Friday, May 2, 2014 - 6:36 p.m.
Through interviews with friends and associates of the Daniels family, YCSD investigators learned that Carla Brogan was Melanie Daniels' best friend before her disappearance. As Ms. Brogan currently resides in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Detectives Murphy and Armstrong arranged to interview her via online video conference at her residence in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Carla Brogan
Detective Armstrong: For the record, please state your name, age, address and occupation.
Carla Brogan: Carla Brogan. I'm 25 years old. I live at 4221 North Chickasaw Road in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. And I run my own catering business with my fiancé, Terry.
Detective Armstrong: I understand you were unaware that Laurie Daniels had been killed.
Carla Brogan: Not until you told me just now. I'm just devastated. I had no idea.
Detective Murphy: You heard nothing on the radio and saw nothing on TV about this?
Carla Brogan: No, ma'am. I've been so busy starting my business that I haven't paid attention to the outside world. I just can't believe it though.
Detective Armstrong: I take it you no longer keep in contact with the Daniels family.
Carla Brogan: No, sir. I haven't spoken to Mr. or Mrs. Daniels since I left Oxford.
Detective Murphy: When was that?
Carla Brogan: 2007, after I graduated high school. I came down to Starkville to go to school, and I don't guess I ever ran into any of them again until Laurie stopped in several months back. I kept up with them from my mother, who still lives in Oxford, but I don't guess I ever ran into them myself.
Detective Armstrong: What sorts of things did your mother tell you about the Danielses?
Carla Brogan: Let's see. Of course, Laurie had run off before I left town, but I bumped into several friends over the years who told me that she'd been acting all crazy since she left. No one knew exactly what she was doing, other than traveling all over with a bunch of groupies or something. And Mama always mentioned Mr. Daniels' health—when he got better and then got sick again. Just general stuff about running into one of the Daniels family on the Square or something. Just her opinions.
Detective Armstrong: About…?
Carla Brogan: About Mrs. Daniels. Mama never liked her too much. She always thought Mrs. Daniels was prissy and stuck-up. Mama's not as tolerant as I am, I guess.
Detective Murphy: All right. Before we talk about Laurie, we'd like you to tell us about Melanie. You two were friends for how long?
Carla Brogan: Since first grade. First grade until junior year, and then I never saw her again. Never a letter or a phone call. She just vanished.
Detective Murphy: That must have been peculiar.
Carla Brogan: Oh, very peculiar. I mean, it's not like she told everyone goodbye. She just up and disappeared, so naturally everyone assumed the worst. Foul play, you know. But the Danielses—Laurie included—they all swore up and down that she ran off to get married to her boyfriend. And he wasn't even her boyfriend. He was just somebody she met.
Detective Armstrong: Who was this guy?
Carla Brogan: Reggie. I believe his last name was Simms. I think he was from New York or New Jersey but had moved to Pittsburgh or something? Anyway, he was in the Air Force and had been down at some kind of training in Biloxi or somewhere, and he was going home and passing through Oxford. That's how he and Melanie met.
Detective Murphy: Did you meet him?
Carla Brogan: No, I didn't.
Detective Murphy: You say they weren't romantically involved?
Carla Brogan: I don't know. Depends on what you mean by romantically involved. If they had sex, I think Melanie would have told me about it. But then again, she was very vague about the whole thing, and she did turn up pregnant.
Detective Murphy: Did she tell you who the father was?
Carla Brogan: I asked her, and she said it was Reggie's baby. But she never told me about them having sex or even doing anything more than laying up under the overpass and talking for hours and hours. I'm pretty sure they fooled around a little bit, but whether they actually had sex I couldn't say for sure.
Detective Armstrong: How long was Reggie in town?
Carla Brogan: No more than a few days. I remember when he left, she was real sad. She didn't come to school that day, I think.
Detective Murphy: And after he was gone, did she continue to talk about him?
Carla Brogan: Yeah. She talked about wanting to visit him in Pittsburgh. I remember that because I didn't know why on earth she would want to go to Pittsburgh. I mean, I hear it's a nice town, but it's a long way to go just for some guy you barely know.
Detective Armstrong: Carla, do you remember any of the things you and Melanie talked about before she disappeared?
Carla Brogan: Like I told you before, Melanie and I were best friends. I mean, she told me everything. So I feel awful saying this… I feel like I'm betraying my friend.
Detective Armstrong: Well, Carla, we hope to find Melanie and make sure she's OK.
Carla Brogan: But that's the thing. I mean, she has her own life now. I hope. God forbid if anything happened to her.
Detective Armstrong: What did she tell you?
Carla Brogan: She started acting kind of weird. She told me about the pregnancy and all, and said that it was Reggie's kid and that her parents were absolutely freaking about it. I mean, they weren't consoling her one bit.
Detective Armstrong: What were they doing?
Carla Brogan: I couldn't believe it, but she said her mom told her to get an abortion. And her dad, he hit her when she told him. I mean, like slapped her across the face. I saw the bruise. I even helped her cover it up with make-up. But the worst of it is—she'll hate me for telling you this.
Detective Armstrong: Or she might thank you.
Carla Brogan: When she told me her dad hit her and I was so worried about her and tried to help her, that's when she started talking about other things. Now I can't really remember everything she told me because it's not the way I want to remember Melanie, but I got the feeling that maybe Mr. Daniels had a weird relationship with her.
Detective Armstrong: Weird how?
Carla Brogan: I mean, the way she talked about him touching her and making rude comments. And then I started remembering some of the things he'd say to her when I was over at the house. I don't know.
Detective Armstrong: What did he say?
Carla Brogan: Well, it might just be me, but I thought it was a pretty tacky thing to tell your daughter to go cover up her cute little butt, talking about changing out of some shorts into something that covered her up better. Telling her only he could see her butt. I mean, maybe that's just me. I don't know. I really don't care to talk about it.
Detective Murphy: Are you saying that Mr. Daniels was physically inappropriate with Melanie?
Carla Brogan: I'm not saying that. All I know is, she was uncomfortable about him for reasons I didn't totally understand. I think it's possible, but I don't know that for sure. I guess so. Maybe that's—I don't know.
Detective Murphy: Did she ever mention a specific incident?
Carla Brogan: I know he walked in on her in the shower one time, and she was pretty mad. But I don't think anything, like, really happened. But I wasn't there. I can't say for sure.
Detective Murphy: We just want to know what Melanie told you.
Carla Brogan: Well, I've already told you everything I can remember. It's really upsetting me. Can we not talk about something else?
Detective Murphy: Why didn't you try to contact Melanie after she disappeared, presumably to Pittsburgh?
Carla Brogan: To be honest, when I found out she was pregnant, I got kind of scared. We both grew up in very conservative households, and that type of thing was new to me. You know, really, I almost felt like I didn't know her anymore.
Detective Murphy: Did she change around that time?
Carla Brogan: She was so upset and I was there through a lot of it, trying to help and understand her situation, but eventually it got too weird. It was like, every time I saw her she was in tears. And she cussed like I never heard anyone cuss. She was a different person.
Detective Murphy: How so?
Carla Brogan: She… was no longer living the life me and her had lived together, I guess you would say. But not a day goes by that I don't think of her. And not a day goes by that I wish I hadn't turned my back on her like that. Not a day.
Detective Armstrong: And you never heard another word from her or about her from someone else who knew her?
Carla Brogan: No, sir. Not a single word. Melanie talked about going away to stay with Reggie, and she said she didn't want to talk to anyone from Oxford ever again, except for me. But she never called or got in touch, so I figured she didn't want to. I suppose she just had to get on with her life, just like I did. We've both moved on since then.
Detective Murphy: Tell us about Laurie's visit. When did she arrive?
Carla Brogan: It was around the end of January, beginning of February. She just showed up out of the blue at my store, and we talked for a little while there. Then she came over to the house after work and ate with us and spent the night. She was asking all the same questions you've been asking, and I answered her just the same, only I didn't get into that stuff about Mr. Daniels.
Detective Armstrong: Why not?
Carla Brogan: Well, you don't go around suggesting that somebody's father might have had improper relations with their sister. You just don't do that. I didn't want to get mixed up in their family life that way.
Detective Murphy: How did Laurie seem?
Carla Brogan: She seemed very excited at first. She hugged and kissed me and had tears in her eyes actually. She was very happy to see me. We had been close. I mean, there were many times the three of us would play together when we were kids, like when I spent the night with Melanie. Sometimes it was like we were all three sisters. It was nice to see her again.
Detective Murphy: She was like the same Laurie you knew back then?
Carla Brogan: Well, she was a little spacey, a little worn out. It definitely seemed like she had done a lot of drugs because her perception seemed to be a little off. She wasn't quite all there. But she seemed very concerned about Melanie and wanted to find her.
Detective Murphy: Did she tell you where she was going next?
Carla Brogan: I told her Pittsburgh was as good a place as any to start, and that's where she said she was going. I drove her to Jackson, to a hotel there. She was going to stay there, then fly out to Pittsburgh, as I understood it.
Detective Armstrong: Did she talk about what she had been doing all those years since you'd seen her last?
Carla Brogan: A little bit. She told me she toured around the country with a few different bands. Mainly she talked about how she'd seen so much of the country, going back and forth with her friends. And she said she had been staying with friends in New Orleans for a while, but she didn't say how long. We mainly talked about Oxford though.
Detective Armstrong: Did she tell you what she had been doing in New Orleans?
Carla Brogan: No, we didn't really get into it. She just said she'd been doing odd jobs.
Detective Murphy: When she arrived in Hattiesburg, was anyone with her?
Carla Brogan: I didn't see anyone. I asked her how she got here and she said she bummed a ride, and that's it. I don't know if someone brought her or if she hitchhiked or what.
Detective Murphy: Did she take any drugs while she was staying with you?
Carla Brogan: Not that I know of. She seemed sober to me. We actually had a pleasant visit. It kills me to think of what they did to her. It seemed like she was starting to get her life together.
Detective Armstrong: Carla, one last thing and this will be over. When you talked to Laurie, did she mention anything or anybody that may help shed some light on her death?
Carla Brogan: I'll have to think about that. We mostly talked about old memories. There were painful memories, but… nothing of death. She was so loved. Who would do it? Who could?
Detective Murphy: That's what we're trying to figure out, Ms. Brogan. Thank you for your cooperation. We'll be in touch if we have any other questions.
Interview ends - 7:17 p.m.