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Witness Interview: Debbie Fitzgerald, Victim's Birth Mother

Wednesday, November 1, 2000 - 9:37 a.m.

This witness has been identified as the deceased's birth mother. At the detectives' request, Ms. Fitzgerald came to the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department for an interview, where she was interviewed by Det. Ted Armstrong.

TA = Detective T. Armstrong
DF = Debbie Fitzgerald

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

DF: My name is Deborah Jane Fitzgerald. I live at 375 Vivian Drive.

TA: Thanks for coming in, ma'am. We appreciate your cooperation.

DF: You're welcome.

TA: I'm sure this is a difficult time for you, ma'am, so I'm going to try to be brief.

DF: My life is nothing but difficult, sir. Just go ahead with your questions.

TA: Okay. What was your relationship with the deceased?

DF: I gave birth to her.

TA: You are her birth mother?

DF: Yes. I gave birth to her and then they made me adopt her out.

TA: Who made you?

DF: My parents, my family.

TA: So, you didn't want to give her up for adoption?

DF: I don't know. It was a long time ago and maybe I don't really remember what was in my head back then. I just know they never asked me what I wanted to do. Like I didn't count. You know?

TA: I see. Can you tell me how you came to move to Oxford, ma'am?

DF: Just packed my bags and then I got on a bus...

TA: No, ma'am, what I mean to ask is, why did you come to Oxford?

DF: To see her. I wasn't going to bother her. I just wanted to see her.

TA: And did you? See her?

DF: Yeah. But it wasn't such a good idea.

TA: Ms. Chase was not happy to see you?

DF: Excuse me for laughing, I know it ain't funny - not in a ha-ha way, you know? No, she wasn't happy to see me at all. Not one bit.

TA: Did you argue?

DF: Nope. She just told me to leave and never come back.

TA: What did you do?

DF: Do? I didn't do nothing.

TA: How did you respond to your daughter's reaction?

DF: It made me real sad. It made me cry, if you want to know the truth.

TA: Did you attempt to contact her again?

DF: Okay, I'll tell you, I know I shouldn't have but I followed her a couple times. Watched her, you know? I just wanted to see her.

TA: Was Ms. Chase aware of your... surveillance?

DF: I guess so... she called me and told me to knock it off.

TA: Did you?

DF: More or less.

TA: More or less?

DF: Well, if I saw her, you know, around town... guess this makes me sound pretty much like a nutjob, huh?

TA: Did you ever have another conversation with her?

DF: Yeah, I did. Excuse me... I told myself I wasn't going to cry no more...

TA: Do you need a moment?

DF: No, it's okay. She called me... just a few days before... She called me and we talked for a little while.

TA: About what?

DF: She said she was sorry she was mean to me. Said she felt kind of mixed up and she was sorry she yelled at me. She wanted to maybe get to know me a little.

TA: Did you make plans to meet?

DF: She said when she got back from signing her book deal we'd have lunch, talk. She said we needed to talk about hair and clothes. Cute, isn't it? She wanted to do a makeover on me. It was sweet.

TA: Did you see her again?

DF: No. She... died... before...

TA: Okay, I see. Just a few more questions and we're finished. Can you keep going?

DF: Yeah, I can do it. Okay.

TA: I'm curious, how did you find Ms. Chase in the first place?

DF: What do you mean?

TA: Well, I don't know that much about adoption, but the little I know tells me that it is almost impossible for birth parents to locate children they gave up for adoption.

DF: You're right, it ain't easy. I tried for a long time to find her... on my own, you know? Never had the kind of money it takes to hire a P.I. But there's some help through the Internet and there are a couple groups out there... anyway, they didn't help so I guess that doesn't matter.

TA: Then how did you find her?

DF: The people who adopted her.

TA: Excuse me?

DF: I didn't find them, they found me.

TA: The Neidelmens contacted you?

DF: Well, sort of... I don't really know all the details of what they did, they ain't exactly direct about what they do, if you know what I mean.

TA: Okay.

DF: From what I can figure out, Zoe made them find me - which was a surprise, especially after her reaction... I don't know. So, they hired a P.I. and he went and talked to my aunt. She didn't want to tell him anything so she got his number and called me with it. She thought I should decide if I wanted to talk to him.

TA: Which you did?

DF: Not at first. I started thinking maybe it was some kind of bad joke or a set up or something. Anyway, I finally called him.

TA: And then?

DF: Well, he was pretty sly... guess he thought he could get something for nothing but I wasn't having none of it.

TA: Something for nothing?

DF: Yeah. Like he could find out all about me - where I lived, what I looked like, where I worked - all that, but without telling me squat. But I wasn't going for it.

TA: What did you do?

DF: I told him if they wanted to know anything, they had to come see me themselves. And I'll be damned! They showed up at my house a couple days later.

TA: What happened then?

DF: We made a swap. I gave them pictures and told them what they wanted to know and they gave me pictures of Zoe and gave me her address.

TA: Just like that?

DF: Hell, no. It took lots of talking and arguing, but they finally gave in. I don't know what I was thinking. I was just going to write to her and I started like a hundred letters but... it just didn't seem right. I thought I just had to go see her, talk to her, try to explain...

TA: So, you moved to Oxford?

DF: Yeah.

TA: Even though you believed there was a good chance she would reject you?

DF: Yeah. Like I said, call me crazy. But I don't regret it. I really don't. Least I got to see her and talk to her. That's something, right?

TA: Yes, ma'am. Did you know about her upcoming publishing contract?

DF: Just what I read in the papers. They gave me a clipping of it.

TA: The Neidelmens?

DF: Yeah.

TA: Did you speak with the Neidelmens when they were in town? Maybe at Ms. Chase's funeral?

DF: No, I didn't. I just... I didn't think it would be right.

TA: But you were at the funeral, weren't you?

DF: Yes, I was there. I had to go... I just had to.

TA: Did Ms. Chase ever let you see her manuscript or tell you what the book was about?

DF: No. We never got the chance to talk about it.

TA: Just out of curiosity, do you know why Ms. Chase decided to relent and decided to call you and make plans to see you?

DF: All I know is she said "I have your eyes." Maybe she felt a connection. They say that happens, you know with birth parents and their kids... you connect even if you don't want to.

TA: Do you have any other children?

DF: No, I don't.

TA: Do you have any idea where Ms. Chase's birth father is?

DF: No. I ain't seen him since he knocked me up.

TA: He never attempted to contact you or Ms. Chase?

DF: No. Well, not me anyway. I don't know about Zoe. She never said nothing to me about it.

TA: Okay. I guess that's it. Unless you have anything to add.

DF: No, nothing. Just that it's just mean the way life is, you know?

TA: Yes, I do. Thanks for coming in. If we have any more questions, we'll contact you.

DF: Okay. Bye.

TA: Morning, ma'am.

End interview 9:53 a.m.

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