob Niwachee: I know of her would be more accurate, I guess, from all of her making a big deal about animals and all that. You see her in the paper all the time.
Detective Murphy: How did she seem that night?
Bob Niwachee: A little nervous maybe? She was looking around a lot.
Detective Murphy: Like she was looking for someone?
Bob Niwachee: Maybe. Or maybe watching for someone looking for her? Or maybe she was just looking at the pageant folks. I don't know.
Detective Murphy: OK. Who else?
Bob Niwachee: Other than that, it was just the usual crowd. I could give you their names.
Detective Murphy: The usual crowd? Meaning they were regulars who didn't seem attached to the pageant?
Bob Niwachee: Yeah. They're in the bar every night more or less. You want their names?
Detective Murphy: If you would just write them down before you leave here today, that would be a big help.
Bob Niwachee: And of course there were a bunch of the pageant folks in there. People I didn't know but who clearly were related to the contest.
Detective Murphy: How did you know they were with the pageant?
Bob Niwachee: They were dressed better than what we usually see in the lounge — tuxes, evening gowns, that kind of thing.
Detective Armstrong: Was Barbara Dubois one of the pageant people in the lounge that night?
Bob Niwachee: No way. I would've remembered that.
Detective Armstrong: What time did you get off that night?
Bob Niwachee: I left about 3:00. I finished cleaning up and doing all that stuff. Then I went to Four Corners Chevron, got some chicken on a stick and went home. My girlfriend was there and she got out of bed and we sat around and drank some beer and then went to bed.
Detective Armstrong: OK, thanks. We'll probably be in touch with you again.
End interview - 2:18 p.m.