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Witness Interview: Dan Courrier, Victim's Former Co-Worker

Wednesday, August 9, 2000 - 9:15 a.m.

The witness is computer programmer and technical architect in Atlanta, Georgia. The Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department interviewed him via the telephone. This interview was recorded with the knowledge and consent of the witness.

TA= Detective T. Armstrong
DC= Dan Courrier

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

DC: My name is Daniel Courrier. I live at 609 Virginia Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia.

TA: And your occupation?

DC: I'm a programmer analyst and technical architect.

TA: Thank you for agreeing to talk to us.

DC: Certainly. I just hope you catch whoever did this.

TA: Can you describe your relationship with the victim, Wendy Holloway?

DC: We were friends. We met a couple of years ago when both of us were working for the same firm. Since then, we've both moved on to other jobs but we stayed in touch. Wendy used to e-mail me questions about things. I'm a bit older and more experienced, so I guess she thought of me as a mentor or something. But really, she was far more talented than me.

TA: Like what kinds of questions?

DC: Anything. Sometimes, you can get so deep into a patch of code that you can't see what's what. A new pair of eyes can very quickly provide the answer you can't see because you're in too deep. We kind of did that for each other. Just answered questions, offered advice, that sort of thing.

TA: Were you knowledgeable about what type of software Wendy was working on at the time of her death?

DC: Not specifically. I knew it had something to do with security. Encrypting e-mails and stuff. I read some of the early white papers and technical designs, but that was some time ago. Most recently, she would just ask a few questions and I would answer those isolated queries. Mainly, she was nearing the end of the development process and was kind of freaking out. She started thinking about too much new stuff.

TA: What do you mean?

DC: She was almost finished. Then, she started second guessing things. It's like if you bake a cake and you decorate it. You want this cake to be really, really pretty. So you keep adding more and more stuff to the decoration. You keep doing that and you screw things up. Overdo it. You should stick to your original design. That's what I was telling Wendy.

TA: Okay, on this security software that was almost finished... did Wendy work on this entirely by herself?

DC: She did all the design and planning. And she did all the coding. So essentially, she built the whole thing. I think she had somebody doing testing for her. And her brother helped her with some of the business aspects of it. Investors, marketing, that kind of stuff.

TA: Were things going well in that regard?

DC: I don't really know. I think it started out well. Her brother's had a bit of a checkered past, as I understand it, and she was glad to help him out. Plus, she had too much on her plate anyway. But then, something started to happen.

TA: What?

DC: I'm not really sure. She sent a couple of e-mails talking about firing him. Wanted to know if I knew any of the legal ramifications. I don't really know what the details were. Wendy certainly had a tendency to bury herself in her work and not surface for weeks at a time, so maybe her brother did the same and she got mad that she couldn't contact him. Who knows? I just know that she got fairly worried about the way he was handling the business side.

TA: Have you ever met her brother or worked with him?

DC: No.

TA: You're sure?

DC: Yes, of course I'm sure. I'd remember if I had, especially since Wendy had been talking about him some just before she died.

TA: Did Wendy tell you about any of her other projects? Besides the security software?

DC: She did mention that she was doing research for something that might turn out to be very famous. She wouldn't go into any details, but I got the impression that it was some sort of art thing. Maybe a movie or something.

TA: And did she help you in the same way? Answer questions for you like you did for her?

DC: To a degree. I didn't tell her as much about what I was working on as she told me. I guess occasionally I might ask for her advice. I was working on a utility that would create performance logs in order to see how much time was being spent on the workstation, how much time was being spent at the server, how long it was taking in the database, that kind of stuff. One of our clients was complaining about the performance of their client-server application. So I was working on this little utility that would write out a log every time the executable was closed. Wendy helped a bit on that.

TA: How much did you know about Wendy's personal life?

DC: It's hard to say. We always chatted a bit, but e-mail is pretty impersonal, you know, and when we did talk on the phone, it was pretty much only about work-related things. I mean, she mentioned that she was dating someone new, and she seemed pretty blown away by the guy, but she never gave any specifics.

TA: So you never really knew if things were going well or poorly with that relationship?

DC: Not really. She might say, "oh, he's great" or something, but that was about it.

TA: Okay. Mr. Courrier, do you know if Wendy ever used drugs or not?

DC: Well, I'm not quite sure.

TA: Come on, Dan, I can hear your hesitation over the phone. It's okay. Unfortunately, she's dead. But that means anything you tell us can't be used against her. This type of information might help us catch her killer.

DC: Okay, okay. Yeah, I guess Wendy did occasionally use drugs.

TA: Like what?

DC: Cocaine mostly. She liked the edge it gave her, the energy. We work awfully long hours in this business. You've got a deadline coming and a product is supposed to ship and you're working round the clock for weeks. I've had many times where I haven't left this building for a week or more. Some people play video games. Some people rollerblade in the hallways. Everyone has their own way of dealing with the stress.

TA: And Wendy's was coke.

DC: Yeah, I guess. Most people would take little breaks, get up from their workstation and wander around like zombies. The fitness freaks would go downstairs and lift weights for an hour. I go down the hall to a buddy's office and throw darts. Wendy would get up, go to the bathroom, splash cold water on her face, snort a few lines, and be right back at her desk, coding away. When the rest of us would feel bad for taking an hour break, Wendy would take five minutes for some blow and be back at work.

TA: Would you say that she had a drug problem?

DC: No. She only used it when she needed that boost. There were plenty of times when she would be on the beach and not use it for weeks or even months.

TA: On the beach?

DC: Oh, sorry. Our business is very cyclical. You get periods of intense work. Then there are some periods where things are pretty slow. So people are unstaffed from time to time. This is referred to as being on the beach. Essentially, they don't have any real pressure packed work to do. When Wendy was on the beach, she wouldn't touch the stuff for weeks on end.

TA: Do you know of any enemies that Wendy might have had?

DC: Well, no. I don't guess so.

TA: Once again, I can hear it in your voice.

DC: Okay, okay. I guess Wendy probably had a lot of enemies. But I can't imagine anyone would want her dead.

TA: Why so many enemies?

DC: Wendy was determined to be a success. She was incredibly ambitious. And depending on your perspective, you could say that she was ambitious or you could say that she was obsessed, maybe even cut-throat. She would do anything to get ahead. I guess the thing that irritated people the most was that she was notorious for stealing ideas. If you came up with something good, you better guard it with your life or she would have it. That's one of the reasons that I never asked her opinion the way that she asked mine. I guess I like to think that she wouldn't do that to me, but who knows?

TA: But do you know anyone specific that she'd done this to who might want revenge?

DC: Not really. She just wasn't very well liked. Her evaluations at work always raved about how good a coder she was. How gifted. But there's this one question on the evaluation where it asks, "Would you want to work with this person again?" and most people said no. She could just be a bit vicious. As good as she was, people didn't like working with her.

TA: I see.

DC: But I can't imagine that any of those people would want to kill her.

TA: Can you think of anything else that I should know?

DC: No. I believe that's it.

TA: Okay. If you think of anything else, just give me a call. Thanks for your time.

End interview 9:41 a.m.

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