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Witness Interview: Blake Stillwater

Monday, August 7, 2000 - 10:30 a.m.

In response to the detectives' request for an interview, this witness, a fifty-two year old attorney and mystery writer, came in to the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Office Monday morning. The interview was taped on a portable tape recorder with Mr. Stillwater's knowledge and consent.

TA = Detective T. Armstrong
SM = Detective S. Murphy
BS = Blake Stillwater

TA: Would you state your name and address, please?

BS: Blake Stillwater. I live at 238 Highway 6 West, just outside Oxford.

TA: And your occupation?

BS: I am a lawyer by education as well as a writer.

SM: Do you still practice law, Mr. Stillwater?

BS: Not really. I keep an office and a research assistant around. Every once in a while, I might consult on a case here and there. Mainly just to keep my hand in it.

SM: So the majority of your income comes from writing?

BS: That's correct.

TA: Mr. Stillwater, we asked you here to talk to you about the circumstances surrounding the death of Ms. Wendy Pane Holloway. Since you're an attorney, I'm sure that you're aware of your rights, so I don't want to suggest that you do anything you're not comfortable with. However, I would like to stress to you that we are in the middle of a murder investigation and it would be the best for everyone if you didn't dance around behind a bunch of legal obstacles.

BS: Is that your polite way of telling me to answer the questions and not divert you with a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo?

TA: If you want to take it that way, then yes.

BS: I can assure you that I had nothing to do with Ms. Holloway's death. So I will be glad to provide whatever information I can. But I can also assure you that I am not going to be pushed around by small town cops with an attitude.

TA: Okay, fine.

BS: Then, can we get started?

TA: You moved here to Oxford, in what? 1984 or so?

BS: That's correct. I had tired of the demands of practicing as a criminal law attorney and the success of my first book gave me reason to focus on writing. So we left Chicago and moved down here.

TA: How long were you here in Oxford before you had your first affair?

BS: Please! What kind of question is that?

TA: Your tendencies towards young women are well known around town. Your son openly admitted to us that you had extramarital affairs on a fairly regular basis.

BS: Regardless, that's none of your business.

TA: Fine. Then why don't you tell me the nature of your relationship with the deceased?

BS: Ms. Holloway was working for me as a consultant. I'm working on a new novel that is heavily involved with the Internet and computers. I'm afraid that I'm pretty archaic when it comes to such matters so I retained Ms. Holloway as sort of a technical advisor.

SM: And what kind of advice did she give you?

BS: She answered questions. I sort of know how to navigate the Internet but I'm clueless about the more technical aspects of it. She explained to me some of the various applications like Flash and others that are used to create web sites. She told me, in very rudimentary terms, about HTML and XTML and some of the languages. In many cases, she would just act as sort of a tutor, answering questions. In other cases, I would give her passages of text to read over to ensure their accuracy.

SM: Could you give us some more details on some of these issues she helped you with?

BS: I'll try. I'm apprehensive about giving away too much of the plot of my new novel and, frankly, I'm not sure that I understand all the things well enough to describe them.

SM: Just do the best you can.

BS: Besides explaining how web sites work and all, she was looking into ways that one person could access another person's workstation via the Internet. Possibly by going in through a portal like Napster where two machines are linked. I'm not sure that I'm describing it properly but it was along those lines. She was also researching ways to cover your tracks online. Trying to find a way so that a hacker or someone could hide where they had been and what they had done. Oh, and she was also looking into password theft of some sort.

TA: So, how did you communicate with her? If you know nothing, then how did you describe to her what you wanted?

BS: Simple really. Everyone knows about hackers. It's on the news every night now about some teenager breaking into the Pentagon's computers. So for example, I would simply say to Wendy, uh, Ms. Holloway, that I was thinking of a scene where the villain taps into the hero's bank account. She would then describe how it works technically.

SM: So your relationship with the victim was entirely professional?

BS: Yes.

TA: Now, see? This is what pisses me off about you lawyer types! I'm not trying to trample your rights, but you sit right there and bold-faced lie when we ask you questions?

BS: You're accusing me of lying?

TA: I'm not accusing, I'm stating. It's a fact.

BS: So why do you think I'm lying?

TA: Because even your own son admitted that you were having an affair with that woman and yet you sit there and say your relationship was purely professional!

BS: And what did he have to say?

TA: Let me flip through my notes... god forbid I might misquote him and you'll sue me... let's see, he said, and I quote: "She was having an affair with my father." Your son confronted her at a bar and screamed at her to leave his family alone. There are tons of witnesses to the altercation and he admitted it himself. And your own wife told our detectives that she knew you were having an affair with Ms. Holloway. So what's your answer?

BS: A family upset that I spend so much time traveling? A jealous wife who poisons the son against the father? There are many possible explanations.

TA: So you're not going to admit to having an affair with Wendy Holloway?

BS: I told you the extent of our professional relationship. Anything beyond that, I would prefer not to answer.

TA: Even if I show you the e-mails you wrote to her, talking about how much you couldn't wait to see her again and all sorts of lovey-dovey stuff?

BS: You would make a good card player, Detective. The way that you slowly dole out information and reveal your cards is quite admirable. But you can interpret those e-mails any way you want. I'm not answering that question.

TA: You're really making things look bad for yourself here.

BS: If you don't have any real evidence, and I'm assuming you don't since you haven't charged me with anything, then it doesn't really matter what sort of impression I make.

SM: When we talked to your maid, she told us that she received a call from the victim for you, but that she didn't inform you of the message.

BS: Okay.

SM: But later that night, you left a message on Wendy's answering machine saying something to the effect of "sorry I missed your call." Care to explain that?

BS: Simple. I heard the phone ring. When I saw Mary Lee's face, I knew immediately who it had been on the phone.

SM: Why is that?

BS: Mary Lee has been an important part of our household for years. However, she doesn't necessarily approve of all aspects of my life. She is very protective of my wife and son. Anytime an attractive woman is involved, Mary Lee tends to get very aggressive. Because of this tendency, she did not like my work with Ms. Holloway. I could tell by her tone of voice and her facial expressions who it was on the phone.

TA: Were you and the victim trying to conceive a child?

BS: I have no intention of dignifying that question with a response!

TA: Because forensics found out that Wendy's diaphragm had a little tiny hole in it. What do you think about that?

BS: Well, I, uh, I don't know. What am I supposed to think?

TA: What are your thoughts on possibly having an illegitimate child, Mr. Stillwater?

BS: I can assure you that would not happen!

TA: Why? Because you wouldn't let her? Girl is having an affair with a famous married man, seems like someone's trying to get pregnant, then she ends up with her head knocked in. Your wife tolerates your infidelities, but what would she do if a little baby showed up? You probably wanted to make sure that didn't happen.

BS: No! Listen, I've told you. I had nothing to do with Wendy's death! If people want to gossip about our relationship, then there's nothing I can do about it. But, her birth control habits mean nothing to me!

TA: Damn, this is the first time you've gotten flustered. I'm surprised that a simple employer would get so upset about an employee's contraceptive.

BS: I really don't care what surprises you, Detective!

TA: Would you be willing to submit a semen sample for DNA testing?

BS: Hell no! There is no reason for me to do that.

TA: Seems to me there is. If you're just her boss, didn't have anything to do with her death, simple DNA test would clear you right up. You wouldn't have to fool with me again.

BS: I don't care! I am not going to submit to the indignity of that.

SM: Where were you at the time of the victim's death, late night of July 14th, early morning of the 15th?

BS: I was at home, asleep. I got up early, around 4:30, to go to the airport in Memphis. I had an early flight out to Tokyo.

TA: I'm sure the airlines can confirm your presence on the plane.

BS: I'm sure they can. Look, is that all you want? I have appointments that I need to keep and I don't think we're going to accomplish anything. I don't appreciate the way these questions are going and I'm not going to waste anymore of my time listening to your filth!

TA: Fine, Mr. Stillwater. You don't have any more book tours or promotional things anytime soon, do you?

BS: No. Not until my next book is actually published.

TA: Good. Then it won't be an inconvenience when I ask you to make sure that you remain in town for the next couple of weeks. Thanks for your time. Oh and, drink some water or something. You look like hell.

End interview 10:56 a.m.

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