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Interview: John Brewer, victim's supervisor
 

Thursday, May 27, 2004 -- 2:15 PM

The witness, John Brewer, is a 45-year-old Caucasian male and department head at the University of Mississippi's business school. The interview took place in his office and was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness's 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 John Brewer. I don't see why you need my address to ask me about someone who worked in my department.

SM: It's just a standard question.

JB: I resent the implication.

SM: What implication?

JB: That my residence is somehow connected to Kristi's death.

SM: We're implying no such thing.

TA: Are you saying it is connected? Should we pursue that line of questioning?

JB: Of course not.

TA: Then just answer the question and let's move on.

JB: Note that I'm answering the question under duress. I live at 117 Hillside Drive.

SM: Thank you. First of all, we'd like your consent to search Ms. Waterson's office.

JB: It's fine by me, but you'll probably need the school's permission as well as search warrant. Is this your first investigation?

SM: Actually, sir, as head of the department, you can authorize a search of your employee's work area. All you need to do is sign this consent form.

JB: I'm not sure I should do that.

SM: If you're uncomfortable doing it, we'll be happy to drop by the Dean's office and get him to sign it. We'll just tell him that you felt it was inappropriate for someone at your level to give us consent, and I'm sure he'll help us out.

JB: You don't need to do that. Give me that thing.

SM: Now, Mr. Brewer, we don't want you to sign it, if you feel at all uncomfortable or pressured.

JB: I feel fine. Give it to me. And it's Doctor, not Mister.

SM: Thank you, sir. We'll take a look at Ms. Waterson's office after we've finished our conversation here. Do you know if Ms. Waterson ever received threats from anybody?

JB: Not threats, per se, but anyone actually interested in an education who was unfortunate enough to draw Ms. Waterson as an instructor probably filed a complaint.

TA: And why is that?

JB: Kristi was not familiar with the subject she was supposedly teaching. She was a political appointee with little practical experience or book learning.

SM: Did that bother you?

JB: It was a disservice both to the department and the students who took their education seriously. Of course it bothered me. My hands were tied.

SM: Did you ever try to do anything about it?

JB: Like what? I told you, my hands were tied.

SM: You never encouraged her to work on her teaching technique, expand her knowledge of the subject, improve her performance, anything like that? You were her boss, right?

JB: I was her supervisor and the head of her department, yes. I did what I could to try to get her to do her job as she ought to be doing it, but she was unreceptive. She simply wasn't interested.

TA: Do you remember any student in particular who complained more than the others about her?

JB: There was a Weldon somebody. I've seen people who put less work into their dissertations than he put into his complaint letters.

TA: Weldon -- is that a last name or a first name?

JB: Couldn't tell you.

TA: Meaning, you don't know or you're not willing to tell us?

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JB: I don't know. If I ever did know, I no longer can recall.

SM: Would you have copies of the complaint letters?

JB: Complaints are shredded as soon as they're read. Sometimes before. Administration doesn't like waves. They'd prefer to keep an incompetent instructor who erodes the school's reputation than admit to a problem.

SM: That sounds very strange, Mr. Brewer. This is university policy? To shred complaints about the faculty?

JB: Not official policy, no. And it's Doctor.

SM: Is it unofficial policy?

JB: Look, what difference does it make?

SM: We'd like to see those complaint letters. Are you saying you don't have them?

JB: No, I don't have them.

SM: Does anyone else have them?

JB: Not that I'm aware of.

SM: They did exist at one time though, right?

JB: What are you implying now?

SM: I'm simply asking whether these complaints really were filed against Ms. Waterson or if your obvious resentment of her inspired you to... fabricate something that would make her look bad.

JB: Don't be ridiculous. Of course, they existed.

SM: They just don't exist now.

JB: Correct.

SM: I see.

TA: Where were you the night Kristi Waterson was killed?

JB: I don't have to answer that.

TA: We could take you over to the Sheriff's Office and ask you again.

JB: Don't bother. I was out with a colleague.

SM: And the name of that colleague?

JB: Nora Percy.

SM: Ms. Percy works for the University?

JB: She's an instructor in my department.

SM: Like Kristi Waterson?

JB: Like Kristi.

TA: Did you ever date Kristi?

JB: No.

TA: Did you try?

JB: I was her supervisor.

TA: You just got through telling us that you're Nora Percy's supervisor and you went out with her, so that doesn't wash. Try again.

JB: We didn't exactly click, Kristi and I.

TA: Do you and Nora click?

JB: Well enough.

TA: Who did Kristi click with?

JB: I wouldn't know.

SM: She never brought anybody to department social events?

JB: No.

TA: Kristi was an attractive young woman. Were you surprised that she never brought a date?

JB: Faculty functions are exceedingly tedious. Not date events, unless you're dating someone who enjoys listening to blowhards pontificate.

SM: Could you describe your movements last Saturday evening, the night Ms. Waterson was killed?

JB: Nora and I met at six o'clock for dinner. Left the restaurant about eight. She followed me to my house where we spent the evening. She went home about two.

SM: How do you know she went home?

JB: I don't. That's where she said she was going.

SM: Where did you go for dinner?

JB: Old Venice.

SM: And the two of you met there? You didn't pick her up?

JB: We met there.

SM: Will Ms. Percy corroborate your story?

JB: I'm not a mind-reader.

SM: Is there any reason for you to believe that Ms. Percy's version of the evening might differ from yours?

JB: She's a woman and a woman sometimes remembers things differently, even when she saw and heard exactly the same things a man did. Just talk to her.

TA: I see you've assembled quite a library of true crime books, forensic texts.

JB: My personal reading habits are both none of your business and unrelated to the subject of our discussion.

SM: Unrelated to a homicide investigation?

JB: Fine. Reading about murder calms me.

SM: Oh?

JB: University intrigues pale in comparison.

TA: So your interest in those books has nothing to do with what happened to your brother?

JB: My brother is not the subject of our discussion.

TA: Should he be?

JB: No.

TA: You don't think--

JB: I will not discuss my brother with you. I'll thank you to move on to another topic.

SM: Was Ms. Waterson likely to receive tenure?

JB: Whatever she desired, Kristi probably would have received.

SM: Your job, even?

JB: That wouldn't have surprised me one bit.

TA: How did Ms. Waterson get along with the other faculty members?

JB: She was tolerated. Everybody knows better than to make waves.

SM: Somebody didn't. Ms. Waterson is dead.

JB: Can I ask a question?

SM: Certainly.

JB: Is this how you go about investigating a homicide? Asking uninvolved people unnecessary questions?

SM: We talk to anyone who had an association with the victim, which includes you in this case. That’s how we determine who is involved and what questions are necessary.

JB: It's no wonder people get away with murder.

SM: You think Ms. Waterson's killer will get away with it?

JB: Wouldn't surprise me. Of course, she came from a wealthy family so you'll probably actually try to find out who killed her.

TA: With all the reading you've done, you must know quite a bit about investigating a case like this. You've probably developed some theories. How do you explain what happened to Ms. Waterson?

JB: There is a God.

TA: That's your whole theory? A smart guy like you doing all that reading and that's the best you can come up with?

JB: Look, I'm not going to do your job for you. You figure out who killed her.

SM: Thank you, Mr. Brewer, for your time. We'll be in touch.

Interview ends -- 3:13 PM

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