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Witness Interview: Opal-Marie James, Found Bag of Bloody Clothes

Sunday, July 16, 2000 - 3:10 p.m.

At 2:18 p.m. on Sunday, July 14, 2000, the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department received a 911 emergency call from Mrs. Natalie James. Mrs. James reported that her 14 year-old daughter had discovered a bag of bloody clothing on the side of Highway 6. Pursuant to that call, Detectives Sam Murphy and Ted Armstrong interviewed the daughter.

The interview was conducted at the James residence, where the minor witness, Opal-Marie James, lives with her parents, Natalie and Clarence James. Mrs. James was present during the interview.


TA = Det. T. Armstrong
SM = Det. S. Murphy
NJ = Natalie James
OMJ = Opal-Marie James


SM: Let the record reflect that this interview is being conducted in the presence of the witness' mother, because the witness is a minor. There is no attorney present. Opal-Marie can you tell us your full name, your age and address?

OMJ: Opal-Marie James. I live at 624 Highway 6 , Burgess, Mississippi. I'm fourteen.

TA: Can you tell us how you found the bag of clothes?

OMJ: Lester, my dog, he was really the one that found 'em. We was walking to the store to get some milk and bread so mama could make some lunch. We was nearly there and he goes down off the road and starts sniffing and growling at something down in the ditch.

SM: Do you remember about what time this was?

OMJ: Um... I think it was maybe two or so... It was after church, but not long after.

TA: Okay, so Lester was down in the ditch growling at something and then what happened?

OMJ: Well, I yanked on his rope to get him outta that ditch because he was gonna get himself all dirty, but he wouldn't come. That ain't like him, he always listens. So, then I think maybe there is something really down there... not just a squirrel or a rabbit or something. So I went down after him.

SM: Is that when you found the bag?

OMJ: Yep. I saw a bag from the bookstore, plastic one. I picked it up, thinking maybe there was some books in there. Maybe somebody was done reading them and they left them there. And since I like to read so much...

NJ: Oh yes, she loves to read. She'll read anything, anything at all.

TA: That's a good habit, reading. Very enriching to a person's life.

NJ: Oh yes sir, it is. I always been in favor of her readin' as much as she can. She took to books right off, when she was still little bitty, so...

SM: Sorry to interrupt ma'am. Opal-Marie, did you pick up the bag?

OMJ: Yes ma'am, I did. Like I said, I was thinking it was books, so I opened it up and saw the clothes and stuff.

TA: Did you touch any thing in the bag?

OMJ: Well, yeah. The clothes looked cool, a couple shirts and some pants. But I saw this sorta red-brown stuff on 'em. And one of them shirts was all tore up. Then I got scared, because I think maybe it's blood or something bad. So I dropped the bag and clothes and everything.

SM: Then what did you do?

OMJ: I just got all cold and scared, so I ran home and told Mama what I saw and all. She called the 911 then.

NJ: Yes, she came right home and told me. I called the 911 emergency and we told them where it was.

SM: Officers met you at the scene?

OMJ: Yes, ma'am. We went back and waited and showed the officers where it was. Then we came home. Then y'all came here a little later.

TA: You and Lester did the right thing, Opal-Marie. You're a very civic-minded young lady.

OMJ: Oh, thank you! Do you think those clothes belonged to that lady?

SM: What lady?

OMJ: That lady that was in the news? My friend Darnell was tellin' me about that poor lady. They wrote it up in the papers. That's what he said.

TA: Well, we sure are going to look into it.

OMJ: Good. I hope you find out what happened to that poor lady, sir.

SM: Is there anything else that you remember about the bag or its contents? Or anything you saw that seemed unusual to you?

OMJ: No ma'am, not a thing. They were just there in the ditch, nice as you please.

TA: Was anybody else around? Did you notice anybody? Maybe somebody you didn't know?

OMJ: Nope, just me and Lester.

SM: Okay Opal-Marie, thank you for all your help. We really appreciate it. And thank you too, Mrs. James for your report.

NJ: You're welcome, ma'am.

TA: If we have any more questions, we'll let you know.

NJ: Any time.


End interview 3:35 p.m.

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