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|Witness Interview: Preston Howard, Cupid's Couples Client|
Wednesday, May 17, 2000 - 1:30 p.m.
In response to detectives' request for an interview, Mr. Howard agreed to a meeting at his office. Mr. Howard was not in custody and chose not to have an attorney present during the interview.
SM = Det. S. Murphy
SM: Good afternoon. Would you please state your name and address for the record?
PH: Preston Howard. 140 Sisk, Oxford.
SM: Thank you. Now, Mr. Howard, there has been some confusion about your previous statement regarding your appointment with Trudi Rose on April 3rd, the day of her death. If you don't mind, would you just go over the events leading up to that appointment and your activities on that day?
PH: I must say, I'm a little disappointed to have to review this again. I already told you everything when we spoke on the phone and then I discussed it again with your PI friend when he came by asking questions. I hope this will be the last time.
SM: I do understand your frustration and I apologize for any inconvenience. However, we do need you to tell us again.
PH: All right. Where would you have me start? You already know that my appointment was at 4:00 that afternoon, but when I arrived, I was turned away by one of your officers after she took my name, telephone number, and so forth. I later learned Trudi was already dead at that time.
TA: Last time, you gave us the impression you weren't really interested in meeting with Trudi that day. So why did you keep the appointment?
PH: Trudi had called me the previous Friday and she was... eager to see me. She already knew, and I reminded her, that I wasn't interested in meeting any more new women for a while. But she was very persistent. She even went so far as to describe two women she had in mind for me, which she generally didn't do over the phone. I could see she wasn't going to give up, so I finally just agreed to meet with her. But then I had time to think about it over the weekend and came to the conclusion that I really didn't want to go on any more dates yet. Still, after our conversation on Friday, I knew I'd have a better chance of convincing Trudi I wasn't interested if I did it in person, rather than trying again on the phone.
TA: Do you know why she was so bent on seeing you?
PH: Since I didn't get to meet with her, no.
SM: Was she typically so aggressive about trying to introduce you to women?
PH: No. It was very unusual for her. She wasn't usually one to try to force a meeting.
SM: And do you know why this time was different?
PH: As I've said, no, I don't.
SM: Do you have a theory, a guess maybe? Any sort of sense why she was so insistent on seeing you?
PH: I couldn't say anything for certain. I did get the impression that her main goal was to get me to come in and telling me about the women was somewhat secondary.
TA: What gave you that feeling?
PH: I'm not sure I can put my finger on any one thing. It seemed like she threw in the part about the two women she wanted me to meet at the end, sort of like a last ditch effort to convince me to meet with her.
TA: So why do you think she wanted to see you then?
PH: I have no way of knowing that. At one time, Trudi and I talked very regularly. I've been a Cupid's Couples client for about a year now. But we'd been out of touch for a few months because, as I told you, I've been taking a break from dating.
SM: Why is that? Why have you been taking a break from dating?
PH: It's no big mystery, Detective. I was simply started to feel burned out on dating. And I've been very busy at work recently. So, it seemed like an easy way to make my life a little less complicated for a while.
TA: Interesting approach. So what do you do for a social life these days, since you're not dating?
PH: Not much, I'm afraid. As I said, I've been extremely busy with work. I've had a couple of difficult cases - a very nasty custody battle and a complex divorce - running concurrently, so I've had to spend a great deal of time either in court or at my office. There hasn't been much time left over for socializing.
TA: So, I hate to get personal, but we're all adults here. How do you deal with your... needs if you're not dating at all?
PH: Detective, I have no intention of answering that question! It is entirely too personal and has absolutely no relevance to anything.
TA: So you haven't, maybe... become acquainted with someone who's willing to forego the dinner and movie portion of the evening, possibly in exchange for some other kind of consideration?
PH: What are you implying, Detective? Never mind. Don't even bother to respond. This conversation has taken an extremely offensive turn. If that's all you have left to discuss, I suggest we end this now. I do have another appointment.
SM: Mr. Howard, I must apologize for my partner. He sometimes gets a bit carried away and I hope he hasn't offended you too much. I do have a few more questions for you, if you can spare us the time.
PH: Let's be quick about it. I have a deposition in fifteen minutes.
SM: I understand. Have you received any unusual phone calls over the last few months?
PH: Detective Murphy, I am a family law attorney. I get unusual phone calls every day.
SM: The calls I'm referring to would be personal, not business.
SM: So have you gotten any unusual calls of a personal nature?
PH: No, I don't believe so.
SM: Has anyone attempted to blackmail you in the last several months?
PH: Why would you ask me that?
SM: Has someone tried to blackmail you?
PH: If someone had, naturally I would notify the authorities, wouldn't I?
SM: Blackmail is a crime, as you know, Mr. Howard.
PH: But I haven't notified you of any such attempt, have I?
SM: No, you haven't.
PH: Well, there you have it.
SM: I see. Were you aware there was an incident at Cupid's Couples earlier this year when some client files were allegedly stolen?
PH: No. I haven't heard anything about that.
SM: Mrs. Rose never mentioned it to you?
PH: No, she never said anything about it.
SM: So you didn't know that your file was among those allegedly stolen?
PH: No, I didn't know that.
SM: How do you feel about that? Surprised? Upset? Indifferent?
PH: Well, I don't quite know what to think. You said the files were allegedly stolen. What does that mean? Was my file stolen or not?
SM: The Sheriff's Office wasn't called in, so no official investigation was conducted. But, according to statements from the people involved, some client files were found in an employee's briefcase and another employee claimed to have witnessed the files being put in the briefcase. However, so far, no one has provided any proof that the files ever actually left the Cupid's Couples office. So the truth is, we can't tell you for sure one way or another whether any files were stolen, but an employee was fired over it.
PH: Which employee? Corinna? Is that why she left?
SM: Why would you think it was Corinna?
PH: She's the only one I know of who's left Cupid's Couples recently. They thought she was stealing files?
PH: I don't believe it. She never seemed the type to me.
SM: So you must have also met Dana Pomeroy at Cupid's Couples?
SM: You sound... You don't like her?
PH: I don't really know her. She's always been pleasant enough when I've seen her.
SM: Have you ever seen her anywhere else, other than at Cupid's Couples?
PH: Not that I can recall.
SM: Okay. I know you have another appointment, and I think we've pretty much covered everything. You won't mind if we contact you again if we have anymore questions?
PH: I don't mind if you call me, Detective Murphy. I'm not so sure about your partner over there.
SM: I can't make any promises, sir. Oh, there is one more thing. I just remembered. As you might imagine, we've been talking to a lot of Cupid's Couples clients and other people who knew Mrs. Rose. We've been hearing about those parties Good Graces gives. Have you ever been to one of those?
PH: I've been to a couple. Natasha puts together a nice evening.
SM: Hm. Yeah. Couple people mentioned they'd seen you there. So are you one of the Good Graces sponsors, then?
SM: I understand they've got some sort of sponsorship deal where people can help pay the students' tuition. You know anything about that?
PH: I think Natasha may have mentioned something about it.
SM: Uh-huh. Okay. Well, thanks again for making the time to meet with us. We'll be in touch.
TA: You have a good day now, Mr. Howard.
PH: Oh, you too, Detective. You too.
End interview: 1:50 p.m.