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Interview: Follow-up with John Brewer, victim's supervisor

Tuesday, July 20, 2004 -- 10:00 AM

The witness, a 45-year-old Caucasian male and department head at the University of Mississippi's business school, was interviewed at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was conducted by Detectives Armstrong and Murphy and was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness' knowledge and consent.

TA = Detective T. Armstrong
SM = Detective S. Murphy
JB = John Brewer

SM: For the record, would you please state your name and address?

JB: My name is Dr. John Brewer. You already have my address. For that matter, you already know my name.

SM: This is a formality, standard operating procedure. The sooner you drop the attitude, the sooner we'll be done.

JB: I live at 117 Hillside Drive. And unless you drag this case out indefinitely, I'll still live there the next time you bother me.

TA: Dr. Brewer, we're conducting a homicide investigation. You can cooperate or we can talk about obstruction of justice charges. It's your choice.

JB: Family money slips the iron first from beneath the velvet glove. Ask your questions.

SM: According to your earlier statement, you spent the night of Kristi Waterson's death with Nora Percy. Could you go over that again please?

JB: Did you lose the earlier tape recording?

TA: Miss Percy's version of the event differs from yours. We'd like to clear up any misunderstandings.

JB: How did they differ?

SM: Just tell us in your own words what happened that night.

JB: We ate. We drank. We made merry.

TA: The Memphis detectives described you as helpful.

JB: Ha! They must have been coached by their legal department. A thorn in their side, that's what I was, and it still didn't generate any results. I'd solve the case myself, but I don't have any authority. All the books in the world won't give me that.

SM: What would you do if you did solve your brother's murder and identified his killer?

JB: I'm not sure, actually. I'd like to take a bat to him. Short, savage, and sweet. But then I remember forensic evidence and I can't stand the idea of my brother's killer being avenged. He doesn't deserve justice. That's when I start to consider planning the perfect crime and leaving his blackened soul to wander the earth.

TA: You could call the Memphis PD, share whatever you learn.

JB: I suppose that's an option. Since I'm being recorded.

SM: Do you think Ms. Waterson's death might be revenge motivated?

JB: Anything is possible but, frankly, I think she was a little too lazy to make that kind of enemy.

TA: And you, on the other hand?

JB: If I ever die under mysterious circumstances, I think it's safe to say that you'll have your work cut out for you.

SM: Back to the night in question, Dr. Brewer. Where did you meet Ms. Percy for dinner?

JB: Old Venice. Judging by the state of the silverware, you can probably still find some of my fingerprints.

SM: And what time did you meet?

JB: Six o'clock. We were there maybe two hours. If you need the exact time, you can check their charge card records.

SM: And then what did you do?

JB: We went back to my place.

SM: Together?

JB: We drove separately.

TA: Did Miss Percy know where you lived?

JB: She followed me.

SM: She says she arrived first and then had to wait for you.

JB: I might have stopped for gas.

TA: Did you stop for gas or didn't you?

JB: This all happened weeks ago.

SM: You remember the dirty silverware.

JB: That was before the drinks with dinner. A woman of Nora's age is not impressed by a man who passes out as soon as he reaches the bedroom. The drive to my house is hazy, but I do remember I ran into Star Liquor then stopped for a quick espresso to go at Square Books. I wanted to sober up a bit.

TA: Do you realize that coffee doesn't actually make you less inebriated?

JB: It helps.

SM: What time did Ms. Percy leave?

JB: A few minutes after two.

SM: Are you certain of that?

JB: She shook me awake because I was blocking her car.

SM: So you were asleep some of the time she was there.

JB: It had been a long day.

TA: Could she have left and returned without your knowing?

JB: I was parked behind her.

TA: Someone might have picked her up.

JB: She could have left.

SM: How much of the evening would you say you slept?

JB: I wasn't taking notes.

SM: Ten percent? Fifty percent? Ninety percent?

JB: Maybe fifty percent, all together.

TA: Dr. Brewer, our investigation is ongoing; however, we have not been able to eliminate you as a suspect. Tell me why it could not have been you.

JB: Because I was with Nora, not in Ms Waterson's apartment. And because I'm not stupid.

TA: How so?

JB: Waterson will find out who did in his daughter, even if you don't. When he does, I wouldn't want to be within twenty miles. That man is going to suffer something awful.

SM: That man?

JB: No known cases in Mississippi of a woman killing another woman in this manner. Not that it couldn't be a first, but unlikely.

TA; You seem to know a lot about this case. I understand you discussed it with Ms. Percy.

JB: We did. Free speech is still legal in this country, Patriot Act notwithstanding.

SM: You mentioned forensic evidence--

JB: I doubt the Yoknapatawpha County ADA would charge someone on purely circumstantial evidence; therefore you had to have hard evidence. Too bad you interpreted it incorrectly.

SM: Do you know who killed Ms. Waterson?

JB: No.

TA: What are your theories about who did this? Do you suspect someone in particular?

JB: If I had enough information to construct a theory, then you'd wonder where I got that information, wouldn't you? Well, I don't. I don't have a theory and I don't have a suspect.

SM: If I told you that the crime scene was clean of all trace evidence and that the body had traces bleach, then how do you think someone might have committed this murder?"

JB: If you told me that, I think someone probably was meticulous about making sure there were no traces of DNA or other evidence left behind. Might have used a drop cloth or tarp or even a bed sheet to catch anything he spilled. Sounds fastidious and premeditated.

TA: A perfect crime -- or a rehearsal for one?

JB: No such thing as a perfect crime, Detective, even if I wanted there to be one. Closest thing to a perfect crime is old man Waterson buying his daughter a position at the university. And you saw how that turned out.

SM: But you had nothing to do with her death?

JB: Absolutely nothing.

TA: Would there be any reason, Doctor, that we might find evidence that somehow implicates you?

JB: I'll be diplomatic and say no.

SM; Diplomatic?

JB; Yes -- meaning that I have less than 100% confidence in law enforcement's ability to get anything right. As evidenced by my brother's death investigation. But you won't find anything connecting me to Ms. Waterson's death. I wasn't there, I didn't kill her, I don't know who did, and I have no additional information. Are we done yet?

TA: How would you describe Miss Percy when she woke you up to leave?

JB: Polite. She showed none of the emotional agitation or complete and total detachment one might expect if she had run out while I was sleeping and murdered Kristi Waterson. I think you're barking up the wrong tree again, Detectives.

SM: I think that's it for now. Thank you for your time.

Interview ends -- 10:39 AM

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