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Witness Interview: Peggy LeClaire, Worked for the Victim

Thursday, November 9, 2000 - 9:03 a.m.

Ms. LeClaire was re-interviewed by the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Office for follow up questions based on other witness statements. The interview was conducted at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Office by Detective Ted Armstrong.

TA = Detective T. Armstrong
PL = Peggy LeClaire

TA: Would you please state your full name and address for the record?

PL: Peggy Madeline LeClaire, 224 North 18th, Oxford.

TA: Ms. LeClaire, thank you for coming this morning. We have a few follow up questions to ask you.

PL: Not a problem, Detective. As I said, I want to help.

TA: Glad to hear it, ma'am. We talked to several members of the Oxford Writers Circle and it seems most of them thought you were upset at the meeting that night, October 14th.

PL: As I said before, I had a headache. So, I'm sure that made me out of sorts.

TA: Out of sorts in what way? Did you have words with someone?

PL: What do you mean, did I argue with someone? No, not really. Well, I did tell Richard Roman he was wrong about Grisham. We don't often agree on things - literarily speaking.

TA: How about anyone else? Did anyone else disagree with you about Grisham?

PL: No, I don't think so. I wasn't feeling well that night and honestly didn't pay a lot of attention to things.

TA: So, you didn't have words with Ms. Chase about her column? That you hadn't turned it in?

PL: Oh that. Yes, she was displeased with me about that. I'd say she had the words. I more or less just listened.

TA: Did you fail to turn in the column? I mean, where is it?

PL: Well, as I told Zoe, I was sure I had turned it in and I suspected they'd lost it. It's happened before you know. Caused all this ruckus and then they find it in the copy basket just where it is supposed to be.

TA: So, you believed you turned it in?

PL: Yes, I'm sure I did. I dropped it in the mail slot. It must be there.

TA: Where is the tape?

PL: What tape?

TA: I assume Ms. Chase gave you a tape of the column to transcribe. Is that right? Wasn't that the procedure?

PL: Yes, that's how we did it. I'm sure I put it in the envelope with the transcript. Like I said, you should contact her editor, Mr. Bertuch. I'm sure you'll find that his office is in possession of the column.

TA: Yes, ma'am. We will be checking with Mr. Bertuch.

PL: Zoe was always jumping to conclusions. Once she calmed down, she found whatever it was she was looking for. Some people are just emotional.

TA: Are you one of those people ma'am? Emotional?

PL: We're all emotional, Detective. Sometimes, anyway.

TA: And Ms. Benson, she that way too?

PL: Mallory? What does she have to do with anything?

TA: Folks at the meeting said she wasn't her usual self either.

PL: When? At the meeting? Is that what you mean?

TA: We were told Ms. Benson also left early that night.

PL: Really? I didn't know. Like I said, I left early, so I don't know who left after me or in what order.

TA: Folks also said neither you nor Ms. Benson were surprised by Ms. Chase's reading.

PL: Surprised? Why would we have been surprised? Zoe frequently read at the meetings.

TA: Not surprised or impressed, I should say. Seems everybody else was real impressed with her reading of her new book.

PL: Well Detective, you must realize that I transcribed most of her work. I was very aware of her style and literary choices. Why would I be surprised?

TA: You told us you hadn't transcribed this particular story.

PL: Oh, I see what you mean. Well, once you know Zoe and her style, I don't suppose there are many surprises.

TA: And Ms. Benson, she wasn't surprised either?

PL: Well, she didn't say that to me, if that's what you mean. Maybe she wasn't, I don't know. But again, why would she be? She and Zoe were close friends and very familiar with each other's work.

TA: Well, to hear the other folks tell it, ma'am, you and Ms. Benson seemed upset by the reading. That Ms. Benson looked physically ill.

PL: People say a lot of things. People say things just so others will pay attention to them. Writers are pretty darn vain people. Did you know that?

TA: No ma'am, I didn't know that. But that doesn't really answer the question, does it? Were you and Ms. Benson upset by the reading?

PL: Zoe had a way about her, you know. She could just infuriate people...

TA: And did she do that, ma'am? Infuriate you that night? Ms. Benson, was she infuriated too?

PL: You're going to take this the wrong way. People never understand things in their true light...

TA: What am I going to take the wrong way, ma'am? What are you not saying here?

PL: Well, of course she was upset. Zoe just didn't know the can of worms she'd opened. What she'd done to that poor girl.

TA: Ma'am, what had Ms. Chase done?

PL: You know she didn't have me do the transcription. And I couldn't understand that. I had done all her transcription before. And then... oh Lord...

TA: And then what? Are you telling me there was something funny about that book?

PL: Nothing about it was funny.

TA: Tell me about this can of worms you mentioned.

PL: I wish I didn't know. If I hadn't gone there and seen her so upset. I know she didn't mean to tell me...

TA: Who didn't mean to tell you what? Are you talking about Ms. Benson?

PL: Yes, poor Mallory...

PL: Are you saying that Ms. Benson had something to do with Ms. Chase's book?

PL: No, just everything.

TA: Everything? Did Ms. Benson write the book?

PL: I've said too much. You know, I could be wrong. I just don't know...

TA: What did Ms. Benson tell you, ma'am?

PL: You should ask her, you should talk to her...

TA: I intend to, ma'am. But I'm asking you now. What did Ms. Benson tell you?

PL: She gave Zoe a copy of her manuscript, for her opinion. Then she had that virus problem. Then Zoe couldn't find the file and the next thing she knew she saw the article about Zoe's new book.

TA: Did she confront Ms. Chase about it?

PL: Zoe just told her she was wrong and no one would believe her anyway. That she'd just look like some jealous writer trying to steal her thunder.

TA: Was Ms. Benson sure it was her story?

PL: I don't know if she was or not. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said anything at all. You have to ask her.

TA: Yes ma'am, I will.

PL: She'll be so upset with me. I'm sorry.

TA: Yes ma'am.

End interview 9:37 a.m.

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